Flavor Flav to Do VH1 Reality Show

Oct 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Viacom-owned cable network VH1 has signed former Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav to star in a new “Bachelor”-style reality series, the network confirmed last week.

Dubbed “Flavor of Love,” the series will feature the hip-hop artist, who has become something of a familiar face to VH1 viewers in the past year, seeking true love among a bevy of potential mates.

The tone of the series-whether it will parody ABC’s veteran “Bachelor” format with hip-hop elements or take the romantic contest seriously-has not yet been decided, said Michael Hirschorn, executive VP of production and programming for VH1.

Last year Flavor Flav (born William Drayton Jr.) was featured on VH1’s “The Surreal Life,” where he became romantically involved with model-actress Brigitte Nielsen, a fellow “Surreal Life” cast member. Their romance spawned another VH1 reality show, “Strange Love,” which debuted in January and drew a larger-than-average audience for VH1 of 770,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

“Some people wear out their welcome rather quickly, but he’s somebody people have great affection for and think is funny and have a nostalgic connection to,” Mr. Hirschorn said. “It seems clear that he’s a major talent.”

VH1 has ordered 10 one-hour episodes.

The order comes after a successful third quarter for the 20-year-old network, which is up 7 percent among 18 to 49 viewers over the same period last year and has enjoyed 13 consecutive quarters of viewership growth, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The growth has impacted not only industry perception of the network but also perceptions of VH1 within parent company MTV Networks. For years VH1 was considered a lesser priority for the company, sources said, with little effort put into series and network promotion. This summer the company has made VH1 a higher priority.

“We’ve had enormous growth in terms of ratings and the bottom line,” Mr. Hirschorn said. “We have an opportunity for VH1 to grab a major piece of the culture, and I think, internally, we first had to show that was possible.”

The quarter concluded amid VH1’s receiving considerable media buzz, not all of it positive, for its reality series “Breaking Bonaduce,” chronicling former child star Danny Bonaduce’s fracturing marriage and descent into drug-addled instability. Despite (or because of) the controversy, the series has done well for the network, averaging 750,000 viewers per episode, and VH1 is considering a renewal.

“‘Bonaduce’ is something we’re talking about,” Mr. Hirschorn said. “Both from ratings and buzz perspective, I think there would be continuing interest there. It’s certainly not a project we’re desperate to repeat, but if his story goes forward in an organic and interesting way, we would be interested.”

A programming executive at a rival network said “Bonaduce” has been so extreme it could spell the end of a genre.

“‘Bonaduce’ is to celebrity-reality what ‘Extreme Makeover’ was to makeover series-the end of the genre,” the executive said. “We’re looking at it and wondering, ‘Where can you go from there?'”

This summer the network also debuted “Hogan Knows Best,” a domestic reality show starring former wrestler Hulk Hogan. The series became VH1’s highest-rated debut of all time and one of the few summer celebrity-driven reality efforts to draw viewers. “Hogan” has been renewed for a second season, Mr. Hirschorn confirmed.

“Flavor of Love” is slated to premiere early next year and is produced by 51 Minds, a combination of Mindless Entertainment (“Surreal Life”) and 51 Pictures, which also produced “Strange Love.”