September 16, 2011 12:45pm PT by Lacey Rose, Lesley Goldberg
MTV Orders Two Scripted, Four Reality Series
MTV is bulking up with six new series orders, including a Catfish adaptation, a Bo Burnham series and a Ke$ha vehicle.
The orders come on the heels of a strong summer for the younger-skewing network. After a lengthy stretch in which the one-time music net struggled to find its niche, MTV has scored enviable viewership for its rosters of originals, including top rated Jersey Shore along with Teen Mom, Teen Wolf and newcomer Awkward, which were both renewed for second seasons. Similarly impressed recently, its annual VMA telecast nabbed 12.4 million viewers, registering as network's most-watched telecast ever.
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"We're always looking to connect with our audience in a way that reflects their lives back at them -- we always say our lives amplified and each of these series connects with our core young audience in a way that reflects their lives back at them," David Janollari, head of MTV programming, told
THR. "They relate to it as being very pertinent to their real lives in the world today."
On the scripted side, MTV greenlit Underemployed from executive producer Craig Wright (Dirty Sexy Money, Brothers & Sisters), which takes a comedic look at the post-college generation starting life and career in today's harsh economic climate. Jared Kusnitz stars in the series, with Justin Levy, Clay Spencer and Julie Schwachenwald overseeing for MTV.
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Joining it is Zach Stone is Gonna Be Famous, co-created and starring comedian Bo Burnham, which hilariously explores this generation's desire to be famous. The series is produced by 3 Arts, with Burnham, Dan Lagana, Luke Liacos and Dave Becky on board as exec producers. MTV's Levy, Spencer and Michelle Klepper will oversee for MTV.
"All of these series reflect timely themes that we know resonate with our audience," said Chris Linn, executive vp MTV Programming and head of production. "We've listened to our viewers and feel that this group of shows hits cultural nerves that connect with them."
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On the unscripted front, MTV added Catfish, based on the Sundance darling by the same name. It will be shepherded to the small screen by original filmmaker/star Nev Schulman. Produced by RelativityReal, Tom Forman, Schulman, Ariel Schulman, Henry Joost, Marc Smerling, Andrew Jarecki, Brad Bishop and Jonathan Karsh will executive produce. MTV's Dave Sirulnick, Marshall Eisen and Nomi Leidner will exec produce for MTV, with Jonathan Mussman serving as the executive in charge for the network.
"The great thing about Catfish for us it¹s an incredibly 'now' topic, and I think it will really impact our audience exactly where they live, which is online," Janollari told THR. "So much of our audience is meting people and fostering relationships and conducting lives on the Internet. In the way that the movie exposed the good and the bad of the mystery of online relationships, the series will do the same thing."
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Also on offer: Hoods, a docu-series that follows characters back to their less glitz and glam-filled hometowns. The first episode will showcase Ke$ha's journey back to her native Nashville, Tenn. The original concept was developed by MTV U.K.'s Lisa Stokoe. Shannon Fitzgerald and Tiffany Williams will executive produce for MTV, with Shane Tilston overseeing the project for the network; Bruce Gilmer will executive produce for MTV International.
Other series include Wake Brothers, which introduces viewers to the No. 1 pro wakeboarder, Philip Soven, and his 19-year-old brother Bob. The series is produced by Pink Sneakers Productions, with Kimberly Cowin and John Ehrad exec producing alongside MTV's Tony DiBari and Karen Frank. Patt Parillo is the exec in charge for the network.
Wait Till Next Year follows a losing high school football team as it attempts to reverse a five-year losing streak on and off the field. The project, described as a reality docudrama of Friday Night Lights will be executive produced by Craig D'Entrone, Amelia D'Entrone and Sean Travis. Jessica Zalkind, Lauren Dolgen and Julie Schwachenwald will oversee for MTV.
Janollari noted that a decision had not yet been made on the fate of rookie comedy Death Valley, noting that it was too soon to weigh in as the series aired only three episodes.