Style Sets Slate

May 12, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Style network is laying plans to shift its fashion focus from the runway to real life, as distribution of the E! Networks-owned cable channel gets ready to approach the 40 million subscriber mark in 2004.
To that end, the cable network known largely for fashion coverage has set eight new series about the role of style in real people’s lives. The shows make up the first programming slate to come from new programming boss Stephen Schwartz, who was named senior VP of programming in February.
Among the new projects expected to debut between now and the fall are a court show that rules what’s in good taste, a game show that will span the country and a reality series that promises life makeovers for homeless people.
While sister network E! Entertainment Television’s aggressive programming moves in recent weeks are designed to expand its existing brand, Style’s new shows come on the heels of a February rebrand initiative that included a new on-air look and a campaign to define itself as the network dedicated to helping people express their own personal style in all areas of their lives.
E! Networks topper Mindy Herman said Style’s move is part of an effort to relate to viewers in a more meaningful way.
“As these programs roll out and showcase real life stories, we are set to make a much different connection with people,” Ms. Herman said. “These aren’t models walking down runways, but story-driven shows about people you can relate to.”
She dubbed the change “the next evolution of the network.” Style launched in 1998.
“In the last year we wanted to make sure to speak to a younger audience,” Ms. Herman said. “As the network has evolved, it became clear to us that now is the best time to do what we do best. This approach permeated through every show. When it all rolls out, viewers, both female and male, will find what this network is about.”
Mr. Schwartz, Style’s senior VP of programming, added that “original programming development is clearly on top of the agenda at Style with last year seeing the successful series launches for a whole new breed of programming, the recent debuts of You’re Invited and Stripped and the highly anticipated May premiere of Forever Summer with Nigella.”
“We plan to raise the bar even higher in 2003 with over eight new original series planned that tell compelling lifestyle stories about real people in real life situations, featuring hosts who are knowledgeable, vibrant, and can truly relate to viewers,” he said
The new entries follow:
* Joining Forever Summer in a May debut will be A Second Look, which will chronicle the stories of homeless men and women, among others, and help make over their lives and assist them in their quests to find a new home or a new job or reunite with loves ones. Former Good Morning America anchor Chantal Westerman will host the series.
* June will see the debuts of Modern Girl’s Guide to Life and Clean House. The half-hour Guide to Life will be hosted by trend expert Jane Buckingham and will feature a cheat sheet for topics ranging from eliminating credit card debt to finding a good divorce lawyer. The hour-long Clean House provides families with professional help to overcome clutter. Staff will find useless items, sell them at a yard sales and use the profits to redo the home. Comedian Niecy Nash will host the show.
“When you look at a show like Clean House you find that it’s not just about redecorating the house, you also get to see some of the fun and drama of how people live,” said Ms. Herman.
* Later in the summer, the channel will unveil Style Court and Dark Side of Style in its extended launch strategy. Style Court will be a daily one-hour courtroom series in which individuals haul friends, neighbors and relatives to the to-be-determined style judge, to eliminate everything from mullet haircuts to a tacky Buick. Dark Side of Style meanwhile follows the vein of E!’s The High Price of Fame in which the series will explore the ugly side of the beauty business from eating disorders to shopaholics to plastic surgery disasters.
* Coming later in the year will be a look at wedding style in The Wedding Planner, Guess Whose Coming to Redecorate? where old colleagues from a person’s past pop in to redo a room and game show Mall or Nothing. Mall will travel the country’s favorite shopping centers in a scavenger hunt that pits two teams against each other in a series of tasks.