Sundance Channel Rolls Out Design-Focused Programming for 2011

(Left to right) Garo Sparo, Ben Kaufman, David Nadelberg, Sarah Barnett, Lynn Tilton,  Joe Zee, Evan Shapiro, Krissy Lefebvre, Neil Katcher, and Ludo Lefebvre. (Photo courtesy of Albert Ferreira for Sundance Channel)

Although Sundance Channel is fresh off its first ever Golden Globe win for the scripted mini-series Carlos, it’s doubling its hours of reality television or “nonfiction TV” (a clever name change from the network) for 2011, to cater to its “poptimist” audience — that in-the-know friend whose water cooler talk is sprinkled with pop culture references.

At Manhattan’s Gansevoort Hotel Park Avenue Tuesday morning, we previewed its 2011 non-scripted programming lineup.

According to Sundance General Manager Sarah Barnnett, the prevailing theme among their seven new unscripted shows is “business is personal.” The channel is in active development on Diva of Distressed, a series following self-made billionaire Lynn Tilton as she buys and rebuilds dying businesses, and Ludo Bites America, a look into French chef Ludo Lefebvre’s pop-up restaurant concept that brings gastronomic food to middle-America.

It’s hard not to notice that the network is leaning towards the fashion and design space. But, unlike that other network — yes, you Bravo — Sundance’s offerings won’t have the typical staged contests or challenges.

Instead, expect All On The Line, premiering March 29, which follows Elle’s creative director Joe Zee as he revamps fashion designers’ faltering lines and helps them create a successful brand. Or Garo Unleashed, which documents Garo Sparo’s East Village atelier where he plays designer and pseudo therapist to customers who want to bring their wildest clothing dreams to life. (Think bespoke suits with 3-foot angel wings.) And Quirky, which features 24-year-old entrepreneur Ben Kaufman who receives thousands of product design sketches from hopeful inventors and then actualizes the winning product, sells it, and shares the earnings with the original inventor.

We didn’t get a preview of Love/Lust, already airing every Tuesday at 10pm, which focuses on the history of iconic products like Manolo Blahnik heels, bikinis and the little black dress, but it’s evident that Sundance is eying the viewer who wants substance and fun. (Read: whoever needs a break from watching Snooki flail around Jersey Shore, as entertaining as that might be.)