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More reality TV, 'Idol' knock-offs and O'Hare tow trucks!

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The impact of the writers strike still hurts, as plans roll out for more ridiculous reality shows. A whole bunch was announced today.

First, MTV is giving young people the chance to follow their dreams through several new music- and dance-themed projects, including an unscripted musical drama from Nick Lachey that’s described as a reality version of ‘‘Fame.’’

The network also has greenlighted two singing competitions — ‘‘Rock the Cradle,’’ from FremantleMedia North America (Fox’s ‘‘American Idol’’), and the working-titled ‘‘Celebrity Music Mentor Project’’ — and has renewed the dance competition ‘‘Randy Jackson: America’s Best Dance Crew’’ for a second season.

Brian Graden, president of entertainment at MTV Networks Music Channels, said the shows play into the ambitions of MTV’s target demo. ‘‘This is a positive generation that feels very empowered, like they can do anything, and these play into that notion,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s really so cool to watch how the definition of music television has morphed over the years. We’re updating that for a generation who consumes music in different ways than even five years ago.’’

The untitled pilot from Lachey revolves around the students at his alma mater, the School for Creative and Performing Arts in Cincinnati. Tony DiSanto, executive vice president series development and programming, said the project boasts a unique format that breaks new ground in the reality arena, similarly to how MTV’s ‘‘Laguna Beach’’ launched a new form of unscripted storytelling.

‘‘Rock the Cradle,’’ an eight-episode series that premieres at 9 p.m. April 3, features the offspring of famous musicians competing every week in front of their parents, a panel of judges and a live audience to become stars in their own right. Set to compete are Chloe Rose Lattanzi, Crosby Loggins, Jesse Money, Lucy Walsh, Lil Al B Sure, Jesse Blaze Snider, Lara Johnston, Akeiba Burrell Hammer and Landon Brown.

‘‘Celebrity Mentor’’ pairs up eight music celebrity mentors with eight amateurs who will compete to become pop stars. MTV still is finalizing the celebrity cast list for the series, set to premiere in the fall. Hopefuls will be able to post their videos online, with the celebrities each selecting one contestant to coach. Viewers will whittle down the group over the course of the eight-week competition.

If exploring the lives of celebrities seems a little tired, NBC has a solution: Find their relatives.

The network has ordered a genealogy reality series called ‘‘Who Do You Think You Are’’ from U.K. production house Wall to Wall (PBS’ ‘‘Frontier House’’) in association with Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky’s Is or Isn’t Entertainment.

The one-hour series is based on the hit British series where stars are shown the oft-surprising details of their ancestors’ lives. In the U.K. version, the uncovered backstories included tales of bigamy, wartime heroism and, in one case, attempted murder. Celebrity participants often are brought to tears as they learn about their relatives’ hardships.

‘‘It’s about people trying to figure out a sense of identity, and we’ve discovered it’s an emotional journey,’’ Wall to Wall CEO and show creator Alex Graham said. ‘‘Everybody has a great story. When confronted by that great story, no matter how practiced you are in front of the camera, it’s very incredibly moving.’’

If you think that sounds dull, make sure your cable system doesn't carry the Speed network ("the definitive network for motor sports and automotive lifestyle programming"), which this summer brings us "Wrecked," a reality show shadowing Chicago O’Hare Towing & Recovery as it tows cars from the airport.

"It’s probably safe to say that just about anyone who’s ever driven a car has come in contact with a tow truck driver at least once or twice, and most likely not under happy circumstances," said Speed VP of Programming Robert Ecker. "Whether they are called upon to fix a flat tire, tow an illegally parked vehicle or clean up the remnants of a major wreck, the people who work in this inherently dangerous industry touch the lives of all of us in some way large or small, yet they remain otherwise virtually unnoticed. With this series, we intend to showcase the inner workings of one of the largest and busiest such companies in one of the largest and busiest metropolitan areas in the country. The fact that the shop is owned and operated as a multi-generational family business and populated by a large and colorful group of employees certainly doesn’t hurt either."

"This is a very dangerous job," said O’Hare’s Bill Gratzianna, who runs the family owned business in the Chicago suburb of Northlake. "We lose a lot of towing operators on a regular basis ... every response is delicate and can be volatile."

Sun-Times wires

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"We’re updating that for a generation who consumes music in different ways than even five years ago." As a member of that target generation, i would like to say: I am fed up with the Idol knock-offs, 'reality' TV shows, and all the "(insert verb here) with the stars/celebrities"

Wrecked is a great show i have done the job and respect what they do. Why dont u watch the show before u talk about somthing u know nothing about.And the Airport has nothing to do with it.AND ITS NOT DULL ur dull

as a tow truck driver myself i really like wrecked you come out and ride in a tow truck and see how you like it and see if you almost get hit i garantee that it will change your mind

its not towing from the airport retard, its heavy duty towing from large accidents

wrecked is going to be a great show, look up their trailer thru north-south productions

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This page contains a single entry by Thomas Conner published on March 11, 2008 1:51 PM.

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