Kardashians, Lamases join E! lineup

Ryan Seacrest behind 'Keeping Up' spinoff

Comcast Entertainment Group's E! is on board for yet another Ryan Seacrest project, exercising its first-look deal with the American Idol host's production company for a spinoff of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

Set to bow in August, Kourtney and Khloe in Miami follows the two Kardashian sisters who aren't "famous for having a big ass and a sex tape" to south Florida, where they'll attempt to launch a new business venture. (The less-than-charitable assessment of "Keeping Up" linchpin Kim comes courtesy of E! personality Joel McHale, who trots out the line whenever he intros a Kardashians segment on his weekend clip show, "The Soup.")

A collaboration between Ryan Seacrest Productions and Bunim-Murray Productions, the half-hour "Kourtney and Khloe" will look to build on the momentum of season three of "Keeping Up," which returned March 8 to 1.66 million total viewers. Ted Harbert, president and CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group, believes the duo can deliver a standalone series. "It's a very simple formula that we took from scripted TV and applied to a reality show," Harbert said. "There are a lot of family sitcom elements to 'Kardashians,' and we think that humor and warmth will carry over to Miami."

Another E! series to focus on an unconventional showbiz tribe is "The Lamas Family," premiering this fall. Produced by Mike Fleiss (ABC's "The Bachelor") and Warner Horizon TV, the show tails actress Shayne Lamas as she plunges back into the L.A. dating pool. Family patriarch Lorenzo Lamas is expected to make frequent appearances on the show.

As E! preps its new slate, the network has enjoyed a recent ratings spike, a trend that dates back to its Feb. 22 pre-game coverage of the Academy Awards. "Live From the Red Carpet" averaged 3.38 million total viewers, up 16% over E!'s prior-year delivery; since then, the net has notched its strongest March in total day and prime. Even 11 p.m. talk show "Chelsea Lately" enjoyed its best month since its debut, growing 32% versus March 2008.

"We're not a one-trick pony, whether you're looking at the variety of programming we offer or the wide list of advertisers we partner with," said Dave Cassaro, president of Comcast Networks ad sales. "We attract everything from beer to cosmetics to home improvement."

As much as E! occasionally brushes up against content issues -- "The Girls Next Door" makes greater use of a pixelator than a Dr. Dre video -- many clients seem comfortable with its bawdiness. "Any brand that can laugh at itself a little is a good fit," said one buyer. "Their late-night and prime-time is perfect for a client who's comfortable in their own skin."
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