Bravo Orders Six Unscripted Series

Dec 5, 2005  •  Post A Comment

In a bid to come up with programming that could halt its ratings slide, Bravo has ordered six new unscripted pilots that are faithful to the pop culture and lifestyle themes the network’s shows explored in recent years.

“It represents the breadth of our programming and our overarching principle of delving deeper into major pop culture trends,” said Frances Berwick, senior VP of programming and production for Bravo. She added that Bravo has 20 other projects in development.

The announcement comes after four consecutive quarters of ratings decreases among prime-time total viewers for the NBC-Universal-owned network. Among 18- to 49-year-old viewers, the network lost ground during three of the last four quarters. Among Bravo’s recent debuts-“Situation: Comedy,” “Being Bobby Brown,” “”Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List,” “Hidden Howie” and “Battle of the Network Reality Stars”-only “Griffin” and “Bobby Brown” drew significant viewership. None of the freshman shows have been renewed.

Most of the new pilots are based on original concepts, though their lifestyle/pop culture/reality genres will seem familiar to viewers of Bravo competitors, such as VH1 and E!.

But in a slight shift in programming strategy, unlike the bulk of Bravo’s summer’s debuts, the pilots are all driven by concepts rather than celebrities.

To scare up a much-needed boost, Bravo needs to offer more distinctive selections than the current slate, said Shari Anne Brill, VP and director of programming at Carat North America.

“They’re trying to go as broad in their appeal as possible. The problem is it doesn’t distinguish you from the other guy,” she said. “How does it help build your brand if you’re not going for something unique and distinctive? They just need a little more.”

In Bravo’s defense, Ms. Berwick said, what makes Bravo unique is the casting and execution of its programming.

“Some of [our brand] is subject matter, but a lot of it is our approach-we really focus on personalities,” Ms. Berwick said. “That is really Bravo’s trademark. Whether it’s the cast of ‘Queer Eye [for the Straight Guy]’ or the judges on ‘Project Runway.'”

More Pop Culture Exploration

Bravo has ordered these new pilots:

  • “Surprise!”: Caterer Laurence Craig throws surprise parties. “They’re very atypical parties-divorce parties, Botox parties, empty nest parties,” said Amy Introcaso-Davis, VP of development and production for Bravo. Produced by Douglas Ross and Kathleen French of Evolution Film & Tape in conjunction with Becky Smith.

  • “Fresh Start” (working title): Individuals at a crossroads will make a key decision based on a roll of the dice. Executive produced by RJ Cutler for Actual Reality and Jared Tobman.

  • “Ex Wives Club” (working title): A docu-soap following young divorc%E9;es in a support group. Executive produced by Chris Weber for Tiger Aspect Productions.

  • “War of the Wives”: Husbands compete head-to-head to train their spouses in a skill that made the husbands successful. Executive produced by Steve Mayer for IMG and Dave Snyder.

  • “Dishing”: Talk show recapping current events. Executive produced by Bryan Scott and Marcia Mul%E9; for Picture This Television.

  • “This Evening With These People”: Uses one typical American family’s daily life as the basis for a nightly newscast. Produced by Stick Figure Productions.