Still testing viewers’ Real Housewives viewing limits, Bravo has given the go ahead to a The Real Housewives of New Jersey spinoff, starring Caroline Manzo, called Manzo’d with Children. The reality soap also would feature husband Albert, children Lauren, Albie, and Chris, as well as Manzo’s sister — as well as her sister, aka Aunt Fran, who made an appearance on the mothership show with her pet pig. The Real Housewives of New Jersey has been making news of a different sort lately– in late July, stars Teresa Giudice and husband Guiseppe “Joe” Giudice appeared in federal court in Newark to face charges in their 39-count fraud indictment case. The couple didn’t enter a plea to the charges but handed over a $500,000 unsecured bail bond. Last April, Bravo announced its largest ever slate of original programming, including 17 new and 18 returning unscripted series.
The day after Below Deck wrapped its freshman run on Bravo, the yacthing yarn has been re-upped for Season 2. The reality series from 51 Minds, which follows the professional and personal lives of the crew of a luxury yacht as they deal with their wealthy charter guests, scored its best demo numbers of the year with last night’s season finale. Andy Cohen will host a “reunion” episode on Bravo next week, followed by a “The Crew Tells All” special on September 9.
UPDATE FRIDAY 2 AM: Oprah is all about carefully controlling her image at all times. But not this week when she made the media rounds to promote her return to the big screen in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. During the process she made several public revelations about OWN that could complicate Discovery chief David Zaslav’s current spin campaign that her cable channel is no longer a disaster. First, Oprah told People Magazine that last summer she suffered “the symptoms of a nervous breakdown” and reached her “breaking point” because her Oprah Winfrey Network was struggling very publicly. Tonight, she told host Andy Cohen on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live that her biggest personal ‘aha’ moment would have to be last year when she was “getting all the schadenfreude from the media cause OWN wasn’t where I wanted it to be at the time.”
Zaslav’s joint venture with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Inc, OWN had a wobbly 2011 start and weathered more problems in 2012 even though Discovery advanced it hundreds of millions of dollars. (Exactly $509M total as of June 30th of this year and, while Discovery isn’t required to lend any more, it might do so if needed, according to Zaslav.) Oprah told People magazine she had a meltdown last summer because “people were counting me out… After 25 years of being No. 1, I had become accustomed to success. I didn’t expect failure. I was tested …
In typical Bravo fashion, the channel today announced the day after a season finale that one of its series is coming back. In this case, it’s Million Dollar Listing New York which will be back for a third cycle. Produced by World of Wonder, the reality show about a trio of real estate agents closed out its second season last night with a viewership and demo high. Million Dollar Listing New York pulled in 1.6 million viewers on Wednesday night with 829,000 among adults 18-49. Those results were up a stellar 41% in viewership and 46% in the demo over the series’ July 24 show. They were also up over the 1.066 million viewers and 579,000 adults 18-49 that the show’s Season 1 finale garnered on May 2, 2012. Overall, Season 2 of Million Dollar Listing New York was up 16% in viewership from the season before and up 19% in the demo to 1.1 million viewers and 578,000 among adults 18-49.
Update, 8:09 AM: Real Housewives Of New Jersey stars Teresa Giudice and her husband Giuseppe “Joe” Giudice appeared in federal court in Newark today to face charges in their 39-count fraud indictment case. The couple didn’t enter a plea to the charges that came down on Monday but they both handed over a $500,000 unsecured bail bond. Also Judge Cathy Waldor compelled the duo to hand over their passports and imposed travel restrictions on the Giudices. In what is an obvious sign of a flight risk concern, the couple is now only allowed to travel in New Jersey and New York State. This morning’s proceedings also revealed that Joe Giudice is not actually an American citizen which means he could be deported to Italy if convicted. The couple will be back in court on August 14 to be arraigned. Their lawyers say the couple plans to plead not guilty which means we could see a trial in the new year at the earliest. Among the charges the Giudices face, they are alleged by the government to have lied on their bankruptcy petition about their income from the Garden State version of the Bravo franchise. With perhaps the exception of the usual reunion special, it is unlikely that this reality will end up Real Housewives of New Jersey anytime soon. The show wrapped filming on its current fifth season months ago. The latest cycle debuted on June 2.
PREVIOUSLY, MONDAY PM: Reality stars Teresa and Giuseppe Giudice are about to get a courtroom reality check. The castmembers of Bravo‘s The Real Housewives Of New Jersey were indicted today on several federal charges that could see them behind bars for decades and having to pay millions in fines. The bulk of the 39 charges (read them here), which the duo will face in court tomorrow, stem from false income statements on loan and mortgage documents and failure to file tax returns before the Garden State version of the reality TV franchise debuted in May 2009. However, a portion of the 33-page indictment deals with the couple’s income from the first and second season of the show. Specifically, how the Giudices did not state the funds the received as required by law in their October 2009 bankruptcy petition. “From in or about June 2008 through the filing of the Bankruptcy Petition, defendant Teresa Giudice received income of approximately $110,677 from various sources, including her work as an actress on the television show The Real Housewives of New Jersey (the “Television Show”), sales from the tgfabulicious.com website, and payments from personal and magazine appearances,” says the filing of what is termed a scheme to defraud. “On or about June 5, 2009 and August 27, 2009, defendants Giuseppe Giudice and Teresa Giudice signed agreements in connection with then-upcoming Season Two of the Television Show whereby they would receive approximately $110,000 in compensation,” the Grand Jury indictment adds. Despite various hearings, documents and other disclosures, the couple left their TV income off the bankruptcy books.
PREVIOUS 8:50 AM: I’ve learned that Bravo has opted not to go forward with its pilot Rita. Written by Krista Vernoff, directed by Miguel Arteta and produced by Fox TV Studios, the family drama follows Rita (Anna Gunn), an acerbic, outspoken private-school teacher who struggles to raise her three teenage children while dealing with the inane bureaucracy and overprotective parents at her school. Rita, which had been generating solid buzz, was one of two drama pilots greenlighted by Bravo last December in its first foray into scripted series. The other, Joneses, was shelved in March before filming had begun. Bravo’s plan had been to launch its first scripted series in fourth quarter of 2013, which now won’t happen. The network’s initial scripted strategy and the orders to Rita and The Joneses were made while Bravo was overseen by Lauren Zalaznick. The channel has since moved under the jurisdiction of Bonnie Hammer.
EXCLUSIVE: Bravo continues to invest in its move back to scripted drama series, ordering a script from Warner Horizon Television for a one-hour drama series from writer/director Raymond De Felitta (City Island, Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story, Café Society, Two Family House) set during the Wall Street crash of ’08. In Down Dog, a female hedge fund trader in New York finds her business and personal life going in the tank. Needing an outlet to calm her anxieties, she turns to yoga and finds inner peace via the teachings of a mysterious male yoga teacher. Together they create a worldwide self-help/religious movement, called “Humble Tiger.” The NBCUniversal-owned cable net also recently ordered a script from Warner Horizon based on Charles Dicken’s A Bleak House.
Following the success of La Voz Kids, the Spanish-language version of NBC’s The Voice, Telemundo Media is hoping for another hit with Top Chef: Estrellas (Top Chef Stars), a Spanish-language version of Bravo‘s culinary competition series Top Chef set to air next season. Hosted by novela star Aylin Mujica (Corazón Valiente, Aurora), the new original version will feature eight Hispanic celebrities competing for the Top Chef title and $100,000 to be given out to charities of their choice. The celebrities will be featured cooking their favorite dishes under the guidance and coaching of professional chefs. They’ll participate in weekly competitions and use different “tools” in their preparations to impress the celebrity chefs and survive the competition. Latina chef and TV host Lorena Garcia will host alongside Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu. Telemundo is hoping to build on the huge success of La Voz Kids. On June 2, La Voz Kids was watched by 2.42 million viewers with an audience of 1.225 million in the adults 18-49 demographic — up 43% in total viewership and 40% in the key demo from its May 5 debut. Unlike its NBC parent, La Voz Kids focuses on children between 7-14 as they compete for a recording contract and a cash prize for their education. Telemundo and Bravo are both owned by NBCUniversal.
Is Bravo — once upon a time the network of Romeo and Juliet but now the home of Real Housewives of Fill In The Blank — taking a page from its past with one of its new scripted series projects? Fortune, a one-hour drama series script in development, from playwright Theresa Rebeck and exec producers John Wells and Andrew Stearn at Warner Horizon, is inspired by Charles Dickens’ 19th century classic Bleak House. Fortune is set in the present and follows a prominent New York family and the battle over an inheritance after the patriarch dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances. The original Bleak House details the impact of the endless litigation that results from a case in which a testator made several conflicting wills.
Ellen Stone had been SVP Marketing at Bravo, where she oversees and directs marketing initiatives for consumer advertising, ad sales, digital and social media and the on-air and off-air creative to ensure consistency of the network’s brand across all platforms. As her role has expanded, Stone added licensing and merchandising, developing several brand extensions for Top Chef including a frozen food line, a cruise and a pop-up restaurant. She also oversees tune-in and brand campaigns like the successful “Summer By Bravo” initiative. The former Lifetime marketing director joined Bravo in 2006. As EVP Marketing, she reports to Bravo and Style Media president Frances Berwick. “[Stone] has helped propel Bravo to a Top 10 network with exciting ways to engage our audience and keep the brand fresh, distinctive and relevant”, Berwick said in announcing the promotion.
Eli Lehrer has been named to the newly created position of SVP and Head of Non-Fiction Development for Lifetime networks, effective July 8. Based in Los Angeles, Lehrer will oversee all non-scripted development for Lifetime, reporting to Rob Sharenow, Lifetime’s EVP of Programming. “Eli has an impeccable reputation as one of the very best development executives in the business,” said Sharenow. Lehrer comes to Lifetime from Bravo, where he was VP, Development and Production. There, he executive produced and developed such series as The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Flipping Out, The Millionaire Matchmaker and Tabatha’s Salon Takeover. Before that, Lehrer served as Manager, East Coast Development at VH1. Lifetime’s non-fiction current programming slate will be headed by SVP Gena McCarthy who continues to report to Sharenow.
UPDATE, 5:09 PM: Most of them are back for sure. “The Real Housewives of New York City will return on Bravo for season six,” a Bravo spokesperson confirmed today. “At this point, the returning cast members include Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan, Carole Radziwill and Heather Thomson.” Note that LuAnn de Lesseps and Aviva Drescher are not on that list. A source says that doesn’t rule it out that they are returning with the others, as I reported on May 11, but right now Singer, Morgan, Radziwill and Thomson are the only Housewives Bravo is confirming publicly.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
Billionaire wife Jackie Siegel was on hand this morning for Bravo’s panel promoting the April 29th premiere of the surprise box-office hit doc The Queen Of Versailles, the DGA Award-nominated feature from photographer and filmmaker Lauren Greenfield that made its original mark at the 2012 Sundance Fest. (The film earned Greenfield that festival’s best director prize.) Greenfield said the film wound up at Bravo by design and that selling to Magnolia Pictures for theatrical and Bravo for TV was “our dream scenario.” It traces the story of Jackie and David Siegel, who are building their outrageously ostentatious dream home in Florida when the economy crashes in 2008. The home, modeled after France’s famed Palace of Versailles, was to be 90,000 square feet and include 10 kitchens, a bowling alley, a 6,000-square-foot master suite, two tennis courts and a roller rink. It’s designed to be the largest home in America, dwarfing even the famed Spelling estate. The film left the impression that construction might be permanently derailed. But Jackie Siegel assured this morning in Pasadena that it’s back on track. Construction resumed four months ago, and the plan is now to have the first phase completed in two years in time for her husband’s 80th birthday.
Diane Haithman is a Deadline contributor.
Diversity was the hot topic on the panel for Bravo’s reality series Newlyweds: The First Year at today’s NBC Summer Press Day. Joining Bravo vice president of East Coast Development Lara Spotts were two of the four couples the show tracks over a year: Alaska and Kimberly V. Gedeon, who are African-American, and Blair Late and Jeff Pedersen, a gay couple. Spotts is openly gay and married to a same-sex partner. The onscreen couples were asked to offer their perspective on minority couples featured on scripted series TV, including the gay couple on Modern Family, Cam and Mitch. Late joked that, of the Modern Family characters, partner Pedersen most resembles Phil Dunphy, the male half of a straight couple on Modern Family. He added that he and his partner “are no poster children” for gay marriage.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.
NBC kicked off its Summer Press Day this morning in Pasadena with a panel hyping the forthcoming 10-episode Bravo reality show Princesses: Long Island. It centers on the lives of six college-educated women of privilege living with their upscale parents in Long Island. From the look of a brief clip that preceded the panel, it promises to be a typically catfighting excursion replete with profane interludes and nasty exchanges. However, it aspires to a more high-minded ideal, as exec producer and Bravo VP/production Christian Barcellos noted with a straight face that Princesses: Long Island follows in the same vein as “Jane Austen novels, Fiddler On The Roof, and John Hughes movies.” He explained after the panel, “What these girls are facing are timeless dilemmas, including pressures from their parents to get married, to find the right man, within the cultural constraints in which they live.” He added, “I think we’ve seen this occur time and again. This is a modern coming-of-age story.”
After two seasons on air, Kathy Griffin‘s late night talk show Kathy is not being renewed, Deadline has confirmed. The comedienne dropped the news during a live stand up show Friday night in Cincinnati, Ohio as first reported by The Cincinnati Enquirer. The cancellation could free her up for a potential jump to CNN for the hourlong show opposite Anderson Cooper that Deadline told you the pair filmed last week. It also comes two months after an exec switch-up at Bravo saw the network change hands from Lauren Zalaznick to Bonnie Hammer. Griffin won two Emmys while at Bravo for her reality series Kathy Griffin: My Life On The D List.
Bravo Unveils Slate Of 17 New And 18 Returning Series, Announces Scripted & Unscripted Projects In Development
Bravo Media today unveiled what it says is its largest slate of original programming ever with 17 newly greenlighted and 18 returning unscripted series. That is a 15% increase over last year. Bravo also announced three new scripted and three unscripted projects in development. Bravo’s first scripted pilot, Rita, is now in production as the network is eying a launch of its first scripted series in the fourth quarter. (Bravo’s second scripted pilot, The Joneses, did not go to production.) Bravo logged its seventh consecutive year of ratings growth in 2012 and is currently running up vs. last year in total viewers and the 18-49 and 25-54 demographics. “Bravo’s ongoing investment in high-quality original content across every platform continues to drive our growth year-over-year,” said Frances Berwick, President of Bravo and Style Media. Bravo, which recently moved under the oversight of NBCU cable maven Bonnie Hammer, also is expanding its multi-screen initiatives and increasing the number of TV360 deals. The network’s slate introduced today indicates that creatively, Bravo is staying the course, at least for now. Here are the details on new and returning series and projects in development:
NEW SERIES GREENLIGHTS:
“Below Deck” – Summer 2013
Produced by 51 Minds with Mark Cronin and Courtland Cox as Executive Producers.
The upstairs and downstairs worlds collide when this young and single crew, known as “yachties,” live, love and work together onboard a privately owned extravagant yacht. Working and tending to the ever-changing needs of their demanding charter guests is not always smooth sailing.
Flight Of The Conchords‘ Rhys Darby will co-star opposite Kelly Preston in ABC‘s comedy pilot Keep Calm And Karey On, from writer Andrea Abbate, 21 Laps/Adelstein and 20th Century Fox TV. It centers on Karey (Preston), the clean-nosed black sheep in a family of petty thieves, drug addicts, and narcissists. When her brother is sent to prison, she decides to raise his kids along with her adopted black son and give them the normal lives they deserve. Actor-comedian Darby, repped by CAA and Principato-Young, will play Karey’s husband. He is best known for playing Murray in HBO’s Conchords and most recently wrote, executive produced and starred in Short Poppies for TVNZ in his native New Zealand.
Rhys Wakefield has booked a series regular role on Bravo pilot Rita. He will play Rita’s (Anna Gunn) oldest son who has a close but complex relationship with his mother. Wakefield is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content.
Bravo has decided to postpone production on one of its two scripted pilots, The Joneses. The network and producing studio ABC Studios have had difficulties casting the project, based on the 2009 indie film, which is competing with some 100 broadcast pilots and a few cable ones for talent. The pilot, which has one actor cast, Max Deacon, will now proceed with casting and production after the end of the broadcast pilot season. It is the second cable pilot to do so, joining USA’s Horizon. The Joneses is one of Bravo’s first two scripted pilots ordered in December. The other one, Rita, was cast and is proceeding with production.