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NCTA Highlights

More than 17,000 attendees are expected to turn out in New Orleans this week for the cable industry's mardi gras: the National Cable & Telecommunications Association annual convention. Here's a first look at some of the programming news they can expect:

Real Women Watch TV

Lifetime's spinoff channel Lifetime Real Women is getting a schedule makeover with new weekday programming blocks. In the mornings, there are "Real Life," shows about women's health, and "Real Home," programs related to home how-tos. The afternoon blocks are "Real Relationships," anchored by Lifetime's biography show Intimate Portraits, and "Real Fun," a sitcom group comprising Ellen, Suddenly Susan, and Caroline in the City.

In fringe, Lifetime Real Women gets dramatic, with off-nets like Once and Again
and Party of Five. And prime time and late night serves up a second "Real Life" block, with reality shows such as Final Justice, hosted by the real Erin Brockovich, and safety show What Should You Do?, anchored by Leeza Gibbons. Lifetime Real Women counts 42 million subscribers.

Let the Games Begin

Just in time to ride the poker craze on cable, game-themed network Edge TV will make its debut at National Show. It's already facing another aspiring game network, Casino & Gaming Television, which is out hunting for carriage. Still, Edge TV is aiming for an early-2005 launch. It will cover games from poker to fantasy sports to crossword puzzles. The channel is headed by telecommunications pioneer Reagan Silber and Silicon Valley businessmen Keith Richman and Charles Katz. It is backed by distribution consultants HotHouse Media and talent agency Creative Artists Agency. Edge TV is hoping to open studio space in a major Las Vegas casino.

The Mating Season

WE: Women's Entertainment will expose brides at their worst in new original series Bridezilla
. The eight-part docu-reality show debuts June 7 and follows high-maintenance, short-tempered brides getting ready for their big day. Also for summer, WE goes back to the Hamptons for a second round of its Single in the Hamptons
reality show. Debuting May 3, the series follows young women looking for fun and romance in the Long Island summer playground.

Fantasy Island

AMC will help wannabe movie stars live a fantasy on Into Character. The new reality series, which begins June 16, pairs a "regular person" with an expert to train him or her for two weeks. One episode features an aspiring boxer who wants to re-create Rocky; in another, a participant trying to emulate The Karate Kid
travels to Japan to learn from a martial-arts master.

Life Imitates Art

National Geographic Channel is spinning movie gold into TV tie-ins. Linked to the release of blockbusters Troy
and Spider-Man 2
will be two TV specials. On May 7, one week before Troy
hits theaters, Nat Geo will run Beyond the Movie: Conquering Troy,
exploring the truth behind the legends. On June 25, a night before Spider-Man 2
debuts, the network will offer Spider Power, a detailed look at arachnids. In other programming news, Nat Geo is renewing adventure series Be the Creature
for a second season and will kick-start international crime series Interpol Investigates
in July.

Cannes Do

It has been 10 years since Quentin Tarantino's cult classic Pulp Fiction, and IFC is ready to commemorate the event. The cable channel will run the Oscar-winning movie June 12 at 8 p.m. and follow up with a retrospective special and interviews with director Tarantino and star Uma Thurman.

Beginning May 12, IFC plans 11 days of coverage from the Cannes Film Festival. Highlights include a live telecast of the red-carpet arrivals and opening-day festivities, and live coverage of the awards ceremony May 22. IFC will also offer past festival winners, including Anniversary Party, Apocalypse Now Redux, and In the Company of Men.

Room at the Inn

Court TV is getting into more homes and hotel rooms, thanks to several affiliate deals. One with the National Cable Television Cooperative will make the network available in nine states on smaller MSOs: Wave Broadband, Washington; James Cable, Alabama; Piedmont Cable Corp., Georgia; Cannon Valley Cablevision, Minnesota; Southern Kansas Telephone and Cencom, Nebraska; Branch Cable, Mississippi; Classic Cable and Cebridge, Texas; Pitcairn Community Cable, Pennsylvania; and South Benton Cablevision, Iowa.

Loews Hotels will make Court TV available on its free guest cable package in at least 15 properties and 6,000 rooms.

In a separate deal, the channel and hotel-content provider On Command will distribute pay video-on-demand programming from the network into 250,000 rooms in such chains as Wyndham and W Hotels.

To the GoodLife

Baby-boomer–targeted network GoodLife TV is heading west. GoodLife is being added to Bresnan Communications' core digital package for its Rocky Mountain systems. In several markets, such as Great Falls and Helena, Mont., and Jackson Hole, Wyo., GoodLife is melting down from a digital tier to digital basic. The network should pick up 100,000 new subscribers.

Short Fuse

If you want Rainbow Media's music channel Fuse, you have to ask for it. Fuse on Demand, a video-on-demand service, will offer music videos and Fuse's music-related programming.

Like Fuse's linear channel, content will be organized by music genre—notably rock, pop, and hip-hop—and will be refreshed weekly.


Discovery Networks has recruited marketing vet Sandi Castro to be Western region accounts director for affiliate sales and marketing. She is the former vice president of marketing for Fresh Pictures in North Hollywood, Calif., and was previously supervisor of programming and on-air promotions for DirecTV.