WE tv Focuses on Originals

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Looking to maintain its ratings and creative momentum, WE tv (formerly WE: Women’s Entertainment) bolstered its programming staff and green-lighted a pair of new series.

Steve Cheskin, formerly general manager of Travel Channel, who has been serving as a consultant for the women’s-targeted service since March 2005, was named senior vice president of programming at WE.

Additionally, Gena McCarthy joined WE as VP of development and production from Discovery Channel, where she was executive producer, working on such series and specials as Dirty Jobs, Mythbusters and Deadliest Catch.

Kim Martin, executive VP and GM of WE, said Cheskin and McCarthy will work closely together to bring more original programming to the network’s primetime slate. Its 2005-06 TV season was populated by 260% more original fare than the 2004-05 season.

In his new post, Cheskin will have oversight for production, scheduling and acquisitions for the network, as well as development. Working with WE for the past 15 months, he has contributed to such shows as American Princess, Secret Lives of Women and John Edwards Cross Country, the documentary-style series that will follow the psychic medium as he travels the country to visit some of the families he helped during group sessions, which will bow in August

Cheskin also had his hand in Dirty Dancing: Living the Dream, a competition series in which 30 young women will vie for a spot in the Dirty Dancing live stage show; and Designer to the Stars: Kari Whitman, a look at the overbooked life of the Hollywood interior designer.

Those shows are slated to bow in December and January, respectively.

“Steve and I have known each other for years, going back to my days at Discovery,” said Martin, who has been heading WE since late 2004.

“In taking the job at WE, I knew the network needed to be focused on original production,” she added. “As a consultant, he’s done a phenomenal job in helping to ramp up our production in a short amount of time, which has helped to bring in more viewers overall and many younger viewers. Steve and Gena will keep us going in that direction.”

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