Spike will be transformed into the Paramount Network — Viacom’s general entertainment network and leading scripted brand — in early 2018. The rebranded entity will kick off with two comedies: the half-hour American Woman, starring Alicia Silverstone and inspired by Kyle Richards, and the hourlong Heathers reboot, featuring original star Shannen Doherty. Both were originally developed, piloted and picked up to series at sibling TV Land, which in the recent Viacom restructuring was designated as a “reinforcing brand” alongside flagship Paramount Network.
Additionally, Paramount Network’s inaugural slate will include the Waco limited series starring Michael Shannon, and I Am Martin Luther King Jr., the latest installment in Spike’s “I Am” series from filmmaker Derik Murray. It follows his I Am Chris Farley, I Am JFK Jr. and I Am Heath Ledger, airing in May.
Development-wise, the First Wives Club series remake, which went to pilot at TV Land that wasn’t picked up to series, will be redeveloped for the Paramount Network.
On the unscripted side, Spike’s breakout Lip Sync Battle has been renewed for an 18-episode fourth season ahead of its April 20 third-season debut. Season 4 will launch on the Paramount Network in January 2018 with a special star-studded live episode from the Paramount lot.
Other Spike unscripted series that will make the move, premiering new seasons in the first quarter of 2018, include Ink Master, Bar Rescue, and Bellator MMA.
“Our mission is to establish Paramount Network as a prime destination for premium storytelling,” said Kevin Kay, president of Paramount Network, TV Land, and CMT. “From Alicia Silverstone as a trailblazing independent working mother in the 1970s to Michael Shannon as an FBI negotiator during the Branch Davidians’ dramatic standoff and siege, Paramount Network will be the home to compelling stories, unforgettable characters, and high-quality production with a distinctive global appeal.”
As for Lip Sync Battle, Kay called it “a cornerstone franchise for the rebranded Paramount Network.”
For more on Kay’s programming strategy for the Paramount Network and the future of CMT’s country music drama Nashville, read my interview with him.
Here is more information on the series from Paramount Network’s launch lineup the first quarter of 2018:
Starring Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari, this new half-hour series is inspired by the real-life upbringing of co-executive producer Kyle Richards (“The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”). “American Woman” follows Bonnie (Silverstone) an unconventional mother struggling to raise her two daughters after leaving her husband amid the rise of second-wave feminism in the 70s. With the help of her two best friends, Kathleen (Suvari) and Diana (Jennifer Bartels), these three women each discover their own brand of independence in a glamorous and ever-changing world reluctant to give it.
The six-part event series “Waco” will reveal untold story exploring the true life details leading up to and chronicling the 51- day siege between the FBI, AFT and David Koresh’s spiritual sect, The Branch Davidians. Told from several perspectives of those most intimately involved from both sides of the conflict, including surviving Branch Davidians which has never been shared on television before, is surprising in its stark contrast to the media narrative at the time and what is remembered of Waco almost 25 years later. The impressive cast includes Michael Shannon starring as lead FBI negotiator, Gary Noesner with the role of the infamous cult leader, David Koresh, to be played by Taylor Kitsch. John Leguizamo, Paul Sparks, Rory Culkin and Andrea Riseborough round out the “Waco” cast.
Based on the 1988 cult classic film of the same name, “Heathers” is an hour-long pitch-black comedy anthology set in the present day, as heroine Veronica Sawyer (Grace Victoria Cox, “Under the Dome”) deals with a very different but equally vicious group of ‘Heathers.’ Also starring are James Scully as JD, Melanie Field (“Wicked” National Tour) as Heather Chandler, Brendan Scannell (“Funny or Die”) as Heather Duke, and Jasmine Mathews as Heather McNamara. Original “Heathers” cast member Shannen Doherty will guest star as a pivotal, unnamed character as well.
I AM MARTIN LUTHER KING JR
The latest installment in the critically-acclaimed “I Am” series from filmmaker Derik Murray focuses on the legendary American icon, Martin Luther King Jr. Celebrating the life and achievements of our country’s foremost civil rights leader, the two-hour documentary gives an insightful contemporary perspective of Dr. King structured around seminal events of the Civil Rights movement.
LIP SYNC BATTLE
The worldwide hit franchise, “Lip Sync Battle” returns for a fourth season, hosted by LL COOL J and Chrissy Teigen. Based on the pop culture phenomenon of lip sync battling, the series features celebrities going head to head – lip-syncing the song of their choice – battling for the coveted “winner’s belt.” “Lip Sync Battle” is executive produced by Casey Patterson of Casey Patterson Entertainment, Jay Peterson of Matador Content, John Krasinski, Stephen Merchant and 8 Million Plus Productions.