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Urban Dance Fever

Gotta dance! It works for Viacom-owned MTV's Wade Robson Project. And it's coming to a UPN station and independent KCAL this fall. Capitalizing on a winning formula, Paramount Domestic Television's new half-hour strip, Dance 360, lets high-watt dancers bump and grind in heated competition to the cheers of the crowd.

The Viacom station group has been pushing Paramount to develop a show targeting urban audiences, says John Nogawski, president of Paramount Domestic Television. "The dancing is so contagious, and that's what the show capitalizes on. It's not rehearsed, and there are no routines. The kids compete just like they do on the street, like you might see any day in New York. Kids break-dancing or putting on moves you'd only see in a really hot club."

The show will be hosted by Kel Mitchell, of Nickelodeon's Keenan and Kel
and All That, and Fredro Starr of UPN's Moesha. It will also have a DJ, which Paramount is casting now. "The hosts will rev up the competitiveness and add a touch of humor," Nogawski says. "It isn't all about the dancing, even though dancing is the priority. A lot of it is the magnetic quality of both Fredro and Kel. Those two are just funny."

Dance 360
is executive-produced by Claude Brooks and Ralph Farquhar, of Hat to the Back Productions. Farquhar is a long-time Hollywood producer, a veteran of such shows as Fox's Married With Children
and UPN's All of Us, The Parkers
and Moesha.

Originally developed with early-fringe time periods in mind, Dance 360
tested so well Paramount is betting it might also score in late night. Stations will run it in both time slots and see how it fares. If the focus groups are right, says Nogawski, "I think it will be very successful for the Viacom station group in both dayparts."

There is no barter in the show since it's airing on the Viacom Station Group, which is paying Paramount's production tab and taking all the ad inventory. Paramount and Viacom expect to keep Dance 360
in test-run status throughout next year, with an eye to a national launch in summer or fall of 2005.

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.