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Exclu: Spike TV is set to announce a mining reality series from the producers of “Deadliest Catch.”
The network has ordered “Coal,” a docuseries chronicling the dangerous profession of coal mining set in West Virginia.
With the rescue of 33 Chilean miners drawing international headlines, the timely project should have little trouble generating interest from viewers and the media. But Spike executives note that “Coal” has been in development for nearly a year. The series is executive produced by reality powerhouse Thom Beers and his Original Prods.
“It didn’t take a tragedy, and then a miracle, to get us excited about this,” said Sharon Levy, executive vp original programming at Spike. “Obviously, we’re humongous fans of the kind of shows Thom does that celebrate the everyday man. He said, ‘We’re working on this project called “Coal,” ’ and we said we’d take it.”
The show will focus on Mike Crowder and Tom Roberts, co-owners of Cobalt Mine in Westchester, WVa., as well as the area’s miners, families and community members. The mining team has more than 40 employees, and “Coal” will show every major aspect of their jobs — from planting explosives to surface mining to working in a traditional mine shaft.
The network will premiere 10 episodes of the one-hour series in April. Philip D. Segal is also an executive producer on the show.
Levy said the dire situation in Chile during the past 70 days only reinforced the idea that a close look at the harsh realities of mining was overdue. The network was prepared to announce the project weeks ago but held off until rescue workers could free the miners.
“We’ve tapped into something that people are passionate about; this is a topic the world is interested in,” Levy said. “Everybody is afraid of being buried alive. These people risk their lives every day to make the world move, yet most of us never really think about how we get [our energy] … this series is going to shine a light on the brave men and women and their families who endure the rigors of this arduous profession.”
Production is not expected to be easy, though Beers’ team has extensive experience working in treacherous environments. Original also produces the blue-collar reality hits “Ice Road Truckers” and “Ax Men.” Production on “Coal” starts next month.
“It’s incredibly difficult to shoot,” Levy said of the show. “What happened in Chile makes safety precautions even more important.”
Added Beers: “Generations of families have been mining coal in the United States for nearly 300 hundred years. Coal miners risk their lives in a way no one can imagine. We finally get to tell their stories.”
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