Bio's pulse quickens with originals slate

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Bio Channel is aggressively expanding its original programming slate with four new series in production, including a Chris Isaak-hosted talk show and William Shatner's previously announced interview series.

Meanwhile, sister channel A&E is planning to broadcast a live episode of "Criss Angel Mindfreak" in the show's upcoming fourth season.

Bob DeBitetto, president and GM of A&E and Bio said Wednesday during the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour at the Beverly Hilton that it is nearly doubling its original content in primetime compared with summer 2007, when the network rebranded.

"We will continue to focus first and foremost on alluring people and their true stories in a fresh, honest and entertaining voice — stories you just cannot make up," he said.

The slate, which will be shot in high-def, includes "The Chris Isaak Hour," which the network describes as "Biography" meets "Storytellers." The live performance and interview show, from Scott Sternberg Prods., will feature mainstream musical artists.

Also on the slate is "Shatner's Raw Nerve," an "edgy and offbeat celebrity interview series." "Nerve," also from Sternberg, premieres Aug. 19, with guests to include Shatner's former "Star Trek" co-star Leonard Nimoy, Jon Voight, Jimmy Kimmel, Judge Judy, Jenna Jameson, Kelsey Grammer and Valerie Bertinelli.

The other two new series are police-themed: "Female Forces," from the Greif Co., which follows female officers in a Chicago suburb, and "Why I Ran," from Intuitive, which interviews drivers who have led police on high-speed car chases.

Bio also is bringing "I Survived …" back for a second season. The show, from NHNZ, interviews people who have survived life-threatening situations.

"Biography" also is returning with new episodes featuring Tyler Perry, Eddie Murphy and Mel Gibson, among others.

Meanwhile, "Mindfreak" has its fourth-season premiere July 23. The hourlong live episode will air a week later and will feature Angel attempting to escape from a six-story building that is loaded with explosives and set to detonate. The episode also will broadcast live on A&E Latin America and Fox 8 in Australia. "Mindfreak" is produced by Angel Prods. and the Firm.(partialdiff)
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