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Summer Style

It's full tilt for Fox and The WB. Both have pounded out provocative summer fare. The WB kicks off with five shows, chief among them: Studio 7, a game/reality hybrid from Michael Davies, exec producer of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire
and Super Millionaire.

In Studio 7, seven twentysomethings hang out in a New York apartment for a week before they are escorted to a dark studio somewhere in Manhattan. Then, they play a weekly game of winners and losers. The last roommate standing wins $100,000.

"The whole thing is told in flashback," Davies says. "They are playing a game, but we cover it. Then we tell the story more like a reality show." During the live-in week, the producers hope the contestants develop alliances, crushes, and enmities that keep things dynamic.

The WB co-CEO Jordan Levin asked him to "develop a game tailor-made to their audience," Davies says. "This is as close as you can get to a creatively liberating challenge in the game-show business. We have to think out of the box about how to invent a game show for young people."

The WB has ordered seven episodes of Studio 7, planned for July or August. In the eighth, the seven winners return for a final round, with the champion taking home $1 million.

In addition to Studio 7, reality show Superstars USA, in which having no talent is an asset, starts May 17. The network also is bringing back live concert show Pepsi Smash. Jeff Foxworthy's sketch comedy show Blue Collar TV
will get a July or August launch. Summerland, the latest prime time drama from Aaron Spelling, will premiere in June.

On the Fox lot, Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman made good on her promise that June would mark the start of a new season. The network will launch six series this summer: two dramas, two comedies, and two unscripted shows.

"Fox has, once again, started a television revolution," Berman says. "This time, we are creating a real year-round schedule. This is no longer a bold experiment; Fox is redefining the television season."

Summer has become a new launching pad for TV hits, including Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, Survivor, American Idol, and The O.C.
Although viewers have come to expect summers full of reality, Fox is focusing on scripted shows. "We are swimming against the tide," says Preston Beckman, executive vice president of strategic program planning. "Rather than following everyone else's lead and going with unscripted shows, we are doing something different. If we are right, we'll see everyone else do it next summer."

The Jury, a drama created by Academy Award-winner Barry Levinson, premieres on Tuesday June 8 at 9 p.m., with encores airing Fridays at 9 p.m. Prime time soap North Shore
and unscripted drama The Casino
launch on Monday June 14 at 8 and 9, respectively. North Shore, set in a Hawaiian luxury hotel, follows the lives of the hotel's staff as they intermingle with rich and powerful guests. The Casino, from reality producer Mark Burnett, is a behind-the-scenes look at buying and running a real Las Vegas casino. The Casino
will replay on Thursdays at 9 p.m.; North Shore, on Fridays at 8.

In addition, Fox is banking on Wednesdays as its new comedy night, with The Simple Life 2
premiering at 8 p.m. on June 16. That night, Simple Life
will be followed by new sitcom Quintuplets, a second episode of Simple Life, and new sitcom Method & Red
at 9:30. Wednesdays regularly will start with That '70s Show, leading into Simple Life, Quintuplets, and Method & Red. Quintuplets
will encore on Sundays at 8:30 after The Simpsons; Method & Red
will replay on Tuesdays at 8:30 after The Bernie Mac Show.

Original episodes of returning series Oliver Beene
start Sunday, June 20, at 7. Mad TV
got a three-year renewal.

Also, Fox renewed four more of its prime time shows: 24, Bernie Mac
, Malcolm in the Middle, and The O.C.
They join That '70s Show, The Simpsons, and King of the Hill. So far, Fox has canceled Cracking Up, Wonderfalls, A Minute With Stan Hooper, Luis, Wanda at Large, Boston Public, and Skin.

Critic faves Tru Calling
and Arrested Development
remain on the bubble.

Contributing editor Paige Albiniak has been covering the business of television for nearly 25 years. She is a longtime contributor to Next TV, Broadcasting + Cable and Multichannel News. She concurrently serves as editorial director for entertainment marketing association Promax. She has written for such publications as TVNewsCheck, The New York Post, Variety, CBS Watch and more. Albiniak was B+C’s Los Angeles bureau chief from September 2002 to 2004, and an associate editor covering Congress and lobbying for the magazine in Washington, D.C., from January 1997-September 2002.