TV Land, Nick at Nite Ramp Up Originals

Apr 4, 2005  •  Post A Comment

TV Land will be “Chasing Farrah” with a stream of additional original programming.

After the first two episodes of its reality show featuring former “Charlie’s Angels” star Farrah Fawcett produced solid ratings, the network asked for a seventh episode on top of its original six-episode order, said Mitch Semel, senior VP for TV Land and Nick at Nite.

Nick at Nite has more original shows on tap, filling the Wednesday 10 p.m. time slot through June.

After “Farrah” completes its run, the network will start a countdown series called “Top 10.” The show will use clips to illustrate the top 10 wacky neighbors, lovable losers, geeks and nerds, characters you love to hate, and top romances of TV history. The shows feature comments from stand-up comedians, including Lewis Black and Patton Oswalt, as well as classic TV stars such as Andy Griffith, Diahann Carroll, Adam West, Danny Bonaduce and Barry Williams.

Based on original specials that ran last year on the top “Andy Griffith Show” moments and the top 10 cars, TV Land has ordered seven episodes of the series.

On June 1 “Tickled Pink,” the latest installment of the “Inside TV Land” franchise, produced by Linda Ellerbee’s Lucky Duck Productions, will feature television from the gay perspective. “It’s not just about gay characters. This is broader and more interesting,” Mr. Semel said. “It’s about characters that gay viewers identified with,” such as Paul Lynde in “Bewitched,” Bea Arthur in “Maude,” Xena in “Xena: Warrior Princess” and Will in “Will & Grace.”

Nick at Nite also has original programming on tap.

On May 7 the network will air “Nick at Nite’s Search for the Funniest Mom in America.” The winner of this contest for women who have only dabbled in stand-up, will get a $50,000 prize and a chance to host the network on Mother’s Day and earn a development deal with Nick at Nite.

In August Nick at Nite will launch a hidden-camera prank show called “Hi-Jinks.” Mr. Semel noted that a prank show on Nickelodeon, which during the daytime occupies the same channel position as Nick at Nite, would have kids pulling pranks on their parents. In “Hi-Jinks,” the joke’s on the kids.

One prank places a family at the zoo, where kids notice that a man in a bear suit is in the bear enclosure. Everytime he takes off his mask, the parents are looking away or talking on a cellphone. In another, kids put money into a candy machine, and all they get are yucky healthy snacks.

Nick at Nite’s originals are designed as shows for “adults that kids can also watch,” he said.

Each show has at least one prank involving a celebrity. Appearing in the first season are Susan Sarandon, Meredith Vieira, Chris Webber, Vivica A. Fox, Richard Kind and Gilbert Gottfried.

“Hi-Jinks” will either air in place of or as a companion to the network’s successful original show “Fatherhood.” (“Fatherhood’s” second season starts May 17.)

Mr. Semel, who joined Nick at Nite/TV Land in January to ramp up original programming, said that even on cable networks built around classic TV shows, viewers expect to see some original shows. And advertisers value original programming, he added.

Shows on these networks have to respect viewers’ love of classic television, which made “Chasing Farrah” an excellent fit.

“We want to embody the values of classic TV, but have them told in contemporary ways,” he said. “People want to know what those stars they loved in those old shows are doing today.”

The second episode of “Chasing Farrah,” which aired last Wednesday, rang up a 0.52 rating among adults 25 to 54, down just 4 percent from the classic TV fare in the time slot a year ago and 7 percent from the premiere episode, according to Nielsen Media Research.

With the success of “Chasing Farrah,” TV Land is looking for more classic TV stars to do original reality shows.

“We’ve got our own wish list,” Mr. Semel said. “The challenge is we set the bar high.”