Bravo Head of Development Lara Spotts Talks About the Year Ahead

Looking for the next big hit and new face of the network


Age 42

New gig vp, development, Bravo

Old gig vp, East Coast development

So how’s the new job?

It’s very exciting-slash-terrifying, which I think any new opportunity should be.

How are things going to change for Bravo in the coming seasons?

This year our strategy should be to keep our current viewers rather than to broaden that base; to keep delivering on the brand.

That’s an interesting challenge with the new scripted series coming up. Can you tell us a little about that one?

We just finished shooting The Girlfriend’s Guide to Divorce; I’m really excited about the possibility of this one. It’s about a woman named Abby who’s a best-selling self-help author who’s writing a book about love and marriage at exactly the same time it’s falling apart. What is it like to be 40 and single again and also a parent? It attacks a lot of the subjects we’ve seen in the unscripted shows.

I know work is kind of drying up in the third-party production world, where you came from. Why are networks like Bravo doing more in-house production?

We’re in an interesting moment right now where if you’re [running] a production company—and sometimes I still think that way, because it’s my background—it makes a lot of sense to develop for a male-skewing network in that moment. We [at Bravo] are not in that moment at all. We are a very specific niche audience. We have a lot of production companies who would really want to be in business for us, but it’s not worth it for them to invest a lot of money in what is really bespoke development. We can’t expect them to come in with a fully baked cake like we have in the past. At least half of the ideas were internal ideas that we had farmed out to other companies. We have time-slot-specific development now; if we have a powerhouse show, we share that with some vendors and developers.

One interesting thing about Bravo’s programming is that I felt like I saw a lot of shows that you or Andy Cohen probably passed on at the NewFronts last year. Why are there so many Bravo Lite shows in the world?

They knew that if we didn’t want them, they could end up in any number of other places.

Any hints about what we’ll be seeing during upfront season from you guys?

I can say that we just had an off-site a month ago, and it was a really dynamic set of projects. There were some really good more-of-the-same projects. It was almost like a pupu platter. When the higher-ups came and responded, they took a little from each buffet.

So is a lot of the future in franchise development, or are you looking for the next hit?

We are definitely looking for our next big hits. We are actively seeking our next franchise and the next face of Bravo. Some of our [stars] on Bravo currently have been there for several years.

You’ve said a lot about doing stuff that won’t scare off your viewers but is still fresh. Is that possible?

I think [Charleston-set upcoming unscripted show] Southern Charm is great about that. It’s really different aesthetically, but it’s “access wealth.” It’s really rich people behaving in deliciously questionable ways.

Bravo is obviously a women’s network, but are you looking for co-viewing with some of these new shows?