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MTV maps its future after 'Buckwild'

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MTV made the right decision in canceling Buckwild after the accidental death of its popular star Shain Gandee on April 1. Unfortunately, though, the buzzworthy Buckwild was the network’s first viable successor to its onetime megahit Jersey Shore, which went off the air in December. Teen Wolf, Catfish: The TV Show, and Snooki & JWoww have only been moderate successes for MTV, and other than its highest-rated show, Teen Mom 2 — which wrapped season 4 on April 29 and has not yet been renewed — nothing on the young-skewing network has come close to approaching the ratings and zeitgeist-grabbing power that Jersey Shore wielded in its heyday. MTV president of programming Susanne Daniels, who joined the network last November, is still shaken by the events surrounding Buckwild. ”I didn’t have the chance to meet them, but all reports said they were special kids with unique friendships,” she says. ”It was tragic on multiple levels.”

Before taking charge of MTV, Daniels built a reputation developing Army Wives for Lifetime and Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the now-defunct WB network, and she’s hopeful that two new female-centric reality shows will help reenergize MTV’s schedule. Docuseries Generation Cryo follows a 17-year-old girl who learns that she was conceived via a sperm donor and decides to seek out her 15 half siblings, while Nurse Nation chronicles the lives of nine hard-partying traveling nurses who are assigned to work at a new hospital for 13 weeks. Since dating shows have yet to run their course, Daniels is also developing a daily series called The Hook Up that’ll help the lovelorn choose from four potential matches based on their social-media history. (All three of these shows are still awaiting debut dates.) In the meantime, Daniels has high hopes for The Show With Vinny, a hybrid talk show that bowed May 2 featuring Jersey Shore‘s Vinny Guadagnino and his colorful family interviewing MTV-friendly celebrities. Explains Guadagnino, ”They come to my house where I grew up, they have an authentic Italian meal with my family, who doesn’t give a crap who they are.”

Though none of MTV’s scripted shows have become major hits, the network is still prioritizing the non-reality genre. In addition to ordering longer seasons of Awkward (Tuesdays, 10 p.m.) and Teen Wolf (returning June 3), MTV is teaming with Wes Craven and Dimension Films to adapt Scream as a series for summer 2014. ”It will be scary and there will be a body count!” promises Daniels. Overall, the exec feels cautiously optimistic about MTV’s future, though she knows it’ll take more than one Shore-size hit to rock the network’s world. ”When I got to Lifetime, I thought to myself, ‘I just need one show to bring us alive again, just like The Closer did for TNT,”’ says Daniels. ”I thought that was true at the time. But now I’m thinking that’s not true anymore. The lines between cable and broadcast have been blurred. Now the audience is expecting more.”

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