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This Just In

4/21/2006 8:00 PM Eastern

A&E Slate Includes Show About Hollywood 'Sons’

New York— A&E Network has ordered a new reality series, Sons of Hollywood, commissioned a pilot and renewed seven of its “real-life” programs, according to officials.

The channel has bought eight episodes of Sons of Hollywood, which will premiere in the first quarter next year. The series will follow the adventures of childhood friends Randy Spelling, son of producer Aaron Spelling, and Sean Stewart, son of singer Rod Stewart, and rising agent Dave Weintraub.

“It’s the real-life Entourage,” A&E Network general manager Bob DeBitetto said.

A&E has also renewed Dog the Bounty Hunter, Intervention, King of Cars, Criss Angel: Mindfreak, Inked, Dallas SWAT and The First 48.

A&E Television Networks, which includes The History Channel, plans to spend $500 million on programming for its channels this year, officials said at A&E’s upfront presentation last week.

An A&E pilot in development, The Beach, is a reality show about lifeguards who live and work in “Surf City U.S.A.,” namely Huntington Beach, Calif.

The network is also in preproduction on three original movies. Wildfires is loosely based on a true story about a fire that threatened Yellowstone National Park. Kings of South Beach, from writer Nick Pileggi, is the true-life story of Miami nightclub impresario Christ Paciello. And Wedding March, a fictionalized drama starring John Stamos, depicts a nationwide strike by gays and lesbians to fight for gay marriage.

Harron Buying Subs In East Connecticut

Frazer, Pa. — Harron Communications L.P.’s Metrocast Communications unit has signed an agreement to buy the cable-TV assets of Eastern Connecticut Cable Television Inc., which serves about 38,000 subscribers in the New London, Conn., area.

Metrocast currently provides cable services to about 107,000 subscribers in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Maine, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

OLN Starts Hockey Playoffs With 'Strong’ Advertising

Stamford, Conn.— OLN began its coverage of hockey’s second season on Friday night with a doubleheader, featuring the Edmonton Oilers-Detroit Red Wings and Anaheim Mighty Ducks-Calgary Flames games.

The Comcast Corp.-owned network — which will air up to 54 playoff contests, depending on the length of the series, including the first and second games of the Stanley Cup Finals championship series — also appears to have a strong line for the advertising side for hockey’s “second season.”

“We’re very excited. The playoffs not only bring in avid fans, but sports fans in general. Our advertising base is strong going into the playoffs,” said Neil Baker, executive vice president of ad sales, Comcast Networks, who declined to comment on the net’s NHL sellthrough level.

OLN officials said that the NHL has helped the network ink deals with 23 new advertisers and expand budgets with a dozen others.

Baker said OLN is still pursuing playoff schedules, as well as potential features that “go beyond the 30-second spot” (OLN already has 10 such NHL elements). He noted that OLN was also in discussions with clients about opportunities for positions with the network’s VOD and podcast playoff offerings. Moreover, OLN also attracted a sponsor, Esurance, for its expansive hockey shoulder programming, including archival games and documentaries.

Baker declined to comment if OLN had many any ratings guarantees to advertisers for the playoffs. As was the case with the regular season, Baker said “we made responsible estimates. We looked at where ESPN, which is fully distributed, and went from there.”

ESPN and ESPN averaged a 0.7 and a 0.5 household ratings, respectively, during their coverage of the 2003-04 playoffs. (Last season was iced in a labor dispute.)

OLN averaged a 0.2 household rating with its NHL coverage during the 2005-06 regular season.

Verizon Adds TV Franchise In Sixth Pa. Community

New York — Worcester, Pa. has joined the list of communities approving a cable TV franchise deal with Verizon Communications Inc., paving the way for its FiOS TV service to enter that market.

A town with about 8,900 residents, Worcester is the sixth Pennsylvania municipality to approve a FiOS TV franchise, along with Hulmeville Borough, Schwenksville Borough, Valley Township, East Marlborough Township and Thornbury Township. Verizon will spell out when the service will be available in these communities later this year.

DirecTV Readies New Advertising Campaign

El Segundo, Calif. — DirecTV Inc. plans to kick off a national marketing campaign next week touting new programming offering, and a new slogan: “Good TV. Better TV. DirecTV.”

The campaign is being designed by Deutsch Advertising, which replaced BBDO as DirecTV’s agency of record earlier this year. “All of our advertising is a combination of branding and retailing. The campaign will make a statement about the brand, but it will also communicate a compelling consumer offer,” DirecTV spokesman Jon Gieselman told Multichannel News last Thursday.

The spots will pitch both DirecTV’s programming packages and its new DirecTV DVR, Gieselman added. On April 12, DirecTV trademarked the slogan, “Good TV. Better TV. DirecTV.” Gieselman confirmed the slogan will debut in the ad campaign next week.

HBO Shows New Series 'Big Love’ With Renewal

Los Angeles — Home Box Office renewed dramatic series Big Love for a second season, according to HBO Entertainment president Carolyn Strauss.

Filming of new episodes will begin in August, with the new shows debuting next year.

Big Love tells the story of Salt Lake City native Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton), who balances the needs of his three wives — Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicki (Chloë Sevigny) and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) — their seven kids, three houses and his home-improvement stores.

Oxygen Orders Up Series Starring Shannon Doherty

New York— Oxygen has ordered 13 episodes of Breaking Up with Shannon Doherty.

In the series, which is set for an August debut, Doherty, who will executive-produce and star, “comes to the rescue of men and women who are unable to muster up the courage to break off their toxic relationships with bad boyfriends/girlfriends, 'frenemies,’ or tyrannical bosses,” the network said.

September