Testosterone Hike at Spike

Apr 3, 2006  •  Post A Comment

Coming off the success of its sports-driven comic reality series “Pros vs. Joes,” Spike TV is set to announce a new Thursday night unscripted block featuring more male-bonding antics.

The shows are part of a strategy by network President Doug Herzog to debut at least one new reality show per quarter. They arrive after three years of network efforts to strike the right tone for its reality fare.

The new programming includes two series and four specials. “Raising the Roofs” is a six-episode series starring actor Michael Roof (“The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Black Hawk Down”) and his prank-pulling, small-town Florida family. The show chronicles the red state/blue state culture clash as Mr. Roof’s family moves to Hollywood, where their celebrity son lives. Jay Blumenfield and Anthony Marsh (“America Undercover: Smalltown Ecstasy,” “The Road to Stardom With Missy Elliott”) will serve as executive producers.

“Never in my life have I seen such larger-than-life characters that are more intrinsically male,” said Sharon Levy, senior VP of alternative programming for Spike TV. “They are … unapologetic guys, and the concept of bringing these beer-guzzling, mullet-wearing men to Hollywood-I knew it would be right for comedy.”

Also on tap is a European acquisition, “The Dudesons,” an extreme stunt comedy starring a quartet of Finnish friends living in the desolate Arctic Circle. “The Dudesons” has been a hit comedy on Finnish TV for four years. Rabbit Films will provide eight episodes.

“These are four childhood friends and their friendship is so obvious, they have a great ‘Entourage’ vibe, albeit much more screwed up,” Ms. Levy said. “They get tremendous joy out of pushing each other and doing stunts.”

The series will run as a “Spike TV Family Hour” starting Thursday, July 6.

This summer will be the first major test of Mr. Herzog’s programming strategy for the network since Spike was added to his oversight last year. Previous Spike reality efforts included “The Joe Schmo Show,” which exploded from the gate but failed to repeat its success in a subsequent season, and the Al Sharpton series “I Hate My Job.”

The network found its reality footing last year with the extreme fighting series “Ultimate Fighter,” for which Spike recently ordered three more seasons. “Pros vs. Joes” debuted in January to 1.7 million viewers and has since fallen to 1.1 million, though it retained a 75 percent male skew and a median age of 31.

After the new series debuts, Spike will follow up this fall with the premieres of four specials:

  • “Beyond the Badge,” a four-hour “mini-reality series” and potential backdoor pilot that chronicles the lives of Boston police officers. Produced by Spike TV.

  • ”Sports Fan,” a feature-length documentary film about hardcore Minnesota Vikings fans produced by Jon Stewart’s Busboy Productions and directed by “Journeys With George” filmmaker Aaron Lubarsky.

  • “Metal of Honor,” a feature-length documentary about the ironworkers of 9/11 who assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts. Produced by independent documentarian Rachel Maguire.

  • “CYA,” a one-hour special on the California Youth Authority juvenile rehabilitation facility, produced by Snoop Dogg and documentarian Jonathan Stack (“The Farm”).

    The next few months will see a flurry of new shows and branding activity for the channel. Spike has recently unveiled a new on-air logo, and will soon replace the tag line “The First Network for Men” with “Get More Action.”

    “The Shield” debuted two weeks ago as a second-run series, a property Spike purchased from FX. The long-awaited “Blade: The Series” will debut in June, followed by the reality block.

    A marketing push is planned to support the efforts, but details are not yet available.