CMT Orders New Series From 'Jersey Shore' Creator, 'Voice' Winner Cassadee Pope (Exclusive)

Michael O'Connell
CMT Orders New Series From 'Jersey Shore' Creator, 'Voice' Winner Cassadee Pope (Exclusive)

CMT continues an ambitious rebrand at its New York upfront presentation Tuesday afternoon, announcing orders for four new original series, four renewals, four pilot presentations and the launch of a new division to cover current events through the network's lens: CMT News and Docs.

The moves further bolster an ambitious slate of originals, which grew by 43 percent in 2012. CMT programming and development executive vp Jayson Dinsmore tells The Hollywood Reporter that the Viacom-owned cable network will only be adding more and more moving forward after successfully pitching the parent company an ambitious plan to reach four nights of original programming by 2016.

Dinsmore says that much of the orders are in service to what he plans to bring to the network with April's premiere of Dog and Beth: On the Hunt, CMT's new iteration of former A+E juggernaut Dog the Bounty Hunter.

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"It's the most on-brand show that we have," he says, noting that CMT was keen to use Dog as its foray into original Sunday programming. "We spent a lot of the last year refining our filter and taking a look at the shows that work on the network, and we figured that people who live on their own terms and play by their own rules seem to resonate -- and Dog and Beth certainly seem to embody that."

Dog and Beth see its official debut on Sunday, April 21, at 8 p.m, followed by fellow new series Guntucky at 9 p.m. 

Joining both series on the lineup later in the year, CMT has ordered Florida-set show about professional pranksters, Hillbillies for Hire (Leftfield Pictures); a Southern spin on Jersey Shore, The Dirty South, from 495 Productions and Shore creator SallyAnn Salsano; newly edited episodes of Cops called Cops Reloaded; and a series following season three winner of The Voice, Cassadee Pope.

"We think there's something really valuable about a first-person account of the process of becoming a country star," Dinsmore tells THR of the series that was developed internally.

The Cassadee Pope Project joins CMT at a to-be-announced date, with Hillbillies opening in summer and Dirty South in the fall. Cops Reloaded premieres March 25.

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Renewals include a third season for Redneck Island (51 Minds Entertainment, 310 Entertainment and Steve Austin's Broken Skull Ranch Productions), a second run for Swamp Pawn (Pilgrim Films), an eighth season for Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team (Triage Entertainment) and a fourth outing of My Big Redneck Vacation (Pink Sneakers).

Austin and 51 Minds' Cris Abrego have teamed up for the pilot presentation Steve Austin's Broken Skull Ranch, which pits six contestants against one another in a series of challenges on Austin's titular Texas home.

Other pilot presentations include conflict resolution drama Bad Blood from ITV, Ketchum Labs' meth lab docudrama Methbusters and gunfighter competition Shootout (Road Games Inc.).

Looking ahead to 2016, it's natural to think the network might also soon start developing scripted fare. And while it's not on the immediate horizon, Dinsmore notes he's particularly impressed by the growth of A+E and History -- though it's an AMC drama he sees most closely aligned with his brand.

"If you are not a zombie, you're basically a redneck zombie killer," Dinsmore says of The Walking Dead. "The lead character wears cowboy boots and carries a six-shooter, and a whole season took place on a farm. There's no reason we shouldn't be thinking that way. I don't think it's our initial initiative, but we'll get there."