CMT Orders New Series From 'Jersey Shore' Creator, 'Voice' Winner Cassadee Pope (Exclusive)
A Southern take on the late MTV hit and a docudrama following the aspiring country singer are among four new entries, and a Steve Austin-hosted competition is included in pilot presentations set for the 2013 upfront.
CMT continued an ambitious rebrand at its New York upfront presentation Tuesday afternoon, announcing orders for four new original series, four renewals, four pilot presentations and the launch of a new division to cover current events through the network's lens: CMT News and Docs.
The moves further bolster an ambitious slate of originals, which grew by 43 percent in 2012. CMT programming and development executive vp Jayson Dinsmore tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Viacom-owned cable network will be adding more going forward after successfully pitching the parent company an ambitious plan to reach four nights of original programming by 2016.
Dinsmore says that many of the orders are in service of what he plans to bring to the network with April's premiere of Dog and Beth: On the Hunt, CMT's new iteration of former A&E juggernaut Dog the Bounty Hunter.
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"It's the most on-brand show that we have," he says, noting that CMT was keen to use Duane "Dog" Chapman as its foray into original Sunday programming. "We spent a lot of the last year refining our filter and taking a look at the shows that work on the network, and we figured out that people who live on their own terms and play by their own rules seem to resonate -- and Dog and Beth [Chapman] certainly seem to embody that."
Dog and Beth sees its official debut at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 21, followed by fellow new series Guntucky at 9 p.m.
Joining the CMT lineup later in the year: Hillbillies for Hire, a Florida-set show about professional pranksters from Leftfield Pictures; The Dirty South, a Southern spin on Jersey Shore from 495 Productions and Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano; Cops Reloaded, newly edited episodes of Cops; and The Cassadee Pope Project, a untitled series following Cassadee Pope, season-three winner of The Voice.
"We think there's something really valuable about a first-person account of the process of becoming a country star," Dinsmore tells THR of the Pope series, which was developed internally.
Cassadee Pope joins CMT at a to-be-announced date, with Hillbillies opening in summer and Dirty South in the fall. Cops Reloaded premieres March 25.
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Renewals include a third season for Redneck Island (51 Minds Entertainment, 310 Entertainment and Steve Austin's Broken Skull Ranch Productions), a second run for Swamp Pawn (Pilgrim Films), an eighth season for Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team (Triage Entertainment) and a fourth outing of My Big Redneck Vacation (Pink Sneakers).
Austin and 51 Minds' Cris Abrego have teamed up for the pilot presentation Steve Austin's Broken Skull Ranch, which pits six contestants against one another in a series of challenges on Austin's titular Texas home.
Other pilot presentations include conflict-resolution drama Bad Blood from ITV, Ketchum Labs' meth-lab docudrama Methbusters and gunfighter competition Shootout (Road Games Inc.).
Looking ahead to 2016, it's natural to think the network might start developing scripted fare soon. And while it's not on the immediate horizon, Dinsmore notes he's particularly impressed by the growth of A&E and History -- though it's an AMC drama he sees most closely aligned with his brand.
"If you are not a zombie, you're basically a redneck zombie killer," Dinsmore says of The Walking Dead. "The lead character wears cowboy boots and carries a six-shooter, and a whole season took place on a farm. There's no reason we shouldn't be thinking that way. I don't think it's our initial initiative, but we'll get there."