LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- PAX got a jump on the other broadcast networks as the fledgling channel unveiled its 2004-05 season plans to the advertising community yesterday.
In somewhat of a surprise, NBC sales chief Keith Turner and NBC Entertainment senior VP Sheraton Kalouria were the ones who presented the network's plans at the Peacock's Studio 8H at Rockefeller Plaza, not PAX topper Lowell "Bud" Paxson.
Here's the complete breakdown of what's in store for PAX come next season, taken from the network's press release:
Expect the Unexpected on PAX TV in the 2004-2005 Television Season; Ten Primetime Series Running the Gamut from Reality to Variety and Drama to Improv
Seventh Season Highlights to Be Unveiled at Upfront Presentation Include New Series from 'Frasier's' Kelsey Grammer and the Producers
of 'Average Joe' and 'Fear Factor'
Unexpected...that might be the best way to describe PAX TV's programming schedule for 2004-2005 season, details of which will be unveiled at a presentation tonight at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Studio 8H. PAX's impressive line-up includes a vast array of entertainment genres and represents the most aggressive schedule in its history. The network will broadcast ten new primetime series for a total of 14 original hours a week.
As it enters its seventh season, PAX, for the first time, will unveil its take on reality programming through three unscripted series, "Cold Turkey," "Model Citizens" and "Second Verdict," the first of which is produced by Stuart Krasnow ("Average Joe"). Also in development is an untitled reality series from Matt Kunitz ("Fear Factor"). In addition, PAX will present two new scripted dramas, "Left Behind" and "Young Blades;" three entertaining variety programs, "America's Most Talented Kids!," "The Magician" and "World Cup Comedy;" and two fast-paced game shows, "On The Cover" and "Balderdash." Also returning to the line-up are all-new episodes of PAX's top-rated original dramas, "Doc" and "Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye."
Sheraton Kalouria, Senior Vice President for NBC Entertainment, noted, "PAX is launching a tremendous group of series with the goal of broadening its audience in the '04-'05 season. The network's upcoming original series will generate sampling, appeal to viewers of all ages and most importantly, get people talking again about PAX."
PAX's successful movie franchise continues with a brand-new slate of blockbuster hits on Friday nights with "MGM Night at the Movies" and with the launch of the network's new "Universal Family Movie," 52 weeks of a fantastic lineup of feature films from Universal Pictures' premier library, on Saturday nights. On the specials front, the network will premiere "Mission: Space" and will broadcast "America's Junior Miss Pageant," featuring an all-new "reality" format, along with "Mrs. America" and "Mrs. World."
PAX's access block includes America's favorite game shows including "Weakest Link;" all-new episodes of the advertiser's product placement favorite, "Shop 'Til You Drop;" the network's new acquisition of "Pyramid," hosted by Donny Osmond; and "Family Feud," which has delivered solid ratings for the network and will provide an excellent lead-in to its primetime game show block at 8 p.m. Rounding out the schedule are returning series "Diagnosis Murder," "America's Funniest Home Videos," "Candid Camera" and "Early Edition."
New Reality Series
Executive produced by "Average Joe" creator Stuart Krasnow, the series, comprised of 10 installments, is entitled "Cold Turkey." Hosted by former E! correspondent A.J. Benza, the program will monitor participants as they attempt to kick a habit that effects millions of people. Separated from the world they know and the family and friends that support them, participants will be sequestered in a house for three weeks. In this case, their sole support system is comprised of the other players in the house all struggling to overcome their habit. A series that is sure to have television watchers talking this fall, "Cold Turkey" reveals a new and positive side to reality, exploring the world of self-esteem and keeping one's word. Beyond the cash prize, what contestants win at the series' end is the chance at a better life and pride in knowing that they kicked the habit. "Cold Turkey" is a production of Visual Frontiers and is executive produced by Stuart Krasnow and John Holmes ("Average Joe"). The series creators are Emmy winner Jeremy Wallace (CNN, KNBC) and Murray Valeriano (Comedy Central, ABC Family).
On the reality front, PAX will be doing good work with "Model Citizens," an hour-long weekly series hosted by "Average Joe Hawaii" star and former Miss USA contestant Larissa Meek. During each episode, a five-model ensemble, both men and women, will have the opportunity to make a difference in small towns across America. With settings very different from the catwalks in New York or Paris, our Model Squad will most definitely be out of their element, trading in the five-star hotel for the no-star motel. Using their beauty, charm and most of all, common sense, they will be charged with providing a lasting resolution to a community problem. Executive produced by Bradley Anderson and Mack Anderson of First Television ("Unexplained Mysteries," "Trigger Happy," "Battlebots"), our team will be forced to use their imagination, break a sweat and win over the local townspeople of Main Street USA in order to fulfill the task in just five days. Whether it's restoring an old library, raking out topsoil at a forgotten playground, or raising funds for the local Boys and Girls Clubs, their efforts will be philanthropic to the core, with cameras on hand each and every minute to capture all the action.
The next generation of "court shows," "Second Verdict" features compelling, real-life felony cases from around the country from trials that permitted cameras in the courtroom. In this one-hour program, our host introduces the facts of a case to a jury that is unaware of the actual verdict. These twelve men and women are presented with the prosecution and defense cases through videotaped clips and along the way are given explanations of complicated legal terms and concepts. Once the presentation is complete, the cameras will follow the jury into the deliberation room, and once a verdict is reached, viewers will find out if the second verdict matches with that of the original jury. "Second Verdict" is a production of Termite Arts (a division of Lion's Gate Entertainment) and Kimo-Jagger Productions. Executive producers are Raymond Brune (former president and executive producer, News for E! Networks), Andrew Yani (E! News Live, Channel One) and David Harding of Lion's Gate Entertainment.
Primetime television audiences will be riveted when they experience the thriller that has engaged millions of readers in the popular novel series "Left Behind," where in one cataclysmic moment, millions around the world disappear. With over 60 million copies sold, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have generated a media frenzy over their best-selling novels and sparked cross-over appeal and interest in End Times events. Produced by Namesake Entertainment, "Left Behind" the television series, exposes our curiosity of "what ifs" when people randomly vanish in the blink of an eye. Sci-fi fans will be intrigued as this apocalyptic thriller takes viewers through a world only described in books. Mass disappearances leave the world in turmoil as remaining people search for their loved ones wondering why they have been "Left Behind." Executive producers are Joe Goodman and Bobby Neutz.
The Emmy award-winning writing team of Dan Angel and Billy Brown take inspiration from the classic tale of the Three Musketeers, bringing to life this trio of chivalrous and resourceful men, clearly ahead of their time. A light-hearted, bigger-than-life, swash-buckling primetime hour, "Young Blades" puts the spotlight on a new generation of Musketeers, no feathers and no floppy hats. The series features the son of legendary Musketeer D'Artagnan and his two comrades, Siroc, a musketeer who has a passion for inventing, and Jacques, a talented swordsman with a deep secret - in fact, Jacques is really Jacqueline, a young woman who masquerades as a man in order to escape a price on her head. James Shavick, Billy Brown, Georges Campanna and Kirk Shaw are executive producers. Dan Angel is executive story editor. Ned Nalle will serve as creative consultant. "Young Blades" is a production of Shavick/Insight in association with The Hatchery, LLC, the company co-founded by Margaret Loesch.
New Variety Shows
"World Cup Comedy"
Produced by Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier"), one of television's most well-loved stars, "World Cup Comedy" is sure to make PAX the destination this fall for comedy. Taking improvisational comedy to the next level, the series pits some of today's funniest comedians against each other to vie for the coveted and completely fictitious award, the World Cup of Comedy. Utilizing topics provided by the studio audience, the two teams face off while a clever technical crew does whatever it takes to sabotage their performances. As the techs attempt to throw a wrench in the comedic works with shaky camera work, scary sound effects and peculiar props, a team of play-by-play commentators, including creator Dan O'Connor, call all the hilarious action. The winning team returns the following week to compete. "World Cup Comedy," created by Wayne Page and Dan O'Connor, is a production of Grammnet and Nelson Page Entertainment. Executive producers are Kelsey Grammer and Wayne Page ("Martha Stewart Living"). Co-executive producers are Dan O'Connor ("Wayne Brady Show," "Seinfeld"), Steve Stark ("In-Laws") and Adam Peck ("Holy Joe").
"America's Most Talented Kids!"
In light of America's love of great undiscovered talent, PAX will present "America's Most Talented Kids!," a musical variety show that puts the spotlight on amazing child performers between the ages of five and sixteen. The studio audience will have a chance to pick their favorites as each of the budding talents compete for a chance at stardom. And who better to judge the competition than today's hottest child stars - making for a fun-filled and surprising hour of excitement. The series, executive produced by Stuart Krasnow ("Average Joe," "Weakest Link"), Mark Cronin ("Singled Out," "The Surreal Life") and Peter Johansen ("Late, Late Show with Craig Kilborn," "The Rosie O'Donnell Show"), promises viewers an uplifting experience as performers and their parents learn that doing your best is reward in and of itself.
Faster than you can say "Abracadabra" viewers are transported into the mysterious world of a professional magician. "The Magician," a one-hour series showcasing the David Copperfields of the world vying for their opportunity to headline at the legendary Magic Castle in Hollywood, the exclusive "magicians only" club. Each illusionist has every trick in the book up their sleeve and is prepared for the cut-throat competition judged each week by a panel of famous magicians and celebrity guests. Upon completion of the performance in which each magician fulfills a trick from a different magical genre, judges will critique them according to the technical difficulty, originality, and presentation. Tension is thick, and the entertainment level is off the charts as the competitors must astound the judges, impress the audience and intimidate their peers. "The Magician" is produced by KAOS Entertainment with David Harding, John Scheer ("Honor and Glory," "America's Castles") and Rob Englehardt ("Those Who Dare") as executive producers.
New Game Shows
"On the Cover"
Premieres May 17, 2004
If celebrities are our common language and newsstands continue to be a battlefield for our attention, then "On the Cover" is certain to feed viewers' insatiable appetite for pop culture. Three contestants will be quizzed on their pop culture IQ through questions that explore their knowledge of celebrities and events of the past three decades based on the covers of the country's most well-known magazines. So whether music, movies, television, sports or just plain 'ol news tickles your fancy, the exploits of today's most fascinating people and events will be served up in a witty and fun-loving way by host Mark Walberg ("Temptation Island"). A production of Western International Syndication, the show is executive produced by Lisa Jones Johnson, Jonathan Barry ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "Win Ben Stein's Money") and Rick Leed, a successful film and television executive who developed the series.
Premieres July 12, 2004
"Balderdash" is a hilarious new game show inspired by the phenomenally popular board game from Mattel being re-launched this summer to a new generation of fans. Some of today's funniest comedians, writers and celebrities test the wits of contestants as they try to guess which of the panel's outlandish and uproarious definitions are correct. With references drawn from categories like words, movies, people, famous epitaphs and loony laws, the answers run from obscure to just plain silly. "Balderdash" is produced by The Hatchery, LLC. The Hatchery partners, Margaret Loesch (Emmy and Peabody Award winner and former head of The Hallmark Channel); Dan Angel, Emmy Award winner ("Door to Door") and Peabody Award-winning producer and writer ("Goosebumps," "X-Files"); and Bruce Stein, former President and COO of Mattel, Inc., are executive producers.
Returning Original Dramas
"Doc," PAX's top-rated and award-winning original drama starring Billy Ray Cyrus, continues in primetime for a fifth year with all-new episodes. Created by David Alan Johnson and Gary R. Johnson, the series captures the drama and comedy of big city medicine as seen through the eyes of Clint Cassidy (Cyrus), a handsome country doctor from Montana who is a "fish out of water" at a New York City clinic. However, he makes a new life for himself - and a difference in the lives of his patients and colleagues. Marilyn Stonehouse produces for Pebblehut Productions.
"Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye"
PAX has given the green light for a third season of a series that has garnered both critical acclaim and ratings success. Based on the true story of the F.B.I.'s first deaf operative, "Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye" stars Deanne Bray as Sue Thomas, whose lip reading skills help the FBI capture the country's most elusive criminals. Since its debut, the show has been recognized by the Parents Television Council as one of the Top 10 Best Shows and honored with the organization's annual seal of approval award for 2004. In addition, the program has been honored with a Silver Angel Award and a Gabriel Award. The inspiring series is produced by Pebblehut Productions and is created by Dave Alan Johnson and Gary R. Johnson.
Every Friday night, PAX showcases an MGM movie from the studio's award-winning collection of suspenseful mysteries, thrilling adventures, side-splitting comedies and powerful dramas. Airing at 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT, the "MGM Night at the Movies" will feature titles with big-name stars including "Baby Boom," "Dances with Wolves," "Life Stinks," "Little Man Tate," "Moonstruck," "No Way Out," "Overboard," "Quigley Down Under," "Tea with Mussolini," "The Bounty" and "Three Amigos." The network is also proud to announce the addition of the "Universal Family Movie," airing Saturday nights from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT. Viewers can turn to PAX for 52 weeks of blockbuster feature films with top titles from Universal's extensive film library including "Lorenzo's Oil," "Backdraft," "The Flintstones," "Far and Away," "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Beethoven."
Attention adrenaline junkies - prepare for the ride of your life as you leave the confines of Earth and venture out into space to explore new worlds! "Mission: Space," hosted by LeVar Burton ("Star Trek: Next Generation," "Roots," "Reading Rainbow"), is a one-hour special that looks at the amazing journey, the history and future of space exploration and the creative forces behind the development of the state-of-the-art attraction launched at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center. Featuring one-on-one interviews with former astronauts as they describe their experiences in space, viewers will also get their very own backstage pass as the Inaugural Crew experiences hair trigger reactions and unexpected deviations as they attempt to land the spacecraft safely on Mars. If you are ready to accept your mission let the countdown begin! The special is produced by Bruno White Entertainment in association with New Past Productions and is executive produced by Lorri Berglund.
"America's Junior Miss Pageant"
Airs July 3, 2004
PAX will broadcast "America's Junior Miss Pageant," a two-hour special focusing on some of the most outstanding college-bound teenagers in the country, all vying for the title and valuable scholarships. In an all-new "pageant reality" format, audiences will get to know the finalists and their families behind-the-scenes, up close and personal. This year's competition looks beyond the pomp and circumstance and focuses on the young girls' highs and lows, their own rigorous training programs to stay fit, the pressures on their entire families and finally how the contestants prepare for the glamour of the big night. The first hour chronicles our contestants' ambitious run to pageant night through all the rehearsals, parties and press events, and, in the final hour, the special showcases the top 10 finalists as they compete for the title of America's Junior Miss at the Mobile Civic Center in Mobile, Alabama. "America's Junior Miss Pageant" is produced by Joe Carolei ("Judge Judy," "The Mickey Mouse Club") and Jim Casey ("The Mickey Mouse Club," "The Crusaders") of Painless Productions.
"Mrs. America" has become an unprecedented, unparalleled celebration of America itself, saluting the nation's most contemporary, intelligent and attractive married women. Shot in Hawaii, 51 delegates representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia compete for the title of "Mrs. America" and its year-long series of speaking engagements, personal appearances and media interviews. Competition includes evening gown, swimwear and interviews. "Mrs. America" is produced by Marmel Entertainment.
The Mrs. World Pageant was created to recognize the one person who contributes so much to modern life - the international married woman. Fostering greater communication, friendship and mutual understanding among all people, "Mrs. World" is the only televised major international pageant devoted exclusively to married women from every corner of the globe. It not only serves as a showcase for many of the world's most glamorous, versatile and accomplished women, but it also brings together at a critical time in history married women from different backgrounds and cultures who share the mutual hopes and aspirations of all women. The special is produced by Marmel Entertainment.
Executive produced by Phil Gurin and Stuart Krasnow, the "Weakest Link" returns to PAX this season. Hosted by George Gray, six contestants, who must work together to bank as much money as possible by answering trivia questions, are tested on their general knowledge in each fast-paced half hour episode. At the end of each round, the players vote off one of their fellow contestants who is deemed "the weakest link."
"Shop 'Til You Drop"
The new "Shop 'Til You Drop" with host JD Roberto ("Are You Hot") is classic TV game show fun! While two couples compete in three rounds of pricing, matching, product identification and pop culture trivia, they acquire points for a chance to go on a shopping spree for a grand prize. Once the winning contestants advance to the final round, they have a limited amount of time to gather a set of six boxes containing prizes. If the total retail value of the prizes equals or exceeds twenty-five hundred dollars ($2500), the show culminates with the winning couple getting the grand prize trip - a fantastic dream vacation! Scott A. Stone and David G. Stanley are executive producers.
Beginning this fall, PAX will air episodes of the newest version of the fast-paced classic game show, "Pyramid," hosted by Emmy-nominated Donny Osmond. "Pyramid" features two teams - each pairing a regular contestant with a celebrity partner - who describe words and subjects related to specific categories in a race against the clock. The team with more points after round one advances to the Winner's Circle for a chance at $10,000. In the second round, teams switch partners and compete for another chance at the Winner's Circle. Along with its timeless concept and lively format, "Pyramid" is recognized for the eclectic line-up of celebrity participants it has attracted over the years - a combination of familiar faces and smart newcomers showing off their skills. The game show is produced by Sony Pictures Television and is executive produced by Stephen Brown.
Name one of America's most popular game shows in history? - Survey says: "Family Feud!" This hilarious game show pits family against family in a laugh-a-minute scramble to second-guess a survey audience. Viewers can't resist playing along as families test their wits to win big money. Hosted by Richard Karn, the series is produced by FremantleMedia Inc.
Thanks to its remarkable star Dick Van Dyke and its amazing mix of murder, mystery and medicine with a comedic flare, "Diagnosis Murder" remains a PAX TV favorite among viewers. Multiple Emmy Award winner Van Dyke stars as Dr. Mark Sloan, a good-natured, offbeat physician who is called upon to solve murders. "Diagnosis Murder's" signature blend of medical stories and 'whodunits' attracts viewers of all ages. The series is produced by Fred Silverman Company, Dean Hargrove Productions and Viacom Productions Inc.
"America's Funniest Home Videos"
Hosted by Bob Saget, "America's Funniest Home Videos" captures the viewers' practical jokes, embarrassing moments, animal mishaps and more, shot by their own video cameras and showcasing them on national television. Introducing each video with the charm and sense of humor that have entertained audiences for years, Saget adds a touch of comedic style to each batch of videos submitted by viewers nationwide. Clips capture the unexpectedly funny things that happen when adults, children and animals are at their spontaneous best. Studio audiences select their favorite clips on each episode, resulting in thousands of dollars in prize money for winning viewer entries. The series is produced by Vin Di Bona Productions in association with ABC Productions. Executive producer is Vin Di Bona. Co-executive producers are Alan Thicke and Terry Moore.
Hosted by Peter Funt, (son of Allen Funt) and Dina Eastwood, "Candid Camera" returns for another season on PAX. One of the longest running and most successful comedy franchises in the history of broadcasting, the show first appeared more than 50 years ago as a radio program called "Candid Microphone" with Allen Funt as host. Together they present television's wackiest, laugh-out-loud comedy sequences that capture the honest reactions of everyday people to outrageous practical jokes and stunts. "Candid Camera" is produced by Candid Camera, Inc. Peter Funt is the executive producer; Lesley Konya and Kate McNamara are producers.
Following a successful four-year network run, this popular drama series continues on the PAX line-up. Kyle Chandler ("Homefront") plays commodities trader Gary Hobson, who's losing his job, his home and his brilliant attorney wife. He thinks he may even be losing his mind when tomorrow's newspaper mysteriously arrives today giving him a disconcerting look into the future. What will he do with tomorrow's news? While his best friend Chuck (Fisher Stevens) sees the newspaper as a ticket to personal gain, co-worker Marissa (Shanesia Davis) convinces Gary that the "early edition" should be used to better peoples' lives. So each day Gary begins anew the struggle to make sense of a world turned upside-down by the changing course of events that come from reading the "early edition." The series is produced by Three Characters Inc., Angelica Films and CBS Productions in association with TriStar Television.
About PAX TV
Paxson Communications Corporation (AMEX:PAX) owns and operates the nation's largest broadcast television distribution system and the PAX TV network. PAX TV reaches 89% of U.S. television households (approximately 96 million homes) via nationwide broadcast television, cable and satellite distribution systems. For more information, visit PAX TV's website at http://www.pax.tv.