Bravo Upfront: Dalai Lama Meets Bobby Brown
Okay, how about seeing Red Sox Centerfielder Johnny Damon with tinfoil in his hair as his long tresses get highlights!
Or perhaps you would rather watch Richard Hatch, the winner of the first "Survivor," dunk "The Apprentice"'s Omarosa in a tank of water?
These are just a few of the 30 new programs that will make their way to Bravo within the next few months, as the NBC Universal-owned cable network unveiled its upfront presentation Tuesday.
At least five series will begin appearing this summer: "Sports Kids Moms & Dads," in which parents live vicariously through their athletic children; "Hidden Howie: The Private Life of a Public Nuisance," featuring the pranks of comedian Howie Mandel; "Kathy Griffin: My Life on The D-List," which looks at the offbeat comedienne's hapless attempts to rise above the D-List when even her agent won't return her calls; "Situation: Comedy," in which Sean Hayes (of NBC's "Will & Grace") supervises the pitches of potential sitcoms; and "Being Bobby Brown," a look inside the life of the former R&B star--and husband of Whitney Houston, although the show doesn't feature the fallen diva's check-in to rehab. Still, "Being Bobby Brown" does show the star getting some advice from the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan monk.
Meanwhile, there are interesting twists for returning shows, such as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," which has the fab five give makeovers to the entire Boston Red Sox team, while the players teach Carson (the "fashion expert") how to slide into home base like a pro.
Network executives sought to downplay all the attention "Queer Eye" has gotten, insisting that it is known for more than just that hit show, which is in its second season. Thus, the network is previewing a significant amount of shows as it hopes to maintain "buzzworthyness."
"The work 'buzz' is certainly overused," noted Lauren Zalaznick, the president of Bravo and Trio networks. "But that's what our programming is noted for."
Zalaznick and other network execs also sought to highlight the network's attraction to upscale viewers. "You're going to hear this at every upfront you attend, but no one else can credibly make this claim: we are the number one network in terms of upscale viewers, in terms of people who earn over $75k annually, in terms of dual-income couples, in terms of people buying a second car," she said. "And we're going to launch about eight new series between now and Labor Day that will solidify that."
The network touted other stats, such as noting that Bravo's viewership has more than doubled since 2003, and that the first quarter was its highest for every major demo.
"Over half of Bravo's programming is original, which is unusual for a cable network," said Jeff Lucas, senior vice president, NBC Universal, cable entertainment sales, covering USA Network and Sci Fi Channel, in addition to Bravo. "I sleep very well at night, thinking about our upfront," he added. "We have a lot to offer advertisers, namely that more than 60 percent of Bravo's deals involve some kind of brand integration. Furthermore, look at our success in the scatter market. In the second quarter, Bravo averaged 10 percent increases in CPMs. We added 15 new advertisers and more than doubled our ad revenue."
He declined to say what the precise figure for the network's revenues were.
Some of the other shows currently in development for the 2005/06 season, which the network hopes will capture both buzz and upscale viewers, are "The Battle of the Network Reality Stars"--which brings together former reality stars and the celebrities who made the original "ABC Battle for the Network Stars" such as Adrienne Barbeau, who made the dunk tank famous back in the late 1970s.
Another show, "The Real Housewives," allows a peek at jaded, lonely--albeit very wealthy--women in an actual gated community in Los Angeles.