Plus: A green light for 'Wonderland,' MTV's first live music performance series in nearly 20 years
Bust out the acoustic guitars: MTV Unplugged is coming back.
The network announced the music series’ revival ahead of upfronts on Thursday. “The series presented artists in different yet complementary lights showcasing musicianship and songcraft,” MTV said in a statement. “Through its distinctive format, MTV Unplugged manages the miraculous feat of reaching beyond core fans to connect contemporary artists to heritage audiences and heritage artists to younger audiences in equal measures.”
Unplugged hosted a bevy of marquee performances during its heyday in the 1990s, including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Eric Clapton, Lauryn Hill, Bob Dylan, and more. Installments were produced as recently as November (English rockers Placebo), but at an infrequent pace. In addition to honoring what made the original series great, the new version of Unplugged will rest “the show in the multi-platform video world of today.”
In other music programming news, MTV announced Wonderland (working title). The network’s first live music performance series in nearly 20 years, Wonderland is set in a Los Angeles artistic space that puts musicians and comedians together. Co-developed with fellow Viacom network Comedy Central, Wonderland will be a “multi-streamed viewing experience” that has its weekly, hour-long episodes centered on musical performances, complemented by the artists’ unqiue view on pop culture.
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Here are the other series and specials announced by MTV on Thursday, per a network release:
“An outrageous comedy series in which the most irreverent established and up-and-coming comedians of today have their best stand-up routines acted out. We’ll see hilarious reenactments of the best bits, bringing new life to your favorite moments from stand up history. Produced by A Smith & Co. Productions (Hell’s Kitchen, American Ninja Warrior).”
The Almost Impossible Game Show
“A hilarious half-hour comedic game show in which contestants complete physical challenges ranging from the absurd to the outlandish to beat the game and win cash prizes. Riding tiny bikes over a mud pit, putting on oversized pants while running full-speed on a giant treadmill and grating a heaping block of cheese onto a plate of nachos by using a grater attached to their derrières are just a few of the outrageous challenges the contestants will face. The Almost Impossible Game Show is based on a popular U.K. format by the same name, produced by Endemol Shine U.K. company Initial for ITV2.
“MTV is producing with Endemol Shine. Executive producers include Rob Smith and Georgie Hurford-Jones for Endemol Shine North America; Matt Odgers and Scott Teti for Left Hook Media.”
Going Off (working title)
“In dance capital North Hollywood, Choreographer Tricia Miranda (Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, Gwen Stefani, Demi Lovato, Iggy Azalea) holds a master class where the best young dancers in the world come to see how they stack up against the rest. In every episode, one winner will be crowned and win a high stakes opportunity to book a professional job and take the next step on their path to greatness. Dave Sirulnick is executive producer for Radical Media. Directed by Austin Peters for Radical Media.”
Loosely Exactly Nicole
“Nicole Byer is living the Hollywood dream. Well, Hollywood adjacent — the deep valley to be precise and it’s not so much a dream but a struggle. In this hilarious half-hour comedy, we’ll watch as Nicole, exuding her special brand of confidence and irreverence, demonstrates the hilarious missteps of what it means to be out on your own for the first time. She’ll deal with humiliating auditions, unpaid electric bills, friendship ups and downs, and the battlefield that is Tinder as she slowly but surely finds her voice as a comedian. Christine Zander is showrunner/executive producer. Avi Gilbert (3 Arts) and Christian Lander are executive producers.”
Mary + Jane
“Paige and Jordan may be weed dealers, but in their eyes they are entrepreneurs. Their dope delivery app is quickly gaining popularity with foodies, celebrities and — the most particular and crucial consumer — hipsters. This half-hour comedy takes a hilarious look at two girls living in L.A.: desperate to succeed, find a little romance, and keep their clients happy and high — all with the least amount of effort possible. Deborah Kaplan and Harry Elfont (Can’t Hardly Wait) serve as executive producers. Entertainment 360 (Game of Thrones) is executive producer.”
MTV’s The Investigation (working title)
“Love, lust, murder, mystery, suspense … all the makings of a great dramatic story. The catch? It’s not a fictional story. It’s real life. This serialized documentary series follows the journey of alleged wrongfully convicted prisoners fighting for their freedom. We will navigate these cases in an effort to uncover the truth with the highest possible stakes — the lives and freedom of innocent people locked up for life, and the duty to honor the lives of those lost. This series takes an in-depth look into three criminal cases through the unique POV of Ryan Ferguson, who at 19 years old was convicted of a murder he didn’t commit. MTV is producing with Embassy Row. Michael Davies, Debbie DeMontreux, Stacey Altman and Andrew Jenks are executive producers.”
The Outsiders (working title)
“Across America lie people with very different lives and perspectives on the world. In this compelling and distinctive series, we go beyond front doors and shocking headlines. This close ended docuseries will follow eight different families who have very polarizing beliefs, from white supremacists to devil worshipers. MTV is producing with Barcroft Media.”
Shinesty (working title)
“Shinesty is a comedic doc series about the young entrepreneurs behind Shinesty, an apparel company in Boulder, Colorado, that did $5 million in sales last year. Shinesty makes “outrageous clothing for life and general ridiculousness.” The Shinesty team lives a wild, zero-f—s-given lifestyle that is every bit as over-the-top as the apparel they create, and this show will take us inside the world of a millennial business doing things 100 percent their own way. MTV is producing with Critical Content.”
Stranded with a Million Bucks
“Ten cast members are stranded on an island with nothing but the clothes on their back and a million dollars in cash! Those who survive for 40 days will split that money as their prize. The catch? They can buy any supplies they want, but everything is crazy expensive — and comes out of their prize money. Tollbooth TV is producing. Kevin Lee is executive producer.”
“A dark one-hour dramedy about two very unlikely friends taking justice into their own hands and kicking literal ass on their college campus. Jules comes off as the perfect sorority dream girl, but little do her red-cup-toting sisters know, she’s got a completely different agenda come nightfall. Ophelia, your everyday stoner-hacker-hellion, has officially run out of effs to give, and when she discovers Jules may be the masked vigilante exacting justice on campus her interest in college life is re-energized. Amanda Lasher (Gossip Girl) serves as Showrunner. Stacey Sher (The Hateful Eight, Into the Badlands) is executive producer and Jennifer Robinson is creator and co-executive producer.”
Mark Burnett Music Competition
“Welcome to the recording studio, where talent is transformed and legends are discovered. At the intersection of music and business, this show gives hip-hop’s freshest talent a chance at every musician’s dream: getting signed. Mark Burnett, the Executive Producer of Shark Tank and The Voice, brings us the best of both worlds, with undiscovered artists performing in front of music’s biggest moguls, each eager to sign the next breakout star. But forget the shiny floor stage — it’s all happening in the recording studio in the first of its kind, organic music competition series that breaks all the rules. The yet-untitled series from executive producer Mark Burnett will be executive produced by Burnett and MGM Television with MGM also serving as international distributor.”