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KSL goes for quirky with 'We Are Utah'

Published September 19, 2011 7:02 pm

Television • Channel 5's replacement for "The Playboy Club" has a sense of humor.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

After passing on NBC's "The Playboy Club," KSL is instead filling the one-hour hole in its Monday-night schedule with the more quirky, locally produced "We Are Utah."

Channel 5 is producing and airing "We Are Utah," which is a lot less stuffy than the title might suggest.

"We're departing a little bit from what we usually do," said Michelle Kettle Torsak, KSL's vice president of programming and producer of the new show. "We're going for the quirky, the interesting, the entertaining."

"We Are Utah" is designed as a lighthearted magazine, and one segment that's getting attention is a high-school competition that's part talent show, part stupid human tricks.

But the prize is serious: The winner will earn $10,000 for his or her school.

"We're having a lot of fun with this," said segment host Darin Adams. "We're looking for stuff that's outside the normal realm. If someone is a great piano player, we don't want them to not enter just because they can't squirt milk out their eye. But if they can play the piano in a more entertaining way, that would be even better."

Monday's premiere featured a barefoot water skier, "which is an interesting talent but you're never going to be able to see that in a high-school talent show," Adams said."

Other features on "We Are Utah" include:

• A food segment designed to prove "we're so much more than just green Jell-O and fry sauce," Torsak said.

• A segment about Utah-specific phenomena titled "How'd They Come Up With That?"

• A dating segment titled "Third Wheel." Segment host Bob Ahlander tags along with couples on their first dates.

• A feature that follows Utahns as they go to work at "unique" jobs.

• A man-on-the-street segment with Alex Kirry asking passers-by questions like, "What makes Utah drivers so bad?"

• "Bob and Jerry's Bucket List," featuring a couple of 60-something, lifelong friends from Ogden who will be going out and trying things for the first time. First up — calf roping.

"They're complete opposites, and they're absolutely hysterical," Torsak said.

It would have been cheaper and easier to fill the time slot with a syndicated program. "But we've invested a lot of resources and time and energy into making this a priority and trying something different," Torsak said.

This might not be a long-term priority, however. Should "The Playboy Club" get canceled, KSL will, in all likelihood, air whatever NBC replaces it with.

"The ['We Are Utah'] concept could go on much longer, if need be, but we're banking on about eight episodes," Torsak said. "We just have to wait and see."

KSL announced earlier this year that it would not carry "The Playboy Club" because it is "completely inconsistent" with station's brand.

That show will be seen Mondays at 9 p.m. on KUMY-Channel 2.2.







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