Talk Show Host Wendy Williams Inks Development Deal with Oxygen

Wendy Williams Pink Dress - P 2012
Karl Giant

Wendy Williams Pink Dress - P 2012

Oxygen is looking to get louder with a series of announcements, including a first-look development deal with talk-show host Wendy Williams.

Also included in the flurry of news ahead of the NBCUniversal-owned cable network’s upfront event was an announcement that the "live out loud"-branded network would expand its original programming by 20 percent and across three nights in 2013. Among the new development efforts: Secret Celebrity, which features stars in disguise as they surprise unsuspecting fans, friends and family, and a pilot entitled This Week the Award Goes To …, a comedic talk show that doles out over-the-top awards to the most deserving newsmakers in pop culture. The former is produced by T Group Productions, while the latter hails from JimCo.

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They will join returning series including I’m Having Their Baby, which serves as the femme-skewing net’s highest-rated new series of 2012, along with tattoo-competition series Best Ink and upcoming model-competition series The Face. As part of Williams’ expansive deal, she will serve as an executive producer on Secret Celebrity and appear as a guest judge on The Face. Additionally, she and her newly formed production company will develop and produce original fare for the network.

“We have become a destination for young women on all the platforms they love,” Oxygen Media president Jason Klarman said in a statement announcing the news. "Their social chatter and ravenous appetite for our ‘live out loud’ content is driving our success with viewers and advertisers." Added senior vp ad sales Susan Malfa: “If advertisers are looking to reach an audience of young, socially savvy women who have both purchasing power and the ability to influence purchase decisions, then Oxygen is the place to be.”

Oxygen managed to add 15 new advertisers in 2012.

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The news comes just a day after NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke announced that Oxygen would be reassigned to cable chairwoman Bonnie Hammer, who will take the reins of the company's entire cable portfolio. Prior to that, Oxygen had fallen within Lauren Zalaznick's cable purview. Zalaznick now will refocus on the company's larger digital efforts in a bid to make sense of -- and money from -- the changing landscape.

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