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MTV, VH1 Pump New-Series Pipeline

The first quarter of 2002 will be an original programming bonanza for MTV: Music Television and VH1, as both are set to launch several new series, specials and movies.

Hard-rock veteran Ozzy Osbourne and his real-life family will be the subject of a new MTV series to debut March 5. The weekly, one-hour show The Osbournes
gives viewers unlimited access to Osbourne's personal and professional life over a six month period, MTV president of entertainment Brian Graden said last at last week's Television Critics Association winter press tour here.

"This is America's first reality sitcom," Graden said. "Like a sitcom, you have extremely outrageous characters, very funny moments, and yet there is an obvious undercurrent of love and affection among the family members."

Meanwhile, VH1 launched three new series last week, including the Jan. 15 premiere of
Driven, which looks at the early starts of such pop artists as Marilyn Manson, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Madonna, said VH1 executive vice president of programming and production Fred Graver.

VH1 TV Moments
— a series that chronicles the rise and fall of music stars through their television appearances — also debuted Jan. 15.

Forever Wild, scheduled to debut Jan. 18 and hosted by rocker Sebastian Bach, will focus on the wildest moments in heavy metal rock music.

In March, VH1 will debut Ultimate Albums, a look at the social relevance and musical importance of popular albums, as well as Being,
which takes a behind the scenes look at the music industry through the eyes
of such popular artists as Shakira.

The news departments of both networks will be involved in developing specials slated for next month. Secretary of State Colin Powell will participate in an MTV News interactive special set in February that will be telecast in 160 territories and will reach 374.7 million households.

The one-hour international global forum will focus on the war on terrorism and other issues and events that affect young people from around the world, Graden said.

Powell will answer questions posed from students from several countries, including India, Italy, Brazil, and Russia.

VH1's news division will present Inside Hate Rock
on Feb. 12, a special focused on music that advocates white supremacy and racial hatred.

VH1 and MTV will also premiere some original movies in the spring. Come March, MTV will screen Wasted, which chronicles the recent resurgence of heroin use among young people. The movie, scheduled to run March 17, stars Summer Phoenix, Stephen Kay, Nick Stahl and Aaron Paul, Graden said.

On April 17, VH1 will bow PMRC, a movie based on the 1980s Congressional hearings over music censorship and warning labels. The movie stars Jason Priestley and Mariel Hemingway.


In other Viacom Inc.-related TCA announcements, retro network TV Land will air a three-part series on the history of African-Americans on television starting Feb. 1.

In a separate announcement, TV Land said it will bow the popular 1960's series Batman
on April 29 with a weeklong primetime marathon.

Viacom's Black Entertainment Television announced plans to launch two digital services — BET Gospel and BET Hip Hop — during the second quarter. A third proposed digital network, BET Classic, has been shelved indefinitely, according to BET officials.

BET will also air the second annual 2002 Celebration Of Gospel
special on Feb. 19 and the 2nd annual BET Awards
on June 25, Gadson said.