MTV Gets 'Hard,' Goes 'Ape'


Punxsutawney Phil may have called for six more weeks of winter, but MTV’s already thinking of where it’s heading for spring break.

Hours after the prognosticating rodent emerged from his hole in Gobblers Knob, Penn., MTV kicked off upfront season Tuesday afternoon, marking the earliest official presentation to media buyers since Oxygen showed off its wares in January 2007. While kid-targeted nets like Nickelodeon will present their new programming slates in March, most general entertainment channels don’t start showing off for clients until April.

Despite having prepped only a handful of clip-worthy new series, the network’s sales staff was looking to ride the tsunami of media attention whipped up by its latest unscripted venture, Jersey Shore. The Jan. 21 finale drew 4.83 million viewers, of whom 2.81 million were members of the 18-34 demo.

Two of the screened clips were intros to spinoff projects. Warren the Ape, an offshoot of the 2002 Fox comedy Greg the Bunny, was greenlit in September, while an earlier incarnation of the proto-Jackass import The Dudesons in America earned a brief run on MTV sibling Spike TV back in the summer of 2007.

Warren the Ape will premiere in June. The Dudesons’ 12-episode flight is in production.

Also given the green light last fall was The Hard Times of RJ Berger, a scripted comedy about a maladroit teen with a heart as big as his, um, generative organ. Starring Paul Iacono, Hard Times suggests what might happen if scientists were to merge the DNA of Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years with that of Ray Drecker from Hung. It, too, hits the airwaves in June.

Continue to next page →