TV Guide reality show looking for "America's Next Producer"

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TV Guide net looking for 'Producer'
Channel launching 10-hour reality show

The producers of "Project Runway" and "Top Chef" have begun
pre-production on a 10-hour reality-competition series for TV Guide
Channel called "America's Next Producer."

Magical Elves, the production company, which will tape the series in
Los Angeles for a weekly primetime slot on TV Guide Channel in the
summer, has set up casting calls to come up with the 10 wannabe
producers who'll go head-to-head as contestants. (The auditions start
in Chicago Feb. 24, move to L.A. March 10 and end up in New York March

"This is the most elaborate original production we've ever got
involved in," said Ryan O'Hara, president of TV Guide Channel.

O'Hara positions "America's Next Top Producer" as a potential
signature show for the network and part of a strategy to ramp up
original programming to convince cable operators and satellite
distributors that they should pony up more money in license fees that
the paltry three cents a month they pay now for each subscriber, one
of the lowest in the industry, according to Kagan Research. (O'Hara
declined to comment on the license fee.) The network reaches
80.3-million homes.

Earlier this month, the network gave a go to "Making News: Texas
Style," a 13-episode series providing "an inside look at the inner
workings of a local news station in Midland-Odessa, Texas." The
network also renewed "Idol Tonight," its live pre-show to Fox
Network's "American Idol."

TV Guide Channel is beefing up its programming, at least in part
following a Nielsen-ratings decline in 2006. The network dropped by 4%
in total primetime viewers compared to those of 2005, and fell off
even more in the three key adult demos (slipping by 12% in people 18
to 34, by 9% in P18-49 and by 7% in P25-54).

The format of "America's Next Top Producer" is "to give viewers a
window on the world of some of the things a producer does," said Dan
Cutforth cq, co-founder of Magical Elves and co-exec producer of the
series with Jane Lipsitz cq and Richard Bye cq. Casey Kriley cq is
supervising producer.

Cutforth said the chalenges his staff cooks up for the contestants
will parallel what's become the norm in the business these days.
"Almost every network tests new scripted ideas in low-budget ways," he
said. "Network executives will say to a writer, 'We'll give you
$20,000 to spend on showing us your characters in a three-minute

Each rival for the crown of "America's Next Top Producer" will be
asked to "put together a three-minute sales tape on the scope of the
show you have in mind," Cutforth said. All programming genres are fair
game, he continued, from dramas and comedies to reality shows and
gameshows. With gameshows, for example, Cutforth added, "most of them
boil down to a simple hook." The judges will grade contestants on how
compelling they can make these no-frills presentations.

O"Hara said the show is negotiating with a morning TV show, which
would serve as a proving ground for one or more of the aspirants to
create a segment for the ayem program. The quality of that segment
will become part of the competition that'll determine whether the
candidate survives the scrutiny of the judges. One of the judges will
be a distribution executive, said Cutforth, another will be a creative
entrepreneur and the third might very well be a working TV critic.

Still to be named, according to Cutforth, are a host and the three
judges who'll select the winner from among the 10 men and women chosen
to compete. The top prize consists of $100,000 in cash, a production
office in Hollywood and a first-look deal with TV Guide Channel.

But the contestants will have to earn it the hard way: They'll live
together under one roof in the expectation that, as TV Guide puts it,
"tempers will flare."
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haveittodayray's blog
Why would anybody watch anything on the TV Guide channel, squished 
vertically into the upper half of the screen?