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Costello, John Join Expanded Original Lineup at Sundance Channel

Apr 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Sundance Channel has signed Elton John and Elvis Costello for a new series that will launch later this year.
Mr. John’s Rocket Pictures will produce “Elvis Costello With…,” a talk show hosted by Mr. Costello featuring musical elements.
The program, premiering in December, also will appear on CTV in Canada and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom. FremantleMedia will be selling the show in other international markets.
The show is part of Sundance Channel’s efforts to gear up original programming to go with its independent films, documentaries and shorts.
Laura Michalchyshyn, the Sundance Channel’s executive VP and general manager of programming and creative affairs, speaking at a press breakfast, said the network expects original and acquired series to account for about 25% of the channel’s schedule and has doubled its series programming (including acquired shows) and tripled its original series.
Another new series is “Architecture School,” launching in September. It follows students at Tulane trying to design low-cost housing for New Orleans.
Among the original programs on Sundance’s development slate are “Eco-Trip: The Real Cost of Living,” hosted by David de Rothschild, founder of Adventure Ecology, and “Johnny Weir: Black Swan Rising,” with the Olympic ice skater.
Aiming to become more of a multiplatform service, Sundance said it would be launching an original Web series, “The Good Fight,” on Earth Day, April 22. The series, about environmental justice, will be housed on SundanceChannel.com and syndicated on Sundance-branded sections of YouTube, Hulu, iTunes and Verizon’s VCast.
Sundance Channel also will be airing a series of shorts created by Isabella Rossellini called “Green Porno,” in which the actress demonstrates animal activity of creatures including the spider and the bee in a humorous way.
Before appearing on the cable channel, the shorts will appear on SundanceChannel.com and the Helio mobile services, as well as Sundance’s video-on-demand service.
Sundance Channel plans to have upfront presentation with ad buyers and marketers hosted by Sundance founder Robert Redford in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The network is having upfronts because it has been shifting from a premium noncommercial network to one supported by branded entertainment.
“We couldn’t do this level of production without sponsors,” said Sundance Channel President-CEO Larry Aidem.
Sundance said it was expanding its integrated sales staff, hiring three new sales heads from Scripps Networks, MTV Networks and Discovery Communications.
Mr. Aidem declined to comment on the progress of discussions by owners NBC Universal and CBS Corp. to possibly sell the network. He said only that Mr. Redford would continue to be involved with the channel whoever its corporate parents may be.

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