Friday, February 08, 2002

Burly Bear hungry for more colleges




By Ellen Blevens
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Burly Bear, the little-known cable network that caters to the college crowd, is trying to make a name for itself at universities across the country.

        The network, consisting of a lineup of reality-based programs, has become a staple on university stations at more than 600 schools, including Northern Kentucky University, the University of Dayton and Indiana University East in Richmond. Burly Bear programming is also available in 83.3 million homes, airing at 2 a.m. overnight Wednesday and 1:30 a.m. overnight Thursday on TBS.

        Burly Bear, whose slogan is “Watch More TV,” is the brainchild of five students from southern Connecticut. The network began in 1994 with one goal: entertaining viewers ages 18-24.

        “I like the sensibility of college students,” Burly Bear executive producer Ted Jessup says. “You can be bolder because kids are open to new things. They're both fun and serious.”

        Burly Bear's Half-Baked, a rock 'n' roll cooking show; Impostor, a hidden-camera prank program; and Press Junky, an unusual movie review show, are three of its eight original programs. Burly Bear also airs early Saturday Night Live skits and reruns of the Canadian sketch comedy Kids in the Hall.

        While many of the shows earn critical approval for their different approach and charismatic hosts, some local college students give it mixed reviews.

        “I think the Impostor show is good, but other shows are cheesy and sometimes inappropriate,” Miami University freshman Devon Rosenberger said. “They could be wasting their money because there are lots of other stations college students are watching.”

        Miami junior Heather Lowe said she thinks Burly Bear is “good television for 2 in the morning.”

        “I really don't think we need any more reality TV,” said Shaun Baker, a Miami junior.

        Reactions at the college television stations have been mixed, as well. Andrew Marko, the staff producer for MUTV, said Miami University recently dropped the Burly Bear Network to take a more academic approach with original programming through the university's mass communications department.

        Northern Kentucky University's WNTV is sticking with Burly Bear, even though the director of programming acknowledges that the station needs it only to take up time.

        “Burly Bear is a nice filler,” Jon Toole said. “We try to play it during the day, but we also play new-release videos that the students like.

        “But (Burly Bear) is good programming,” he added.

        The Burly Bear Network also pays college representatives to tell their fellow students about Burly TV and to work with network sponsors, such as Snapple and Disney.

        “Right now, I'm helping with a campaign with Pepsi,” said UC junior James Whitt, a student rep.

        Mr. Whitt passes out samples of new beverages to UC students and lets them know when the Burly Bear Network is available. He said the programs are something he and other college students would enjoy watching.

        Mr. Jessup said Burly Bear, the No. 2 college network (College Television Network is No. 1), plans to expand its program lineup. Some ideas include a campus-produced soap opera and a news program.

        “We want to continue to make our presence known on the college campuses and get one step closer to world domination,” Mr. Jessup joked.

        Survivors wanted: The world hasn't met the contestants for Survivor 4 yet, but CBS is already taking applications for Survivor 5.

        Applications are available through next Friday at CBS.com. Would-be contestants must be U.S. citizens 21 or older and in “excellent physical and mental health.”

        Each applicant must include a VHS video, no longer than three minutes, explaining why he or she would be a great contestant. The producers encourage applicants to be creative with their videos, although naked bicycle riding has already been done by Survivor: Africa's Lindsey Richter.

        The application says the fifth installment of the reality series will begin its seven-week taping schedule in June. A location hasn't been announced.

        Nominated: Sex and the City and The West Wing, last year's Emmy winners for best comedy and drama, respectively, have received the most nominations for this year's 54th annual Directors Guild of America Awards.

        HBO's Sex and the City, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, nabbed three nominations for the episodes “Defining Moments,” from Allen Coulter; “My Motherboard, Myself,” from Michael Engler; and “The Real Me,” from executive producer Michael Patrick King. This marks Mr. Coulter's fourth DGA nomination. Mr. Engler and Mr. King are first-time nominees.

        Rounding out the comedy category, Todd Holland received a nomination for his Malcolm in the Middle episode “Bowling,” while James Burrows picked up his 18th career nomination for the Will & Grace episode “Bed, Bath and Beyond.”

        Joel Gallen and Beth McCarthy-Miller were among the nominees in the musical variety program category for the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon.

        Zap2it.com contributed to this report.
       

       



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