Reality TV: THR's 50 Most Powerful List
With programming spread all over cable, the American Chopper creator continues to expand his empire, most recently launching Big Shrimpin’ on History and Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s on OWN, which became the upstart network’s top-rated offering.
“I know it’s a small war, but it’s a good war to win,” says the Detroit native of the needed programming win for OWN. With Ultimate Fighter Live being reformatted for its new home on FX, Piligian expanded the combat-sport genre by bringing a 12th century sport into the 21st century: Full Metal Jousting is a “big swing” that continues to grow week over week for History.
Now that American Chopper is firing on all cylinders — its recent live installment drew an impressive 5 million viewers to Discovery — and Wicked Tuna has launched into its first season on Nat Geo, the 54-year-old is ready to push into new territory: broadcast.
“I wouldn’t get into the singingshow business, but we do have projects for networks we’re developing,” he says, noting The Nation’s Luckiest Person, which after a successful run in Japan is being shopped to U.S. broadcast nets. Other big swings for the man behind Spike’s upcoming World’s Wildest Police Chases include more scripted fare after exec producing Lifetime’s Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy. “We have very little fear when it comes to branching out and really going for it,” he says.
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