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Oxygen Boosts Program Staff

Aug 22, 2005  •  Post A Comment

With its new show “Mo’Nique’s Fat Chance” registering the biggest ratings for an original show in the network’s history, Oxygen is beefing up its programming and development staffs.

“We have a lot of new shows coming up this year, and ‘Mo’Nique’ was incredibly successful for us, so we really need the support and the bodies to create more and manage more [shows] and the workflow that’s come with this success,” said Debby Beece, president of programming and marketing for Oxygen.

The programming coming down the pipeline at Oxygen includes original movies and companion shows for its “Snapped,” which will return for a third season, and “Girls Behaving Badly.”

Oxygen’s strategy since its founding has been to offer original programming. But as an independent whose distribution grew slowly, few of its shows took off. Now with more then 55 million subscribers, some of its shows are starting to get traction and the network has been increasing its spending on programming by 30 percent a year, Ms. Beece said.

Oxygen’s recent hires are led by Joseph La Polla, named VP of programming, and Amy Dean-Kennedy, director of development. The network also promoted Julina Tatlock to VP of programming strategy from director of network initiatives, and Scott Lewers to VP of programming, scheduling and planning from director of programming, scheduling and planning.

Mr. La Polla, who previously held programming jobs at Rainbow HD Originals, Discovery Channel, Outdoor Life Network, Trio and A&E Television Networks, was involved in the successful scheduling and promotion of “Mo’Nique,” Ms. Beece said.

Strategic scheduling has become more important to Oxygen.

“There’s a lot of television, so your scheduling department is always looking for an opening where maybe there is less happening this month than that month, or ways of creatively approaching the schedule through marathoning or stunting or some way to get your show noticed,” she said. With viewers scanning and TiVoing, “You’re trying to keep up with how people are watching and when they are watching, and coming up with clever scheduling strategies so you’re in their face.”

Ms. Dean-Kennedy will be based in New York. She previously was head of development for Lary Simpson Productions, developing features from the Simpson/Bruckheimer library and original acquisitions. Since joining Oxygen, she has been working on the original film “Romancing the Bride,” which has completed filming and stars Laura Prepon and Carrie Fisher.

Ms. Beece said the companion show to “Snapped” is titled “Relentless.” The show, set to debut Oct. 9, is a true-crime series featuring women who try to solve their own cases, such as the kidnapping of a daughter or finding a deadbeat dad.

“There’s so much violence against women on television these days that it felt good to do a show that showed women standing up and battling back,” she said.

She said ratings for “Snapped,” about women who exact revenge on men who have done them wrong, doubled in its second season. “It’s the little engine that could,” she said.