Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008

MTV's Damage Control Solution: More Reality

By Evan Rytlewski
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Maybe they should have kept "Total Request Live." MTV's already stagnant ratings have dropped a devestating 23% among young people, and according to an excellent Variety article, that station is dramatically overhauling its schedule to stave further bleeding: It's introducing 16sixteen!new reality-ish shows. Blame Barack Obama:
"Our new shows will feature themes of affirmation and accomplishment," says Brian Graden, prez of entertainment at MTV Networks music channels and president of Logo. "Our shows are going to focus less on loud and silly hooks and more on young people proving themselves. These are themes that are consistent with the Obama generation."

Last week, MTV unveiled eight of the series, which will aim visually for either "the cinematic feel of 'The Hills' " (according to Graden) or aesthetics that are novel to reality television. "We needed a new visual language," he says.

For example, the "College Life" producers gave U. of Wisconsin freshman camcorders, then turned them loose to shoot their own lives. "You get an intense sense of reality that you haven't seen on television before," Graden says. "These are (techniques) that are interesting that I don't see anyone else doing."

Other upcoming launches include an untitled series focused on students at Cincinnati's School for Creative & Performing Arts that's produced by [Nick] Lachey. The [Donald] Trump-produced "Girls of Hedsor Hall" will follow a dozen hard-partying young women as they're whisked off to an English finishing school.

Yikes; that's a whole lot of inspirational shows about kids achieving their dreams (and occasionally partying). I'm sure these themes won't get old over the course of 16 shows, right? In particular, that one show about a Cincinnati performing arts school sure sounds like a hit to me.

Not add to the new MTV schedule: music. 

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