Incubator heats up cable nets

Simon Andreae's company has several series in works

He is part of the U.K. reality invasion: Four years after moving from the U.K. to Los Angeles, unscripted producer Simon Andreae has several series on the air and in the works on U.S. cable networks.

At WE, his company Incubator TV is behind the upcoming series "Most Popular," hosted by Graham Norton, and is producing another new series, "Modern Love," for the cable channel.

Incubator's "My Shocking Story" is entering its fourth season on Discovery Channel U.K. (TLC carries it in the U.S.), and its series "Popular Science's Future Of" launches next month on the Science Channel.

At History, the company is producing the new series "Strange Rituals" and is working on a special about ancient times.

"In a crowded market, you have to have a brand to stand out," Andreae said. "We call our brand of programming 'eye glue with IQ' -- our shows are smart, original and extreme."

For instance, "Rituals" re-creates extreme customs like cannibalism.

Andreae describes "Popular," slated to premiere July 19, as "Desperate Housewives" meets "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." It features seven women competing for a $10,000 prize determined by the audience, which votes for the contestant they find most appealing.

"Love," now in production, features couples who, for a prize, have to prove their love for each other.

"Future Of," a joint venture with Popular Science magazine, is hosted by Baratunde Thurston and explores how today's technological breakthroughs could affect our lives in the future.

"Shocking Story" showcases people with bizarre medical conditions.

Unscripted series about large families are red-hot now, and Andreae's home life -- he and wife/Incubator president Lisa are raising four boys -- certainly could be the basis of a reality show. But even going back to his start in the U.K., Andreae largely kept away from kid-friendly family fare.

The first company he co-founded, Optomen Television, became a major independent supplier of nonfiction programming for U.K. networks with such series as "The Naked Chef," "Kitchen Nightmares" and "Police, Camera, Action!"

In 2002, he joined Britain's Channel 4 as head of science and education, overseeing more than 100 hours of programming each year, including noise-making specials "Autopsy" -- which showed an autopsy performed live on TV -- and "Jump London" and the series "BodyShock" and "Psycho."

In 2005, Andreae came to Los Angeles and launched CAA-repped Incubator, which was based at Fox TV Studios until last year, when the company decided to go indie.

Incubator's credits also include "Surgery Saved My Life" for Discovery Channel and the series of specials "In the Womb" for National Geographic and Channel 4.