VH1, with an ambitious development slate of 12 pilots in
the works, plans to green-light four or five of them as series by August, officials said
The shows in development all have "music as a
thread," according to VH1's senior vice president of programming, Jeff Gaspin,
who said they will expand on the network's past success with reality-based and
documentary series, such as Behind the Music and Pop-Up Video. In addition
to the pilots, VH1 will diversify by starting to produce made-for-TV movies, Gaspin said.
The new development slate includes talk shows, animation,
newsmagazines and video-clip shows. Former Sex Pistols punk-rocker Johnny Rotten will act
as an "anti-VJ" for The Johnny Rotten Show, a weekly half-hour magazine
show. And one of the animated shows on the slate is The Agent, which is being
developed in conjunction with Lorne Michael's Broadway Video.
VH1's track record with taking pilots to actual series
has been pretty good -- about 50 percent, Gaspin said. In the case of the one-dozen shows,
VH1 will green-light four or five of them by August and start rolling them out between
August and September, Gaspin added. A second batch of the pilots will go forward as series
in January, he said.
VH1 has also hired Michael Larkin for a newly created
position: vice president of made-for-VH1 movies.
"We're looking to make movies our next
franchise," Gaspin said.
The original movies -- which will include biographies, as
well as fictional stories -- will probably begin airing in the summer of 1999.