Craig Piligian in step with A&E, TLC


Prolific reality producer Craig Piligian has two cable series moving forward with series orders: a dance competition show on TLC and a cooking series starring Rocco DiSpirito for A&E.

"Masters of Dance" is a six-episode, half-hour series scheduled to start production next month. With several dance competition series racking up ratings points on broadcast and cable, "Dance" puts its own twist on the genre by changing songs mid-dance.

"This is not staged dancing that they have a week to figure out," Piligian said. "This is more like how you would dance in a club or at a wedding. Dancers have to be able to switch up their dance."

Each self-contained episode begins with six competitors who are eliminated until only one dancer remains.

Piligian's other new series is a long-stewing cooking show with DiSpirito ("The Restaurant"), where the chef helps everyday people with their cooking needs, like throwing a large dinner party.

Word of the DiSpirito project -- the working title is "Rocco to the Rescue" -- first leaked in 2006, but the show had since been stalled in development.

A&E gave the 13-episode series a greenlight with a debut set for the fourth quarter. The series will air as part of the network's daytime block.

Both series, from Piligian's Pilgrim Films and Television, represent a departure for their respective networks.

TLC reality programs tend to be docusoaps ("Miami Ink") and makeover series ("10 Years Younger") rather than competition-based shows; A&E is best known for darker-edged and alternative reality shows ("Dog the Bounty Hunter," "Intervention").

Piligian's biggest hits continue to be Discovery Channel's "Dirty Jobs" and Sci Fi Channel's "Ghost Hunters," along with its spin-off "Ghost Hunters International." On Friday, Discovery's Planet Green channel announced a summer series from Piligian documenting the rebuilding of a Kansas town leveled by a tornado. The 13-part series, "Greensburg," is produced with Leonardo DiCaprio's Appian Way and shows the town being reconstructed as an eco-friendly community.