EXCLUSIVE: After a year break from scripted programming, following the end of comedy Blue Mountain State, Spike TV is returning to the arena with a new approach — betting on special-event series. The cable network’s scripted development slate includes five event series, including behind-the-scenes account of the 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, whose aftermath still echoes in Washington. The projects hail from such auspices as Tom Fontana, Chris Collins, Leslie Greif, Rock God & Gene Simmons, Bobby Moresco, Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels, Craig Piligian and Dimitri Doganis & Bart Layton. “We’re concentrated on launching one or more special event series that we see as a great way to get to hour dramatic series,” said Spike TV’s EVP Original Series Sharon Levy, who oversees the network’s scripted development. Each project features Spike’s mission to thrill, inspire, and entertain as we’re broadening and expanding our brand.”
This marks Spike TV’s return to its scripted roots — the network’s last foray into scripted was with the 2007 event series The Kill Point. While the focus is for all five projects to be true events that “everyone wants to watch when it happens and that have a zeitgeist element to them,” some could live on beyond the original run, Levy said. For instance, Hit Men, a drama from Greif and Simmons about the mob’s takeover of the 1970s music industry, could continue as a series, while iHuman, about the intersection of technology and humanity and how their relationship evolves, could become an umbrella of films tackling the subject. Here are details about Spike TV’s scripted projects in development:
From Leslie Greif (“Hatfields & McCoy’s”), Chris Collins (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Rock God and multi-hyphenate Gene Simmons (KISS), comes “Hit Men,” a thrilling look into the untold story of how the mafia took control of the music industry of the 1970’s. From rising artists to radio stations to record labels, the impact organized crime had on all facets of the music business in this era was all-consuming and changed the music world forever. The event series will be produced by Thinkfactory Media.
WHITEY BULGER PROJECT
Written by Academy Award-winning writer, Bobby Moresco (“Crash”) and produced by Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels of Asylum Entertainment (“The Kennedys”), this movie event chronicles the raw and unfiltered rise and fall of Whitey Bulger, one of America’s most notorious criminals. This four-hour epic delves deep into the life of Boston’s most infamous organized crime leader, who ruled New England’s criminal underworld with an iron fist for decades. Bulger’s larger-than-life story takes us from his days as a low-level street thug to FBI informant, to mob boss bent on undermining the competition, to the FBI’s most wanted list, and fugitive on the lam for sixteen years
In the 1970’s, the United States military set up some very unorthodox and secretive departments to research a wide range of areas from telekinesis to ambient noise to body language. Among these included the Research and Acquisitions Department, designed to covertly find and acquire all artifacts mentioned in religious and mythological texts to determine if any of them truly claimed magical powers. The search came up empty until they came across the legendary Aladdin’s Lamp. The project comes to Spike from the Levinson / Fontana Company with Brant Englestein (“Borgia”) as writer.
UNTITLED BENGHAZI PROJECT
This project lifts the curtain on the untold behind-the-scenes story of the 2012 terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. Based on declassified documents and testimonials from those who were on the ground, this miniseries will shed light on the actual events surrounding the tragic deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and the heroic actions of CIA operatives that saved dozen of American lives. The untitled Benghazi project comes to Spike from Pilgrim Studios and Emmy Award®-winner Craig Piligian (“Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy,” “The Ultimate Fighter”) who is executive-producing, along with Pilgrim Studios’ Beth Miller.
The stories of how technological innovation is transforming the human condition will be at the center of a series of films from Raw TV, the BAFTA-Award winning team behind the critically-acclaimed film, “The Imposter.” As technology becomes such an integral part of our lives and our most personal information becomes captured in a “cloud,” how does this affect human interaction? From the comfort of a laptop, we are now able to do everything from cheating on our spouses, to sending SWAT teams to celebrities’ homes, to bringing about revolution or crashing financial markets. The connections in the digital age are actually resulting in a disconnection from humanity and this film series will explore this in a way never before seen on television. Raw TV’s credits also include “Gold Rush,” “Locked Up Abroad,” and “Paranormal Witness.”