MTV shows its many 'Skins'

Network developing a U.S. version of popular British series

MTV is developing a stateside version of the raunchy U.K. series "Skins" -- but will the network be able to capture the risque appeal of the original?

That one follows an ensemble of British teens and contains copious amounts of swearing and drug use, along with some nudity. Moreover, the show uses an innovative production model, casting teenage unknowns to star in the series and employing young first-time writers. MTV chased the popular show for two years and beat out fellow bidder the CW for the rights.

MTV says it will continue the original show's production model with co-creator Bryan Elsley writing and executive producing the pilot.

" 'Skins' is one of those rare shows that cuts through to its core audience with unusually authentic stories due to the unique writing and casting process that Bryan pioneered," said Liz Gateley, senior vp, MTV Series Development. "Having personally pursued the U.K. project for almost two years, I am beyond thrilled to bring it to MTV in the U.S. We intend to preserve the authenticity of the British version and are excited to collaborate with the original team to develop stories that will speak to American youth."

MTV is current developing a significant amount of scripted programming and "Skins" -- a hit format starring unknown actors and written by newbies -- is exactly the sort of low-cost programming model the network swoons for. But after the network announced the deal Monday, fans worried that the network's content restrictions would keep water down the show.

Gateley acknowledged that series creators were "very trepidations to export the show without them being able to be very hands on." She confirmed MTV's version will not show nudity and will not use a certain few four-letter words. But she said the project will nonetheless break "new territory" for the network.

"We don't want to do a softer version of it," Gateley said.

Executive producer Charlie Pattinson said he wants to make sure "Skins" continues to be "the absolute opposite of 'Gossip Girl.'"

"While obviously there are going to have to be cultural changes, we wanted to not to water it down too much or you end up with a mellow generic teen show and that would be a waste of time and money for everyone," Pattinson said.

MTV might only air the program during certain late-hour time periods and Gateley noted the network is also developing other scripted efforts which might have to be restricted to latter hours as well. Gateley noted there are creative ways some networks have addressed content issues, such as NBC putting bleeps into "Southland."

The cast will consist of teens, aged 16-19. The producers intend to set the show in Baltimore. Producers have held focus groups in the city to try and find story ideas for the pilot.

The series will be produced by Company Pictures and Stormdog, with Elsley, Pattinson and George Faber executive producing. ICM brokered the deal.

Elsley is repped by CAA.