Spike plotting 'Murder' series


Spike TV is getting into business with reality producers Bunim-Murray Prods., giving a 10-episode order to an alternative/reality series in which amateur detectives try to solve real-life crimes.

"Murder" was created by Tollbooth Television's Kevin Lee, who will executive produce with Jon Murray of Bunim-Murray. Each hourlong episode begins with the series' host, Detective Tommy Le Noir, a 20-year Texas law enforcement veteran, escorting two groups of civilians into an exact replica crime scene pulled from the files of an existing homicide case. The teams assess the crime scene, collect evidence, receive a list of potential suspects and meet with a coroner who reviews the findings of the original autopsy report.

The contestants are given 48 hours to complete their investigation and identify the killer. Each group makes a presentation to Le Noir, who then reveals what actually happened at the crime scene. Each week, the group that makes the correct — or more compelling — case will have a donation made in their names to a selected victim's charity.

Spike TV senior vp alternative programming Sharon Levy said the show, targeted to premiere in the summer, is intended to be a companion to the network's telecasts of off-network series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "CSI: NY," with the former serving as the lead-in to "Murder" and the latter as the lead-out.

"It was such an innovative idea," Levy said. "A lot of reality pitches tend to get homogenized and become derivative, but we strive to do things that aren't derivative and stand on their own. When Jon and his team and Kevin came into our office and pitched the concept of real people solving real crimes, it was something we'd never heard before. Not only that, but with our 'CSI' fan base, we knew it would be a perfect companion."

Added Murray: "For the viewer, 'Murder' fuses the authenticity of a real-life crime scene with the suspense of trying to solve the murder before the contestants on the show. We are excited to be working with Spike TV on such a cutting-edge series and hope the audience will take away a sense of how strategic and meticulous crime detectives must be on a daily basis."

Bunim-Murray's credits include MTV's "The Real World" and "Road Rules," E!'s "The Simple Life" and Oxygen's "The Bad Girls Club."

Tim Duffy is Spike TV's executive in charge of production.