Reality’s Just the Tip at TCA

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Pasadena, Calif.— Before turning the proceedings over to the broadcasters, cable networks closed their portion of Television Critics Association winter press tour here with news about an eclectic mix of fare, ranging from series centered on puppies and comedy troupes to a live-action version of comic book hero Flash Gordon and a hairstyling competition show.

At WE, Sandra Scott will juggle housecleaning and chasing down bad guys in the reality show Wife, Mom, Bounty Hunter. Scott told pundits at TCA on Jan. 12 that she’s a “freelance” bounty hunter who owns her own bail bond firm in Arizona, where she is assisted by husband Ron, an electrician, in pursuit of her quarry. No TV waif, Scott back in the ’80s was a tag-team wrestler for G.L.O.W: Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling.

The series, which also features her children, 15-year-old Sabree and 6-year-old Ever Skye, is scheduled to debut in April with a one-hour premiere, followed by half-hour installments.

March 3 will mark the debut of Designer to the Stars: Kari Whitman. The eight-episode series follows the designer as she reworks the homes of such celebrities as Jessica Alba, Virginia Madsen and Kristen Bell.

WILDCATS AND DOGS

Eighteen days later, the network will roll out Cheerleader U, a six-episode arc that follows University of Kentucky cheerleading coach Jomo Thompson as he assembles a new squad that will add to the university’s 14 national cheerleading championships.

For those in need of a serious dose of sweet, the network will unleash America’s Cutest Puppies and Adventures in Doggie Daycare in April. There are 10 Puppies episodes and eight Daycare installments.

Fuse, another Rainbow Media network, will channel the ’90s comedy ensemble Kids in the Hall as the New York-based troupe, The Whitest Kids U’Know, brings its humor to the music service on March 20 at 11 p.m. (ET).

Sample skit: The guys indoctrinate one of their members on the new “thing,” which consists of slapping or kicking the hapless guy every time he violates one of their new grammar rules. Ending a question with a one-syllable word earns the speaker a slap on the back of the head, for instance.

The episodes have the feel of a YouTube video, a reflection of the troupe’s early work, shot with no budget, its members told the assembled critics. The group already has a fan base, attributable to the spread of videos of their skits, which have been passed around college Web sites.

For their part, Sci Fi Channel executives said the service had given the green light to a new series featuring popular comic book superhero Flash Gordon. Producers Robert Halmi Sr. and Robert Halmi Jr. (Tin Man, Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven, The Ten Commandments) will produce 22 one-hour episodes of the series, which is slated to debut on Sci Fi in July.

The network also announced that it had given the go-ahead to reality series Destination Truth, a weekly series that will follow the travels of adventurer Josh Gates as he examines supernatural and mysterious stories from around the globe.

In addition, Sci Fi added two new movies to its Saturday-night slate of original telefilms: The Lost Colony and King Arthur & The Order of the Dragon.

The network said it will also offer such cult science-fiction movies such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligare, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Giant Gila Monster and The Snow Creature on its Pulse broadband channel, under the “Sci Fi Drive-In” moniker.

REALITY ROLL

At Bravo, the reality march continued apace. The network answered the question of the future of Project Runway father figure Tim Gunn: he’s getting his own show, Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style. Gunn will help the style-impaired — from a bride trying to pick the proper wedding dress to the hopelessly frumpy — to create a new look.

Other reality fare joining the network: a show shadowing American Idol judge Paula Abdul; Shear Genius, an eight-episode haircut competition hosted by Jaclyn Smith; and Better Half, hosted by comic Susie Essman, in which husbands try to learn their wives’ jobs.

Meanwhile, judges and producers talked up Top Design, the interior-design competition series debuting Jan. 31 that will put 12 designers, artists and architects through their paces. The participants have a chance to win a $100,000 grand prize from LendingTree.com and a 2007 Acadia auto from GMC — partners in the show, along with Bacardi Limon and Thomasville Furniture.

The contestants are also vying for feature treatment in ELLE Decor, the series’ on-air magazine sponsor. Margaret Russell, editor in chief of the Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. title, is a judge on the show.

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