CMT Orders 'Country Love Story' From Former MTV Heads Liz Gateley, Tony DiSanto
UPDATED: The biography series about famous music couples is being developed with CMT in addition to five TV series, 15 pilots and three shows for digital distribution launched by DiGa Vision in just over a year.
Famous country music couples will be the focus of Country Love Story on CMT, “a biography-type series on these artists that would integrate the love songs they wrote for each other,” according to Liz Gateley, who is producing with partner Tony DiSanto for DIGA Vision.
“The music and lyrics tell the story of their lives,” added DiSanto. “It’s really a duet where we’re going for a biography series not about a person, but about a relationship.”
They know music from two decades as executive producers at MTV, where they both served as head of development and president. Together they did The Hills, Laguna Beach, Runs House, Teen Mom and Teen Wolf.
Teen Wolf was recently renewed by MTV for a third season. Teen Wolf attracts about 1.8 million viewers a week, which has made it a hit with the channels target audience of 12- to 34-year-olds.
MTV has upped the third season order to 24 episodes from the 12 that they produced last year.
DiSanto said they spent two years getting Teen Wolf on the air, in part because the property was owned by MGM, which kept going through management changes. “For us it’s a really sweet payoff to get 22 episodes of that show,” says DiSanto, “since it was such a long personal project for us to just get it made.”
At DiGa, after only a little more than a year, they already have five TV series in production, three digital series (for online distribution) and are in production on more than 15 pilots.
The name DiGa is a combination of DiSanto and Gateley’s last names and also means “to speak” in Spanish.
Their year-and-a-half-old New York-based production company is funded by Ben Silverman’s Electus and Barry Diller’s IAC.
DiGa continues to build its inventory of ideas. They’ve just made a new deal to develop a documentary musical reality show with Kesha (Ke$ha), the 24-year-old singer whose 2010 album Animal topped the charts. It will incorporate performances and more than 100 hours of footage already shot by her older brother Lagan Siebert -- as only a brother can see her.
Another famous brother, Bob Weinstein, co-CEO of the Weinstein Co., chose DiGa to develop the Scream movie franchise as a scripted TV series. DiSanto said Weinstein called because of their work on MTV’s supernatural series Teen Wolf. Scream is not yet set at a network even though there were blog reports it is set up at MTV.
“They came to us out of the blue,” said DiSanto. “They saw Teen Wolf and liked that, and that we had cracked the werewolf genre for females because that’s traditionally been a male genre, like vampires, that was hard to get women to follow.”
They are also producing a reality show with American Idol judge Randy Jackson which is set to air on MTV. It has begun the search for America’s Next Superstar Siblings. They want to find the next Jackson family or Oasis or the Hansen brothers.
It will mix “vérité storytelling with competition,” said DiSanto.
They’ve also sold Lifetime two series:
-- Famous Yard Sale, brought to them by 'N Sync’s Lance Bass, which is being co-produced with Leftfield, who have Pawn Stars on History Channel.
-- My Life Is A Lifetime Movie. It is a scripted hybrid reality show about real women, said Gateley, “who have gone through tremendous challenges and come out happier and living a better life.” In early July, DiGa turned in rough cuts of seven episodes expected to air later this year.
They’re also in producing The Baby Wait to air fourth quarter on Logo. Gately called the hour episodes “a sort of Modern Family take on adoption.”
The first one follows two gay men in New York City adopting from an 18-year-old mom. Future episodes will also deal with two women who adopt. Added Gateley: “It’s really a special emotional hopeful series.”
The one digital series already on YouTube (since July 2) is the series K-Town, a reality show about what it is like to be an Asian American in the 21st century. DiGa is producing with singer-actor Tyrese Gibson.