TV Guide no longer knows what’s on its own channel, announces new docu-soap series

TV Guide, the magazine once know for actually informing us about what was on TV, has forgotten what aired on its own channel just three years ago. It announced today on its web site that TV Guide Network “has green-lit its first original reality series.” The problem is that the network already aired an original reality series, America’s Next Producer, which was not only a competition to win a TV Guide deal, but also included the magazine’s TV critic, Matt Roush, as a judge. The series was even produced by Magical Elves, the best producers of talent-based competitions.

The new show is The Nail Files, and it’s not a competition, but a “docu-soap [that] stars Katie Cazorla, the owner of Hollywood celebrity nail salon The Painted Nail, who juggles her professional life and her relationship with Walter Afanasieff, a Grammy-winning producer who’s worked with Mariah Carey, Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston,” according to the magazine. Jersey Shore production company 495 Productions is producing.

Besides the fact that this sounds like a show Oxygen rejected, and doesn’t seem like something that’d draw people to a network trying to establish itself as a destination for original programming, it’s weird that they’ve all forgotten about America’s Next Producer. The series aired in 2007, and when it was cast, the channel’s president called it “the most elaborate original production we’ve ever got involved in.” There’s even an archive of stories about it on TV Guide’s web site. There may be some confusion because there’s been a lot of change in ownership, branding, and connection between the web site, magazine, and TV network, but still, it’s the same channel.

Then again, it was certainly far from the best show ever nor did it generate any real buzz. Something tells me that in three years, TV Guide will probably announce yet another first original reality series.

Update, Nov. 12, 11:35 a.m.: A representative of TV Guide Network wrote to ask me to correct this story, starting with the suggestion in the first sentence that the network and magazine and magazine are the same thing. They are not. As Vice President of Communications for TV Guide Network and Leslie Furuta explained,

“…TV Guide Network, and the TV Guide brand are owned by Lionsgate and One Equity Partners; the TV Guide Magazine has separate ownership. The lead of your story seemed to suggest that TV Guide Magazine owns the cable channel.”

I apologize for conflating two things with the same name, although I do find this to be ludicrous because the distinction is meaningless to viewers and readers. If I start a cable network and call it Entertainment Weekly, how do you think that’d go over? Or, for a more parallel example, if Entertainment Weekly started a cable channel and then sold it, would viewers and readers then stop connecting the two even though they were both called Entertainment Weekly? The fact is that there’s a lot of confusion, especially since for a while and the magazine were two different things, but now they share a web site even though they’re still separate. Ah, corporate America.

Second, Furuta wrote that more of my post was inaccurate:

“The Nail Files press release specified that it is TV Guide Network’s first docu-soap reality series. The America’s Next Producer show was our first reality competition series. Both reality series, yes, but different formats. We were careful to specify this in the press release.”

I was quoting from TV Guide the web site’s story, as I did not see the press release, and the story itself characterized the new show as “its first original reality series.” As I wrote, it seemed kind of ridiculous that a story would appear on the very web site that had an archive of stories about a previous reality show that aired on the network.

However, that is also not true, even if the press release described it as the first original docu-soap. As a commenter pointed out, In 2007, TV Guide Network aired the docu-soap Making News, and followed it up in 2008 with Making News: Savannah Style. The press release announcing the renewal called it “TV Guide Network’s highest rated original series.”

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