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WB Moving Ahead With Kutcher Reality Show, Other Projects

Jan 23, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Garth Ancier, chairman of The WB, and David Janollari, president of entertainment for the network, announced Saturday at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour that the network is moving forward with a reality series for this summer produced by “That ’70s Show’s” Ashton Kutcher called “Beauty and the Geek,” in which brainy young men are paired with beautiful young women.

Calling it a “makeover competition show,” Mr. Janollari described the female contestants on the show as “really attractive young women who may not have that same capability” as the men. One male and one female will be paired for competitions that require them to share their knowledge. “It’s quite endearing,” Mr. Janollari said.

The WB has also greenlighted a second “American Girl” TV movie for the end of 2005 based on the book and doll franchise’s Revolutionary War character Felicity. The network is in the early development stages of a “Blue Lagoon” TV remake with the Disney-based production company Storyline Entertainment.

In addition, The WB is developing a comedy pilot with “Everwood” guest star Anne Heche about a woman who is dumped by her boyfriend just as she gives birth and moves back in with her family.

On Monday, Feb. 28, at 9 p.m., the family drama series “Summerland” returns to the network for a seven-week run that ends with a two-hour finale April 11. After “Summerland” completes its run, current time period holder “Everwood” will return at 9 p.m. with six new episodes.

On Tuesday, March 8, the reality series “The Starlet,” which features Academy Award winner Faye Dunaway as host, begins its run at 9 p.m.

Fran Drescher returns to series television Friday, April 8, at 8:30 p.m. in the new sitcom “Living With Fran.”

Mr. Ancier discussed the success of the network’s shows once they are sold on DVD, which prompted a question from a reporter on whether the network would keep a low-rated show with a loyal audience on the air just to get enough episodes for a DVD package.

Mr. Ancier said the revenue stream provided by DVD is a “remarkable occurrence,” but that it is not driving network scheduling decisions.

“When you’re spending an average of $1.6 million an hour on a drama, you can’t let the DVD tail wag the dog,” he said.

Mr. Janollari would not say whether the network’s first-year show “Jack & Bobby,” which was heavily promoted but has not generated big ratings, will come back for a second season.

“We are determined to make the show work,” he said. “It is a giant favorite of the network. We have to be patient with it. We have to figure out how to promote better.”

He said the network isn’t going to change “the inherent integrity” of the show, but that there would be “subtle changes” and the “broadening of some of the story lines” in the second half of the season.

Mr. Janollari also said the network is developing series that could be companion pieces with sketch series “Blue Collar Comedy,” including a trailer park home makeover show hosted by “Blue Collar” star Bill Engvall.