Troma Leaps Into Live-Action TV

Oct 10, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Troma Entertainment, independent producer of hundreds of underground cult films such as “The Toxic Avenger” and “Class of Nuke ‘Em High,” is exploring live-action television production for the first time in its 31-year history.

The company has signed a deal with Stone Entertainment to develop two series that are currently being shopped to cable networks.

“With so many of the new cable channels targeting men 15 to 34, this company is in the sweet spot,” said Michael Frederick, VP of development at Stone. “What guy doesn’t like smart gross-out horror-comedy with hot chicks?”

Troma’s first planned TV project is “TromaZone,” a reality series described as “the anti-‘Project Greenlight,'” where Troma fans make their own short films.

“Troma’s all about having fun and doing stuff outside the studio system,” Mr. Frederick said. “On ‘Project Greenlight,’ at the end of the day you still have to answer to the studio people. We’re going to let a group of friends do a short movie, Troma-style, and at the end America gets to vote on which show gets made into a full-length DVD.”

The second project is “Tweaked,” a half-hour program stripping movies from the Troma library and giving them new voice-over tracks by a team of comedy writers, a la Spike TV’s “Most Extreme Elimination Challenge.”

Since 1974 Troma has guarded its independent status, pioneering the philosophy that anybody with a few friends and a camera can make a film. Early adopters include Comedy Central’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone, who made “Cannibal! The Musical” with Troma a year before gaining Hollywood recognition with “South Park.”

Aside from the two new TV concepts, Troma’s only television effort was “The Toxic Crusaders,” a 1991 animated program on Fox.

Asked why Troma is getting into television after years of indie filmmaking, founder and President Lloyd Kaufman replied, “Money.”

“It would be perfect if I get lots of money, don’t have to do anything and I get all the credit,” Mr. Kaufman said. “I know nothing about television and I will not be my usual unpleasant self, unlike for my movies, [over] which I have total control.”

As for Troma’s longtime fans, Mr. Kaufman said he isn’t worried about accusations of selling out.

“I think our fans want to us to spread the Troma,” he said. “This has been discussed quite a bit. If the show’s going to work it has to have the real Troma spirit. It will help reach more people who like jalapeno peppers on their cultural pizza.”