Upfronts 2015: ‘Scream,’ social-media celebs headline MTV slate

Nicole Byer from the MTV series "Girl Code" does her stand up during the MTV Movie Awards press junket.
Nicole Byer from the MTV series “Girl Code” does her stand up during the MTV Movie Awards press junket.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images for MTV)

Since the decline of “Jersey Shore” several years ago, MTV has been searching for the next cultural lodestar, or at least an assortment of several smaller planets.

On Tuesday, the network will reveal how it is going about its quest when it unveils a slate of new shows at its annual upfront presentation.

The glitzy event at New York’s Beacon Theatre (it will feature a performance by Jesse J.) will be where MTV announces it has greenlighted the late-night talker “Middle of the Night Show,” a first-person nonscripted called “Greatest Party Story Ever,” a series featuring YouTube celeb Todrick Hall, and a reality series about the family of Ja Rule.

The network is also expected to announce renewals for the nonscripted dating show “Are You the One?” and gonzo cash-for-stunts series “Broke A$$ Game Show,” as well as a spinoff of its popular “Girl Code” franchise.


And a “loosely scripted” show about the Vine performer Logan Paul that takes viewers behind the stunts has been put into development; it is produced by “Tosh.0” veteran Scott Tomlinson.

“This slate demonstrates the creative breadth of what MTV can do — epic scripted dramas, irreverent comedies, inventive format-driven series, fun topical talk shows, all with a distinct, youthful voice,” MTV’s programming President Susanne Daniels said in a statement ahead of the announcement.

MTV has struck out in some new directions under Daniels, the young-adult programming guru who was named to her post in 2012 after overseeing shows such as “Gilmore Girls” and “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer” in her previous guise at the WB.

At MTV, Daniels has sought to rekindle some of that spark, with the network at times looking more like basic-cable counterpart ABC Family than it did under her predecessors. MTV recently began its second season of the family drama “Finding Carter” and on Tuesday is expected to tease “Scream,” its long-gestating adaptation of the meta horror franchise that debuts June 30.


The network will also announce that it has renewed the high-school sexuality drama “Faking It” for a third season (the second season premieres this summer), and also been shooting the as-yet-undated “The Shannara Chronicles,” a big bet action-fantasy series based on the Terry Brooks novels that aims to capitalize on “Game of Thrones” interest.

Nonscripted will largely rule the day among new series announcements Tuesday, however, as the network doubles down on a format that comes with built-in brand appeal and is generally a lot less expensive to produce.

MTV will seek to expand its “Code” franchise with “Girl Code Live,” giving a bit more urgency to the talking-head show about social and intimate subjects (it has proved a more durable program than its chromosomal counterpart “Guy Code”).

“Girl Code’s” stars have deep social-media presences. MTV is hoping that same audience buoys “Todrick,” in which the YouTube star “lets fans into his creative factory and introduces them to the passionate troupe of creative collaborators who pour heart and soul into his weekly videos.


“Middle of the Night,” for its part, is described as a “fast-paced reimagining of the late-night comedy talk show” and has as its high concept a celebrity forced to host a show on the spot after a host team crashes his or her bedroom. The show (which will evoke the retro hit “Room Raiders” to MTV aficionados) looks to fill a void in edgy cable late night that has developed with the departures of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert from Comedy Central. It’s produced by College Humor’s original series unit.

In “Greatest Party Story Ever,” assorted people will tell of wild stories involving encounters with friends and celebrities, with some of the sequences portrayed via animation.

And the Ja Rule show, titled “Follow the Rules,” comes in the path of a well-worn musician-at-home formula that MTV first found success with via “The Osbournes” 13 years ago, and that it and sister network VH1 have tried, with varying degrees of success, to replicate since.

Also on Tuesday, the network is expected to announce some dates for returning series, including a new season of “Catfish: The TV Show” on July 8 and “Awkward” and “Faking it” on Aug. 31, when the veterans will help launch “Todrick” and “Girl Code Live.”