Fuel paddling out to Oahu for '808'
EmptyFuel TV is hanging ten with the Wolfpak, a group of aggressive surfers who patrol the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii.
The action sports channel, part of Fox Cable Networks, is targeting a July 7 premiere for "The 808," a seven-episode original series centering on the group, led by Kala Alexander, who has appeared in the feature film "Blue Crush" and Fox's "North Shore," among others.
The Wolfpak, who are trained in martial arts and street fighting, is a self-appointed guard of native Hawaiians who call the shots and give outsiders the right of passage to North Shore -- be they world-traveling pro surfers, groupies, photographers or multimillion-dollar surfwear companies.
"What Wall Street is to the financial world and Hollywood is the entertainment world, the North Shore is to the surfing world," said Shon Tomlin, vp programming and development, who noted that "808" is unique for Fuel in several ways.
"It's really exploring the human side of a very interesting group of individuals. ... You could completely strip out surfing from the show and have a very, very interesting human-interest kind of story that would pull people in who are not interested in surfing at all," he said.
Moreover, Tomlin said, "808" will not be as lighthearted as Fuel's other series, showing a "darker side of surfing" that has rarely, if ever, been documented. He noted the effort involved in gaining the Wolfpak's trust before the group agreed to let their lives be filmed so intimately for the first time.
There seems to be a growing interest in surfing-centered and/or Hawaii-set series. Other recent shows include two unscripted MTV series -- "Maui Fever" and the upcoming "Living Lahaina" -- and HBO's upcoming scripted series "John From Cincinnati" from David Milch.
"808" is set to debut as part of a new late-night programming block called "Unprotected Sets." Original episodes will premiere at 10 p.m. Fridays.
The series is a co-production with Red Square, which has produced such shows as "10 Count" and "Project: Detention" for Fuel.
Fuel, which launched in July 2003, is seen in 24 million homes.