5:17pm PT by James Hibberd
History plans 'Ice Road Truckers' spinoff, more
Building on three years of ratings growth, History has orderedseveral reality shows, including a spinoff of Thom Beers' top-rated"Ice Road Truckers."
Under the leadership of president and GM Nancy Dubuc, Historyrecently launched its 10 highest-rated series to date. She plans tocontinue the network's strategy of developing informative realityshows and headline-drawing event specials.
For next summer, Dubuc plans to introduce Beers' "ExtremeTrucking," which takes the North American-based "Ice Road Truckers"format to locations worldwide where truckers navigate hazardoushighways.
"There's an endless supply of dangerous roads, and they're inplaces where they're highly unregulated," she said.
History has given a green light to "American Pickers" (workingtitle), planned as a companion series to its series "Pawn Stars,which set a year-to-date original-series record for the networkSunday night with 2.9 million viewers.
"Pickers" explores the world of antique and collectable hunters whotravel the U.S. hunting rare artifacts. Ten episodes of the series-- produced by Cineflix, with David McKillop and Susan Werbeexecutive producing -- have been ordered for a January debut.
"It's a really funny show that follows two friends who have knowneach other since the eighth grade (as) they look for lost nationaltreasures," Dubuc said.
Also coming to the network is "Madhouse." Previously announced asin development, the reality series revolves around rivalries at aNorth Carolina NASCAR track, where local families race to continuea 61-year feuding tradition. The show is produced by TriageEntertainment, with Stephen Kroopnick, Stu Schreiberg, Jym Buss,Grant Kahler, Aengus James, Tim Tracy, David McKillop and CarlLindahl executive producing; 13 episodes have been ordered, and afirst-quarter premiere is planned.
Another series on deck is "Sliced" -- from Powderhouse Prods.,executive produced by McKillop and Julian Hobbs -- on which objectsare cut in half to reveal their inner workings, produced by Historyand Powderhouse; and "9/12: The Day After" (working title),produced by New Animal Prods. with McKillop and Werbe executiveproducing. The special follows up the channel's Emmy-winning "102Minutes That Changed America" documentary about 9/11 with a look atthe day after the attacks.
The shows follow up on the network's expansion into more realityprogramming, which has helped reduce the channel's median age byfour years (to 48) and has it nearly cracking the top 10 amongbasic cablers in the adult demographic. Year to date, History isaveraging 1.2 million viewers in primetime.
"We've set a very clear course for what we want to do here, andwe've done it so quickly we're almost on our second generation ofsuccess," Dubuc said.
Since arriving in 2007, Dubuc has helped transform History from achannel best known for historical docs to a more contemporary brandthanks to such shows as "Ice Road Truckers," "Ax Men," "TheUniverse" and "Life After People."
In the coming months, however, the network will re-embrace itsroots with a trio of prestigious historical titles: the miniseries"World War II in HD"; the celebrity filled oral-history miniseries"The People Speak"; and next year's 12-part series "America: TheStory of Us," billed as the network's biggest-everproduction.
Although Dubuc will stay the course next year, she said she'scommitted to continue finding new ideas and not lean too heavily onrecent success.
"You can never rest on what you did yesterday; it's old," she said."You need to keep on the track; this race has no finish line."