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Court TV Aims Younger With 'I-Zone' Block

3/30/2003 7:00 PM Eastern

New York— Court TV will look to sustain the youth movement within its audience this fall, bowing a new primetime block of hip, investigation-based programming as part of a slew of new original shows and specials.

The new programs are part of a $180 million programming outlay over the next two years, three-fourths of which will be devoted to original fare, chairman and CEO Henry Schleiff said during the network's upfront breakfast March 24.

A number of the network's new shows will fall into a fresh block of primetime programming dubbed "I Zone," aimed at young, upscale viewers.

The daily, 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. block will feature such new 30-minute series as How Did It Happen; a forensics-based show that examines spectacular crashes and structural failures; Masterminds, a look at the mind of elite criminals; Heist!, which will focus on ingenious bank robberies and museum thefts, Caper Challenge, a hybrid game/reality show; and House of Clues, in which investigative experts and amateur detectives join forces, using everyday items to solve an in-house crime.

Court TV hopes the new shows will continue its trend toward a younger audience. Last year, the network's median age dropped two years, to an average of 48.

The channel also hopes to further grow its bases of 18-to-49-year-old adult and female viewers, both of which have increased by 24 percent over 2001 levels, the network said.

Hollywood Justice
(working title), which chronicles the legal tussles of celebrities; Uniform Justice, a look at crime-solving within the armed forces; and Imposter,
about the world's greatest con artists, round out the network's new shows for the upcoming season.

Elsewhere on the docket, two specials will be based on Court TV's popular Web site The Smoking Gun (www.smokinggun.com), notably a year-end awards show.

Other new Court TV limited series and specials on tap include: The Innocence Project, spotlighting real-life wrongful convictions; The Assassination of JFK: Investigation Reopened, which aspires to apply modern-day forensic analysis to evidence pertaining to the 40-year-old assassination of President Kennedy; Railroaded in Texas, about the wrongful conviction of 46 African-Americans alleged to be drug dealers; and The Great Gardner Art Heist, a documentary exploring the story of the largest art heist in American history.

On the advertising side, Court TV senior vice president and director of advertising sales Tom Gordon said the network will take in significantly more than $50 million for this year's upfront period. More than 50 percent of its inventory has been sold during the period.

September