The network known as Pop for the past three years, after rebranding from TV Guide Network, announced a raft of new orders, renewals and pilot orders, including new shows Clique and Flack and renewals of Schitt’s Creek, Swedish Dicks and Hollywood Darlings. The news is timed with the upfronts, but instead of a formal presentation, the network has meetings with ad buyers and press in smaller, more individualized settings.
The programming news is part of a ramped-up strategy with a new target of 400 original hours a year. (A chunk of that is Big Brother After Dark, but the spinoff of the CBS mainstay is a reliable ratings engine.)
“We are heading into this year’s upfront with an ever-growing linear television audience, a premium slate of original content with A-list talent, and carriage across all major distributors and almost every over-the-top service,” said Brad Schwartz, president of Pop. “Building on this momentum, we’re introducing more premium scripted content than ever before, including highly anticipated new series like ‘Flack,’ as well as returning hits like ‘Schitt’s Creek.’ We are uniquely targeting our ‘Modern Grown-up’ audience with programming that is culturally relevant and effortlessly entertaining.”
“Our current and upcoming original programming includes smart, audacious and fresh concepts that all take contemporary flips on classics our audience grew up with,” continued Justin Rosenblatt, EVP of Original Programming for Pop. “This organizing principle of familiar faces in familiar formats, but seen through an updated lens, is truly resonating with our audience.”
Original premieres this month through December include BBC co-production Clique, a six-episode limited series drama from the creative team behind the smash British hit Skins. It stars Aisling Franciosi and Synnove Karlsen who are drawn into an elite clique of interns at a corrupt corporation. Pop has already ordered a second season, which will air in 2019.
Schitt’s Creek, Pop’s signature comedy, is returning for a fifth season in the first quarter of 2019 after a holiday episode in December. The Rose family, played by Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Levy and Annie Murphy are back in an expanded 14-episode season order.
Three shows are renewed for a Season 2. Half-hour comedy Hollywood Darlings features a trio of 1990s pop-culture figures: real-life best friends Jodie Sweetin (Full House, Fuller House), Beverley Mitchell (7th Heaven) and Christine Lakin (Step-By-Step). Another second-season renewal went to Swedish Dicks, which is produced by Lionsgate and MTG. The procedural comedy stars Peter Stormare, Johan Glans and special guest star Keanu Reeves. And Wolf Creek, based on the cult horror movie of the same name, returns for a sophomore outing. The six-part limited series starring Mick Taylor as a serial killer in the Outback will air as a three-night event around Halloween.
Another priority original slated for the first quarter of 2019 is Flack, with Anna Paquin starring in an hour-long dramedy channeling elements of Scandal and Ray Donovan in its portrayal of crisis PR. The cast also includes Sophie Okonedo, Genevieve Angelson and Lydia Wilson.
Further upstream are pilots such as Florida Girls, which is created by and starring Laura Chinn and produced by JAX Media, which is behind the Roseanne revival and Search Party, as well as 3Arts Entertainment. Two other pilots commissioned by Pop is Crazy Ex-Girlfriend creator Aline Brosh McKenna’s Arranged and The Demons of Dorian Gunn, a supernatural comedy starring Jeffrey Self of Search Party and Chrissie Fit of the Pitch Perfect franchise.
Development titles at Pop include Wrightful Heirs, described as “Beverly Hillbillies meets Downton Abbey;” Best Intentions, a comedy from A+E Studios and American Pie writer Adam Herz; and Spinning, a half-hour scripted comedy from Matt McConkey, a writer on the Paramount Network’s Heathers reboot.