‘The Hills’ Are Down; So MTV Will Get More Real

MTV is hoping to improve its harsh reality with even more reality.

Variety reports that the network’s ratings have taken a nosedive in the fourth quarter of this year—sliding 23 percent among its core demographic of 12-to-34-year-olds. In hopes of reconnecting with a younger audience, MTV is undergoing a major overhaul. The network plans to introduce 16 new unscripted series over the next four to five months.

The shows will come via a variety of high-profile producers, such as Sean Combs, Donald Trump, Nick Lachey and South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Anyone hoping for the bare-knuckles drama that’s marked programs such as The Hills may be in for a disappointment.

“Our new shows will feature themes of affirmation and accomplishment,” says MTV Networks’ vice president of entertainment, Brian Graden. “Our shows are going to focus less on loud and silly hooks and more on young people proving themselves. These are themes that are consistent with the [Barack] Obama generation.”

Perhaps this tilt toward positivity is the reason for Hills rivals Audrina Patridge and Lauren Conrad’s recent reconciliation? Though still popular—enough, in fact, to spawn a spin-off, The City—the series’ ratings plunged 26 percent among viewers 12 to 34 in the fourth quarter of 2008 as compared to the same time last year.

Among the new offerings is College Life, which follows freshmen at the University of Wisconsin as they document their lives with camcorders.

The Lachey-produced series, which has yet to be titled, will focus on students at Cincinnati’s School for Creative & Performing Arts.

The Donald’s offering, Girls of Hedsor Hall, debuts in January and will follow a dozen hard-partying young women as they adjust to life at an English finishing school.

Sounds like entertainment! Still, it couldn’t hurt if they, maybe, play a music video once in a while?