Net toons pilot, taps Par exec

Spike TV is ramping up its programming team, hiring Paramount TV exec Robert Friedman as senior VP of programming.

Separately, men’s cabler has ordered a pilot for the animated series tentatively titled “Hit and Run,” a project penned by longtime Nickelodeon producer Scott Fellows (“Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” “The Fairly OddParents”).

Friedman, who spent the last four years as senior VP/cable sales manager for Par Domestic Television, will report directly to programming and production executive VP Kevin Kay. He fills in the spot left vacant by Barbara Zaneri, who left the channel at the end of 2003.

Friedman will be charged with heading up the acquisitions and media initiatives for Spike and will work closely with Kay on developing and launching original projects.

Cabler, which recently received a much-needed ratings boost with the off-net premiere of “CSI,” has been on the hunt for a breakthrough series since rebranding to Spike in summer 2003. Channel came close with “The Joe Schmo Show,” which failed to ignite in its second cycle, but has yet to launch a skein that puts it on the map in the same way “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” did for Bravo.

Kay said Friedman’s extensive background in cable sales and marketing will be a boon for the growing cabler.

“His strong leadership, wide range of experience as a programmer and relationships in the studio and acquisitions world will be a huge benefit to us as we continue to build Spike TV as the prime destination for men,” Kay said.

Friedman joined Viacom as a consultant for Viacom Enterprises in 1990, rising to VP of cable sales in 1994. Previously, he was a programming veep at Fox station WNYW in New York and WXIX in Cincinnati.

As for “Hit and Run,” Scott Fellows and wife Michelle Fellows (“Drake & Josh”) are producing the half-hour Miami-set toon that revolves around an entry-level bank manager who gets caught in an underworld power struggle when he crosses paths with a professional hit man. Spike has been working to rebuild an animation block for its sked, ordering 13 episodes of “Howard Stern: The High School Years” last month (Daily Variety, Aug. 18).

“Hit and Run,” which Fellows said was inspired by popular first-person shooter and racecar videogame, marks a dramatic departure for the kiddie cabler scribe.

“It’s for adults that play stuff like ‘Grand Theft Auto.’ This is more action-driven and more aggressive in the dialogue than anything I’ve ever done,” he said.

Producers are casting voice talent for the pilot. Fellows’ producing credits include the animated series “Doug,” “101 Dalmatians” and “Race Rabbit.” He was also the showrunner for the live-action series “100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd.”

Elsewhere, Spike has set premiere dates for reality skeins “I Hate My Job” on Nov. 9, “The Club” on Nov. 10 and the original doc “Untold” (formerly “Glory Days”) on Nov. 12.

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