'The Royals,' a scripted series, is finally slated to arrive ... next year. Credit: E!
TV Upfront

Reality TV Powers Find Scripted Ambitions a Long Time Coming

E! Said in 2012 That Scripted Fare Would Arrive in 2013

By Published on .

For some reality-heavy cable entertainment networks the move to scripted programming is proving to be a long road.

NBC Universal's E! Network will be looking to sell its first scripted series, "The Royals," to advertisers in this year's upfront.

This will be the third year in a row, however, that E! will tell advertisers that scripted projects are coming. None of the previously mentioned series have yet made it to air, and the network lineup remains saturated with reality and talk fare such as "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," "Giuliana & Bill" and "Fashion Police."

The network originally said at its 2012 upfront that it would make its first foray into scripted programming in 2013, with at least two scripted projects. But those -- one based on "The Wizard of Oz" and a cop procedural -- never panned out.

In 2013, the network told advertisers it planned to introduce its first scripted series by 2014 and unveiled a slate of projects in development. One of those, "The Royals," will finally see the light of day – although not until 2015. E! said earlier this month that it had greenlit the one-hour drama, which follows a fictional British Royal family in modern-day London.

Aside from "The Royals," E! is also developing a pilot for "Songbyrd," a scripted series that appeared on its development slate in 2013, and "Gucci," a mini-series about the son of the founder of Gucci and his longtime mistress.

Bravo, an E! sibling at NBC Universal, is also making slow progress breaking into scripted programming. Best known for its "Real Housewives" franchise, the cable network recently greenlit its first original scripted series, "Girlfriends' Guide to Divorce," for a 2015 premiere.

Like E!, Bravo first announced it would enter into the scripted arena in 2012, with plans to air its first series in 2013. That too got delayed when the network decided not to go ahead with "Rita."

But with both networks taking the plunge and greenlighting scripted series, 2015 could finally be the year we see these two networks join the likes of Discovery Channel, which ran a scripted miniseries called "Klondike" earlier this year. Even for channels that have had great success with reality and unscripted programming, which is cheaper to produce, scripted shows can offer a greater payoff in terms of potential syndicated runs down the road and sales on DVD or by download.

Of course, E! will continue to rely mostly on its unscripted fare. New upcoming series include the reality competition "Escape Club," plastic surgery docu-series "Botched" and the next iteration of the Kardashian franchise, "Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons."

The network has also picked up several specials, including a celebration of Ryan Seacrest's 10 years on the radio, a red carpet special for the iHeartRadio Music Awards (which will air on sibling network NBC in May) and "Men of the Strip," about a Las Vegas male revue show.

E! renewed "#RichKids of Beverly Hills" for a second season.

Shows in development include an iteration of "#RichKids" set in New York; "Love Live," a weekly live event where audiences at home play matchmaker in real time with real people's dates; "After Party," a 30-minute live daily show recapping the best of the past 24 hours in TV and pop culture news; and "Dash Dolls," which follows the girls entrusted to manage the Kardashian sisters' upscale boutiques.

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