'World Star TV,' Russell Simmons' All Def Digital a Go at MTV2 (Exclusive)

Both new series will premiere in February as network president Eli Lehrer plots out the cabler's first- quarter slate.
Courtesy of MTV
Eli Lehrer

MTV2 is adding two new series and changing the format for another as the cabler rolls out its first-quarter plans.

The Viacom-owned, younger-skewing cable network has picked up two new series — World Star TV and ADD-TV — and has shifted the new season of Uncommon Sense to air live.

“These new shows from two of the noisiest and most relevant digital brands speak to the same young, diverse audience as MTV2, and working to bring their voices to TV is a natural fit,” said Eli Lehrer, head of development at MTV and exec vp at MTV2. “A new live version of Uncommon Sense is an exciting reinvention of the show that will allow Charlamagne to showcase his unique skill set and tremendous hosting talent.”  

World Star TV, which will premiere Feb. 3 at 11 p.m., will incorporate elements from WorldStarHipHop, the popular digital urban culture destination covering comedy, music and news and a launchpad talent. The 10-episode, weekly late-night comedy will be hosted by Chris Powell (HBO's All Def Comedy Jam, Empire). He'll be joined by a panel of comedians, correspondents and cultural tastemakers who will offer commentary on clips from WorldStarHipHop. The series will also include original sketches, challenges and man-on-the-street segments, as well as celebrity rappers.

ADD-TV — aka All Def Digital, which is set to bow Feb. 3 at 11:30 p.m. — is a cross-platform media platform co-founded by Russell Simmons and focused on youth culture through the lens of the multiracial and pervasive movement of hip-hop. The three-episode, half-hour variety show will feature the best of All Def Digital’s digital content to a linear platform, with each episode featuring top comedians in various segments and sketches that address cultural, racial and gender stereotypes in a light-hearted, comedic way

"World Star and All Def have a ton of credibility and reach with the same young, diverse, hip-hop-inspired audience that MTV2 speaks to on a daily basis, and bringing the brands together for TV felt like something that made tremendous sense to everyone," Lehrer tells THR.

Meanwhile, the third season of Uncommon Sense will shift to a live format beginning Feb. 24 at 11:30 p.m.The Charlamagne Tha God-hosted series will take on a more socially conscious tone and air live Fridays at MTV's 1515 Broadway studio. (The first two seasons of the series were taped in advance.) The rebooted series will feature Charlamagne and a guest one-on-one in an in-depth conversation that will explore all sides of various issues.  

The changes come as Lehrer is following the lead of recently installed MTV topper Chris McCarthy, who is looking for more live fare and programming that strikes a more serious tone for the network. In a November interview with The Hollywood Reporter, McCarthy said he is looking for MTV to "embody everything it is to be young — optimistic, hopeful, idealistic, diverse, messy and fun."  

"Making Uncommon Sense live absolutely reflects Chris’ desire for more live programming, and to create programming that will drive viewer urgency," Lehrer tells THR. "There are so few truly live shows in late-night that it was a great opportunity to help distinguish Uncommon Sense. Charlamagne is a tremendous talent, and we want to give him a format where he can showcase his unique skill set and point of view in the most exciting, dynamic way, while speaking directly to and with his audience." 
 
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