News Segment


January 12, 2006

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – Kiss rocker Gene Simmons, champion drag-racer John Force and Las Vegas car salesman/infomercial star Chop are among the personalities featured in several new real-life series in production at A&E Network.

Also on the cable network’s slate is an in-production series of 13 short films that take place in an elevator, along with several other projects in development, including a sketch-comedy pilot featuring George Wendt of “Cheers” fame.

In addition, Peter Facinelli (“Six Feet Under”) is starring in the movie “Touch the Top of the World,” based on the story of the first blind man to climb Mount Everest. Principal photography is under way.

Nancy Dubuc, senior VP nonfiction and alternative programming at A&E, said the overall slate is designed to continue luring younger viewers. The network has seen its median age fall to 49 from 61 in the past two years, and the goal is to get that number down into the early- to mid-40s range.

A&E is set to announce its production and development slate Thursday at the Television Critics Assn. winter press tour in Pasadena. The series in production include:

“Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” featuring Simmons; his partner, Shannon Tweed, a former Playmate of the Year, actress and model; and their kids, Nick and Sophie. Dubuc described the kids as “articulate, funny and bright,” which contrasts with their “wild and crazy” parents. This project follows a one-hour special on Simmons that aired under the “Biography” banner.

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