Oxygen Upfront Highlights New Programming

'Girlfriend Confidential' franchise touted

NBCUniversal cable network Oxygen—Bravo's "little sister" network—announced a long list of new shows Wednesday, hours before its annual party and programming breakdown at the top of the Dream Hotel in Chelsea. The new shows include two separate editions of Girlfriend Confidential—one in New York and one in Los Angeles—and, in development, Videostar, a competition series similar to the network's The Glee Project, in which the prize is a starring role in a music video.

Glee Project performers and folks from Oxygen's new dance competition, All the Right Moves, were among the upfront's performers. The penthouse level of the Dream was remade in Oxygen's image, with a catwalk for the musical and dance acts in the middle of the main floor and a giant, lightbulb-filled half of an "O" arching over the crowd. Network president Jason Klarman emceed the presentation.

Company brass was also in attendance—Lauren Zalaznick, chair of the company's Entertainment & Digital Networks division, and NBCU president and CEO Steve Burke (that's the boss and the boss' boss) chatted during the reception. Around the party, there was plenty of discussion of upstart digital companies holding "NewFront" presentations in a bid for TV dollars (NBCU is set to hold its own digital event on Tuesday), as well as buzz about odds on the net's new programming.

Believe it or not, the party was scaled back somewhat from last year's upfront bash, where Paris Hilton was borne in on a Lucite palanquin by four hunks in sailor suits (Hilton was nowhere to be seen in this year's presentation—that show's ratings never quite got off the ground).

The Girlfriend Confidential shows are interesting for a variety of reasons, not least of which is their production pedigree. Girlfriend Confidential: L.A. is produced by Discovery Studios' Daniel Soiseth (who signed an exclusive contract with the nonfiction giant last year), while N.Y. is produced by Michael Hirschorn's Ish Entertainment. It's also a very strong vote of confidence on the network's part to debut a show in two different editions, rather than testing the waters with an initial show and then spinning it off.

But franchise series are frequently the backbone at reality-focused networks, and it would be healthy for Oxygen to have an established and dependable franchise as it continues to nurture its flagship show, The Glee Project, which begins its second season in June and is tied to ratings-challenged Glee. Oxygen was able to boost Project ratings after a slow start last season, but that may prove a more difficult proposition this year.

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