HLN developing late night talk show

hln-developing-late-night-talk-show
Chuey Martinez. (Travel Channel)
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Alex Weprin

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HLN is the latest cable channel looking to break into the increasingly crowded late night talk/variety show game.

The channel, which is in the middle of a rebranding, has shot a pilot for a talk show called “Weekly Mashup,” hosted by KIIS D.J. Chuey Martinez, according to a source familiar with the project.

“Weekly Mashup” would mirror other late night shows, with celebrity guests and musical acts, but it tweaks the format a bit with how it integrates social media. The idea is that people behind notable Twitter feeds, or people who post cool Vine, Instagram or YouTube videos, would appear as guests on the show as well.

“None of [the competitors] are planning what we are planning, which is that we are here for you, and we are going to put you on TV,” HLN chief Albie Hecht told Capital in February.

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“Weekly Mashup” sounds like it would be a textbook example of that strategy. As with any TV pilot, it may not move forward at the channel. HLN declined to comment for this article.

Late night has become arguably the hottest daypart on TV. Traditional late night talk shows like “The Tonight Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live” now have to compete with niche shows like “Watch What Happens Live,” “The Daily Show” and “Chelsea Lately,” whose future is in doubt after its host, Chelsea Handler, said she did not plan on renewing her contract with E! Then there are the after-shows, like AMC's “Talking Dead” or Discovery’s “Naked After Dark,” which use the traditional talk show format to appeal to hardcore fans of certain TV shows.

HLN sister channel CNN has pursued late night programming in the past, and is said to be looking at 11 p.m. as a possible new timeslot for original programming. Still, it appears as though HLN could beat it to the punch.

As it looks to rebrand as the “TV home for the social media generation,” CNN’s HLN channel is turning to some very traditional TV formats for inspiration. Some of those other formats include travel shows, docu-series and real estate shows, in addition to the previously announced slate of game shows, panel shows and cartoons.

The strategy seems to be two-fold: take existing formats that work, and add a social media twist, as with “Weekly Mashup,” or take news formats that work (like the panel show) and make it social media-centric, as with “Videocracy,” which it announced in February.

CNN Worldwide will be holding an upfront presentation in mid-April, pitching media buyers and the press its new slate of programming. HLN will be one of the channels presenting at the event, debuting its social media programming slate for buyers. 

Whether or not HLN announces a pickup for "Weekly Mashup," expect to see a lot more late night offerings during this year's upfront.