LOS ANGELES -Oxygen unveiled its new and more traditional entertainment-oriented program lineup last week, a slate that includes biography and music series, as well as its first acquired show,
Xena: Warrior Princess.
For its second season, which kicks off in January, Oxygen retreats somewhat from its original strategy of eschewing acquisitions for free-form original programming. To that end, Oxygen will pair
with the young women-themed series
Following an all-day stunt Jan. 1,
will air weekdays at 6 p.m., providing a bridge between Oxygen's younger-skewing afternoon fare and its more adult primetime shows.
Xena] just felt like the right acquisition for us," Oxygen president and CEO Geraldine Laybourne said at a Western Show press conference. "We've been reluctant to acquire shows. We wanted to build Oxygen with originals. But frankly, our staff was nuts about it [
Laybourne maintained that the series-one of Secretary of State Madeline Albright's favorite shows-fits Oxygen because it's about a powerful female hero with sex appeal.
Oxygen has significantly reworked its primetime lineup.
Pure Oxygen, the signature live talk and interview block, will no longer dominate primetime. Come January, a half-hour version will air at 7 p.m.
Instead, Oxygen will shift
Exhale with Candice Bergen
to 8 p.m. and schedule theatrical films from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Laybourne said Oxygen has acquired a new movie package that features more contemporary titles, such as
She's the One
Waiting to Exhale.
At last week's press conference, Bergen made a remark that pointedly underlined the problem Oxygen faces: It does not yet have wide distribution, particularly in New York City and Los Angeles.
"It's really different not having any audience at all," Bergen said, referring to the attention she used to receive with her hit CBS sitcom
"I hope [
Exhale's]audience will expand. But [the talk show is] very rewarding unto itself."
At that point, Laybourne chimed in and added that feedback from Oxygen viewers outside of New York and Los Angeles about Bergen's
has been good.
Oxygen is now in more than 12 million homes, according to Laybourne, and will receive wider distribution in Los Angeles through rollouts by Charter Communications Inc. and Adelphia Communications Corp.
"We're building something new here, and something brave," Laybourne said.
In announcing the host of changes to Oxygen's lineup, Laybourne said the second-season programming will incorporate a variety of new genres, such as music, biography, long-form animation and reality.
The lineup includes a stripped late-night music show,
which will air at 11 p.m. The half-hour
series will feature artists and music from all genres-rock, classical, pop, jazz, blues, hip-hop, rap, country and electronica. The host is former MTV: Music Television news anchor Simran Sethi.
Oxygen also has developed a series of one-hour biographical specials,
Who Does She Think She Is?, which will focus on the lives and choices of powerful women.
The first installment, on former Texas Gov. Ann Richards and New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, will debut Dec. 10 at 9 p.m. Oxygen will produce five episodes of
Who Does She Think She Is?
On Fridays and weekends from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m., Oxygen will air
a half-hour series acquired from the United Kingdom. The returning animated showcase,
a Web-based series co-produced with Oxygen partner Carsey-Werner, will air Saturdays at 7 p.m., starting in January.
Oxygen is sharing a window for
with ABC, which will premiere the program in December.
Also debuting in January will be
a reality action special that focuses on five female cops in Newark, N.J. It will be shot exclusively on digital video.
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