The Real Housewives of Orange CountyNBC Universal’s efforts to utilize iTunes as a first-run marketing tool continues apace. This time, they’re offering Bravo’s new seven-episode miniseries, The Real Housewives of Orange County (a more derivative show title, I have yet to see) in iTunes. Best of all, not only is this another iTunes premiere (the show will first air tonight at 10/9C), but it’s also being made available for free.

So for those of you who enjoy reality soap operas or those who enjoy free downloads or both, this is another one for you.


Knight SchoolIs it safe to say yet that the idea of new content Tuesday is dead?

Just added to iTunes is ESPN’s latest reality series, Knight School, which follows several players trying out for one walk-on spot on legendary college basketball coach Bobby Knight’s Texas Tech Red Raiders. The show’s first two episodes are available for download right now. Good to see that ESPN is continuing to add some of their programming to the mix.

Also added, as first noticed by alert reader Bill Huff, is the premiere episode of Bravo’s Top Chef, which is being made available as a free download. NBC Universal continues their efforts to use iTunes as a two-way marketing tool to promote their programming. I’m still waiting for the first of the other networks to really catch on to the fact that their getting their butts kicked in that department.

It’s Tuesday and we all know what that means! Let’s get it started.

Academy Award Nominated Short FilmsFor the past week, the internet has been all a-flutter about today’s special event at Apple HQ. That event won’t be until later today, but one of the more popular speculations has been the possibility of Apple offering full-length feature films in iTunes. I haven’t been the most ardent supporter of this rumor (I don’t believe it’s a possibility until Apple releases new iPods), but many people believe this to be happening. However, at least for now, it turns out that we’re both right. The iPod isn’t ready for feature-length films AND Apple is adding movies to iTunes, but in the form of this year’s Academy Award nominated short films. That’s right, the five 30-minutes-or-less short films up for an Oscar this year are available for purchase in iTunes for $1.99. The films are being assembled and managed by Shorts International and are also distributed in theaters by Mark Cuban‘s Magnolia Pictures.

Inside the Actor's StudioAlso expected today was the arrival of Bravo’s Inside the Actor’s Studio and five episodes of this series are now available in iTunes. The episodes currently available feature Robert Redford, Angelina Jolie, Michael J. Fox, Martin Lawrence and a double-length episode with Dave Chapelle. All episodes, including the double-length Dave Chapelle episode, are just $1.99.

Top Chef Free TrailerBravo has also added a free trailer for a forthcoming series called Top Chef. This series will premiere on Bravo on March 15. It’s good to see networks trying to use iTunes to the fullest as a promotional tool for upcoming series. As they begin to see the value of iTunes in this regard, we will see more content from the same networks available for purchase.

Comedy Central Standup Additional Acts Just AddedFinally, Comedy Central has added more stand-up comedy to their lineup. Eight new stand-up acts are available for purchase from Brian Regan, Darrell Hammond, Maria Bamford, Carlos Mencia, Dat Phan, Frank Caliendo, Demetri Martin and Greg Giraldo. Lots of names in that list have been frequent requests (at least, if you believe the iTunes commenters) for their addition to iTunes. As you may recall, the popularity of stand-up comedy in iTunes has been a pleasant surprise for both Apple and Comedy Central and they apparently have been scrambling to make more comedy available for purchase.

And that’s it for this morning. Stay tuned to see what today’s Apple event has in store for us (if anything).

Project RunwayThe Heidi Klum-hosted Project Runway briefly appeared in iTunes this afternoon. The reality television show from NBC Universal’s Bravo network would be the first for that network. No episodes were made available for download, so it appears that this is a mistake on Apple’s part and someone jumped the gun in posting it live into iTunes. (UPDATE: This is now fixed.) It also appears that whomever is working on this particular one is having difficulty doing it correctly because it keeps appearing and disappearing in iTunes.

And a screenshot for proof:

Project Runway Screenshot

UPDATE: Must not have been a complete goof, because this is now fixed and live, complete with one episode and a free trailer for you to download.