Pilot Week: Could Network Ten initiative see Rove or Kyle back on TV?

• Kyle: “I have never been more excited about TV and normally I couldn’t care less”

After creating something of a minor controversy when it was first announced, many more people now know about TEN’s Pilot Week initiative, which launches this weekend.

Network Ten kept the momentum alive this week by hosting media from around Australia to a Pilot Week launch event in Sydney. Despite clashing with a Foxtel 4K announcement, the TV channel managed to pull an interested crowd that also included the stars and producers of the eight programs.

Network Ten’s Angela Bishop hosted the event, showing clips from all but one of the programs, then interviewing key creative and then introducing Network Ten executives Beverley McGarvey and Paul Anderson.

CEO Anderson told guests that launching eight shows in one week was a massive exercise. “I want to thank Bev and everyone at TEN and the production houses for getting behind the initiative with so much enthusiasm and passion.

“We are very proud of Pilot Week and what it says about us. It says we are innovating and doing things differently, investing in local content, and it says we believe in the power of free TV and getting behind our local production community.”

Anderson then went on to detail some of the results of a significantly increased local content spend courtesy of new owners CBS.

“We have Game Of Games, a new family entertainment show hosted by Grant Denyer, a new Aussie drama series Playing For Keeps, Pete Helliar’s new sitcom How To Stay Married, and Mr Black written by Adam Zwar.

“We have the sweet and insightful ob doc The Secret Life Of Four Year Olds, Blind Date with the fantastic Julia Morris and Ambulance Australia, which has just been announced.

“This week we finally see what the Honey Badger gets up to on The Bachelor.

“This is an amazing lineup and our strongest second-half ever and a significant investment in Australian content.”

Kyle Sandilands and Rove McManus are both betting their next TV projects on Pilot Week. Both former Network Ten stars, they were on hand at the launch to help spruik their latest projects.

Paul Anderson, Anna Heinrich, Kyle Sandilands, Beverley McGarvey

Sandilands said his manager and Network Ten tricked him into doing Trial By Kyle. “I told them I was only a TV talent judge five years ago – I am not a real judge. We look at it more as arbitration.

Once we filmed it, I think I might have a career doing it. It was pretty easy.

Sandilands recalled some real court appearances in the past. “The last time I was in arbitration was with Seven for defamation against me.”

Sandilands then asked if there were any former Seven people in the room. He acknowledged the presence of TEN news executive Peter Meakin. “You were at Seven then. The old battle axe that used to run that joint told me: ‘You sat in my in-tray for two years, you prick. Like a cockroach, you wouldn’t die.’ Arbitration is heaps of fun.”

As to what viewers could expect on the show, Sandilands told Bishop: “I love nothing better than two ferals who live next door to each other and don’t get on.”

Sandilands added he though it was a great initiative from TEN. “I have never been more excited about TV and normally I couldn’t care less.”

Rove’s Bring Back…Saturday Night live variety show could help lift the channel’s weekend share if he manages to attract an audience.

Rove was the only host not to have a clip of his program. The show will be broadcast from TEN’s Sydney studio. The Living Room has the studio for Friday night filming, then the set for Bring Back…Saturday Night will be built Saturday morning, and then they start preparation and rehearsals just hours before the show goes to air.

Rove is working with Merrick Watts, Mel Buttle and Judith Lucy and he has two young comedians, both called Alex, working on the format – Alex Jae and Alex Lee. He is also working with his longtime executive producer and Roving Enterprises partner Craig Campbell.

Sandra Sully, Dave O’Neil, Sam Dastyari

Highlights from the other clips shown last night were a Married At First Sight casting session on Skit Happens and scenes from Drunk History featuring Gyton Grantley as Ned Kelly.

Troy Kinne and Natalie Tran talked about their tonight show format and Dave O’Neil’s Dave sitcom looks promising.

Two that really seemed to engage the audience last night were Lune Media’s Taboo with Harley Breen and CJZ’s Disgrace hosted by Sam Dastyari. The latter has elements of a Gruen for the media business, and panellists that helped make the clip we saw compelling were radio’s Intern Pete and former News Corp comms exec Greg Baxter.

TEN’s chief content officer Beverley McGarvey said all the shows have a bias towards laughs, which is because the channel sees a gap in the market for Australian comedy.

Executives from most of the production houses involved were on hand including many TEN stars like Julia Morris, Mark Humphries and Andrew Rochford, Joe Hildebrand and Denise Drysdale and TEN Sydney newsreader Sandra Sully.


Top Photo: Ale Jae, Rove McManus, and Alex Lee

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