E! Sets Sights on Summer

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

E! Entertainment Television will launch its biggest slate of originals to date, scaling back such signature original series as E! True Hollywood Story, Rank and Revealed, as it prepares to expand its repertoire for a massive summer of new series.
A reality magazine show chronicling the grind of Hollywood journalists is among more than a dozen new shows and specials to which E! has given the green light. Also in the mix for summer is Hollywood Wives, which the network promises will feature the spouses of Hollywood’s leading players offering firsthand accounts of their daily lives. E!’s also tweaking its daily news show.
Meanwhile, E! True Hollywood Story will be cut back from 70 episodes a year to 50. “It simply became too large a portion of our production slate,” said Mindy Herman, president and CEO of the channel. “After all, for a show like Rank there are only so many topics you can cover.”
With some analysts lamenting an “overuse” of True Hollywood Stories and Wild On in recent years, Mindy Herman, president and CEO of E! Entertainment, said the channel was determined to beef up its brand of series and capitalize on recent success of series such as Anna Nicole.

“We did a lot of brainstorming recently as we looked at how the broadcast networks shifted into a more aggressive 12-month programming schedule and decided that we needed to raise the bar,” she said. “Last year we focused on ways to appeal to our core 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 viewers and succeeded. I feel that these new programs will only continue that focus. This summer you will not be able to turn the dial in June, July and August without seeing a new show on our channel.”
So far, anywhere from six to 13 episodes of each new project are being readied to air, with the potential for more later in the year.
“These new shows continue to follow E!’s unique style of storytelling while always being focused on celebrity and entertainment,” Ms. Herman said.
This June should see the debuts of It’s Good to Be, Celebrities Uncensored Your 15 Minutes Are Up Nearly Famous: More Vegas Showgirls and the pilot for the reality magazine project. Its Good to Be follows Hollywood’s A-list as the celebrities spend their cash, with cameras capturing stars from Brad Pitt to J.Lo to Madonna on shopping sprees and holiday extravaganzas. The show will showcase their cars and weddings and the staff members who keep the engine running.
Celebrities Uncensored offers a look at what stars do when they are away from the spotlight, be it dancing, grabbing coffee or working out. “Rarely do you get to see celebrities in unguarded moments trying to enjoy their everyday life,” Ms. Herman said. “That’s what makes this show special.”
The reality magazine project is designed to follow editors and writers on the two coasts at an entertainment magazine as they meet with sources, create stories and decide who gets the cover. “This is much different-looking than any of our other series,” Ms. Herman said. “It’s grittier and is the riskiest show on the schedule because it’s the first reality show to be produced in real time.”
Your 15 Minutes Are Up will follow former reality TV stars and how their fame changed their lives. Nearly Famous will take viewers inside the lives of Vegas dancers who compete for their place in the Sin City spotlight.
The debuts of Star Struck, Facing Fame Infamous and 101 Shocking Moments are slated for July. Moments comes as a one-hour series that counts down some of most talked about moments in entertainment history, from Roseanne’s national anthem rendition to the death of Princess Diana.
“This is a great companion show for what we already do with True Hollywood Story, and I think really matches the storytelling style of the network,” the executive said.
Star Struck will give people the opportunity to become their favorite stars, thanks to hypnotist Ricky Kalmon. In what is deemed the ultimate makeover, Facing Fame will let everyday people be transformed to look like their favorite star. Cameras then capture reactions to the newborn impersonator. Infamous, on the other hand, will recreate the chain of events through witnesses and experts of incidents that added a pulse to water-cooler talk such as Eddie Murphy’s arrest for giving a lift to a transvestite prostitute.
Hollywood Wives “is going to be a great drama with a lot of humor and heart,” Ms. Herman said. “We’re in the process of casting a group of Hollywood wives who hang out together and can show viewers their lives with a wink and a smile.”
Finally, Catfights follows some of Hollywood’s divas who have butted heads over the years. Hometown Premiere features rising stars who travel home to share success with friends and family and From Soap to Stardom takes an in-depth look at the soap opera beginnings of some of today’s leading actors.
The channel has already renewed both Star Dates and The Michael Essany Show and though insiders expect a third-year renewal of Anna Nicole Ms. Herman would not comment on the status of the series.”
One show that has already seen some turnover this year is the long-running E! News Live. The channel has recently experimented with different formats and anchors in the months following the departures of Steve Kmetco and Jules Asner last year. Hosts of the news program, Patrick Stinson and Giuliana have handled most of the anchor duties in recent months.
“We needed to look at the show when we decided to move it from a half-hour to an hour and give it some of the personality and boldness that permeated the rest of the E! slate,” Ms. Herman said. “We didn’t have a lot of elements that said this was an E! show. It’s got to be lively, young and fun, and we are pleased with the results so far. That’s the beauty of cable. We can take our time and continue to refine the show as we listen to our viewers. So far, we’re hearing good things.”