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Things are getting spooky at A&E. One of cable’s premiere unscripted destinations is betting hard on paranormal programming, reviving the long-running Ghost Hunters and ordering four more projects in the space.
“Paranormal worked really well for us in the past,” A&E Network executive vp and head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It feels like it’s a time in the country where there’s a trend for people to be spiritual without being overly religious. I think paranormal programming can feed that, while being entertainment-forward.”
Ghost Hunters, one of the crown jewels at Craig Piligian’s prolific Pilgrim Media Group, produced 230 episodes for Syfy over the course of its 11-season run. As a part of the new deal, A&E will also get access to the series’ formidable library — one that averaged a robust 3 million viewers per episode during its heyday.
As for the new version, series original Grant Wilson is returning on-camera and as an executive producer with a handpicked group of professional ghost hunters to investigate supposed hauntings. By engaging forensic experts, historical records and new technology, the new Ghost Hunters team will assist everyday people struggling with unexplained events. “I don’t chase ghosts,” Wilson says in the first trailer (below). “I chase the truth.”
“We’ve ensured it’s going to please the die-hard fans,” Bryant adds of the update. “The show is about helping people. The original Ghost Hunters could have been on A&E back in the day. A lot of A&E programming is about searching for the truth and emotional closure. And you could say that for a lot of these shows.”
The new Ghost Hunters, which has received an initial order of 20 episodes, kicks off Aug. 21.
Other series include reimagined versions of previous A+E Networks properties Psychic Kids and Celebrity Ghost Stories. The former, which will air alongside the new Ghost Hunters, finds the now-grown children from the original run spending time with other youngsters who claim to have paranormal abilities. It is produced by A+E Originals.
Celebrity Ghost Stories, which is exactly what it sounds like, will join the schedule later in 2019 after a five-year break from TV — previously airing on A+E Network Biography (now FYI). The six-episode order is being produced by Jarrett Creative.
Brand-new projects include Trey the Texas Medium (working title) and the special The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt (also a working title). Texas Medium follows Trey Ganem, a man who both creates custom caskets as a master carpenter and claims to bring messages from the dead to loved ones looking for closure. An initial 12-episode order, it is being produced by Anthony E. Zuiker in conjunction with Main Event Media.
The World’s Biggest Ghost Hunt is a two-hour special, eyed to premiere sometime in the fall. It is the product of two weeks of filming inside Pennsylvania’s allegedly haunted Pennhurst Asylum. Five paranormal investigators were given access to the grounds, where they locked themselves up for two weeks to determine the reasons for a recent spike in seemingly paranormal activity.
A&E has been on a bit of a buying spree of late. After expanding the order for Live PD spinoff Live Rescue, the network doubled down on its live efforts just a week ago with the addition of a stunt series, The Impossible Live, and an upcoming live special.
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