Upfronts 2012: Travel Channel Orders More of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Layover,’ Developing With David Arquette
NEW YORK – Travel Channel is building on its original slate of lifestyle fare, ordering two new series including a second show with Man v. Food star Adam Richman and picking up a second season of Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover.
New series are: Adam Richman’s Best Sandwich in America, which has the excitable Richman in search of the best thing between sliced bread; and Toy Hunters, which follows collectible dealer Jordan Hembrough as he scours the country for valuable pop artifacts. Toy Hunters aired last month as a special on the network. Sharp Entertainment produces both shows for Travel.
The network has ordered eleven episodes of Bourdain’s Layover, which follows the No Reservations star on quick stops in jet-setting hubs. The eighth season of No Reservations bows April 9 at 9 p.m. Layover is targeted to bow later this year. And Travel has put two series in development: Aloha Gold, about the quirky staff at the independent Discover Hawaii Tours; and Mile High, which follows David Arquette and his friend Mike McGuiness – owner of public relations firm Feinstein/McGuiness PR – on spontaneous jaunts in McGuiness’ quest to snag enough frequent flier miles to get into the perk-festooned airline executive club. Arquette, McGuiness, actor Omar Epps and Arquette’s ex-wife Courteney Cox are executive producers.
Andy Singer, senior vp of programming and production at Travel Channel, says the network has been increasingly approached by celebrities pitching their take on the travel show. But the Arquette-McGuiness’ pitch stood out because it's an authentic and humorous approach to the travelogue. At six feet, seven inches tall, McGuiness’ quest to log more than 100,000 miles was borne of his desire to snag free upgrades to legroom abundant business class.
Travel has had multiple owners in its 25-year history including now-defunct airline TWA, which launched the network in 1987, as well as Cox and Discovery. Two years ago, the channel was acquired by Scripps Networks Interactive, which also operates Food Network, Cooking Channel, HGTV and DIY. Scripps executives are focused on building the network into a lifestyle brand. Viewers, says Travel Channel president Laureen Ong, want to be taken “beyond the guide book” with “authentic characters who are not tourists.”
The emphasis at the channel, adds Singer, is on “talent, but talent that does have expertise in this space.”
It’s a fine distinction for Travel, which will bow two new shows in April that, like so much unscripted content on cable, sound a little familiar. Hotel Impossible (April 9) follows hotel fixer Anthony Melchiorri, a “well-known and respected professional in the hospitality business,” says Singer. The imprecation; that Gordon Ramsay – who will do his own hotel fixing in Fox’s Hotel Hell, bowing April 6 – may know restaurants, but he does not have Melchiorri’s resume, which includes refurbishment projects at Manhattan’s famed Algonquin. There’s also Baggage Battles, premiering April 11, which follows auction specialists who make a living bidding – sight unseen – on lost bags and other property left unclaimed at airports. (Ong notes dryly that among the most frequent items left in bags is men’s wedding rings.) Of course, Baggage Battles bears a resemblance to A&E’s successful Storage Wars, which has already spawned the spinoff Shipping Wars. But, says Singer, “These are actual auctions that happened. We didn’t stage these. People do lose their bags.”