MTV has greenlighted a fourth season of docu-drama Catfish, the network announced today at TCA. Hosted by Nev Schulman and Max Joseph, the series is based on the 2010 documentary Catfish, which tracked the deceptive online romance in which Schulman became caught up. Catfish wrapped its third season earlier this week.
EXCLUSIVE: Catfish host Nev Schulman has signed with Grand Central Publishing for his first book In Real Life, which the Hachette imprint will publish in fall, 2014. Schulman will write about his continuing exploration of relationships in the digital age, which started with the indie documentary Catfish. It broadened to the MTV spinoff show in which he helps one partner in a digital relationship meet the other, a collision that usually leads to the discovery the other person isn’t who they said they are, and sometimes not even the gender they claimed to be.
I had the opportunity to see Catfish in its premiere screening at Sundance several years ago. Some claimed later that events were exaggerated and that Schulman wasn’t that hoodwinked when he went cross country with a camera to commit to a relationship with a model beauty that turned out to be a lonely middle-aged housewife. But you could see by the audience reaction to that screening that Schulman and his cohorts had tapped into something in the zeitgeist, and did it in a most entertaining way. I didn’t foresee Schulman turning all this into a career, but kids (mine included) sure do love that show. The book will also convey lessons he learned personally and from the show on how not to get sucked into an emotional attachment through Facebook or other social media with a person who puts up a phony …
Just over a month after it debuted, MTV announced today that Catfish: The TV Show will be coming back for a second season in 2013. Based on the 2010 documentary Catfish, the show debuted on November 12. Last month Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman singled out the 11 PM premiere of Catfish: The TV Show as having had ”the highest-rated launch in MTV history.” With Nev Schulman, whose own online love drama was the basis of the 2010 doc, and filmmaker Max Joseph as hosts, Catfish: The TV Show “aims to tackle “the mystery and complexities of dating in a digital world,” according to MTV. New episodes of the show will start airing on January 7, 2013.
Co-director Ariel Schulman explains how Catfish got him the Paranormal Activity 3 gig. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall of this studio meeting:
HuffPo: Can you talk about how you and Joost took the reins of this new Paranormal Activity film?
Schulman: Catfish had a lot to do with it. Paramount were big fans and we had been on their radar. When we first interviewed with the president of Paramount, he actually said, “If you tell me right now that Catfish is fake, you’ve got the job.” And we just went real silent. And then I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t tell you that.” Because it was real.
HuffPo: Do you think he just wanted to know because it had been driving him crazy?
Schulman: I think he figured that if we could create that authenticity dramatically, then we could do it again for this. Ultimately, we convinced them of exactly that. Catfish is completely real, but I think we have a knack for identifying the authentic moments in home video, and it plays like a narrative.
MTV is beefing up its original slate with six new series: Craig Wright’s ensemble comedy Underemployed, comedy Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous co-created by and starring hot young comedian Bo Burnham, and four reality and docu-series: Catfish, based on the feature documentary; Hoods, about celebrities going back to their hometowns; Wake Brothers, about two pro wakeboarding brothers; and Wait Till Next Year, about a real-life Bad News Bears high school team. The pickups were made after MTV brass last month screened all pilots developed by head of programming David Janollari and Chris Linn, EVP of programming and head of production.
On the scripted side, MTV went 2-for-2, picking up both of its pilots to series. Underemployed, about a group of recent college graduates, “is the personification of our ‘life amplified’ mantra for the 18-24s who are coming out of high school and college and have to figure out how to make their dreams come true and their career aspiration fit into today’s tough economic times,” Janollari said. The show hails from playwright and Six Feet Under alum Wright, who modeled the lead character after his 21-year-old son. Zach Stone, from 3 Arts, stars 20-year-old Burnham as a kid fresh out of high school who hires a camera crew to film him because he wants to be famous. The project shines …
I hear top unscripted producer Tom Forman, CEO of RelativityReal, is taking out a reality series project based on this year’s hit Sundance documentary Catfish, which is being distributed by Relativity Media’s Rogue Pictures. There is significant interest in the unscripted format, a segmented doc series revolving around relationships that have started online.
Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman’s documentary Catfish chronicles a 24-year old photographer’s search for the truth after he starts a cyber romance with the sister of a youth who takes an interest in his work but soon becomes suspicious that his online friends may not be who they say they are. The docu was a big crowd pleaser at Sundance and sparked a bidding war before getting snagged by Relativity. The company reportedly payed close to $1.5 million for an U.S. and UK rights to Catfish, which is eyeing a release later this year through Universal.
2ND UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Relativity Media will be in the distribution business sooner rather than later as it attempts to become a mini-major. Hmm.
UPDATE: This exclusive deal with Netflix might be impressive if more of Relativity Media’s movies did better at the box office. So it’s not exactly earth-shattering that Ryan Kavanaugh just told me that, at 12:01 AM Tuesday, Netflix is sending out a news release about Relativity no longer delivering its movies to pay TV channels. Instead, Relativity’s pics will now be shown via Netflix’s online streaming service. Insiders are calling this the “largest pay TV deal ever” — if that’s what it is. This will include going forward up to 30 movies per year. The first movies to go through the deal are the Nic Cage starrer Season of The Witch, the Brothers Strauss’ Skyline and The Fighter starring Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale. And maybe the Sundance-buzzed documentary Catfish and Wes Craven’s horror film My Soul To Take, among Relativity’s future movies. (How many underperforming Relativity films will be included as well?) Sorry, but it’s hilarious to think this deal will make HBO or Showtime or Starz or Epix shudder, especially as they continue to move away from showing movies and more towards original programming.