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Reality Check: Conrad Green On ‘Utopia,’ Singing Shows & Technology’s Promise

By | Wednesday June 18, 2014 @ 3:37pm PDT

Reality Check: Conrad Green On ‘Utopia,’ Singing Shows & Technology’s PromiseReality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

At the end of the current 18th season of ABC’s Dancing With The Stars, executive producer Conrad Green will leave the show that he has been with since the start. After that many years, end of an era is no hyperbole. Not that the veteran producer and former head of BBC’s Factual Entertainment is getting out of the reality TV game: Green is joining Fox‘s upcoming social experiment reality series Utopia. The series features a group of everyday people who are planted in an isolated, undeveloped location for a whole year and forced to create their own civilization, flaws and all. With that big change coming, Green spoke to Deadline about what the essential skills for success in producing unscripted TV are, the state of singing competition shows and the arrival of Rising Star plus what he would bet on for the next big thing if he were a betting man.

DEADLINE: Big picture things first, what is the state of unscripted TV today?
CONRAD GREEN: I think it’s quite a mature market, at the moment. As in, lots of the big staples have been on air for quite a while. Feels like it’s time for a big, new show that’s completely different to arrive, you know? Competition reality performance shows have been going for quite a long time now, and are still, but aren’t as powerful as they once were, and it feels like it’s time for an innovation. Read More »

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Reality Check: Israel’s Star Continues To Rise As Source Of Innovative Formats

Reality Check: Israel’s Star Continues To Rise As Source Of Innovative FormatsReality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

Israel has grown to become one of the world’s go-to spots for formats, and the trend is likely here to stay with execs believing it  soon will resemble the UK and Scandinavia. Arguably jump-starting the trend was scripted drama Be Tipul, which HBO adapted as In Treatment in 2008. But the one that opened the floodgates was Hatufim, the original version of what Showtime fashioned into the Emmy-winning drama series Homeland. And in the past year, a nonscripted show has brought the territory to a whole new level. Rising Star, the interactive singing competition created by Tedy Productions and Hatufim‘s Keshet International, turned attention full-bore to the Middle Eastern nation and has helped give rise to a slew of new programming that is wending its way around the globe. Pretty impressive for a Israel flagcountry that has only two commercial broadcasters — a situation that is leading some locals to produce for international first. But there’s also a universality to the stories and concepts that Israel is bringing to market. Producer Tal Shaked of A Cappella echoes a sentiment you hear a lot when talking with local execs. “We’re a small country in the Middle East with a lot going on around us,” she says. “We have Jews and Russians and Arabs and Ethiopians. … We have religious and nonreligious people. There’s never a dull moment. The country lives under threat – we are surrounded by enemies. And that makes people be very creative.” Here is a look at some of the key reality producer/creatives in the market today. Read More »

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Reality Check: ‘Pawn Stars’ Experts Trade Fame For Treasure In Lieu Of Paychecks

Reality Check: ‘Pawn Stars’ Experts Trade Fame For Treasure In Lieu Of PaychecksThey are the Pawn Stars co-stars, the experts who help separate the genuine from the fake, the treasure from the trash. Without them, History’s Pawn Stars would be Antiques Roadshow: Las Vegas, only with more guns. They work without a script, and they’re not paid a dime, but being on the show has boosted their businesses and made them brand names in the appraiser field.

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EMMYS: For Food Shows, It’s More Than What’s In The Kitchen

By | Wednesday June 18, 2014 @ 8:53am PDT

EMMYS: For Food Shows, It’s More Than What’s In The KitchenDiane Haithman is a contributor to Deadline Hollywood

Could this year’s Emmy Reality and Reality-Competition categories turn into a food fight?

Perhaps more important: Should there be a law preventing a chef from wrapping zucchini around a toasted marshmallow, creating the S’More from hell (observed in a recent installment of Chopped)?

The stage — or should we say table — has been set. In 2010, Bravo’s Top Chef  knocked The Amazing Race off its 7-year pedestal by taking home the Emmy for best Reality-Competition program (Race came back for another two wins before being unseated by The Voice in 2013).  “I believe it was the first prominent, prime time food show to win the category,” says Primetime Emmy Award chair Bob Boden. Read More »

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Stuntwoman Sues Over Burns Suffered During ‘Face Off’ Shoot

By | Tuesday June 17, 2014 @ 6:53pm PDT

Stuntwoman Sues Over Burns Suffered During ‘Face Off’ ShootA stuntwoman who was burned on the set of Syfy’s Face Off is suing the production companies and others for lost wages, medical expenses and damages. In the civil complaint filed Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court (read it here), Tamiko Brownlee claims she was “severely burned over multiple parts of her body” when “a propane ‘popper’ and/or ‘woofer’” exploded on the set and she was “surrounded and consumed by a fireball.” Defendants include Syfy Media Productions, Mission Control Media, T-Minus Productions and HollywoodStuntCoordinator.com. The suit says Brownlee “in her participation of said production of Face Off did not know, was not advised, did not consent, assume and/or agree to participate in any way, manner and/or capacity in said television production with any defendant named herein where here person and/or body would be and/or run the risk of being burned.” The plaintiff is represented by attorney Vincent Vallin Bennett of Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack and Grant in LA.

Related: Syfy’s ‘Face Off’ Renewed For Sixth Season

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Game On: NBC Throws ‘America’s Got Talent’, Daredevils Against ABC’s ‘Rising Star’ Premiere

By | Tuesday June 17, 2014 @ 6:13pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Game On: NBC Throws ‘America’s Got Talent’, Daredevils Against ABC’s ‘Rising Star’ PremiereNBC is taking new ABC singing competition Rising Star very seriously, using heavy artillery against the debut of the new reality series this weekend. NBC has slotted an original of its strongest summer series, veteran America’s Got Talent, which airs Tuesdays, directly opposite the two-hour premiere of Rising Star from 9-11 PM on Sunday. But the Peacock didn’t stop here: NBC just announced a special daredevil stunt throughout Sunday night, which is being billed as “Show-Stopping Sunday.”

Related: Jeff Bader’s First Big Test: Fixing NBC’s Thursday Night

agtmanelBoth stunts, hosted by AGT judge Howie Mandel, will aim at breaking Guinness world records — for fastest jump over three moving cars and the highest shallow dive into fire. They will be chronicled in the form of interstitials that will air during American Ninja Warrior, which airs from 7-9 PM and AGT from 9-11 PM. Such stunting is vintage Jeff Bader. One of his first moves after jumping from ABC to NBC to head scheduling in 2012 was to add a third, Wednesday installment of The Voice‘s premiere week to go head-to-head against the hyped Season 2 premiere of Fox’s The X Factor that introduced new judge Britney Spears. The stunt didn’t go very well with X Factor boss Simon Cowell, who called it “a cynical, cold-hearted, unprofessional way of doing business.” But it worked in taking sizzle away from the X Factor debut. Read More »

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Reality Check: Dan Cutforth On What Keeps ‘Top Chef’ Sharp, Cutting Through The Clutter & What’s Next

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 10:42am PDT

Reality Check: Dan Cutforth On What Keeps ‘Top Chef’ Sharp, Cutting Through The Clutter & What’s NextReality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

Dan Cutforth was already a reality TV veteran with some time spent developing Survivor when he started Magical Elves with Jane Lipsitz in 2001. Since then the Brit-born producer has charged forward with Bands On The Run for VH1, Project Greenlight, the Peabody winning Project Runway and of course Top Chef. The Bravo cooking competition show took the Reality Competition Program Emmy in 2010, breaking The Amazing Race’s 7-year winning streak. A wide reaching franchise now and undoubtedly one of the reasons the UK’s Tinopolis Group acquired Elves earlier this yearTop Chef certainly rates as a contender this Emmys. In that vein, Cutforth reveals his state of mind this Emmy season, how the genre has evolved and how he and Lipsitz keep Top Chef cooking.

DEADLINE: So Dan, what do you think the current state of Reality TV is?
DAN CUTFORTH: I think it’s interesting how hard it is to break through with a great, new show now, and I think this is something that’s been true probably for the last, maybe, three to five years. I think when you look at the current state of reality TV, at least on the mainstream level, the shows that tend to be more successful have been around for a while. It’s difficult today to show the audience something they haven’t seen before, and I think that’s what tends to be the … Read More »

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Rabih Gholam Joins Ryan Seacrest Prods. As EVP Unscripted

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 10:34am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

gholamRyan Seacrest Prods.’ new president Eugene Young has made his first senior executive hire since joining the company two months ago. 51 Minds’ Rabih Gholam has been tapped as EVP, Unscripted Programming. Gholam will report to Young, working alongside EVP, Current Unscripted Programming Izzie Pick Ashcroft, EVP, Production Robert Norris Catto and SVP of Development Matt Sims. As EVP of alternative programming of Endemol-owned 51 Minds, Gholam recently produced Whodunnit? for ABC, Same Name for CBS and Somebody Has to Go for Fox. He started off in late-night TV before migrating to reality. Gholam is the second executive from 51 Minds to depart after the executive restructuring following the company CEO Cris Abrego’s appointment as co-chairman and co-CEO of parent Endemol North America that saw Christian Sarabia elevated to president of 51 Minds. VP Dave Caplan recently inked a deal with Lionsgate TV.

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Anthony Anderson Hosting Food Network’s ‘Food Fest Nation’

By | Monday June 16, 2014 @ 8:00am PDT

Anthony Anderson Hosting Food Network’s ‘Food Fest Nation’Anthony Anderson (The Departed, Law & Order) will be hosting the new Food Network series Food Fest Nation, which will air on Monday, July 21 at 9 pm ET/PT.  Anderson will tour food festivals around the country, spotlighting regional cuisine.  Stops on Anderson’s fest tour include the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival in Fernandina Beach, Fla.;  the Magnolia Blossom Festival & World Championship Steak Cook-Off in Magnolia, Ark. where 4,000-plus  kinds of ribeye steaks compete for a $10,000 prize, as well as the Long Grove Strawberry Festival in Long Grove, Ill. where the specialty menu items are strawberry ricotta ravioli and strawberry balsamic chicken. Anderson previously competed on Chopped and appeared as a judge and competitor on Iron Chef America. This fall, he stars and produces the upcoming ABC sitcom Black-ish. Anderson is repped by UTA, Principato-Young as well as Stone, Meyer, Genow, Smelkinson and Binder.

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Global TV Biz Consolidation: Shine-Endemol-Core Would Create Mega Indie

Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

21st_century_fox_logo_newIn mid-May, 21st Century Fox surprised industry watchers when it announced its intent to form a joint venture with Apollo Global Management that would include the Shine Group, Endemol and CORE Media Group. Apollo had been known to be contemplating a tie-up of Big Brother producer Endemol and American Idol parent CORE Media, but the Shine element was new. What was unsurprising was this further move towards consolidation in the TV production sector which has seen myriad companies – big and small — acquired by the likes of Discovery, Warner Bros, ITV, Sony and Red Arrow to name a few, in the past year and a half. Folks caution that it’s still early days for a potential combined Shine-Endemol-Core, but that the desire is there to see such a deal come to fruition. If it does, it will create a so-called Mega Indie that would be one of the world’s biggest independent production companies working across both scripted and non-scripted. 21st Century Fox and funds managed by affiliates of Apollo would co-own and manage the new joint venture. Read More »

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Reality Check: Nielsen Twitter TV Season Rankings Show Reality’s Strength

By | Friday June 13, 2014 @ 12:05pm PDT

Twitter-Logo__130513233830-150x150When Nielsen recently wrapped the TV season, it released a set of graphics breaking out the biggest of the big in its new Twitter TV Ratings, in which reality fared well. Among the biggest on the social-media site: the series finale of AMC’s Breaking Bad,  AMC’s zombie drama  The Walking Dead, the NFL and college football championships, the Oscars etc. Among the season’s Twitter records, however, is winner of Most Tweets and Tweets-Per-Minute: NBC’s The Voice. Viewers sent 1.92 million tweets on May 13, including a record 310,000 at 8:59 PM EST. 1.5 million tweets mentioned #VoiceSave. Here’s the season overview, which includes strong showings overall from ABC’s The Bachelor and Dancing With The Stars:

Related: What TV Series Do Rich And Smart People Watch? You Might Be Surprised

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TLC’s ‘Leah Remini: It’s All Relative’ To Open July 10 With Scientology-Referencing Episode: Video

leahreminiTLC announced it will unveil its new series Leah Remini: It’s All Relative on Thursday, July 10 at 10 PM ET. Last March, the Discovery Communications network announced it had ordered 12 half-hour episodes of a reality series following Leah Remini, who starred opposite Kevin James on CBS’ long-running comedy King Of Queens and served a short stint as one of the co-hosts on CBS’s syndicated The Talk, did a turn on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars and recurs on the TV Land series The Exes. But Remini may be best known these days as the celebrity who went very public about leaving Scientology. In the premiere episodes, airing back to back on July 10, Remini and her husband Angelo decide to throw a party for friends who stuck by them since they left the Church of Scientology, TLC said.

The series, from Duck Dynasty producer Gurney Productions, follows Remini’s family life in Los Angeles and also will spotlight the couple’s 9-year-old daughter Sofia, Remini’s opinionated mother, eccentric stepfather, sister and TLC_logo__130912234353brother-in-law. Cast also includes Remini’s housekeeper, Sofia’s British nanny, and Leah’s personal assistant.  Today, TLC said the show’s “extended family” will now includes a producer and a few cameramen. “This series continues our focus on creating compelling series about remarkable families, using heart and … Read More »

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What TV Series Do Rich And Smart People Watch? You Might Be Surprised

the-bachelor-season-18-juan-pabloIn the TV season just concluded, the highest indexing primetime broadcast series (non-sports) among demo viewers, in homes earning $150K+ per year, was ABC’s The Bachelor. This might come as a surprise to critics who’ve described Bachelor as that hook-up-in-a-hot-tub show, those who would have put money on the most upscale broadcast reality TV series to be something more along the lines of, say, ABC’s pitch-a-venture-capitalist series Shark Tank, or CBS’ tony, often-Emmy-winning world-traveling The Amazing Race, or NBC’s extremely popular singing competiton series The Voice. And, if you stop 10 people on the street, odds are eight of them would swear the season’s most upscale broadcast TV series in young-demo, high income homes would something along the lines of CBS’s lawyerly The Good Wife, or maybe ABC’s Washington-set soap Scandal. They would be wrong. Read More »

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Reality Check: Gordon Ramsay On ‘MasterChef Junior’, His Gentler Side & Taking Nothing For Granted

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 2:31pm PDT

Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television. 

Grand Tasting At Vegas Uncork'd By Bon AppetitThe title “hardest working man in show biz” is a hotly contested one but certainly Gordon Ramsay has his name in the mix. With a mini-empire on Fox, the chef is no wallflower in either his opinions or his work ethic with five shows on the network. The most recent Stateside offering of the Order of the British Empire recipient is MasterChef Junior, which debuted in September last year with Ramsay will again be joined by restaurateur and winemaker Joe Bastianich and chef Graham Elliot joining Ramsay judging would-be chefs between the ages 8-13.  Produced by Shine America and Ramsay’s One Potato Two Potato, the series served up strong ratings in its Friday slot and has been renewed for both a second and third season. Shooting in Spain for the UK version of Kitchen Nightmares, Ramsay reflected on the other side of him that MasterChef Junior revealed, how to stay at the top of your game and the need to refresh.

DEADLINE: Gordon, you’re a big picture guy, what’s the state of unscripted TV today?
GORDON RAMSAY: The state of unscripted television right now is edgy.  It’s compulsive viewing. I think it is about jeopardy in unscripted drama, which is something that a lot of producers fail to spot.  For me, the essence of Reality TV is all about drama.   So, I think bringing pressure is healthy whether it’s a professional chef or a domestic chef. Because the only way ever to really identify the true purpose of how good they are is submerging them under pressure.  So I say it’s no different than a live football game because it’s about the intensity.

Related: Fox Orders Season 3 of ‘MasterChef Junior’ Read More »

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UPDATE: Reality Producers ITV Studios & Leftfield On NY City Council “Sweatshop” Hearing List

ITV-Studios-America-new-logoUPDATE, 12:40 PM:  Real Housewives and Pawn Stars producer Leftfield Entertainment and its new owner ITV Studios have been asked to testify at hearings this month before the New York City Council to provide evidence of their employees’ working conditions. The June 25 hearings are dubbed “The Real Reality of Reality TV” and will examine “the prevalence of long work hours, wage theft and overtime violations, the absence of health benefits, the lack of paid time off, and the health and safety concerns of producers and associate producers working under dangerous conditions,” NYC Councilman I. Daneek Miller said in letters to the production companies obtained by Deadline. (Read the letter to ITV here.)

ITV’s deal in May to acquire 80% of Leftfield for $360 million made ITV Studios US Group the largest independent unscripted producer in the States, the company said at the time. In Miller’s letter, he asked ITV to “describe how your recent purchases of other nonfiction production companies in NYC affect the working conditions of your writer-producers and other freelance employees.”

wga-east__120202004540__131121163927The City Council’s agenda for the hearings reads like the litany of accusations the WGA East has already made against ITV, which the guild has been trying to organize for the last four years. The guild has accused ITV of “stealing” an average of $30,000 a year from its writer-producers through what the guild calls “wage theft” — not paying overtime and for all hours worked. “At the hearing we hope to learn more about whether it will be necessary to involve the key players — production companies, networks, employee representatives — in an effort to establish and maintain better standards, perhaps with an industry code of conduct,” Miller said in identical letters to each of the companies. Whether they will get a fair hearing may be a matter of some concern to the companies, as Councilman Corey Johnson recently accused ITV of “working their people to the breaking point and then kicking them to the curb.” Read More »

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Mel B Joining ‘The X Factor UK’ To Complete Judging Lineup For 11th Cycle

By | Wednesday June 11, 2014 @ 2:19am PDT

The-X-Factor-UK__130317023613-200x112__130330000322Fox cancelled The X Factor in the U.S. back in February, the same day that ITV said creator Simon Cowell would rejoin the UK version. The following month, Cowell confirmed that former X Factor UK judge Cheryl Cole would return for the 11th season of the show after having left to join the U.S. version in a famously short-lived stint. Today, Cowell’s company Syco announced by tweet that Mel B is to be the fourth UK judge. The panel is now complete with Cowell, Cole, Mel B and the returning Louis Walsh. Last year’s group consisted of Walsh, Sharon Osbourne, Gary Barlow and Nicole Scherzing. The former Scary Spice, Mel B (aka Melanie Brown) was a guest judge on The X Factor UK in 2012 who lived up to her nickname with her straight talking approach. Today, she said, “I’ve always thought honesty is the best policy when being a judge and that’s what I’m going to bring more of this year — whether it’s spotting an incredible singer, giving someone a reality check or debating with Simon over who’s got it wrong! Now I can’t wait to get started and find some amazing talent.” Cowell added, “I thought she was fantastic as a guest judge a couple of years ago. She is feisty, opinionated and, I believe, will be a great mentor.” Mel B is also … Read More »

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Reality Check: Mark Burnett On ‘Survivor’, ‘American Idol’, ‘Shark Tank’ & Anchoring Values

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 1:43pm PDT

Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

Since Survivor firstmarkburnett1 debuted on CBS in the summer of 2000, Mark Burnett has been and remains one of the leading impresarios of the Reality TV genre that he in many ways created Stateside. Sure Burnett’s had flame-outs like the short lived Stars Earn Stripes, but he’s also currently holding a deck that includes the still strong Survivor 28 seasons in and growing NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s entrepreneurial series Shark Tank. In a genre where longevity and legacy are still being created, Burnett reflects on the state and shifting fortunes of Reality TV, why American Idol has stumbled and how he literally anchors his shows to success.

DEADLINE: Let’s cut to the chase, Mark. What’s the state of unscripted TV in 2014?
MARK BURNETT: The state of unscripted TV is very good, as long as it’s good. That’s the only thing you have to worry about. I always try to think that if you’re given an hour or two of primetime American network TV, you better treat that as if someone’s just given you a $100 million movie to run. No difference, and there’s no free pass. If it’s great, and if it has an emotional connection, for whatever reason, to the viewers, it stays. Particularly, for me, I’m very, very fortunate that The Voice, and Survivor, and Shark Tank all have a clear emotional connection through the TV screen into peoples’ homes. Read More »

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Reality Check: Among Treasure Programs, ‘Antiques Roadshow’ Tosses The Script

By | Monday June 9, 2014 @ 5:30am PDT

Diane Haithman contributes to Deadline’s TV coverage.

Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.

Instead of Emmy love,  PBS stalwart Antiques Roadshow has met with 11 long years of Emmy “like”.

Antiques Roadshow logoDuring the last 12 of its 18 years on the air, Antiques Roadshow has been nominated  11 times in the Outstanding Reality Program Category (including “reality” TV’s former Emmy categories,  Non-Fiction Program/Series). The exception was 2004: the year the Outstanding Reality Program category was introduced, Roadshow was a no-show on the nominees list. (Another sedate PBS series, Colonial House, made the  list then, and the win went to Queer Eye). Read More »

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Lifetime Greenlights Four Unscripted Series, Sets Three Reality Projects In Development

By | Wednesday June 4, 2014 @ 11:47am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Lifetime_Logo_Vector_CMYK_1_Coral_031313_02__140206235544-275x275Lifetime started expanding into unscripted programming in mid-2010 when Nancy Dubuc took over the network, known until then for TV movies and female-skewing drama series. It took a few years for reality series to get traction and viewers to begin associating Lifetime with such programming, with the 2011 Dance Moms as the only breakout. Things picked up last year after the hire of Bravo’s Eli Lehrer as head of non-fiction development. Lifetime’s unscripted slate took hold, producing such new hits as Bring It! and True Tori, and now drives the network’s ratings growth at a lower price point than scripted fare.

So it is not surprising that Lifetime has picked up four new unscripted programs: Born In The Wild, a series about natural child birth in the wild; the complete makeover series Girlfriend Intervention; the docu-sitcom Kosher Soul, which follows hip-hop tastemaker O’Neal McKnight and his fiancée, celebrity stylist Miriam Sternoff; and the reality-competition show Threads, from the producers of Project Runway and featuring Vanessa Simmons and Christian Siriano, in which skilled teen and tween fashion designers showcase their gift for style.

Related: Lifetime Orders ‘Child Genius’ Competition Docuseries

Additionally, Lifetime has put three unscripted projects in development: the extreme dental makeover show Smile; the competition-reality series Worst Stylist Ever, which pits America’s most feared hair stylists against one another; and Ugly Models, a docu-series from rock icon Gene Simmons, Jon Murray, Jeff Jenkins and Gil Goldschein that looks at the world’s leading modeling agency focused on representing unusual looking people. “As we continue to raise the bar across all of our programming, unscripted is playing an important role in placing Lifetime in the cultural zeitgeist and introducing the network to the next generation of our viewers,” said Lifetime general manager Rob Sharenow.  Here are descriptions of Lifetime newly picked up reality series and projects in development:
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