Spike TV Developing 5 Event Series in Push to Re-Enter Scripted Territory

Projects Tom Fontana, Craig Piligian and Gene Simmons are among the cable network's limited series development slate.
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Tom Fontana

Spike TV is hopping on the miniseries trend.

The male-focused cable network is eyeing a return to scripted fare, announcing the development of five event series from producers including Hatfields & McCoys' Leslie Greif, among others.

"Our move into scripted special-event series is a major step in the evolution of the brand that now reaches a more balanced audience,” said Sharon Levy, executive vp original series at Spike TV, who will oversee each of the five projects. “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.”

The move marks Spike's first attempt at a mini since its July 2007 event series The Kill Point and first original scripted comedy since Blue Mountain State, which ended its three-season run in November 2011.

The mini slate comes as cable networks including History, Discovery and more are looking to the lower-risk miniseries as an entry point into scripted fare following History's success with Hatfields and The Bible.

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Here's a look at the slate. (Note: All titles are working titles.)

From Leslie Greif (Hatfields & McCoy’s), Chris Collins (Sons of Anarchy) and rock God and multihyphenate 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 1970s. 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.

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 16 years

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In the 1970s, 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 Co. with Brant Englestein (Borgia) as writer.

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 J. 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.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit