Planet Green Spins New Slate

Planet Green plans to hit the ground running in 2010. The network has a slate of original and acquired fare set to launch during the first week of the New Year as it looks to emphasize more character- and story-driven content revolving around eco-friendly issues.

Overall, the network expects to deliver around 100 hours of original programming and 50 hours of acquired content in 2010 — double that of 2009’s schedule, according to Planet Green general manager Laura Michalchyshyn.

“What we’ve really doing is broadening and expanding the genre of what Planet Green really is,” Michalchyshyn said. “The channel is about characters, narratives and compelling storytelling, as well as entertainment that’s aspirational and filled with positive imagery.”

The network will kick off its “premiere week” with the debut of several new acquired series, which Michalchyshyn said will become a greater staple of the network’s schedule in 2010.

Among the series premiering in January: Conviction Kitchen, an eight-part series that follows the efforts of husband-and-wife chefs who hire and teach ex-cons to cook and run restaurants in Canada and the U.S.; The Woman Who Stopped Traffic, a three-part documentary about a woman who seeks to stop traffic for a day in three cities to bring attention to the environmental hazards of automobile exhaust; and Big Chef Takes on Little Chef, a four-part series starring celebrated British chef Hesston Blomenthal, who was given the task of reinventing a roadside diner chain.

Also on the schedule that week is Big River Man, the Sundance Film Festival documentary starring Martin Strel, who swims the world’s most famous rivers to highlight the growing pollution problem. As a stunt to promote the doc’s Jan. 9 premiere, Strel will take part in the annual New York-based Coney Island Polar Bear Club’s New Year’s Day swim, which Planet Green will sponsor.

The launches come on the heels of the network’s acquisition earlier this month of Burn Up, a two-part scripted miniseries that takes a look at events surrounding an OPEC meeting for world leaders set to debut Dec. 6.

“The great thing about these acquisitions is that we’re using them as back-door pilots — if they are successful, then we’ll work with the production companies to develop U.S versions,” Michalchyshyn added.

On the original programming side, the network will premiere in January Operation Wild, a six-part original enviro-crime drama series which follows the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission as it seeks to protect the state’s ecosystem. Also premiering in the first quarter is Future Food, in which chefs/molecular gastronomists Homaro Cantu and Ben Roche test the limits of mixing food and technology to create healthy and unique dishes. “It’s our Mythbusters for food,” said Michalchyshyn.

In the second quarter, the network will premiere The Fabulous Beekman Boys, which follows the exploits of Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell, who mix their weekly cosmopolitan lives with running an upstate New York farm on weekends.

The new shows will join the network’s lineup of returning shows such as Wa$ted and the final season of Greensburg.

While the network has changed its programming focus from more educational-based environmentally driven programming to more entertainment and personality-driven green fare, Michalchyshyn said it has no immediate plans to change the overall network brand. “We’re calling this Planet Green 2.0,” she said. “It’s about relaunching and rebranding the shows that we’re introducing.”

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.