- The Washington Times - Monday, October 5, 2009

Breaking out

Bravo is developing three new projects starring some of its recent breakout reality show stars — Bethenny Frankel, Christian Siriano and Fabio Viviani, Variety reports.

The three will star in documentary-style series that focus on their lives and careers, said Frances Berwick, Bravo vice president and general manager.

The untitled show starring Miss Frankel, from the channel’s “The Real Housewives of New York City,” will showcase her career as a natural-foods chef, as well as the Gotham socialite’s love life.

Mr. Siriano, the flamboyant Annapolis native who won season four of “Project Runway” (back when the show still aired on Bravo), will be featured in his own show as he sets up a new shop and markets his clothing line.

Mr. Viviani will star in “Fabio: A Catered Affair,” which will chronicle the challenges he faces as he and business partner Jacopo Falleni look to expand their restaurant and catering business in Los Angeles. Mr. Viviani was a “Top Chef” finalist in season five.

‘Minds’ spinoff mulled

More than a year after the idea first surfaced, a spinoff of “Criminal Minds” may see the light of day later this season, Zap2it.com reports.

CBS and the show’s producers are starting to work on a planted spinoff of the crime drama, which would likely air this coming spring. Writer/executive producer Chris Mundy will pen the episode, based on story he conceived with fellow executive producer Ed Bernero.

The spinoff episode will feature a new group of characters — a concept similar to what CBS has done with its “CSI” franchise and “NCIS: Los Angeles,” the Hollywood Reporter says

Word of a possible “Criminal Minds” spinoff surfaced in the summer of 2008, but the project was put on the back burner last season.

‘Prisoner’ date set

AMC will premiere its ambitious six-part miniseries “The Prisoner” on Nov. 15, says the Hollywood Reporter.

The reinterpretation of the 1960s cult classic, stars Jim Caviezel and Ian McKellen. It will air in two episodes each night over three consecutive nights.

Leading into the miniseries, AMC will air “The Matrix Revolutions.”

Meanwhile, all 17 episodes of the original “Prisoner” series can be seen on the network’s Web site.

‘Wives’ new take

Cable’s Logo channel, in an effort to create the kind of buzz generated by Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise, has begun work on a gay version of the series, says TVWeek.com, citing a report from Digital Spy.

The series will be called “Kept” and is projected to air on Logo in 2010.

The show would be set in New York and focus on local party boys. Casting will begin in the near future, with filming beginning in November.

‘Truckers’ spinoff

Building on three years of ratings growth, cable’s History Channel has ordered several reality shows, including a spinoff of Thom Beers’ top-rated “Ice Road Truckers,” the Hollywood Reporter says.

Under the leadership of President and General Manager Nancy Dubuc, History recently launched its 10 highest-rated series to date. Miss Dubuc plans to continue the network’s strategy of developing informative reality shows and headline-drawing event specials.

Next summer, Miss Dubuc plans to introduce Mr. Beers’ “Extreme Trucking,” which takes the North American-based “Ice Road Truckers” format to locations worldwide where truckers navigate hazardous highways.

“There’s an endless supply of dangerous roads, and they’re in places where they’re highly unregulated,” she said.

History also has given a green light to “American Pickers” (working title), planned as a companion series to its series “Pawn Stars, which set a year-to-date original-series record for the network Sept. 27 with 2.9 million viewers.

“Pickers” explores the world of antique and collectible hunters who travel the U.S. hunting rare artifacts. Ten episodes of the series have been ordered for a January premiere, THR says.

Also slated: “Madhouse,” previously announced as being in development. The reality series revolves around rivalries at a North Carolina NASCAR track, where local families race to continue a 61-year feuding tradition. Thirteen episodes have been ordered, and a first-quarter premiere is planned.

The shows are built upon the network’s expansion into more reality programming, which has helped reduce Bravo’s median age by four years (to 48) and has it nearly cracking the top 10 among basic cablers in the adult demographic. Year to date, History is averaging 1.2 million viewers in prime time, THR notes.

Since arriving in 2007, Miss Dubuc has helped transform History from a channel best known for historical documentaries to a more contemporary brand thanks to such shows as “Ice Road Truckers,” “Ax Men,” “The Universe” and “Life After People.”

In the coming months, however, the network will re-embrace its roots with a trio of prestigious historical titles: the miniseries “World War II in HD”; the celebrity filled oral-history miniseries “The People Speak”; and next year’s 12-part series “America: The Story of Us,” billed as the network’s biggest-ever production.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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