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Trio Adds to Sked, Needs More Subs

Keeping with its pop-culture theme, critics' darling Trio is adding several specials and a new series to its upcoming schedule.

The latest slate is heavy on documentaries, but not all of them are about heavy topics. On Dec. 7, The Awards Show Awards Show
will take a cheeky look at the awards-show industry. Trio will offer other contest-themed documentaries and specials, from Pumping Iron II, about female bodybuilding competitions, to the eerie Painted Babies, about young beauty-pageant contestants.

(Assuming NBC's acquisition of Vivendi Universal Entertainment is completed, Universal-owned Trio and USA will soon have a new corporate parent.)

With 20 million subscribers and a $20 million programming budget, Trio needs to be clever. It has gotten attention for series like Brilliant but Cancelled, about defunct TV shows, and series 24 w/, a day-in-the-life with a celebrity.

The channel has carriage deals with big operators like Time Warner, DirecTV and former AT&T systems, but it is missing critical carriage on Comcast, the country's biggest operator, with 21 million subs. Trio President Lauren Zalaznick hopes to get on Comcast within 18 months. Every operator has different plans for digital, and, with Comcast, she says, "we need to get up against their strategy."

Until then, her team keeps plugging away at programming. On Thanksgiving weekend, Trio has schedule Epic TV: The Top Ten Miniseries of All Time. The net surveyed actors and producers to come up with the list. Trio also secured rights to air three top-10 miniseries that weekend: Brideshead Revisited, Holocaust
and Shogun.

An irreverent special, White Noise: The Pop Culture Roundup Year End Special, airing Dec. 18, will look back at the year's most over-reported and over-hyped events. In January, Trio will debut original series, Parking Lot, a six-part, documentary-style series that will drop in on fans taking in bands ranging from Phish to the Dixie Chicks.