The former Cartoon Network and Syfy exec is joining the cable net as SVP Development and Current Programming. Rob Swartz will develop and oversee the production and creative execution of ReelzChannel’s original programming slate, including six new and returning original series this summer. “It is exciting to welcome an experienced television executive like Rob to our network,” Reelz CEO Stan Hubbard said. “His expertise and industry relationships are a formidable combination that we know will help us develop a rich and compelling programming slate.” Prior to Reelz, Swartz was president of Venn Media, and before that he was VP Original Series at Cartoon Network, driving its expansion into live-action and alternative. He also did a stint as President of Alternative Programming at Syfy.
The new half-hour reality series will premiere on ReelzChannel this fall, the channel said today. Polka Kings follows The Chardon Polka Band as they try to achieve mainstream status for the traditional music genre in their quest for stardom. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to make it big, including performing polka versions of songs by artists such as Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. Based in Cleveland, the group was co-founded by front man, 27-year-old Jake Kouwe and his best friend and sousaphone/bass player, Paul ‘The Weird One’ Coates. Polka Kings is produced by High Noon Entertainment, with Jim Berger, Scott Feeley and Patrick Jager serving as executive producers. Production is set to begin this spring.
ReelzChannel has picked up Marie!, Marie Osmond‘s Hallmark Channel talk show. Reelz will begin airing 80 of the 150 produced episodes on the show on January 6 at 10 AM with an option to buy more episodes. Additionally, Marie! producer Associated Television International continues to explore a potential syndication sale for the program.
ReelzChannel and Asylum Entertainment are expanding their relationship that dates back to the Asylum-produced miniseries The Kennedys, which put the network on the map with 10 Emmy nominations and four wins in 2011. Now the pair have signed an output deal that will see Asylum produce 50 hours of unscripted programming for the network in 2014, distributed over 10 series. A previous development deal netted ReelzChannel’s first unscripted docuseries, Beverly Hills Pawn, which returns for a second season November 6; as well as new series The Capones and Hollywood Hillbillies, slated for January bows. “Asylum is one of the great TV production companies and, especially as an independent network, we are lucky to have such committed partners as [Asylum principals] Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels,” ReelzChannel CEO Stan E. Hubbard said. In September, reality TV veteran Stephanie Lydecker joined Asylum to oversee unscripted development as well as develop for the company’s scripted business.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
The most investigated crime in world history — the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963 — gets yet a new theory when ReelzChannel premieres the original investigative doc JFK: The Smoking Gun on Nov. 3 precisely 19 days before the 50th anniversary. While JFK conspiracy fatigue long ago set in, it provided undeniably fascinating fodder during a TCA panel that comes to a genuinely fascinating conclusion: There was a second shooter during that fateful day in Dallas, and it wasn’t an assassin. It was a Secret Service agent named George Hickey, who was riding in the car in the motorcade directly behind Kennedy’s vehicle and whose automatic weapon accidentally discharged. This is the theory, presented in painstaking scientific detail, that the doc will lay out. On the panel, an author named Bonar Menninger and a retired Australian detective Colin McLaren presented their argument that the bullet that exploded into Kennedy’s brain came not from Oswald’s rifle but from Hickey’s in the chaos of the moment. “We believe it wasn’t intentional but a tragic accident,” McLaren said, indicating that the evidence was long covered up at the highest levels of United States intelligence as well as by JFK’s brother Robert. “The lone gunman theory is nonsense and always has been.” Part of the reason the doc is proceeding now, besides the 50th anniversary, is the fact that Hickey died two years ago and can no longer bring suit. But the airing of an undeniable hot potato seems to tie into ReelzChannel’s self-appointed mission of being The JFK Network. The first evidence of that came two years ago when it acquired the miniseries The Kennedys, which went on to win four Emmys.
That panel — hosted, like the ones that preceded it, by entertainment reporter Sam Rubin — made for a decidedly jarring contrast with the sessions that preceded it promoting the reality sitcoms The Capones and Hollywood Hillbillies. The Capones featured a bickering, working-class, stereotypically Italian clan involved in running an Italian restaurant in Chicago called Capone’s Restaurant & Pizzeria. The centerpiece of the discussion was a debate over whether or not the family had a legitimate genealogical claim to being blood descendants to the real Al Capone.
Ray Richmond contributes to Deadline’s TCA coverage.
Cable’s ReelzChannel announced three new original programs this morning at TCA — one JFK-themed documentary and a pair of unscripted series, along with a second season of the workplace docuseries Beverly Hills Pawn — premiering Nov. 6. The new originals include:
– JFK: The Smoking Gun, an investigative doc premiering Nov. 3 that’s based on the forensic work of veteran police detective Colin McLaren and his cold-case look into the Kennedy assassination in advance of its 50th anniversary. It purports to finally “solve” the case and reveal the identity of a second shooter in addition to Lee Harvey Oswald.
– The Capones (premiering Nov, 9), following the goings-on at a family-run restaurant called Capone’s Restaurtant and Pizzeria headed by Dom Capone.
– Hollywood Hillbillies (premiering January 2014), chronicling the antics of Internet superstars Michael “The Angry Ginger,” his “Mema” and Aunt Dee Dee in their move from rural Georgia to Hollywood.
EXCLUSIVE: All it took was a single taping for ReelzChannel to pull the plug on its new weekly series The Big Picture. The entertainment talk show co-hosted by So You Think You Can Dance and Good Day LA alum Lauren Sanchez and ex-Telemundo host Alex Cambert filmed June 13 at the network’s studio in Albuquerque. But things went so disastrously that execs were talking cancellation by Friday. They made the decision final on Monday. “It just didn’t play well,” Reelz CEO Stan E. Hubbard told Deadline. “We had high hopes for it.” An inside source blames co-host Cambert for causing on-set friction. According to Hubbard, there was indeed “bad chemistry” on set in what he describes as “not a good team effort.” Both Cambert and Sanchez were exec producers on the show. While Reelz’s working relationship with the duo is officially over, Hubbard thinks Sanchez will resurface on the network on another project. “She is a treat to work with, and I’m sure we’ll find something to do with her in the future,” he said. Reelz, meanwhile, is focusing on its new Beverly Hills Pawn series and the premiere of November’s docu JFK: The Smoking Gun.
ReelzChannel is going for The Big Picture with Lauren Sanchez. The network has ordered 26 episodes of the weekly talk show that will cover the world of entertainment. The Big Picture is set to debut on June 20. Sanchez will co-host the show with former Telemundo host Alex Cambert. The former So You Think You Can Dance host will also serve as Executive Producer on The Big Picture. The new late night show aims to cover all aspects of film and TV in a chatty and irreverent manner. A former Good Day LA back-up anchor and Extra! correspondent, Sanchez also appears later this summer in the Roland Emmerich-directed White House Down. Sanchez has previously played a TV reporter in other movies like Fight Club, Fantastic Four and 2011’s We Bought A Zoo. Sanchez and Cambert are both repped by WME.
ITV Studios Global Entertainment will launch crime drama Shetland in Cannes next week. The ITV Studios-produced show has just been renewed by BBC One for a second season. The series is expanding from its original two parts to become a six-parter the next time around. Douglas Henshall plays detective Jimmy Perez who returns to his home in Scotland to lead a murder investigation. The series is based on the novels by Ann Cleeves.
Keshet International, the folks behind the original Israeli format for Homeland, will offer scripted and non-scripted programming at Mip, also expanding into third-party fare for the first time. Included on the slate are Mother’s Day, which has gone to pilot in the U.S. for CBS starring Debra Messing; The A Word, a drama about a five-year-old autistic boy; and The Gordin Cell, which NBC is developing as MICE. New unscripted programming includes trivia game show Sure Or Insure and docu-reality reverse makeover show Remember Me?. Keshet’s third party titles including drama-noir Light & Truth; romantic drama Devout Love; sitcom Fox Force; and comedy drama Honey Africa.
ReelzChannel this morning put out a press release confirming our story about the network’s plans to team with The Kennedys co-producer Muse Entertainment for a follow-up miniseries based on Randy Taraborrelli’s bestselling book After Camelot, which tells the personal history of the Kennedy family from 1968 to the present. Muse will produce the miniseries and handle international distribution. Keri Selig of Intuition Prods, who brought the project to Reelz, will serve as an executive producer. I hear Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais have been tapped to write the mini, which, like The Kennedys, is envisioned as an eight-hour event. “The Kennedy family is truly a part of the fabric of America and we’re thrilled to once again work with our partners at Muse Entertainment to bring our viewers this fascinating and continuing story,” said Stan E. Hubbard, CEO of ReelzChannel.
EXCLUSIVE: I’ve learned that ReelzChannel and Canadian producer Muse Entertainment are plotting a sequel to their controversial 2011 mini-series The Kennedys. I hear the follow-up mini is eyed as an eight-episode event, matching the run of the original miniseries. It will be based on J. Randy Taraborrelli’s book After Camelot, which was published this spring, and is expected to pick up where the first mini took off — after the 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy. Search is under way for a writer to adapt the book, described as “a personal history of the Kennedy Family 1968 to the present.” Neither Joel Surnow, who spearheaded the original miniseries as executive producer, nor Asylum Entertainment, which co-produced it with Muse, are involved in the sequel.
For Taraborrelli, After Camelot is a follow-up to his bestseller Jackie Ethel Joan – Women Of Camelot, which became a miniseries for NBC. It chronicles the Kennedy clan over the four decades after Robert Kennedy’s assassination, focusing on the the scandals, arrests, affairs, overdoses and antics associated with America’s royal family.
The Kennedys stirred controversy when it was abruptly dropped by History, the network that had commissioned it, shortly before it was to hit the air under what sources described as political pressure from the Kennedy clan. In a turnaround, with all major networks passing on the hot-potato project, ReelzChannel stepped in to pick it up for …
ReelzChannel‘s first non-scripted competition series Race To The Scene will debut in spring 2013. Dolph Lundgren will host the show, on which pairs of contestants race to and from actual movie locations as they compete in challenges and stunts inspired by memorable movies. The Hochberg Ebersol Co is producing the series, which is created and executive produced by Justin Hochberg, Charlie Ebersol and ReelzChannel. The project jibes with the network’s slogan: TV About Movies. “Race To The Scene taps directly into our shared experiences of the most talked-about scenes in movies with the added excitement of movie fans being challenged to re-create the action,” ReelzChannel CEO Stan E. Hubbard said.
(Photo: Getty Images)
The network just picked up the Ken Follett miniseries World Without End and now is adding another mini, a docu-series and a scripted series to the lineup beginning in the fall. The newly announced miniseries, Barabbas, is a four-parter that follows the life of the man who in the Bible was spared because of the crucifixion of Christ. The docu-series Beverly Hills Pawn, from Asylum Entertainment, is set at a luxury shop where Hollywood’s elite go for cash. The original series Bomb Girls, meanwhile, stars Meg Tilly and takes place during World War II when women risked their lives in a munitions factory in support of the war. It’s from Muse Entertainment, the producer of the ReelzChannel miniseries The Kennedys. The network already announced the second season of Steven Seagal’s True Justice and the spy thriller XIII, which premieres June 29. Here’s the descriptions of the new shows:
ReelzChannel has snagged U.S. premiere rights to the eight-hour miniseries World Without End, the sequel to Scott Free Films and Tandem Communications’ mini The Pillars Of The Earth that aired last year on Starz and garnered seven Emmy nominations. The two projects were based on the Ken Follett epic novels. ReelzChannel, which had great success with airing The Kennedys miniseries via its TV About Movies platform — it competed with Pillars in last year’s Emmy Miniseries or Movie category — plans a fall 2012 airdate; it acquired and aired the nine-part Pillars for its second U.S. window last year after Starz. “With The Kennedys we conditioned our audience to know that our network is home to the biggest miniseries, and World Without End is exactly that,” ReelzChannel SEO Stan Hubbard said.
World Without End, with a budget of $46 million, picks up 200 years after Pillars in 14th century England with a new cast of characters including Caris (Charlotte Riley), who inspires her medieval town to confront the Church and the Crown as they fight to save their town from ruin and, ultimately, usher in a new era of freedom, innovation and enlightenment. Cynthia Nixon, Miranda Richardson, Ben Chaplin, Peter Firth and Sarah Gadon co-star. Michael Caton-Jones directed.
NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA, May 21, 2012 – The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced today that REELZCHANNEL will carry the 2012 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy® Awards which will once again be produced by Spike Jones, Jr. The announcement was made by Television Academy Chairman and CEO Bruce Rosenblum. The awards will be taped on Saturday, September 15th and a two-hour, edited version will air on Saturday, September 22nd at 8:00 PM ET/PT. This marks the 18th year that Jones, Jr. will produce the awards and the second time REELZCHANNEL will air the ceremony.
ReelzChannel has picked up a second season of 13 episodes of Steven Seagal’s crimefighting drama series True Justice. True Justice became Reelz’s first original scripted drama series when the cable network last year acquired the already produced first 13 episodes of the show, which had aired internationally. Since True Justice‘s premiere on ReelzChannel on March 30, the series has been growing its audience, with the premiere of Episode 3 becoming the highest-rated program of the year for Reelz. That episode has reached more than 1.2 million viewers to date.
ReelzChannel has acquired spy thriller action series XIII, starring Stuart Townsend and Aisha Tyler. Named for the Roman numeral tattooed on his neck, XIII (Townsend) is a former secret operative who has been stripped of his memory. Hunted by a dark anti-government organization, XIII searches for clues that will uncover the secret that makes him so valuable—and so potentially dangerous. Jones (Tyler) is a government agent and XIII’s most loyal ally. XIII will premiere in June, following the season finale of ReelzChannel’s first acquired original series, True Justice, starring Steven Seagal. XIII was developed and produced by Jay Firestone’s Prodigy Pictures and Luc Besson’s French production company EuropaCorp Television based on Jean Van Hamme’s adrenaline-fueled graphic novels.
ReelzChannel has picked up the Sarah Palin documentary The Undefeated and will premiere it March 11 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT. The pro-Palin doc from Victory Film Group was released theatrically in July in a few theaters and grossed just more than $100,000 domestically, but its politically charged subject puts it right in the wheelhouse of ReelzChannel, which found ratings success picking up the miniseries The Kennedys after it was dropped by History Channel. That mini from 24 co-creator Joel Surnow earned 10 Emmy nominations last year and won four and put ReelzChannel on the cable map. It’s also not a coincidence that the March 11 TV premiere date for Undefeated comes a day after HBO premieres Game Change, its movie about the 2008 presidential election that focuses on the emergence of Palin on the national scene. “We are incredibly excited that ReelzChannel has made the courageous decision to present the network television premiere on the same weekend as the fictionalized hit-piece by HBO,” Undefeated writer-director Stephen K. Bannon said.
ReelzChannel has named Roger Eman as chief operating officer, a new position. He has been with the cable channel since 2007, when he was hired as chief information officer. He later added the titles of chief technical officer and SVP Operations and oversaw ReelzChannel’s move from Los Angeles to Albuquerque. The promotion comes after Eman, a former Sony exec, was vital in spearheading the launch of The Kennedys miniseries less than eight weeks after ReelzChannel acquired it when History dropped it. He managed all digital assets for the telecast, premieres, promotions and related original productions produced by the network. He also oversaw staff, budgets and physical productions of special events related to the mini, which garnered several Emmy nominations last year and effectively put the fledgling network on the cable map.