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Upfront and Personal: Travel Channel dives into summer programming

Withthe warm weather months approaching, Travel Channel (US) is preparing to take the plunge intothematic programming.

At apress breakfast preceding its March 29 late-afternoon upfront presentation,Kathleen Finch,Scripps Networks InteractiveInc. chief programming and brand officer, announced that TravelChannel will look to make a splash by grouping and promoting genre programmingunder the "Dive into Summer" banner.

Thenetwork's initial thematic gambit, spanning eight weeks, will showcase the bowsof such series as "7 Water Wonders," and "Top Secret SwimmingHoles." Travel Channel also hopes viewers will dive into "Island Explorers,"which follows adventurous hosts as they discover the best off-the-beaten pathspots in Hawaii and the Caribbean, among other exotic locales, and "Life'sa Beach," which presents the stories of real people who made the jump fromtaking annual vacation getaways to living the sandy lifestyle permanently.   

SNL Image

"Top Secret Swimming Holes"
Source: Travel Channel

TravelChannel — which has commissioned more than 400 original hours, including thepremieres of 16 returning series, and has 35 new series and pilots in thepipeline — recently became fully owned by Scripps via the of the remaining 35% stake heldby Cox Communications Inc.that the programmer did not already own

Inan interview after the presentation, Finch said that summer fare is"content our viewers really love," noting that in addition tospecials and new series, Travel Channel is "bringing our top series tobeach locations."

"Oursummertime programming works well, so we decided to do more of it, celebrateit, give it a name and look to make it a destination for our viewers," theexecutive said.

Finchalso told SNL Kagan that later this year the network will substitute bathingsuits for parkas, with a "Travel on Ice" theme.

"We'regoing to take a lot of shows to icy locations," she said. "'HotelImpossible' will visit an ice hotel, while Jack Maxwell and 'Booze Traveler'will find some places in the Arctic Circle. We want to have fun and go to theopposite extremes."

Meanwhile,Andrew Zimmern is not only returning for another season of "BizarreFoods" in which he will again challenge the standards of Western palates,but he will host a new entry "Andrew Zimmern's Driven by Food" inwhich the James Beard award-winning chef delivers a fresh perspective onculinary travel by sharing locals-only experiences.

"SecretEats with Adam Richman," premiering in July, will find the foodie crossingthe globe to uncover off-the-menu items in off-the-grid restaurants.

Thenetwork is also looking to raise its celebrity quotient and bring their fanbases into its tent. "The Best Place to Be" follows A-listers as theytake viewers on all-access trips to their favorite cities around the globe. Forinstance, Queen Latifah, who was slated to appear at Scripps' upfrontpresentation in New York, will take watchers on a tour of Brazil ahead of the2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"CelebrityAdventure Club" combines discovery and exploration, while sharing thepassions held by actors Jon Cryer (space exploration), Terry Crews (the rebirthof the Motor City) and Eric Stonestreet (World War II espionage) on subjectsclose to their hearts.

Newseasons of "Hotel Impossible," "Bert the Conqueror" and"Mysteries at the Museum," helmed by Anthony Melchiorri, BertKreischer and Don Wildman, respectively, are also on Travel's itinerary.