Will the well-endowed MTV comedy 'The Hard Times of RJ Berger' be the new 'Hills'?
While the reality show “Jersey Shore” about proud, party-hopping Italian Americans raising havoc in South Jersey has proved to be a sleeper hit for MTV, the channel is making a big push to reinvent itself outside of its reality TV comfort zone in an attempt to reverse a years-long ratings downturn.
First up: “The Hard Times of RJ Berger,“ a scripted comedy about a boy with an, um, anatomical gift.
A cross between “The Wonder Years” and the R-rated comedy “Superbad,” "Hard Times" is a raunchy coming-of-age tale about a desperately unpopular teen who achieves notoriety among his high school peers when they discover that he’s got a rather large penis.
It’s an intentionally provocative move for the youth network, which in 2009 saw its 10 p.m. average -- MTV's peak viewing hour -- slide an additional 18% in ratings among the channel's core 12-34-year-old demographic versus its 2008 tally.
“It’s important to have a ratings hit, but I think at MTV, we really need people to also be talking about us in pop culture," said MTV head of programming Tony DiSanto.
Read the full story to find out why MTV executives are getting excited about "Hard Times," and why it very well may be their next big hit.
-- Denise Martin
Photo: Actor Paul Iacono plays the title character in MTV's "The Hard Times of RJ Berger," which is scheduled to air in the summer. Credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times