May 05, 2014 1:30pm PT by Michael O'Connell
CMT Looks to Build Franchise With 'Party Down South,' Casting First Spinoff (Exclusive)
CMT is hoping lightning will strike twice (or more) for Party Down South. The cable network's recent ratings success, a Southern spin on MTV's Jersey Shore from reality mastermind SallyAnn Salsano, is being pursued as a first-ever franchise with the search for a second cast now underway.
The Hollywood Reporter has learned that CMT is reteaming with Salsano's 495 Productions for a potential spinoff that would follow another group of exhibitionist Southerners in another locale below the Mason-Dixon Line.
"There are a couple things I like about the ability to develop a franchise like this," CMT executive vp development Jayson Dinsmore tells THR. "It becomes a farm system to mature characters for the long run. We could have multiple spinoffs and we could also find ourselves in a scenario where we have enough castmembers to do something like a challenge series."
Additional versions of Party Down South would resemble the Teen Mom or Real Housewives franchises in their distinction from the original.
Party Down South earned a second-season order early in the year, shortly after it became the highest-rated show in the cable network's history and topped out with a 0.8 rating with adults 18-49. It's been a boon to the network, which has had an aggressive unscripted slate in the last two years, and the network is plugging the June 5 return with a publicity push from the June 4 CMT Music Awards -- annually the network's most watched night.
Dinsmore adds that the network is being cautious with the property, as he doesn't want the show to burn too brightly, too fast, and no one is interested in the rowdy reality show about hard-partying 20- and 30-somethings becoming too big a part of the brand identity.
"We're very cautious not to overexpose this series," he says. "We hope to have it last seasons upon seasons"
Any franchising would be another feather in Salsano's cap. The Jersey Shore executive producer, who parlayed the MTV show into several spinoffs, recently sold a controlling stake in 495 Productions to giant FremantleMedia for an estimated $40 to $50 million.