- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007

Going for gold

MyNetworkTV (My20 to local viewers) began its run last year with a heavy dose of English-language telenovelas. However, the format didn’t prove as popular with general audiences nationwide as it is among Latin viewers. So the network, owned by Fox parent News Corp., recently reshuffled its programming, skewing to a younger — and male — audience.

It’s working. Ratings at the fledgling network are up, mostly because of the new series “IFL Battleground.” The show, which airs matches from the world’s first team-based professional mixed martial arts league, garnered record numbers for MyNetworkTV in its first few weeks.

Mixed martial arts, also known as MMA, has been called the world’s fastest-growing sport.

Tonight’s episode of “IFL Battleground,” airing on My20 at 8, features the brotherly rivalry of world champions Ken and Frank Shamrock. The show takes viewers behind the scenes as they build their teams for their first ever head-to-head matchup. “Battleground” also goes international for the first time with the Tokyo Sabres, led by Japanese champion Ken Yasuda.

P&G; to back Mo’s show

Procter & Gamble agreed to sponsor the third season of Oxygen’s reality hit “Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance,” and the company’s products will be integrated into on-air and online aspects of the show, reports TVWeek.com.

P&G;, which is ranked No. 1 in advertising spending, is looking to connect with black consumers for its Pantene and Cover Girl brands. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The products will be featured in a beauty lounge during casting calls in Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas. They will also be featured in on-air vignettes and used in online elements.

Hosted by Baltimore born comic Mo’Nique, the show celebrates full-figured women and culminates in a beauty pageant where one of the participants will be crowned Miss F.A.T. Chance.

“We’re excited to be able to connect Procter & Gamble’s brands with Mo’Nique’s passionate, loyal and highly-involved audience: on-air, online and as part of the casting tour,” said Mary Jeanne Cavanagh, senior vice president of ad sales at Oxygen.

Changes afoot at Bravo

Bravo will add another night of original programming, premiering several new series, including one focusing on a Los Angeles house flipper and a look behind the scenes of the Parker Palm Springs luxury hotel, notes the Hollywood reporter.

“Flipping Out,” a reality series about real estate businessman Jeff Lewis, who’s known around Los Angeles and elsewhere for turning a six-figure profit on multimillion-dollar properties.

“Welcome to the Parker” is the day-to-day life of the Palm Springs hotel and how it is kept up, and it profiles some of the guests.

Another show, “First Class All the Way,” follows luxury travel consultant Sara Duffy.

Additionally, Bravo executives will unveil a new round of online and wireless initiatives after a year that saw it create pop culture, forgotten TV and homosexual Web sites and purchase TelevisionWithoutPity.com. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network will continue the momentum with a new site called TopChefOnline.com, which will become a year-round destination for fans of the Bravo cooking competition “Top Chef.” It will include an original Web series called “Miami Spice” featuring Season 2 chef Elia Aboumrad as well as blogs dedicated to food and drink and cooking tips on video.

Meanwhile, Bravo will continue to develop mobile and other new-media sites including mobile video, weekly live voting and a reverse auction text campaign where viewers send text messages to the network for a chance to win prizes for the lowest bid.

No premiere date has been announced for any of the shows, says the Hollywood Reporter.

They will join other new shows “Hey Paula,” a documentary series about “American Idol” judge Paula Abdul, and “Millionaire Matchmaker” plus returning shows “Top Chef” (in the summer), “Project Runway” (fall), “Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List” (premieres June 5) and “Inside the Actors Studio

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, wire and Web reports.

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