IFC boosts lineup of original skeins

Move to scripted shows part of Shapiro restructuring

The Independent Film Channel has greenlit a trio of skeins — an animated show from Bob Balaban, a Christopher Guest-style look at an indie film studio and a revived “Greg the Bunny” — for this year’s lineup.

Move, the first major programming initiative from recently installed exec VP-general manager Evan Shapiro, puts the fledgling cabler immediately into the highly competitive scripted series business. In just a few months at the helm, Shapiro has already put his stamp on IFC, unveiling an on-air look and new tag — TV Uncut — at the beginning of the year.

In addition, cabler has restructured its programming department as it ramps up its commitment to original efforts in original programming.

Projects — all of which feature some sendup of IFC as a network — will debut back-to-back in a one-hour block at 10 p.m. during IFC’s “Film Fanatic Fridays” beginning Aug. 19.

  • “The Festival” is a six-part, half-hour parody told from the perspective of fictional documentarian Cookie, recruited by IFC to shoot a film about Rufus, director of “The Unreasonable Truth of Butterflies.” Philms Pictures produces with Phil Price directing and Brandi-Ann Milbradt producing.

  • “Hopeless Pictures,” from writer-director-producer Balaban, is a cartoon about the head of a dysfunctional indie film studio, voiced by Michael McKean.

  • “Greg the Bunny” takes off from the cancellation of Greg and Warren the Ape’s Fox sitcom. To pay the bills, pair has been reduced to making film parodies for IFC. Cabler has ordered a dozen five- to 12-minute episodes. Moxie Pictures will produce from creators Dan Milano, Spencer Chinoy and Sean Baker.

Shapiro said he’s reallocated resources from acquisitions to original programming in order to beef up originals.

“That doesn’t mean we’re abandoning acquisitions. It means we’re going to be smarter about which we buy and how we use them,” he said. “Our strategy for the IFC brand revolves around the festivals, the films we air and stunting — with our Pulp Indies block, for example — to drive to the originals.”

Elsewhere, IFC has reshuffled its programming teams, creating a original series and events arm and an original docs & features unit. VP Debbie DeMontreux will head series and events with staffers Christine Lubrano, Susan Heimbinder, Doug Marshall and Bianca Biscaino.

VP Alison Bourke will oversee the net’s fiction and nonfiction feature-length projects, which include six docs for next year. Jessica Wolfson will work with Bourke.

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