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E! Plans Summer Expansion of Programming

Television: Cable channel to launch a weekly celebrity biography series, along with a reality-mystery show, game and talk show.


The E! Entertainment Television channel will add an extensive slate of regular series and specials starting this summer in its move to become a cable network that will be composed almost entirely of original programming.

Among the series E! will launch are a weekly one-hour celebrity biography and a program examining real-life mysteries surrounding movie and television stars. Daily series being planned include a game show and a talk show.

E! executives attributed the move to more original programming to increased resources resulting from the recent teaming of Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp. to purchase the majority stake in the 7-year-old network.

"By the fall, we'll be 91% original programming," said Lee Masters, E! president. "We're putting a lot of resources into this."

The network currently airs about 70% original programming, including "Talk Soup, "The Gossip Show" and a version of Howard Stern's nationally syndicated radio show. Those series will continue, while most of the network's non-original programming, such as repeats of "Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous," "Melrose Place" and "One Day at a Time," will be phased out, officials said.

Masters said the keystone of the new programming would be the expansion of E!'s daily newscast from a half-hour to an hour starting June 30. The news production staff also will be doubled to provide more and longer stories.

"Celebrity Bio" will premiere at an unspecified date this summer and will feature profiles of various celebrities. "Mysteries & Scandals" will premiere in the fall and will "expose the intriguing stories behind many of Hollywood's legendary figures."

The network also plans to expand its live coverage of award shows and film premieres.

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