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GSN Puts ‘Skin’ in the Game

GSN is looking to move into the reality-competition genre with the Aug. 6 debut of Skin Wars, starring actress Rebecca Romijn, in which talented body painters vie for a grand cash prize and career recognition. GSN executive vice president of programming and development Amy Introcaso-Davis recently spoke to Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the network’s programming shift from traditional game shows to reality competition fare. An edited transcript follows.

MCN: What do you see GSN’s programming format moving toward?

Amy Introcaso-Davis: On the original side, Skin Wars is something very different for the network. Like It Takes a Church, which was our first single-episode format show, it’s very different than our traditional shiny-floor game format. We’ll always be a shiny-floor game-formatted network, but we do feel like we need to branch out into other formats. It Takes a Church works very well with our young female demos and we’re very happy with it.

The concept for Skin Wars is really great and the art is amazing. The characters are very Middle American — very regular folk — and I think that’s different from some of the other artsy shows. It feels like America painted. The quality is where we’re going after.

MCN: Do you eventually want to change the perception of the network from what you say is a shiny-floor game format to a more general entertainment format?

AD: Yes, I think in a dream world everybody would go to us for games, and that could be any kind of game. It Takes a Church is a game between the matchmakers and the church, Skin Wars is a competition show — it’s a different type of game. We love our audience who comes to us for the old $20,000 Pyramid, but also for the new kind of games that we’re offering. It’s something that we feel is ready to break open, because online games are so huge, and we have an incredibly robust online game presence, and we feel like there are opportunities.

Also, in a world where all the networks are kind of blending together and all going after that young, female demographic, game is very specific. That’s another way we can break out and differentiate ourselves.

MCN: Do you see the network developing more competition/reality shows going forward?

AD: Yes, we have a couple in development, and I definitely see us doing more shows.

MCN: Given the religious themes that are prevalent in two of your more popular shows,It Takes a ChurchandThe American Bible Challenge, is that a genre that you’ll continue to develop programming in?

AD: We’re always looking in that area. We think of it a little more like family entertainment than necessarily religious-themed, although the shows definitely associated with a Christian audience. It fits into our bigger mandate which is really about family entertainment, but we’ll always look in that area — it’s the biggest niche in the world.