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The new network, unveiled in February, will launch with a mix of unscripted holdovers from Spike as well as scripted originals developed both at cable networks in the Viacom portfolio and specifically for Paramount Network.
Below, The Hollywood Reporter breaks down all the programming set for Paramount Network and outlines the cabler’s executive structure ahead of its January 2018 debut. (A formal launch date for the network has yet to be officially unveiled.)
THE DECISION MAKERS
The plan: Viacom CEO Bob Bakish plans to focus on six key brands — Paramount Network, MTV, BET, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. — in his quest to rejuvenate the media conglomerate. Paramount Network will be the broadest-skewing network in the cable portfolio.
Kevin Kay serves as president of Paramount Network, TV Land and CMT. He added oversight of the latter two in February. He reports to Bakish.
Keith Cox, who took over TV Land after Larry Jones was pushed out, expanded his role to include president of development and production at Paramount Network as well as TV Land. He reports to Kay. Cox also promoted his TV Land lieutenant, senior vp development Brad Gardner, adding Paramount Network to his purview. Gardner reports to Cox and will work alongside Paramount Network senior vp development Ted Gold.
Niels Schuurmans, a 25-year Viacom veteran, is chief marketing officer and charged with overseeing the rebranding of Spike to Paramount Network. He also oversees marketing for TV Land and CMT. He reports to Kay.
The plan: In a March interview with THR, Kay said he’d like to have six scripted originals airing in Paramount Network’s first year. (First Wives Club, a pilot developed for TV Land, is being redeveloped and could be a contender.) Kay’s plan is to grow that during the next couple years to eight. It’s also possible that originals airing on other Viacom brands — like Younger from TV Land — could get a second window on Paramount Network.
Heathers | The 10-episode anthology, a reboot of the 1988 cult hit starring Winona Ryder and Christian Slater, was developed by Cox for TV Land as a half-hour pilot and picked up to series as its first hourlong entry. It was originally slated to debut in the fall — and premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival — but was moved to Paramount Network after becoming an internal favorite at Viacom. It premieres in the first quarter of 2018.
American Woman | The Alicia Silverstone starrer is a half-hour comedy and based on the life of Kyle Richards (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills). Like Heathers, it was developed and picked up to series by Cox for TV Land but moved to Paramount Network in an effort to broaden the cabler’s male-leaning demo. The single-camera series is set in the 1970s amid the sexual revolution and the rise of feminism. Silverstone stars as a mother of two who finds herself facing a new world after she leaves her husband. Mena Survari co-stars in the series from John Wells (Shameless) and John Riggi (30 Rock). It premieres in the first quarter of 2018.
Waco | The six-part miniseries, starring Taylor Kitsch as cult leader David Koresh and focused on The Branch Davidians, landed at Spike in October 2016 after a competitive situation with six other networks bidding for the Weinstein Co. entry. Michael Shannon co-stars in the mini. It is poised to air in the first quarter of 2018.
Yellowstone | The 10-episode drama from Oscar nominee Taylor Sheridan (Hell or High Water) was the first straight-to-series order picked up specifically for Paramount Network. Also from The Weinstein Co., it landed at Paramount Network in a competitive situation. In a telling sign of the type of talent Paramount is courting, Kevin Costner stars. It will premiere in summer 2018.
The Mist | The adaptation of the Stephen King novella launched June 22, and if successful, will be renewed for a second season to air on Paramount Network. Frances Conroy stars in what is Spike’s first ongoing scripted series in years. (Getting back into the scripted business was an arduous process after the cabler scrapped Red Mars and Harvest, both of which were picked up straight to series.)
The Shannara Chronicles | The genre drama based on the best-selling book series of the same name aired its first season on MTV, with its sophomore run poised to air on the fall on Spike. Like The Mist, should that second season be successful, the series could score a third season to air on Paramount Network.
The plan: Kay noted that he’s looking for volume on the unscripted side to help fill the schedule but acknowledged the challenges that come with finding a fresh and “premium” idea in the space. “We need some big ideas. Nonscripted right now is more challenging than scripted,” he said in March. “There aren’t a lot of new ideas out there; there’s a dearth of derivative programming out there and audience fatigue on nonscripted. We need more that’s different — we just can’t sit back and do more of the same.” Chachi Senior oversees unscripted for Paramount Network, reporting to Cox.
Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story | The six-part docuseries is the first new nonscripted series picked up specifically for Paramount Network. The project continues Viacom’s relationship with producers The Weinstein Co. and Jay Z, who previously partnered on Spike’s Time: The Kalief Broder Story. A premiere date is yet to be determined.
Lip Sync Battle | The Spike hit isn’t going anywhere with its 18-episode fourth season, set to air in the first quarter of 2018 and launch with a star-studded live show from the Paramount lot in L.A.
Ink Master | The Spike tattoo reality competition series will be back for its 10th season in the first quarter of 2018.
Bar Rescue | The Jon Taffer-hosted series will also return for season six in the first quarter of 2018.
I Am Martin Luther King Jr. | The documentary is the latest installment in Spike’s “I Am” series from filmmaker Derik Murray. It premieres in the first quarter of 2018.
Bellator MMA matches | These will also be back in the first quarter of 2018.
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Thomas Brodie Sangster