Bravo overhauls programming, Web offerings

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NEW YORK -- Bravo will add another night of original programming, premiering several new series, including one focusing on a Los Angeles house flipper and a look behind the scenes of the Parker Palm Springs luxury hotel.

Bravo executives also will unveil a new round of online and wireless initiatives after a year that saw it create pop culture, forgotten TV and gay/lesbian Web sites and purchase TelevisionWithoutPity.com. It will continue the momentum with a new site called TopChefOnline.com, which will become a year-round destination for fans of the Bravo cooking competition "Top Chef." It will include an original Web series called "Miami Spice" featuring Season 2 chef Elia Aboumrad as well as blogs dedicated to food and drink and cooking tips on video.

It also will continue to develop mobile and other new-media sites including mobile video, weekly live voting and a reverse auction text campaign where viewers send text messages to Bravo for a chance to win prizes for the lowest bid.

"Flipping Out" is a reality series about Jeff Lewis, a real estate businessman known around Los Angeles and elsewhere for turning a six-figure profit on multimillion-dollar properties. Produced by Authentic Entertainment, the executive producers are Lauren Lexton and Tom Rogan.

"Welcome to the Parker" is the day-to-day life of the Palm Springs hotel and how it is kept up, and it profiles some of the guests. "Parker" is produced by Snackaholic Prods.; Ted Skillman and Belisa Balaban are executive producers. And "First Class All the Way" follows luxury travel consultant Sara Duffy; it's produced by Stone & Co. and executive produced by Scott Stone, Dave Osper and Lori Kaye.

None of the shows has a premiere date yet.

They will join other new shows "Hey Paula," a documentary series about "American Idol" judge Paula Abdul, and "Millionaire Matchmaker" plus returning shows "Top Chef" (in the summer), "Project Runway" (fall), "Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List" (premieres June 5) and "Inside the Actors Studio."

At a presentation for TV journalists at the Rainbow Room at NBC's headquarters at Rockefeller Center, Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick said Bravo was well positioned in linear TV, online and the emerging worlds of wireless. She said that Bravo reaches affluent, educated viewers --- which they call "affluencers" -- like no other channel.

Senior vp of sales Susan Malfa said that the channel's team will go into this year's upfront marketplace touting Nielsen Media Research and other data about its adults 18-34 and adults 18-49 viewership that is affluential, engaged and educated.

"They are really the people who advertisers want to have," Malfa said.

Online, the channel will add to its OUTzone.com gay/lesbian Website with a new show called "Ask a Gay Man," featuring William Sledd, who has answered viewer questions on a series of videos on You Tube.

Bravo senior vp new media Lisa Hsia said that last year Bravo "dipped its toe" into the space but said that its efforts have grown to include seven show-specific mobile Web sites, 13 shows on iTunes, 10 text-messaging campaigns and experiments with one-screen interactivity with the cooperation of Time Warner Cable.

"We're starting to see progress on developing a viable business model," Hsia said.

Its reverse auction text campaigns saw 700,000 bids and 1.7 million messages exchanged for a promotion involving "The Real Houseswives of Orange County."

The channel also will hold its own awards show in March 2008 called the Bravo Icon Awards. It will honor creativity in acting, fashion, food, interior design, hairstyling and pop culture.
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