IFC expands lineup, renews 'Whitest Kids'


IFC is expanding its original programming lineup with "Z Rock," ordering 10 episodes of the semiscripted comedy loosely based on the lives of members of a real rock band.

In addition, the network has renewed the sketch comedy "The Whitest Kids U Know" for a third season.

"Z Rock" is a half-hour comedy that centers on Z02, a real band consisting of Paulie Z, David Z and Joey Cassata, who will play themselves. The show -- co-produced by Starz Media, MarkMark Prods. and IFC -- will revolve around the band's efforts to obtain a record deal while performing nightly at clubs. However, their hopes and dreams are stalled as they continue to become more successful as an upscale kids' party band, the Z Brothers, who are the toast of Manhattan's Upper East Side.

Each episode of the show is "heavily outlined," with the actors allowed to improvise on set, said Debbie DeMontreux, senior vp original programming at IFC. The network also has lined up several guest stars, who will play themselves but in fictional situations. They include Dave Navarro, Joan Rivers, John Popper of Blues Traveler and Gilbert Gottfried, as well as a recurring cameo by comedian Greg Giraldo. Rivers, for example, will play the band manager's aunt.

DeMontreux said "Z Rock" is a good fit for IFC's original programming slate, which also includes comedies "The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman" and "The Business."

"We have been pretty successful in the comedic area of original programming, and when 'Z Rock' came to us, it was a no-brainer," she said. "It's a unique concept about a real-life rock band who lead a dual life. It's got an extremely independent spirit."

Quipped Rivers: "I'm thrilled to have a recurring role on 'Z Rock' as it is the first time in 20 years that three single guys want to see me every week."

"Z Rock" debuts at 11:30 p.m. Sept. 7, but IFC is premiering the show on its on-demand platform IFC Free on Aug. 28, nine days before its network launch.

The series is executive produced by MarkMark's Mark Farrell and Mark Efman; Andrew Gottlieb; and DeMontreux, Evan Shapiro and Rachel Smith for IFC. Bob Held and Lynn Lendway are co-executive producers. Starz Media also is handling international sales.

"Kids," meanwhile, originated on sister channel Fuse before moving to IFC in February for its Season 2. The series -- which stars Sam Brown, Zach Cregger, Trevor Moore, Darren Trumeter and Timmy Williams -- will have its third-season premiere early next year. It's exec produced by Jim Biederman along with Smith, DeMontreux, Shapiro and Jennifer Caserta for IFC.

DeMontreux added that IFC will continue building on its comedy slate but also is developing projects in the drama realm. She declined to give further details, saying only that drama is "the next natural step for us."