TCA: Bravo continues to expand original programming slate

Hosting its panels today at the Television Critics Association (TCA) 2012 Winter Press Tour, Bravo announced that in the wake of finishing its sixth consecutive best year ever across all platforms, it will again be increasing its commitment to original programming — upping its output this year by 25 percent with new and returning series (marking a 100 percent increase since 2008).

On hand were three panels — one new series (with a returning, familar face) and two returning shows. The first panel was for the new series Interior Therapy With Jeff Lewis, which premieres March 14 at 9pm ET/PT. In this show, former house-flipper Lewis takes on a new role as a home therapist, helping people redesign their homes. Lewis, who was joined onstage by his assistant Jenni Pulos, admitted he had to make a switch after the bottom dropped out of the real-estate market. Although, he did also say that he might get back into home-flipping again later this year, and he didn’t think he’d be saying that again so soon. Jeff and Jenni had their usual banter going on, and if you enjoyed their interplay on Flipping Out you should also like this one.

Next up was Real Housewife Bethenny Frankel, whose series Bethenny Ever After debuts its third season Feb. 20 at 9pm ET/PT. In the preview clip we were shown, we heard Bethenny complaining about the “cobwebs” on her husband’s penis, and how people are “busting my balls, or should I say my ovaries” to have another baby. So there’s all that to look forward to.

Regarding some of the conflict seen between the couple in the clips, Bethenny said, “I just turned 41, and to be perfectly honest, I unintentionally crammed everything in. I got pregnant. I got married eight-and-a-half, eight months pregnant, and now I sold my business or part of my business, and now we’re just settling into what married life really is without the excitement of a wedding and the baby. And we come from totally different backgrounds, and we’re going through it. I’m in therapy. I’ve always been good at business, but I’ve always struggled with relationships based on my background, and we kind of get into that this season.”

Finally, after Bravo handed out champagne and mimosas, Andy Cohen of Watch What Happens Live presented his show’s panel, and the big news on this front is that WWHL will now be airing five nights a week, Sunday-Thursday, starting tomorrow, Jan. 8, when it returns for Season 6 at 11pm ET/PT. Sandra Bernhard will be joining the show as a regular correspondent beginning Jan. 9 once a week to deliver “Sandrology,” an uncensored rant about recent events in pop culture. And, on Jan. 19, Cohen has somehow gotten Oscar-winning actors Ralph Fiennes and  Holly Hunter to participate in the show’s first-ever Pajama Party.

In other Bravo news:

* One of the network’s most popular personalities, comedian Kathy Griffin, has not only been confirmed to appear in two new one-hour standup specials this year, but she will also be hosting a one-hour weekly talk show called Kathy starting in the spring.

* Inside the Actor’s Studio returns Jan. 31 at 8pm ET/PT with George Clooney, and later this year the show will host the cast and creators of Glee.

* Culinary experts Curtis Stone and Cat Cora have been confirmed to host Around the World in 80 Plates, which follows 12 chefs competing in a culinary race across 10 countries in 44 days. The series premieres in May, and is being touted by Bravo as its most ambitious production to date.

* The Million Dollar Listing franchise expands when Million Dollar Listing New York premieres in March. Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles will be back for Season 5 this year.

* Bravo will be launching another “matchmaker” show. Love Broker, debuting in March, follows Lori Zaslow as she helps Manhattanites find soulmates.

* Also debuting in March is the series Shahs of Sunset, about a group of young Persian-American friends living in Los Angeles.

* In spring, the series Don’t Be Tardy for the Wedding  will follow Real Housewife of Atlanta Kim Zolciak’s wedding to Atlanta Falcons player Kroy Biermann.

Other returning series this year: Tabatha Takes Over (Jan. 10); Pregnant in Heels (Spring); The Millionaire Matchmaker (no date yet)

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Photos: © NBC Universal, Inc. Credit: Chris Haston/Bravo

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