Upfronts 2009: A&E Bolsters Ranks With Seven New Shows


Complete Upfronts 2009 coverage from Multichannel News

A&E Network, while looking to add new scripted series
alongside The Cleaner, has fortified its
unscripted roster with nine returning shows and seven new entries.

The network, which will hold an upfront party at Manhattan's
Rainbow Room on Thursday evening, has been scoring well with its target of
adults 25 to 54 and 18 to 49. The first quarter, with averages of 751,000 and
720,000, respectively, was the best in network history, according to network

Since fourth-quarter 2003, A&E has grown versus the
prior year for 17 of 22 quarters in adults 25 to 54, where it now ranks as
cable's fourth-highest performer, and for 20 of 22 quarters among adults 18 to

"2009 begins our sixth year of consecutive growth in all key
demos,"  A&E Network and Bio president and general manager Bob
DeBitetto said in announcing the former's 2009-10 slate. "We've begun 2009 with
our best quarter ever and I expect that we will continue to excel as a result
of our significant investment in original programming. A&E truly gives
advertisers the greatest depth of original programming, a portfolio that's
unparalleled in the cable landscape."

To that end, A&E already counts 60% originals in
primetime, which officials say is the most of any top-10 cable network.

While no decision has been made on a sophomore season of The Beast -- the first season starred
Patrick Swayze, who is suffering from pancreatic cancer
-- The Cleaner, centering on Benjamin Bratt
(pictured) as extreme interventionist William Boyd, is scheduled to return June 23 at 10
p.m., with the first of 13 hours. During its rookie run, The Cleaner averaged 4.2 million viewers, including 2.4 million
adults 25 to 54 and 2.2 million adults 18 to 49 on a weekly, three-telecast
cume basis, making it the top original drama in the network's history.

The network has green-lighted scripted pilot Cooler Kings, from Bruckheimer
Television in association with Warner Horizon Television. Executive-produced by
Bruckheimer, the series focuses on an ex-Honolulu cop bent on revenge over the
death of his girlfriend. He meets a mysterious crew of detectives, known as the
Cooler Kings, who give him a shot at
redemption in this surf-noir crime show.

A&E also has six other crime-based shows, three based in
Los Angeles, in various stages of development: The Lead Sheet, following the police work of the LAPD tracking the
Hillside Strangler in 1977-78; Central
, tracking a pair of distaff captains as they run a dangerous
downtown district in the City of Angels; The
, which looks at a bipolar LAPD detective who must balance the
meds which make her normal and her disorder, which makes her extraordinary; Night Falls, showcasing a New York City
beat cop who survives a near fatal shooting with an unusual neurological side effect;
and New York's Finest, about the new
commissioner and his personal detail as they inject a personal leadership style
that turns the Big Apple over.

There is also a project from Matthew Carnahan (Fastlane) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) that's a twist on the
procedural, wherein tales of up-and-coming criminals tell their version of the
American dream in the first half, while the second follows the FBI task force that's
chasing them.

A&E is also looking at longform with a Western from
Kevin Costner (Dances With Wolves),
with the development of a four-hour, two-part miniseries that will explore how
the region was settled and fought for by all sides in what became the biggest
conflict following the Civil War.

As for its unscripted bread-and-butter franchise, A&E
will return nine series to various seasons: Intervention,
The First 48, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, Dog
the Bounty Hunter
, Crime 360, Criss Angel: Mindfreak, Paranormal State, Manhunters: Fugitive Task Force and Parking Wars.

The network is also looking to add to its unscripted bench
with seven new series, including an untitled project from Tony Danza. The 13
half-hours will center on Danza, who before his fame in Taxi and Who's the Boss
received a degree in history education. Now, he'll offer a reality take on Welcome Back, Kotter with high school
students in his native New York.

Action movie star Steven Seagal has a real job when he's not
working in Hollywood: for the past
20 years he's been a fully commissioned deputy with the Jefferson Parish
Sheriff's office in Louisiana.
Over 13 half hours, A&E's cameras follow his work there, as well as his
off-duty activities, including musical performances and philanthropic efforts
in New Orleans, via Steven Seagal: Lawman.

beginning May 25 at 10 p.m., builds on Intervention,
examining individuals stricken with anxiety disorders, while Hammertime, starting on June 14, follows
the man who gave us You Can' Touch This and
his more conventional family life in Oakland.

Elsewhere, A&E will proffer eight hours of Fugitive Chronicles, which is shot like
a feature film and recounts the captures of the most infamous in recent
history; 10 30-minute segments of The
; Prison Police, which takes
viewers behind the walls of "cities" inhabited by hardened criminals; and Runaway Squad, which over nine 30-minute
installments will take a look at former NYPD undercover detective who has
formed a team to track down some of the nation's 1.6 million runaways.

A&E also has unscripted pilots featuring National
Basketball Association star Shaquille O'Neal; comedian Bob Saget, who will
travel America and immerse himself in various U.S. subcultures, practices and
jobs; and rap impresario Russell Simmons.

Finally, the network has a trio of unscripted specials
on tap: a one-hour look at The Jackson
; Iced: Alaska Fugitive Task,
in which various groups track criminals over the massive frozen tundra; and Extreme Paranormal, where a trio of
explorers chase down chilling local legends.