General Casting Announcement
Sirens Media works with a wide variety of networks who are always looking for actors of all types to fill exciting roles. Feel free to email your resume & headshot to Casting@sirensmedia.com.
Sirens Media is a forward-thinking, full-service production company dedicated to the creation of programming with a bold and innovative edge. Partners Rebecca Toth Diefenbach and Valerie Haselton founded the company in 2005, and have since produced hundreds of hours of award-winning and top-rated programming in the unscripted/reality/documentary space.
In addition to the countless hours of lifestyle and docu-soap programming, Sirens Media has focused on and produced hundreds of episodes of crime & investigation television for channels including ID: Investigation Discovery, A&E, MSNBC, and truTV. We are extremely proud of our reputation for quality, integrity, and sincerity, not only in the shows we produce, but also in the way we work with law enforcement agencies, criminal justice officials, and the victims of crime. It is our sincere privilege to produce television shows that honor the hard work and dedication of law enforcement officials around the country, as well as to help share the true impact of crime and justice on the communities and individuals whose lives it touches.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank the hundreds of law enforcement officials, forensic analysts, victims of crime, and community members who have worked with us over the years, several of whom have generously provided testimonials. Please also visit our Projects page for information on all our justice programming.
Lead Veterinarian, Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control I just wanted to take a moment to thank all of you for the work you do, and of course, for what you did for us this past Wednesday. You were all so helpful and attentive, and you made me feel more comfortable than I had ever imagined; you are true professionals. As you quickly discovered, this was a new experience for me, and I feel fortunate to have been guided through it by all of you. Because Veterinary Forensics has only recently begun to attain credibility and acceptance, we are excited to have the opportunity to help inform the public about this subject, as well as, to contribute, in a small way, to the bigger picture. I would look forward to working with you again. I would appreciate it if you would pass this message on to all your teammates at Sirens Media that were here yesterday. - Gloria M. Livadas, DVM
WHO THE (BLEEP) DID I MARRY?, (SEASON 3)Thank you Sirens Media for contacting me and allowing me to share my amazing story, now I can finally help give my daughter a voice she no longer has.- SHAINA ALLSOP
I’M Pregnant and…, (Season 1)I wanted to let you know that Me and Aaron were pleased with the show and have received a lot of positive feedback about the show and people actually asking us to do another show so they can see how Makayla is lol... I just wanted to thank you for doing the show the way we expected...- Colette Kolbmann, Aaron, Taylor and Makayla
NIGHTMARE NEXT DOORJust wanted to let you know that Dave and I were very pleased with the episode. It was completely accurate, down to every detail, which is wonderful. We were especially grateful for the coverage you gave for our efforts to pass Katie's Law. Thank you! Once again, thank you for producing such an accurate portrayal of our story, and for showing why arrestee DNA testing is so important!- Jayann Sepich
Executive Director, Bay Area Women Against RapeThroughout the process it was a pleasure working with their company. The willingness of the crew to accommodate our needs in creating a safe place and their ability to relate openly and honestly with the inmates enabled the process to go forward. The series they produced followed five inmates throughout their participation in the BAWAR Restorative Justice Program, Tawheed/Changing Faces. Upon completion we felt they handled the subject matter fairly, without sensationalizing or glamorizing the inmates. We would be happy to work with Sirens Media on their future projects, and wholeheartedly endorse them as a production company that works well with prisons and community-based organizations..- Marcia Blackstock
Strange Sex (Season 2)SO happy with the outcome of the show. It was awesome!!! Thank you for letting us tell our story and reaching out to people who may be going thru the same thing. I got many messages and phone calls from people who I never suspected would watch and they were really happy with it. Please also let David know how happy we are with it and thank him for doing such a great job!!!- Samira
Public Information Officer, California State Prison-SolanoFrom May through October 2007, for approximately one to two weeks each month, Sirens Media was at California State Prison-Solano. The communication established by the film crew was excellent. Their grasp of, and willingness to follow, safety and security operations and needs was exceptional. They were upfront with their filming needs and desires, and were understanding when those needs and desires did not conform with institutional policies and procedures. In every instance they were willing and able to conduct their business in such a way as to minimize any impact on the daily operations of the institution.- Lieutenant Tim Wamble
WHO THE (BLEEP) DID I MARRY?, (SEASON 2)The crew was absolutely the greatest!! You were right about them putting us at ease. I had a great time! I really am glad I decided to do it. It was fun, the crew was fun and very professional and I could tell they like their work to be outstanding. I would like you to pass on to whoever needs to know, that they were the best!- Gayle Cuvreau
Strange Sex (Season 2)Ron and I want to thank you and your entire crew for a great experience and wonderful show! We are very happy with the results. Our show was great! Thank you very much and keep up the good work!- Kelly Miller
Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? (Season 1)I just finished watching the show. You all did a wonderful job! Thank you so much for including the information regarding the work I'm doing right now. I truly appreciate that. And...Taalibah was watching with me. When she saw the actor playing her dad, she said, "Whoa...he looks just like dad!" Thank you and the staff for everything.- Mildred D. Muhammad
WHO THE (BLEEP) DID I MARRY? (SEASON 2)I watched the show....thank you for showing our side and keeping our message portrayed. It was very well put together....yes I cried but I truly appreciate how it was put together. So thank you to you and your crew for being so nice. Again thank you :-)- Shayla Pelo
New Haven, Michigan Police DepartmentOh my god.....I love the show.....It is so neat to see it all put together. Great Job. I just want to say that was really cool and a lot of fun, I wish we had more time for you guys when you were here. Hope all is going well.- Renee Yax
Crimes Against Persons Unit of the Grapevine, Texas Police DepartmentI just wanted you to know that I enjoyed the show. All of the response by co-workers and friends has been positive as well. Even David's family liked your show much more than the other shows. I'm very impressed with the work you did, and with your willingness to work with us. The finished product was certainly worth the effort. I hope to be able to work with you again in the future. Good luck with the series. I hope it runs for a long time.- Sergeant Larry Hallmark
This two-hour docu-drama combines interviews, stock footage, and cinematic recreations to tell the story of Charles Manson’s rise from poverty in rural West Virginia …read more
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER & CO-PRESIDENTread more
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SVP, CONTENT & EXECUTIVE PRODUCERread more
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NEW YORK – October 7, 2014 –Bravo Media’s series premiere of “Manzo’d with Children,” starring everyone’s favorite no-nonsense New Jersey Housewife Caroline Manzo and her family, earned over 1.7 million total viewers and 991,000 P18-49 in its 9pm broadcast, according to Nielsen. Immediately following, the second episode scored 1.6 million total viewers and 881,000 adults […]
American Super/Natural’ mixes myth and meteorology Just in time for Halloween, Weather Channel introduces a supernatural TV series with a meteorological twist, traveling the country to present local legends in which weather plays a part. “We’re always intrigued by the supernatural, the unexplained and things that go bump in the night,” says Valerie Haselton, executive […]
Video: Daytime television star and Emmy award winner Susan Lucci chats about her roles on the Investigation Discovery series “Deadly Affairs,” and Lifetime’s “Devious Maids.”
Being a diehard “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men” or “Orange Is the New Black” fan is pretty in these days. Why? Because those shows are critically acclaimed. They’re well-respected. They’re cool!
Investigation Discovery Delivers Best May Ever in Primetime, Up Double Digits Across All Key Demographics by Sara Bibel; May 28th, 2014
Sirens Media has hired Stuart Zwagil as chief operating officer, the unscripted shingle announced today.
A&E’s attempt to use megahit “Duck Dynasty” as a launching pad yielded so-so results Wednesday with the series premiere of “Modern Dads.”
Show will explore what it’s like to be a modern, stay-at-home dad
Cabler picks up second season of ‘Deadly Affairs’
Turns out all previous “Real Housewives” were just a tune-up to New Jersey.
Sirens Media is always on the lookout for hot talent. If you’re a Show-runner, Producer, AP, PA, Writer, Editor, DP, Soundperson, or Production Maanager with some kickin skills, we want to hear from you. Send us a resume and keep checking in- things always come up.
We are actively looking for the following:
Junior Production Manager
Recreation Associate Producer
Bravo’s ‘Real Housewives’ franchise hits the Garden State in this top-rated series following a group of relatives/best friends/frenemies and their fabulous lives. Whether they are throwing a family function, out for a night on the town, or just gossiping with the girls – these women aren’t afraid to speak their minds… or flip a table. The Season 4 premiere was the highest rated premiere in Bravo history.
Our new series, Manzo’d With Children, takes you inside the wild, out-of-control, smack-talking, pork-product-tossing lives of Caroline Manzo and her beloved family, husband Al Sr., sons Albie and Chris, daughter Lauren and her fiancé Vito.
The show is set to premiere on Bravo later this year—and we’ve got a first look at the hilarious action. In this clip, Lauren and Chris pull a major prank on Albie, who is fighting off an allergy attack. Lauren convinces her bro to try an ancient secret to make him feel better—and it involves hummus.
It’s all fun and games until the Manzos start hurling globs of the condiment at each other—and Caroline steps in to show them who’s the boss of the household.
Family drama is an understatement in this ensemble docu-series that features a wealthy, multi-generational African American family led by two gregarious preachers in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Terrifying confessional style interviews and intense, stylized recres bring to life personal stories of physical encounters with the paranormal.
A comedic docu-series that follows four very different, but equally hilarious, stay-at-home fathers as they lean on each other to help raise their children while Mom’s at work.
House of Horrors: Kidnapped tells the gripping stories of people who were kidnapped and lived to tell. Each episode reveals one survivor’s terrifying experience from the moment of abduction to the hours, days, or months of captivity to the escape and recovery, as told through their eyes.
What happens when crime strikes behind the white picket fence? Each hour brings you a new murder mystery and a new look into the evil that can lurk in the heart and soul of a tight-knit community. Interviews with investigators, prosecutors, family members, and neighbors piece together the twisting tale of a classic whodunit.
In Southern Fried Homicide, a sassy southern host leads audiences through this salacious true crime series. These are real life murders… with manners.
It’s amazing the things that you can inherit from your family gene pool… beautiful eyes, model height, a sultry smile … but what about those less desirable traits? Can you actually inherit evil from your family tree? A natural extension of the hit series EVIL TWINS, EVIL KIN follows true-crime mysteries surrounding bone-chilling cases
Real 9-1-1 calls form the backbone of this groundbreaking series that puts a new heart-pounding twist on the crime genre.
This ratings record-breaking series tells the stories of men and women who thought they knew who they married, until one day they uncovered secrets about their spouse that unraveled their entire lives. From bank robbers to bigamists and even killers, these real-life stories will have you shaking your head in utter disbelief.
A spin-off of the hit Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?, this time people are fooled by anyone from siblings to friends to co-workers. How much do you know about the person sitting next to you?
Bad behavior comes in twos, with real life stories of twin relationships gone horribly wrong. From twins killing together, to killing each other, to killing separately, each harrowing story makes you wonder: when identical twins are both driven to kill…perhaps evil is sometimes born and not made.
In the heart of Philadelphia, motorcycle guru Adam Cramer finds, fixes and flips vintage cycles in his eclectic shop, while simultaneously trying to keep his rag-tag team of employees in line.
Cathy Roller, and near-identical sister Laura, radiate Jersey attitude whether they’re investigating a haunting or helping a client reach out to a loved one on the other side.
Feet (along with tempers, tears, wigs, and drama) are flying as five of the United States’ top kids and their families head to Belfast for the Irish Dancing World Championships.
Strange Sex explores mysterious conditions, unusual fetishes, and the kinky science behind sexual attraction. The show exposes individuals willing to divulge the obstacles, frustrations, and embarrassment they face as they cope with their sexual conditions.
Soap opera scandals are about to come to life for All My Children’s Susan Lucci. Best known for her turn as Erica Kane on the ABC soap, Lucci is the host and narrator of Deadly Affairs, a series featuring real-life stories of illicit office romances, love triangles, and adultery gone terribly wrong.
In the heart of the Louisiana Bayou, the Theriot family’s four teenagers raise hell on a daily basis. Led by their carefree Mama Tiff, April, Collette, Kathleen and Clint live loud and wild lives as they do their own thing in the bayou they call home.
Unlike any crime show you’ve seen before, this murder mystery series is told in the haunting, first-person voice of the victims themselves. The all-knowing victim never reveals their killer’s identity; instead, it’s up to the viewers at home to piece together the clues from investigators and witness accounts to finally uncover the truth.
There are moments in everyone’s life when fate hangs in the balance, suspended on a razor’s edge. Terrifying accidents, chance encounters with strangers, mind-bending miracles…these incredible and often death-defying moments take us to the edge of human experience and transform us in ways we could never imagine. Twisted Fate tells the true stories of ordinary people whose paths took an extraordinary turn.
From polygamists to mail order brides, morbidly obese grooms to secret swingers, these unique couples aren’t letting their unusual lifestyles/conditions stop them from making it down the aisle. These extraordinary stories will inspire, shock, and always keep you glued to the screen, as we travel the rocky road to the happiest day of their lives.
From terrifying accidents to adrenaline-filled adventures to twisted crimes, Who Survives? brings to life two harrowing stories, but with a twist: only one survives. If you were in these situations, would you have made the right choices, and be the one who lives, or the one who dies?
I’m Pregnant And… reveals the compelling and sometimes harrowing real-life stories of soon-to-be parents who are struggling to figure out their unconventional, shocking, or just plain fascinating lives. Whether it’s I’m Pregnant And… a nudist, …paralyzed, ….a hoarder, etc., these moms and dads let you into their unconventional lives and share the the most important moment they’ve ever experienced: the birth of their child.
Each episode profiles the dramatic story of one woman who has fallen in love with and—for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer—married a prisoner behind bars. For these women, even the everyday is a struggle: weddings kept secret, appeals denied, the fight for conjugal visits, trouble with friends and family. Everyone deserves a second chance at love, but these wives take “forgiveness” to a whole new level.
Christopher Barson, one of DC’s top interior designers, sets out to make the world fabulous – one space at a time. Christopher will go to any lengths to please his clients, stay within budget, and create the one-of-a-kind design renovations that will keep you coming back for more. The result? One word: drama, drama, drama.
This high-octane docusoap series following the Air Force’s SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, & Escape) training. When a plane goes down, a ship sinks, or soldiers are stranded behind enemy lines, this training could mean the difference between life and death. 80 men (and 1 woman) start the training; only half will finish. We get up close and personal as they put themselves and their skills to the test in jungle, mountain, desert, and open water environments. Would you know how to survive?
California State Prison Solano. In a place where any sign of weakness can get you killed, five murderers are about to bare their souls. For six months, we follow five inmates in a therapy group as they attempt to come to grips with their lives in prison, their hopes of getting out, and the truth of what led them to be here.
This two-hour docu-drama combines interviews, stock footage, and cinematic recreations to tell the story of Charles Manson’s rise from poverty in rural West Virginia to his place as the nation’s most infamous cult leader. Using words penned by Manson and two of his followers, Susan Atkins and Tex Watson, we get a unique first-person account of the events that led up to the night of the tragic 1969 murders.
Some called David Koresh a gentle messiah, others maintain that he was a violent and deluded cult leader who led his followers to their death. Combining stock footage, dramatic recreations, and interviews with former followers, siege survivors, and ATF/FBI officers who were there, we explore one of the biggest tragedies in US law enforcement history.
Utilizing interviews, stock footage, dramatic recreations, first hand accounts of SLA members, and the trial testimony of Patty Hearst, we explore the question that continues to fascinate the country: Was Patty Hearst a kidnapping victim turned terrorist… or just a scared kid trying to survive at any cost?
Eric Robert Rudolph, the 1996 Olympic bomber, was the subject of the largest domestic FBI manhunt in US history, evading capture in the woods of North Carolina for over five years. Using archival news footage, interviews with investigators and experts on the scene, as well as Eric Rudolph’s own words, we reveal what drove Rudolph to kill, and what goes on inside the mind of a ‘lone wolf’ terrorist.
On October 2, 2002, an innocent man was shot dead outside a bustling supermarket near Washington, D.C. Though police ruled it an isolated attack, it proved to be only the first in a series of 13 shootings that would terrorize the area in weeks to come. An interview with John Allen Muhammad’s ex-wife forms the backbone of the story of a man who transformed from a happy father of three into a cold-blooded killer—taking a young boy along with him
Renowned forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner takes us on a journey inside the minds of some of the most fascinating (and deadly) criminals alive today. The pilot episode explores the life and crimes of Joseph Paul Franklin, a hate-motivated serial killer most famous for the attempted murder of Larry Flint and the multiple bombings of Jewish Synagogues and Black Churches. Dr. Welner’s gripping interview with Franklin forms the backbone of this riveting look inside the mind of a killer.
A look at what happens when crime strikes America’s small towns and suburban enclaves. From the neighbors to the local business owners, we meet the people whose lives were impacted, as we follow the story of the criminal investigation.
Sometimes the same set of evidence can tell two very different stories. This series delves deep into the forensics of criminal cases where two sets of experts must battle it out to find the truth. In the end, the jury gives its verdict: guilty or innocent… What did you decide?
This kickin’ docusoap gives a behind-the-scenes look at America’s top teenage riders in their quest to win the most prestigious prize of the year: The Maclay Medal.
A live-event special on one of professional riding’s most elite competitions.
A graduate of UCLA, Rebecca began her career as Director of Development for Mandalay Media Arts, Peter Guber’s non-fiction production company, a pioneer in HDTV and new media. There, she developed programs for all the major U.S. and U.K. networks, including fiction, non-fiction, and theatrical specials.
As an independent, Rebecca went on to serve in a number of production roles, including producer, writer, director, and showrunner on a wide variety of award-winning programs. In 2005, she teamed up with fellow Siren Valerie Haselton to start a company specializing in programming that is bold, compelling, and (her favorite descriptor) sassy. Since then, Sirens Media has gone on to produce hundreds of hours of top-rated programming for all the major cable networks, including shows like The Real Housewives of New Jersey (Bravo), Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? (ID), and Strange Sex (TLC). In early 2013, Sirens Media became part of the Leftfield Entertainment Group, an ITV company.
In her (admittedly now non-existent) downtime, Rebecca can also be found pursuing her life-long dream of singing the role of Eponine in Les Miz. (Broadway producers please note she will also accept the role of “dirty urchin #4”).
A California native, Valerie Haselton began her film career in England where she received her Master’s degree in Film and Television from Bristol University. From there, Valerie joined the production group, Hybrid TV at HTV, the West England and Wales division of ITV. Hybrid TV was an innovative concept: 12 top film school graduates were hired to create fresh, edgy, funky television for the network, including a daily live show and a weekly entertainment series. The group was a great success, launching the careers of Jason Bradbury and Sasha Baron Cohen.
Upon her return to the United States, Valerie continued writing, producing, and showrunning award-winning series for all the major cable networks. Deciding it was time to start creating winning programming for her own company instead of others, she launched Sirens Media in 2005 with fellow producer and all-around Siren, Rebecca Toth Diefenbach.
In 2013, Sirens Media continued its rapid expansion by becoming part of the Leftfield Entertainment Group, an ITV company. It should also be noted that Valerie is the author of two dazzlingly brilliant but inexplicably unpublished works of children’s fiction.
Sirens Media, the production company behind Real Housewives of New Jersey, has appointed Stuart Zwagil as chief operating officer. Zwagil joins the company, part of the Leftfield Entertainment group, from 44 Blue Productions, where he spent 13 years overseeing production on series including Spike’s Deadliest Warrior and Emmy-nominated syndicated series Family Court With Judge Penny. He also oversaw business affairs, finance and human resources during his tenure with the company.
Zwagil has more than 20 years of experience in all aspects of production, including finance, budgeting, cost analysis and the creation and implementation of innovative production models.
“Stuart’s robust background and depth of experience in all aspects of TV production made him an ideal fit for us,” Sirens co-founder Rebecca Toth Diefenbach said in making the announcement Tuesday. “We’re excited to have him on board as Sirens continues on its aggressive growth path.”
Prior to 44 Blue, Zwagil also worked as a freelance line producer and West Coast production supervisor at MTV and Nickelodeon, working on specials including The Kids’ Choice Awards and more. He started his career as a production manager for Comedy Central.
John Esteban is Executive Vice President of Finance for Sirens Media overseeing the company’s Finance and Accounting department. Before joining Sirens in October 2011, John was Chief Operating Officer for ThinkFun, Inc., a global leader in educational toys and games. From 1994-2005, John served as Vice President of Finance and Administration and then as CFO of a Walt Disney subsidiary, DDE, LP, a leading independent producer and distributor of high-end, blue chip documentary programming. John holds a Chemical Engineering degree from De La Salle University in Manila, and an MBA in Finance and Management from Marymount University of Virginia.
Lucilla began her career in New York, where she produced and directed reality programming for ABC Family with pop music royalty like Britney Spears and Beyoncé Knowles. Her production credits include MTV, VH1, Bravo, Food Network, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, MSNBC, PBS, Fox Family, Animal Planet, The Travel Channel, A&E, and Voom HD Networks.
Lucilla joined Sirens seven years ago, and quickly made her mark as a visionary Showrunner/Executive Producer on everything from recreation-based docu-dramas to character-based reality, and she has produced shows everywhere from inside prisons to high-society penthouses. She is currently the SVP of Content overseeing and Executive Producing hit shows including The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Thicker Than Water, and Manzoed With Children.
Jen Mayer Kulp is Senior Vice President of Talent and Program Development for Sirens Media overseeing the company’s robust casting, development and sales initiatives. Prior to joining Sirens Media, she was Vice President of Development for LMNO Productions, overseeing all aspects of the company’s television program development. Notable LMNO hits include THE LITTLE COUPLE for TLC, METEORITE MEN for Discovery Science, I GET THAT A LOT for CBS and UNUSUAL SUSPECTS for ID. Jen was the Manager of Broadcast & Cable Development at Rocket Science Laboratories where she worked on the shows, BULLRUN for Spike TV and WHEN WOMEN RULE THE WORLD for FOX. Before RSL, Jen was a creative executive in Development and Current Programming for Comedy Central where she helped develop MIND OF MENCIA, THE SHOWBIZ SHOW WITH DAVID SPADE and GAY ROBOT, among many others. Jen Mayer Kulp is an alum of the Florida State University’s prestigious School of Motion Picture, Television, & Recording Arts.
As Senior Director of Personnel, Genevieve oversees recruiting, staffing and many of Sirens’ organizational and talent development initiatives. She comes to the position with over 10 years of experience developing programming for major cable networks including Investigation Discovery, TLC, Lifetime, BIO, Travel Channel, Food Network, History Channel and more. She sees her new and rewarding role in Personnel as simply another way to help Sirens grow – by focusing on what matters most: People.
Nikki makes sure all of Sirens Media’s non-fiction pilots and series are running smoothly, on time and on budget – and it’s been that way for the past 5 years. She started at Sirens as a Line Producer and now oversees all aspects of production management across our docudrama projects. For Nikki, the business side of production feels like the creative side, as everyday presents a new challenge that requires a creative solution. This attitude comes through when the Production Management team comes up with innovative and resourceful ways to execute the visions of each project. This mom of two knows how to keep an eye on opportunities for improving workflows and strategic planning, especially when it comes time to coordinating her children’s busy little lives.
BRAVO MEDIA’S “MANZO’D WITH CHILDREN” BACK-TO-BACK PREMIERE EPISODES AVERAGED OVER
1.6 MILLION TOTAL VIEWERS
NEW YORK – October 7, 2014 –Bravo Media’s series premiere of “Manzo’d with Children,” starring everyone’s favorite no-nonsense New Jersey Housewife Caroline Manzo and her family, earned over 1.7 million total viewers and 991,000 P18-49 in its 9pm broadcast, according to Nielsen. Immediately following, the second episode scored 1.6 million total viewers and 881,000 adults 18-49. For the hour, the series averaged over 1.6 million total viewers and 937,000 P18-49, up 71 percent and 84 percent, respectively, compared to the prior four week time period average.
Tune in next Sunday, October 12 at 9p.m. ET/PT, as Chris and Albie attempt to open a lavish new restaurant at the Meadowlands Race Track, but quickly learn the space isn’t big enough to accommodate their vision. Albie’s new girlfriend, Brittany, meets the family for the first time, much to Caroline’s disapproval. Albie and Lauren disagree over the direction of Albie’s life. For a sneak peek at next week’s episode, visit:http://www.bravotv.com/manzod-with-children/season-1/videos/albies-girlfriend-meets-the-manzos
“Manzo’d with Children” is produced by Sirens Media with Rebecca Toth Diefenbach, Valerie Haselton and Lucilla D’Agostino serving as Executive Producers.
Source: Nielsen Media Research, LS data
Bravo is a program service of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Bravo has been an NBCUniversal cable network since December 2002 and was the first television service dedicated to film and the performing arts when it launched in December 1980. Bravo Media is a part of NBCUniversal Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Media group. For more information, visit www.BravoTV.com. Follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/BravoPR.
Bad weather, ghosts and witchcraft collide in new Weather Channel series.
American Super/Natural’ mixes myth and meteorology
Just in time for Halloween, Weather Channel introduces a supernatural TV series with a meteorological twist, traveling the country to present local legends in which weather plays a part.
“We’re always intrigued by the supernatural, the unexplained and things that go bump in the night,” says Valerie Haselton, executive producer of the series for Sirens Media. “We love a good legend and secretly hope that they are all true. Digging into legends and mysteries that are influenced by weather was just a natural fit for Sirens and Weather Channel. When we found a story that made us gasp and go, ‘No way!’ then we knew we had a winner.”
She points out that before modern meteorology, “Legends arose to explain the unexplainable. Many legends are linked to weather. This is a series where you can actually learn something while being thoroughly entertained. We cover history, American folklore, science, psychology and more.”
The eight episodes in the series, which begins on Oct. 5, include:
“The Legend of Moll Dyer,” about a Leonardtown, Maryland, recluse accused of witchcraft who froze to death and is said to still haunt the town.
“The Gray Man,” about a ghost who appears to residents of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, to warn them of coming hurricanes and protecting them from harm.
“Julia Brown,” about a Louisiana voodoo priestess who supposedly cursed the town of Frenier, which was destroyed by a hurricane after her death and has been repeatedly plagued by storms.
“I-4 Dead Zone,” about a section of Florida interstate where some attribute the high accident rate to the fact the road disturbed the graves of four settlers, and those settlers are getting payback via bad weather and deadly crashes.
“The Curse of Bodie” arose when a California miner died in a blizzard, damning those who had stolen gold from him.
“Devil’s Gate Dam” is not only built at the base of a rock that looks like a devil’s head, the Pasadena, California, site has been tied to black magic, mysterious disappearances and extreme weather, including droughts, floods and wildfires.
“Augusta’s Pillar” is the only remaining portion of a Georgia marketplace left standing when a cyclone blew through the town in 1878. It bears the curse of a scorned preacher who promised harm to those who touch or try to move it.
“Catherine’s Hill” in coastal Maine marks the spot where a woman was decapitated in a car crash on a foggy night, and is said to haunt it still, hitching rides.
We asked Tom Mould (right), professor of anthropology & folklore and director of the honors program at Elon University, who appears in the series, to weigh in on these stories.
Tom MouldMNN: Why are so many legends connected to weather phenomena?
Tom Mould: Legends are born out of events that are unusual, dramatic, traumatic, or difficult to explain or comprehend. Casual weather events do not inspire legends. Major weather events — and other major disasters or catastrophes where death is involved — do. So we should not be surprised that major weather events often spawn legends as people search for answers: Why here? Why now? Why me?
How do these legends start?
Legends tend to start in few different ways. One way is that there is a historical event that is noteworthy. As the story is told and retold, it is shaped and adapted by each teller so that it is relevant to them and their audiences. Soon, there are multiple versions of the story that may not always line up perfectly. As the story continues to be told, elements of other stories may get added in, whether intentionally to make the story more compelling, or unintentionally because of faulty memory. These multiple versions can create doubt for some audiences, even when the story is historically accurate.
The other way legends can start is when something unexplainable, unexpected or seemingly random and upsetting happens. And so we try to make sense of it, to order it, because disorder is disorienting and disturbing. We develop various scenarios and theories for why we saw what looked like a ghost on the side of the road or why our phone always stops working in the same spot along a stretch of highway. What might have happened can become what did happen as the story gets told and retold.
Legends about the Gray Man on Pawley’s Island seem to operate in this way. Of course there’s no way to know for sure — that’s the maddening beauty of legends: they are virtually impossible to prove or disprove. But without any historical evidence to support the ghost story, and a good deal of personal accounts of seeing a gray ghost, the ghost sightings seem to drive this legend more than its origin story of a tragic death of a young suitor. In this way, an accumulation of ghost sightings connected to the onset of a hurricane may have prompted people to look for some explanation of who that ghost could be and why he might be appear. The most common explanation — that a young man is rushing to see his fiancé and meets his tragic death on the way — is a story we see throughout the American South, and farther afield as well. There is a common belief in the U.S. that tragic deaths often result in ghosts since the spirits of the deceased cannot make peace with their untimely demise and so they linger.
What are the ingredients of a compelling legend and what makes them endure?
Legends endure only as long as they remain relevant and compelling to the people who tell them. So if a legend continues to provide a viable explanation for a current or past event, it is likely to endure. Legends that provide a plausible and credible explanation are more likely to endure than legends that appear too far outside the realm of possibility to be true. People do not need to believe a legend to share it — in fact, some research suggests that people are more likely to share a legend if they don’t fully believe it — they just need to believe it could be true.
Beyond that, legends are more likely to endure if they contain concrete images, present unexpected but plausible scenarios, are emotionally resonant, present simple but profound statements, and play on existing fears. Recent research into meme theory would further suggest that if the story evokes disgust, a person is more likely to remember and retell it. There are commercial reasons for maintaining a legend as well. Even if no one ever saw the Gray Man again, there’s a good chance that real estate agents, local innkeepers and restaurateurs on Pawley’s Island will try to keep the legend alive for tourism.
What do you find fascinating about the legends in “American Super/Natural”? Do you have a favorite?
I grew up in South Carolina hearing the stories about the Gray Man, so out of loyalty alone, I have to say the Gray Man is one of my favorites. And I do think it’s really interesting. On the surface it seems quite basic: even with Doppler radar and meteorological science, the exact landfall and power of a hurricane can be difficult to predict, so a story that provides hope that we can be forewarned about such devastation is immensely comforting. In this way, the Gray Man is a local hero. But the idea that if you see the Gray Man, your house and material belongings will also be spared actually exacerbates rather than mitigates one of the big questions asked after a tragedy: “Why me?” This question might be even more pressing for those who did not see the Gray Man and who were not spared, adding another question: “Why them? Why did the Gray Man appear to them and not me?”
I particularly appreciate the legend of Moll Dyer because of what it says about tolerance. I think this is a message we are in dire need of as much today as in the past. The result of prejudice and stereotyping may not always lead to such obvious physical violence, but the psychological damage can be equally devastating.
The legend of Julia Brown certainly gains relevance and power because it conjures images of Katrina and the devastation of hurricanes in the swamplands of Louisiana. It also taps popular interest, and fear, in voodoo (or more accurately, voudon), a religion often wildly misunderstood and misrepresented in the popular media. As a folklorist, I am particularly interested to know whether Julia Brown was seen as an integral member of the community, or cast as “the other.” Historical records suggest she could have been viewed either way. I think this legend raises a lot of questions that further research would prove useful in addressing.
I think the I-4 legend hits a particularly sensitive nerve for a lot of people in this country who see a gap between people in power who make the decisions — whether corporations or the government — and local communities or individuals who bear the brunt of those decisions. Morality, ethics, and social norms are ignored as money, speed and shortcuts drive decision-making. In the I-4 legend, a graveyard is paved over to make a highway. Social norms against disturbing or disrespecting the dead run deep. Not only might a terrible storm and continued supernatural occurrences emerge because of it, but we should expect it: supernatural violation met with supernatural retribution. I have a lot of family in St. Petersburg, Florida, and we find ourselves on I-4 heading to Orlando for Disney World quite frequently. We will certainly be on the lookout for this patch of highway in the future.
A woman on Catherine’s HillThe legend of Catherine’s Hill (reenacted at right) mirrors what is arguably the most famous, most widespread supernatural legend in the U.S., that of the vanishing hitchhiker. In the most typical version of the legend, a woman is seen wandering alone along a desolate stretch of highway. A driver picks her up and attempts to deliver her safely home, only to find that en route she has disappeared from the backseat. What I find most interesting about this legend are the stories of how people have responded to the legend, in particular stories of how in the 1960s, the nearby university is said to have had an unspoken rule that buses driving in that area had to have one empty seat available, so that they could offer Catherine a ride if they came upon her.
With “Bodie’s Curse,” there is the source of the curse with its obvious indictment of disloyalty and greed, not to mention the warning about severe and sudden weather in the unforgiving Sierra Nevada Mountains. There is the historical telling of the legends with the practical message to tourists and travelers to quit stealing things out of the homes of Bodie residents for souvenirs (sadly, a very real problem). And there is the modern telling of the legends that not only reinforce these values, but as told by park rangers, echo a common message of conservation and preservation that all parks attempt to instill in their visitors. All the stories of people taking things from Bodie and encountering unusually bad luck highlights the power of hindsight and reflection, with these legends serving as prompts to consider explanations where we might have assumed coincidence.
The legends of Devil’s Gate are particularly compelling because of the clear historical evidence for so many dark and tragic events in the area. You’ve got an avowed occultist engaged in dark rituals in an attempt to contact very dangerous supernatural beings. You’ve got a confessed serial killer who abducted a number of children in the area, with additional missing children whose fates remain a mystery. You’ve got some severe droughts, storms and fires that have targeted the area. And in the middle of it all, you’ve got a rock face that looks a heck of a lot like a demon’s face.
“Augusta’s Pillar” has a recurring theme here of supernatural justice levied against intolerance and scapegoating. Also compelling are the different origins for the pillar. While the itinerant preacher is the most common, other versions have explained the pillar as part of an old slave market, and the devastating storm as divine retribution against slavery. While historical evidence does not support the claim that the market had ever been used to sell slaves, the fraught racial history of the Deep South makes such an interpretation plausible, and tells us a lot about current social and cultural norms, anxieties and tensions.
What do these legends say about us? Do they have any positive benefit? What can we learn from them?
Legends provide answers to questions that may upset, disturb, confuse, excite or haunt us. They can do the reverse as well, and simply disturb, upset, confuse, or scare us in and of themselves, but even when they do, they can be eminently useful. Because at the heart of most legends is a moral imperative. The legend of Catherine’s Hill, for example, ultimately tells us that if we ignore our neighbor in distress, we could face disastrous even deadly consequences. The legend of Moll Dyer makes it clear that harboring prejudices against people who appear different from us can quickly lead to terrible stereotyping, discrimination, and ultimately unspeakable crimes. Again, the moral is clear: such discriminatory behavior will be punished with death or suffering. The legend of Bodie’s curse reminds people of a lesson they should have learned in kindergarten: do not take things that don’t belong to you.
Virtually all these legends also warn about the dangers of the woods, of the dark, uninhabited spaces where the order and structure of society dissolves. But it is also a more metaphorical warning about those places where social norms may hold little sway. Many of these legends tell a story of some sort of violation of social norms, whether an angry mob setting upon an innocent woman, a graveyard being callously paved over, or a preacher being summarily dismissed and run out of town. In others, like with the legends about Julia Brown, she literally lives on the margins and is believed to wield supernatural power that the social order cannot control or compete with.
In the end, most of these legends support the morals and values of society. They reflect back our ideals, the values we aspire to, even if we cannot always attain them. And they reflect our fears about those parts of life we cannot control, that even our carefully constructed social norms cannot fully protect us from. In telling these legends, we not only admit to these fears, we allay them by providing reasons for what might otherwise appear random and uncontrollable. Yes, hurricanes can come out of nowhere in South Carolina, but if you’re lucky, you’ll see the Gray Man who can protect you. Yes, terrible storms can flood your home in Louisiana, but there are prophetic warnings if only you pay attention to them. In the end, we tell these stories because they are entertaining. They excite, scare and titillate. They provoke conversation about what is and isn’t real. Whether we believe them or not, they make for a good story.
Video: Daytime television star and Emmy award winner Susan Lucci chats about her roles on the Investigation Discovery series “Deadly Affairs,” and Lifetime’s “Devious Maids.” During a game of “would you rather,” she tells Kathie Lee and Hoda she’d prefer an extra year of her life to winning another Emmy award.
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Being a diehard “Game of Thrones,” “Mad Men” or “Orange Is the New Black” fan is pretty in these days. Why? Because those shows are critically acclaimed. They’re well-respected. They’re cool!
But behind closed doors, we all have guilty pleasure TV shows that we indulge in every so often. And by every so often, we actually mean a lot.
Here are our picks for the best guilty pleasure TV shows:
“Gossip Girl,” The CW
tv show gifs
American television classic. This better still be playing in syndication on our Google Eyes in 40 years. I’ve seen every episode of “Gossip Girl.” I may not consider anything after Season 2 from Josh Schwartz’s other teen classic, “The O.C.” canon, but I loved “Gossip Girl” until the very last, perfect scene of the characters in their happily-ever-after futures. Right before Kristen Bell does her final “XOXO, Gossip Girl” signoff, she tells us that “there will always be someone on the outside wanting to get in.” As television viewers, we are always the outsiders, often wishing we could jump right into the screen. “Gossip Girl” was certainly jam-packed with those kind of moments, from the awkward Guitar Hero product placement party in season one to when the greatest television couple of all time, Blair and Chuck, ran from the police after their wedding in Central Park. In one of the most insane moments of American television, Dan, Vanessa and Hillary Duff’s character had a threesome. Probably best I wasn’t there for that, but the very next episode they went to a Lady Gaga concert during her prime and I could have definitely broken through the fourth wall and fourth-wheeled along.
These were ridiculous characters living ridiculous plot lines in ridiculously expensive clothes and homes, but instead of ending the guilty vicarious living pleasure there like most Bravo shows, it also actually tried (and succeeded) to be a good show. Near the end, Dan thankfully scrapped a book proposal called “The Monarch of Manhattan,” around the same time Blair declined to be a princess. This show was never just about royalty wish fulfillment. It was about trying to make and keep the right friendships. “Gossip Girl” made it clear that we should all be so lucky to have someone special to gossip with. Also, Dorota was great. — Todd Van Luling
“Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” E!
kim kardashian kourtney kardashian khloe kardashia
Before you diehard “KUWTK” fans come after me with pitchforks, let me just say this: I never watch reality TV. And by that, I mean I walk out of a room when any form of non-scripted television is on. So honestly, my obsession with “KUWTK” evokes more than guilt. It’s a little alarming.
But yes, whenever Kim and the gang are on TV, I’m usually watching. Those clothes! That hair! The never-ending drama! Kanye! It’s hard to say what truly sets them apart from all the other rich, well-dressed reality stars parading around the small screen, but the Kardashians have officially kaptivated me. — Leigh Weingus
Society tells you to feel guilty about watching “iCarly,” but why? Just because you’re a 26-year-old dude who eats Gushers and butters Hostess mini muffins for breakfast and should probably be buying stocks and reading about business cards instead of watching a Nickelodeon show made for tween girls? Well, touché, society. You make some hella good points. But it’s still not enough.
“iCarly” may be one of the greatest shows in television history. It follows the adventures of Seattle teens Carly, Sam and Freddie as they make a web show on the Internet and get into hilarious hijinks along the way. The show is a cultural landmark. Without “iCarly,” the world may have never known about spaghetti tacos, found out you can call someone a hob-knocker or even learned how dangerous a sock full of butter can be. Yeah, society may get in your face about watching “iCarly,” but that’s what a sock full of butter is for in the first place (you know, assuming you haven’t had mini muffins that day). — Bill Bradley
“Say Yes To The Dress,” TLC
say yes to the dress
I’m not one of those women who has been planning her wedding since I was a kid. My mom and dad were married at City Hall. I didn’t even make my Barbies get married. So, imagine my surprise when I found myself binge-watching “Say Yes to the Dress” while housesitting for a couple with cable.
At first it was ironic: “Did she really just say she wants to look sexy in front of her mom?!,” I would joke to myself because, let’s face it, I only watch this alone. I even made a drinking game out of it — “drink every time someone says, ‘I want to look like a princess!'” — but, soon enough, “SYTTD” and its various spin-offs became a staple of my Netflix queue. My knowledge of wedding dress styles, jargon and designers increased and, before I knew it, I was tearing up at bride-to-be sob stories and quietly celebrating when an entire family could agree on a white, fit-and-flair mermaid gown with beaded bodice and a crystal sash. See, I told you I knew all the jargon. — Katla McGlynn
“Hart of Dixie,” The CW
hart of dixie
For me, “TV show” is almost synonymous with “guilty pleasure,” just as “prestige drama” is almost synonymous with “full of horrifying violence.” One of the guiltiest of my guilty viewing pleasures, however, is the Rachel Bilson vehicle “Hart of Dixie.” A nighttime soap following the misadventures of Zoe Hart (Bilson), a New York medical student who finds herself killing time as a general practitioner in a tiny Alabama town after she fails to land a prestigious cardiothoracic fellowship, “Hart of Dixie” is the ultimate fish-out-of-water dramedy.
While thin on such minor things as plausible scenarios, well-crafted dialogue, strong acting, and emotional depth, Hart of Dixie offers so much more. Dress shorts! People with names like “Lemon”! Small-town doctors who go to work wearing more black eyeliner than you could find at the local Sephora! Confusing love triangles! A clique of catty Southern belles who look like they each stepped fully formed out of a Lilly Pulitzer store! A New Yorker who Just Doesn’t Understand The South! A mayor who used to be an all-pro NFL player and now wears tiny fedoras! And most of all, of course, unending soapy love triangles. Every time I watch Rachel Bilson try and fail to convincingly convey an emotion, I know I shouldn’t love this show, and yet, guiltily, I still do. — Claire Fallon
“Witches of East End,” Lifetime
witches of east end
Being a fan of all things supernatural, Lifetime’s series “Witches of East End” has it all. I’m not ashamed to say I watch “The Vampire Diaries” on a weekly basis, and have since it debuted in 2009, so when “WOEE” premiered in October 2013, I knew I’d be into it. From twisted love triangles to portals leading to magical realms, this show has everything for a viewer who believes in the otherworldly. Julia Ormond, Jenna Dewan-Tatum, Rachel Boston and Madchen Amick make some damn good looking witches. Plus, if Channing Tatum’s into it, I’m into it. Sunday nights never felt so good (except for when “Game of Thrones” is on). — Leigh Blickley
All of Investigation Discovery Channel
who the bleep
There’s really no point in zeroing in on just one ID show because at the end of the day they’re all the same. Whether it’s “Wives With Knives,” “Nightmare Next Door” or “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry,” you can always count on horrible crimes and horrible reenactments of said crimes. Investigation Discovery’s true crime shows, complete with overdramatic narrators, are an obvious guilty pleasure, because it’s kind of shameful to admit your idea of unwinding in front of the TV is watching somebody’s entire family get murdered by their greedy, estranged uncle. But I do it anyway. — Lauren Zupkus
via press release:
Investigation Discovery (ID) is a Top 5 Network in Daytime, Top 10 in Total Day and Top 20 in Prime for P25-54
ID Springs into Best May Ever in Prime Up Double Digits Across All Key Demos
Investigation Discovery is in full bloom celebrating its best May ever in prime delivery among P2+ (744k), HH (619k), P25-54 (345k) and W25-54 (227k). The network bolstered its lead in May delivering high ad-supported cable ranks across the board — # 5 network for both P25-54 and W25-54 in daytime; #7 network for P25-54 and #4 in W25-54 in total day; and #19 in P25-54 and #14 in W25-54 in prime.*
ID continues to dominate with May 2014 marking its 14th consecutive month of year-over-year total day (9a-3a) gains in delivery among the coveted W25-54 demo, and since the beginning of the season, the network has experienced year-over-year double digit prime gains among P2+, HH, P25-54, and W25-54. The explosive growth in May was fueled by top performers including The Perfect Murder (974k P2+), Nightmare Next Door (925k P2+), House of Horrors: Kidnapped (912k P2+) and Most Infamous (873k P2+).
May 2014 vs. May 2013: Primetime Delivery
P2+ +24% (744k vs. 599k)
HH +23% (619k vs. 504k)
P25-54 +31% (345k vs. 264k)
W25-54 +25% (227k vs. 181k)
P18-49 +20% (267k vs. 222k)
W18-49 +17% (181k vs. 155k)
May 2014 vs. May 2013: Total Day Delivery
P2+ +14% (603k vs. 530k)
HH +14% (531k vs. 464k)
P25-54 +17% (304k vs. 260k)
W25-54 +16% (209k vs. 180k)
P18-49 +12% (244k vs. 217k)
W18-49 +14% (170k vs. 149k)
*Source: Nielsen, NHI Calendar, 4/28/14-5/25/14, L+SD data, P/W25-54 delivery, Time Period Based Averages, Ad-supported cable, Daytime M-F 9a-4p, Total Day M-Su 6a-6a excluding NAN and ADSM, Prime M-Su 8p-11p excluding any networks that did not air in the entire daypart or time period.
Sirens Media has hired Stuart Zwagil as chief operating officer, the unscripted shingle announced today.Zwagil joins Sirens after a 13-year tenure at 44 Blue Prods., where he most recently served as senior vice prez. In addition to his stint at 44 Blue, Zwagil has worked as a freelance line producer and production supervisor for MTV and Nickelodeon.
“Stuart’s robust background and depth of experience in all aspects of TV production made him an ideal fit for us,” said Sirens co-founder Rebecca Toth Diefenbach. “We’re excited to have him on board as Sirens continues on its aggressive growth path.”
Sirens Media is the production company behind reality shows including Bravo’s “Real Housewives of New Jersey.” The shingle, led by Toth Diefenbach and Valerie Haselton, was acquired by Leftfield Entertainment earlier this year.
‘Modern Dads’ Draws 4 Million in Premiere Wednesday for A&E
A&E’s attempt to use megahit “Duck Dynasty” as a launching pad yielded so-so results Wednesday with the series premiere of “Modern Dads.”
The show, which follows the exploits of four stay-at-home dads as they juggle the requirements and social expectations of being both a “modern man” and a father, averaged a 1.9 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and about 4 million viewers overall, according to Nielsen.
While good numbers — it led all of television in its 10:30 p.m. timeslot in young adults and all male demos — it drew just a fraction of what lead-in “Duck Dynasty” did with the second episode of its new season (4.5 rating/14 share in adults 18-49 and 10.07 million viewers overall).
Of course, “Duck Dynasty” wasn’t much when it started, so A&E has to be pleased that it was able to expose so many viewers to its new show.
As for “Duck Dynasty,” it was off about 10% in the demo and 14% in total viewers from its record-setting season premiere of a week ago. It towered over everything else Wednesday in 18-49 (Fox’s “MasterChef,” at a 2.4 rating, was runner-up) and also was No. 1 in total viewers, with NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” second (9.35 million).
“Duck” also figures to again rank as TV’s No. 1 program for the week in adults 18-49. In total viewers, Wednesday’s 10.07 million is currently the second largest for any program this week, behind only the 10.64 million that CBS attracted Monday for “Under the Dome.”
Fatherhood has been a hot topic in the scripted space, from Fox’s series order of “Dads” from Seth MacFarlane to NBC’s Jimmy Fallon comedy “Guys With Kids.”
Now, the paternal vibe has leaked over to the reality realm, with A&E greenlighting series “Modern Dads.”
The unscripted skein from Sirens Media follows a diverse group of stay-at-home fathers who try to balance their “guy life” with “dad life.”
A&E has ordered eight half-hour episodes of “Modern Dads.” Show has begun lensing in Austin, Texas.
Exec producers for Sirens are Rebecca Toth Diefenbach, Valerie Haselton Drescher, Jen Mayer Kulp, Lucilla D’Agostino and Adam Paul. For A&E, David McKillop, Elaine Frontain Bryant, Lily Neumeyer and Evan Lerner are exec producing.
Investigation Discovery has picked up a second season of “Deadly Affairs” as the cabler continues to hone its focus on true-crime stories worthy of a soap opera storyline.
Skein, hosted by sudser vet Susan Lucci, centers on true stories of love affairs gone bad. Investigation Discovery prexy Henry Schleiff believes “Deadly Affairs” embodies the direction of ID moving forward. He’s taking aim at the female viewers who once flocked to the now-shrinking menu of daytime serials.
” ‘Deadly Affairs’ is the quintessential example of our programming in the sense that we are so much about relationships that have gone horribly wrong,” Schleiff told Variety .
This wasn’t always the case for ID. Investigation Discovery was launched in 1996 with the unwieldy moniker “Discovery Civilization Network: The World History and Geography Channel” and has undergone several rebrandings as it searches for a programming strategy that clicks with viewers.
A decade ago, the cabler was focused on programming about American history, culture and contemporary events. From 2002 and 2006, it tried a joint venture with the New York Times focusing on high-brow news, docu and historical fare. After yet another rebrand, cabler was dubbed Investigation Discovery in 2008 and featured docu-style programming rooted in crime stories.
ID has since zeroed in on the crimes-of-passion subgenre with show titles including “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?,” “Scorned: Love Kills,” “Evil Twins” and “Wicked Attraction.”
Viewers have responded well to the sudsy rebrand.
“Our stickiness speaks to the consistency of the kind of programming you know you’re going to get when you tune into ID,” Schleiff said. “We’ve become a favorite of advertisers because their spots are being seen and not skipped over.”
ID aims to make itself the literal intersection of daytime soaps and true crime stories after hiring Lucci and other soap stars to host its daytime programming block dubbed “Days of Our Knives,” which bowed in August.
“We kept having people tell us, ‘I like your programming because the shows remind me of my soaps! And you guys have real life soaps and I get the whole story in an hour, instead of several weeks, ‘ ” Schleiff said. “We finally said, ‘Why don’t we go out and find the Queen of Soap and do a dishy-like series? And then, let’s go one step further and find almost a dozen established soap opera stars and have them host programming in the afternoon where soaps usually play from 1-4 p.m.”
Lucci told Variety her fans have made the leap from soaps to ID. “I often hear them say, ‘I was such a fan of ‘All My Children,’ now I’m addicted to ‘Deadly Affairs, ‘ ” she said.
ID is, however, aware of its over-the-top programming tone, with skeins’ dramatic reenactments and tongue-in-cheek titles.
“These stories are stranger than fiction,” said Schleiff. “We specifically and strategically point out the craziness of these stories and we do it with our sardonic, little bit of a wink to our audience. The audience gets it. There’s a dark humor to this, and I think one of the things the viewers search for is a little bit of humor and lightness.”
Season two of “Deadly Affairs” will debut in summer 2013. Series is produced by Sirens Media, with Valerie Haselton Drescher, Rebecca Toth Diefenbach and Chris Nusbaum exec producing for the shingle. Pamela Deutsch is an executive producer for ID.
Turns out all previous “Real Housewives” — Orange County, Manhattan and Atlanta — were just a tune-up to New Jersey. Seemingly culling from the same casting pool employed by “The Sopranos,” the producers have out-done themselves with an assortment of women whose mouths are every bit as big as their hair. Playing to the cameras, even many elements that feel slightly staged (including convenient intra-housewife feuding) prove nearly irresistible, again reminding us that horrible people you’d never want to associate with are often the spice of reality. This show puts the Bada-Bing in Bravo.
The “Housewives” franchise is all about conspicuous materialism, which has made the thinly veiled disdain the show harbors toward its participants more palpable, but the viewing experience (much to Bravo’s delight) no less entertaining. In this case, the women are steeped in reality-TV culture (“If you think I’m a bitch, bring it on,” one says with direct-to-camera brio) and yet oddly oblivious to how juicy some of their pronouncements are. These include, but are not limited to: “Jacqueline’s heart is as big as her boobies” and “My boobs are too big for tennis.”
But it gets better. One of the moms is trying to turn her moppet daughter into a pint-sized actress/model, injecting an element of child pageantry a la “Showbiz Moms and Dads,” as a beaming mom sings along in her seat while the kid struts onstage. Another housewife has a twentysomething son whose goal in life– wait for it — is to open a strip club.
Finally, divorced Danielle — who feuds with Dina, an interior designer — has been engaging in phone sex with a guy she met online (his sign-on is “Gucci model”) and arranges to meet him in person, much to the horror of her friends.
These are, in short, a pretty loathsome array of deliciously shallow stereotypes, almost feeling stitched together from pieces of other programs. And one suspects while the producers sifted through footage in assembling the premiere, the smiles in the editing bay were even bigger than those haircuts.