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Bravo renews 'Top Design' and 'Shear Genius' for second seasons

By Christopher Rocchio and Steve Rogers, 12/06/2007 

Bravo announced it has ordered second seasons of both its Top Design and Shear Genius reality series, with casting for both shows scheduled to commence in the coming weeks.

Although it was intended to be an interior-design clone of Bravo's popular Project Runway and Top Chef reality competition series, Top Design's first season -- which premiered last January -- ended up being panned by many viewers and critics. 

But rather than give up on the show's concept, the network has instead announced that Magical Elves -- the same production company behind Project Runway and Top Chef -- will replace Stone & Company Entertainment, the production company that produced Top Design's first season, and give the show a "makeover" for its second season.

When reached by Reality TV World, Bravo could not provide any additional details about Top Design's "makeover," including whether the competition's format will change or designer Todd Oldham, the show's ridiculously wooden first-season host, or the show's judges -- interior designer Jonathan Adler, Elle Decor magazine editor-in-chief Margaret Russell and interior designer Kelly Wearstler -- will return.

Magical Elves' Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz -- who serve as executive producers for Project Runway and Top Chef -- will also serve as executive producers for Top Design's second season.

"Like fashion designers and chefs, interior designers inhabit a rich, visual world that attracts fascinating personalities," said Cutforth.  "We are really excited to take on the challenge of bringing this successful show to the next level."

Since, it delivered better ratings than Top Design, Bravo apparently doesn't feel Shear Genius -- another Project Runway/Top Chef clone that premiered in April and pits hairstylists against one another to see who can create the most fashionable coiffure -- needs to be handed over to Magical Elves for its second season. 

Then again, Bravo executives could just not want to risk upsetting Ben Silverman, the recently-appointed new NBC Entertainment and NBC Universal Television Studio co-chairman that founded -- and, in a clear conflict of interest that Silverman and the network continue to deny exists, still continues to own -- Reveille, the five-year-old production company that produced Shear Genius' first season. (Bravo is owned by NBC Universal, the same parent company that also owns both NBC and NBC Universal Television Studio, its in-house production company.) 

Although Shear Genius' second season will still be produced by Reveille, the network was -- similar to Top Design -- also unable to confirm, beyond an announcement that host Jaclyn Smith will return, whether the show's new season will feature any significant changes.

In addition to Bravo's Shear Genius, Reveille also produces American Gladiators, The Biggest Loser, My Dad Is Smarter Than Your Dad, and The Office for NBC and Nashville Star for NBC Universal's USA Network.  The company has also previously produced Blow Out for Bravo and $25 Million Dollar Hoax, Celebrity Cooking Showdown, Coupling, Identity, Meet My Mom, and The Restaurant and for NBC (prior to Silverman's hiring, NBC already had a first-look agreement with NBC).  It also currently produces 30 Days for FX Network and Ugly Betty, an American adaptation of a hugely popular Columbian telenovela that Reveille licensed for the U.S., for ABC.

According to a Los Angeles Times report published Monday, Reveille has an ownership interest in five of the 18 primetime shows NBC has ordered since Silverman's hiring in June.  Last week, the network also confirmed that it has also bought eight additional potential show concepts or scripts from the production company.  Reveille reportedly had only three projects in the works at NBC before Silverman joined the network.  It now has the most NBC projects of any outside production company. 

Earlier this fall, NBC also began expanding The Biggest Loser's one-hour episodes into super-sized two-hour broadcasts and ordered a fifth season that will premiere on January 1 -- only two weeks after the broadcast of the show's fourth-season finale.  The 2007-2008 season will mark the first time that NBC has aired two The Biggest Loser editions in the same season.

Since NBC Universal's requirement that he "remove" himself from Reveille's day-to-day management and not have an ownership interest in any Reveille projects created after his NBC hiring has failed to end outside criticism of the ethical conflict of interest, Silverman has reportedly recently begun talks to sell the company to Shine Ltd., however no deal has yet been announced.   Shine is a British production company founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, the daughter of News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch (News Corp. is the parent of NBC competitor Fox).

Silverman still retains an ownership interest in nine of the 13 Reveille projects that are currently in development at NBC, according to The Times.

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