Thursday, May 29, 2008

50 Cent joins MTV for mogul search

MTV has pacted with hip-hop star 50 Cent to search for the nation's next street-smart business mogul.

Untitled project is among the cabler's next round of series greenlights, which also include "Buzzin'," a comedic reality series that will chart the rise of music artist Shwayze; "Busted," a half-hour that chronicles kids that break the law; and "Making the Rock Band," a new take on Sean "Diddy" Combs' music reality series. Then there's the docu-series that follows T.I.'s community service and march toward jail (Daily Variety, May 28).

Also in the mix, but not yet ordered to series "Hollarado," which follows the world of skateboarding star William Spencer, and "16 and Pregnant," described as a take on "real-life Junos."

"Our audience expects us to constantly reinvent and evolve," said MTV programming head Tony DiSanto. "That's the challenge at MTV, but also the fun part."

Under development team leader Liz Gateley, MTV has done away with traditional pilot seasons, in some cases ordering shows directly to series. Channel has also focused on adding more hour-long series to its mix, is adding more spin-offs and adding more genres to the mix.

"We didn't like the idea of us gathering ideas and then waiting," DiSanto said of the move away from a traditional development cycle. "We don't want to stop for any idea. If it excites us, we'll move on it."

Ish Entertainment is behind the untitled 50 Cent show, which will center on 16 contestants as they live together and compete in challenges that relate to street savvy and business smarts. Show - kind of a hip-hop 'Apprentice' - will end each week with 50 Cent narrowing his search. Ish's Michael Hirschorn, Stella Stolper and Chris Choun exec produce with 50 Cent and Chris Lighty. Eight episodes have been lined up.

"Buzzin'," from Suretone Ent. and Hoosick Falls Prods., follows Shwayze - nicknamed "the only black kid in Malibu" - as he partners with musician Cisco Adler as they attempt to make it big in the biz. MTV calls it a real-life "Entourage," complete with Suretone Records honcho Jordan Schur in the Ari Gold role.

George Verschoor, Mike Powers and Schur will exec produce. Cabler has ordered eight episodes.

Among the other greenlights, "Making the Rock Band" will twist the "Making the Band" concept by following Combs as he attempts to make it big in an area he's less familiar with - rock music.

"Buzzin'," which won't air in prime, will likely be stripped in other dayparts. Show, which secured a 20 episode pickup, will focus on kids gone wrong from both the POV of law enforcement and the juvenile delinquents.

As for the shows in development, "Hollarado," which will play as a reality half-hour comedy, comes from Liquid Theory. Austin and Julie Reading will exec produce, along with Mike Powers. "16 and Pregnant," which takes its cue both from "Juno" and the recent teen pregnancies of stars like Jamie Lynn Spears, will take a sobering look at young girls who are expecting.

Projects join a hefty crop of upcoming new series including Cris Abrego's "From G's to Gents" (July 15), "My Super Sweet 16" spinoff "Exiled" (August), "Paris Hilton's: My New BFF" (September); and Justin Timberlake's "The Phone."

Other upcoming premieres include "Legally Blonde" (June 2), season two of "America's Best Dance Crew" (June 19), season five of "Run's House" (July 16) and new seasons of "Making the Band" and "The Hills" (August).

DiSanto, meanwhile, dismissed rampant rumors that he might be heading to a new home, such as the CW.

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