Spike TV — the network that brought the world "Bar Rescue" and "Ink Master," among other reality fare — is throwing itself into scripted projects, in an effort to expand its audience.
Spike announced a new slate of scripted fare on Monday, including a project about recently apprehended gangster Whitey Bulger and a series about corruption in the 1970s music industry from Kiss tongue-wagger Gene Simmons.
Sharon Levy, the network's executive vice president, original series, said that the new projects are part of Spike's plan to fine a "more balanced" audience. (The network has traditionally skewed toward male audiences."
“Our move into scripted special-event series is a major step in the evolution of the brand that now reaches a more balanced audience,” Levy said. “Each project features our development’s mission to thrill, inspire, and entertain the viewer. We also see this as a stepping stone to developing original scripted dramatic series.”
"Hit Men," from Simmons, Leslie Greif ("Hatfields & McCoys") and Chris Collins ("Sons of Anarchy") will delve into the mafia's infiltration of the music industry during the 1970s. The series is being produced by Thinkfactory Media.
"Whitey Bulger Project" (all of the titles for Spike's new scripted projects are working titles) will look at the rise and fall of notorious criminal Whitey Bulger, who led New England's organized crime network for decades before going on the lam. Bobby Moresco ("Crash") is writing, with Jonathan Koch and Steve Michaels of Asylum Entertainment producing.
"The Lamp," written by Brant Englestein ("Borgia") will look at the U.S. military's covert mission to find religious and mythological artifacts to determine whether they actually contained magical powers, a search that eventually leads to the discovery of Aladdin's Lamp. The Levinson/Fontana Company is producing.
The network is also working on a project about last year's terrorist attack on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, drawing from declassified documents and testimonial. Craig Piligian ("The Ultimate Fighter") is executive producing, along with Pilgrim Studios' Beth Miller.
Finally, "iHuman" will comprise a series of films from Raw TV that looks at how technological innovation is changing the human condition, exploring how connections to the digital age are leading to disconnections from humanity.