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Bravo boosting original series

Apr 2, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Bravo is increasing its budget for “original nonfilm programming,” such as the thoughtful cultural profiles and documentaries for which it is known as well as upscale versions of the reality-style programs that are all the rage across the TV programming spectrum.

However, according to a knowledgeable source, Bravo’s nonfilm programming budget for the new season is up 50 percent over 2000-01, which will result in about 25 percent more original hours in 2001-02 than this season. Highlights from the 2001-02 schedule, unveiled in New York, include:

* “The It Factor,” a 13-episode half-hour series premiering in October that will follow aspiring New York actors as they make the Big Apple fame-factory rounds, from cattle calls to big breaks or broken dreams.

* “Stagestruck,” a six-episode series premiering in July that will follow aspiring stage actors working on their master’s degrees as they make the academic theatrical rounds, this time in the Mile High City, at the Denver Center for Performing Arts.

* “Musicians,” a 13-part series premiering in October that will focus on individual musicians, their lives and careers and will include live performances by the profiled musicians.

Bravo, owned by Rainbow Media Holdings, also will return both its well-regarded “Profiles” and “Inside the Actors Studio” series. “Profiles,” with 40 new episodes, will spotlight Mikhail Baryshnikov, Warren Beatty, Jon Bon Jovi, Marlon Brando, Nicolas Cage, Anthony Hopkins, Lisa Kudrow, Robert Redford and Denzel Washington. “Actors Studio” will have 20 new subjects for James Lipton’s erudite interrogations, including Francis Ford Coppola, Melanie Griffith, Kevin Kline, Vanessa Redgrave, Ben Stiller and Robin Williams.

On the miniseries front, Bravo will be humming the “soundtrack of the century” for “Popular Song,” its eight-hour documentary about the rise of the modern music industry, set for August. Promised for the first and third quarter of 2002, respectively, are new adaptations of “Nicholas Nickelby” (four hours, starring Charles Dance) and “The Scarlet Pimpernel” (six hours, starring Richard E. Grant).

Rounding out the new schedule are dance, documentary and performance specials, including “Aeros,” from the creators of “Stomp”; the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; “Marlene,” actor Maximilian Schell’s documentary about the late Marlene Dietrich; a made-for-TV movie with a modern take on Cinderella, starring Kathleen Turner; “Bill Wyman’s Blues Odyssey”; “Jazz Seen: The Life and Times of Photographer William Claxton”; and Cirque du Soleil’s “Alegria,” among others.

Bravo posted a 0.47 average prime-time rating in March, according to network data, and an average household delivery of 244,000. Those numbers are up 47 percent and 79 percent, respectively, from the same period last year.