TV One Goes Old School

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Radio One and Comcast Cable-owned TV One,
long a home for comedians, gospel-
music shows and sitcoms
aimed at African-Americans,
is relying on celebrity profile
and where-are-they-now reality
shows to build its original programming

Through reality documentary
series like Unsung, which showcases
African-American musical
artists who never broke into the
mainstream; Life After, which
profiles famous personalities who have had major turning points in their lives; and LisaRaye: The Real McCoy, which profiles celebrities on the comeback
trail, TV One is hoping to appeal
to its target 25-54 African-American
viewer with original fare that
off ers stories about familiar personalities
that its audience grew
up with and often idolized.

“People like nostalgia, and for
the last couple of decades, between
shows like A&E’s Biography,
Lifetime’s Intimate Portraits and
VH1’s Behind the Music, viewers
have been able to see career profiles and retrospectives targeted
for the general market,” said Toni
Judkins, TV One senior vice president
of original programming.
“For us, there have been so many
great contributions African-Americans
have made in entertainment
that have been are overlooked or
scarcely included. Between our reality
shows, we pretty much take
care of every aspect of African-
American culture.”

Those shows have certainly
struck a chord with African-
American audiences and have
provided the six-year-old TV One
with popular original content to
supplement acquired, off-network
fare like A Different World
and Lincoln Heights.

LisaRaye: The Real McCoy,
which follows the life of the actress
and former First Lady of the
Turks and Caicos, is the network’s
most-watched series, averaging a
0.8 household rating and nearly
500,000 viewers. The show’s April
8 premiere set a network record,
averaging a 1.2 household rating
and delivering 608,000 households.

Life After
launches its second
season today (July 19) as TV One’s
third-most-watched series, just
behind the music-themed Unsung.
Judkins is bullish that the
series’ sophomore campaign
will build on the 0.5 rating and
304,000 subscribers the series
generated in its inaugural season
— well above the network’s
primetime average rating of 0.3
and viewership of 151,000.

This season’s profiles include
such entertainment celebrities as
Malcolm-Jamal Warner (The Cosby
), Mark Curry (Hangin’
With Mr. Cooper
) and Janet Hubert
(Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), and
Ruben Studdard (American Idol),
as well as sports figures like National
Basketball Association star
Ron Artest.

Series producer Robert Katz
said unlike a lot of cable-based
celebrity documentary series,
Life After actually works with the
actors rather than around them
to get a more complete picture of
their plight.

“We wanted to know their story
as they lived it,” said Katz, who
was also behind the development
of the music-themed Behind the
documentary series for
VH1. “The audiences know these
people, and Life After gives them
an opportunity for them to catch
up with these personalities.”

The network will move Life After
to Monday nights from Sundays
in an effort to draw more
viewers to the show. With the
network traditionally airing syndicated
sitcoms such as Martin,
Living Single and Eve during the
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slot, Judkins
said Life After’s lineup of former
sitcom stars should take advantage
of its lead-in programming.

Judkins said the network’s
personality-driven reality lineup
— which also includes Donald
J. Trump Presents The Ultimate
— will return this fall with
the last nine episodes of its 13-
episode third season of Unsung,
featuring profiles of such musical
artists as the O’Jays and Teddy
Pendergrass. Also on tap for
the fall is K-Ci and Jo Jo … Come
Clean, a reality series focusing on
the comeback of musical brothers
who were hit makers in the 1990s
as a duo, as well as with the R&B
group Jodeci.