/// A+E Networks Unveil Houdini, Sons of Liberty, Devious Maids at Upfront

May 8, 2013  |  Media Week

A+E Networks’ Wednesday night upfront presentation at Lincoln Center featured ad sales president Mel Berning in an aggressive mode, taking on broadcasters for “throwing over $1 billion dollars up for grabs in this year’s upfront.” Indeed, many in the cable universe have called this the year for cable to really hack off quite a bit of broadcast’s market share, and A+E is giving it a try with all three flagship networks—A&E, History and Lifetime. Berning gave the company’s ad sponsors center stage during his opening speech, aided by video of Longmire characters driving Dodge Rams, the Geico gecko in a Vikings-themed spot, and beauty brand L’Oreal. “On Lifetime, L’Oreal has been such a consistent sponsor of Runway that around the office we call it ‘L’Oreal’s Project Runway,’” Berning said. On the programming front, ratings steamroller History will roll out the new reality series Daredevils, as well as two scripted efforts to follow last year’s high-rated The Bible—Sons of Liberty, a historical miniseries along similar lines, and Houdini, starring Oscar-winner Adrien Brody as the doomed magician. Nancy Dubuc also pledged to increase the size of the three smaller nets at the company—H2, Bio and Lifetime Movie Network. “Over the coming year, our goal is to grow H2, Bio and LMN into the powerful platforms that History, A&E and Lifetime have become,” she said. Now in its fourth year under Dubuc, Lifetime continues to increase its scripted original offerings with Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry’s Devious Maids and The Witches of East End, starring Julia Ormond as the lead in a series about a family of witches. (Originally developed for ABC, Maids was picked up by Lifetime in June 2012 after the broadcaster passed on ordering the series.) One odd permutation of the network strategy will be Bonnie & Clyde, developed for Lifetime but now planned for simulcast on A&E, Lifetime and History. And of course, Dubuc (now CEO of the entire outfit) played up A&E’s hit Duck Dynasty, the finale of which outperformed even American Idol last month. New shows include Stay at Home Dads and scripted series Those Who Kill, produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer and starring Chlo


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