'The Hills' will go on

MTV extending series' run without star Lauren Conrad

Although Lauren Conrad has had her fill of "The Hills," MTV is extending the series' run with an additional clutch of episodes set to air in the fall.

As part of its upfront announcements to advertisers, MTV said Tuesday the docusoap will continue without the 23-year-old designer, building a new story line around newlyweds (and Conrad antagonists) Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag.

"MTV viewers will find out life in Los Angeles only gets more complicated as friendships, relationships and loyalties are tested like never before as 'The Hills' returns this fall with more episodes of Season 5," MTV said.

Note that's "more episodes of Season 5," not another season per se.

At PaleyFest last week, producers said they were planning to continue shooting footage of the remaining characters beyond the season finale. MTV likely will decide how many episodes will air based on how compelling the resulting footage is.

Along with news of an L.C.-free version of the hit show, MTV unveiled its 2009-10 programming roster, prepping nine new shows and returning four series. The network indicated that its development slate will "continue to reflect a directional shift geared toward the millennial generation, with shows that are aspirational, escapist and optimistic."

Several of the new shows previously were reported by THR, including the fashion reality competition series "Stylist," DJ AM's new intervention series "Gone Too Far" and animated shows "DJ and the Fro" and "Popzilla."

"There's a palpable generational shift in attitudes that's informing a new point of view as we develop content and the brand," said Tony DiSanto, head of programming at MTV. "The change in our audience is reflected in new formats, tonal voices and storytelling cadence. ... Just as we've shifted with our audience in the past, we're now embracing a new brand filter -- one that inspires us to break boundaries, bust our mold and reinvent."

Other new series include:

-- "The Buried Life": Aspirational new show from Reveille that follows "four young men on an epic quest to prove that anyone can do anything -- everything from kissing Rachel McAdams to getting in the Guinness Book of World Records. But they also made a promise to themselves: for every goal they achieve on their list, they help a stranger do something on theirs."

-- "The Alexa Chung Show," also from Reveille, a one-hour daily live show hosted by the British TV personality and model. The program will feature celebrity guests and musical performances and allow viewers to interact with guests in real time via Twitter.

-- "Ultimate Parkour Challenge:" Competition series from One Louder and Transition Prods. using "free running," in which "athletes run as efficiently as possible from Point A to Point B, but unlike a track and field race, parkour is performed on any and every environment. Walls, cars, stairs, railings, rooftops and 10-foot gaps between five-story buildings force runners to leap, roll, climb, vault and fly, using the obstacles in their way to increase speed."

-- "Pranked": A weekly 30-minute show from Cheri Sundae Prods. of "the very best pranks" pulled off the Internet.

In addition to "The Hills," MTV also is cooking up new seasons of "America's Best Dance Crew," "Run's House" and "Nitro Circus."

MTV is the top-rated ad-supported cable network in total day among viewers 12-24 but has struggled in primetime of late. In April, the network's average nightly delivery fell 12% to 841,000 total viewers, and the 18-34 demo dropped 11% (468,000, good for fourth place).

James Hibberd reported from Los Angeles; Mediaweek senior editor Anthony Crupi reported from New York.
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