Ovation Bows First Original Series

Upfront presentation highlights 'A Chance to Dance'

Ovation's February distribution deal with AT&T U-Verse has started bearing fruit: with distribution now in the low 50 millions, the network has enough breathing room to start talking original programming.

The network's executives yesterday talked up A Chance to Dance, its first original show, and a potential candidate for next year's slate, The Art Factory. Ovation is looking to Saturday evenings for premieres of Chance and acquisitions like a European adaptation of Aussie novelist TIm Winton's Cloud Street, with svp of programming and production Kris Slava justifying the choice of evening (traditionally the least-watched night in television) as a slot that "has always been an opportunity for small networks."

"The HUT [homes using television] levels may be lower, but the competition is also lower," Slava said.

Simon Lythgoe, producer of Dance and scion of American Idol impresario Nigel Lythgoe (as well as an Idol producer himself), said he was drawn to Ovation because of the tiny indie cable net's strong identity. "They're the one network who's sure who they are," Lythgoe said. "Syfy is trying to stay away from sci-fi, Animal Planet doesn't want animals anymore, MTV hasn't shown a music video in I don't know how long."

Dance will run for seven hour-long episodes, if Factory is greenlit, it will run for eight.