MTV, AMC Set Plans For 2009 Series Slate

MTV and AMC are getting a jump on the New Year, green-lighting several new series set to debut in 2009.

Viacom-owned MTV will roll out several reality-based shows in the first quarter of 2009 that it hopes will excite and appeal to its core 12-to-24 demo. MTV will ride the action-sports genre with two new shows: Nitro Circus, a reality series produced by Jackass creators Jeff Tremaine and Johnny Knoxville, which follows the daredevil-ish exploits of freestyle motocross rider Travis Pastrana; and Rob Dydrek's Fantasy Factory, featuring the popular skateboarder.

Other original shows include The CollegeHumor Show, based on the popular Web site of the same name; College Life, a reality series shot by college students at the University of Wisconsin; How's Your News?, based on a Matt Stone and Trey Parker film of the same name which follows a team of disabled reporters who drive across America covering the news; and Daddy's Girls, which follow the lives of Run's House alum Vanessa and Angela Simmons.

Other original shows on the docket include The Girls Of Hedsor Hall (working title), which ships several American bad girls to the United Kingdom to attend an English finishing school; and an as-yet-untitled series from actor Nick Lachey that follows the lives of students attending a Cincinnati-based performing arts school.

The network will use the shows to help launch new original content-based primetime blocks at 9 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays, as well as a two-hour prime time block starting at 9:00 p.m. on Sundays.

“We are giving our viewers a spectrum of choice across a diverse slate of exciting creative in various genres and formats by expanding to new timeslots and fast tracking projects,” executive vice president of series development and programming Tony DiSanto said in a statement. “Our upcoming Sunday-night block of programming has the unifying theme of entrepreneurship, ambition and enterprise wrapped in an adrenalized spirit and attitude.”

On the AMC front, the network said it has ordered its third scripted pilot — an as-yet-untitled political thriller which it will produce along with Warner Horizon Television. The series, which revolves around a secret society that pulls the strings on the world political stage, will star James Badge Dale (The Departed), Oscar-nominated actress Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow), Christopher Evan Welch (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) and Lauren Hodges (Law & Order). The series will be produced and directed by Kerry Orent (Michael Clayton, Rescue Me) and Allen Coulter (Hollywoodland, Damages).

Production on the pilot will begin in late January 2009, said AMC. The network's first two pilots, Mad Men and Breaking Bad, have gone on to become big hits for AMC.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.