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Comedy aims at heartland

Butler, 'Movie' men crack up laffer net

“Grace Under Fire” star Brett Butler and the “American Movie” guys are taking their brand of heartland humor over to Comedy Central.

Projects are designed to take advantage of the rabid fan base that tuned in to the Feb. 14 premiere of “Blue Collar Comedy Tour 2.” Movie scored 6.1 million viewers to become the second-most watched program in the cabler’s history. Given the strong numbers for repeat “Blue Collar TV” episodes, execs also expect the upcoming roast of Jeff Foxworthy, bowing March 20, to perform well.

Butler has signed with the laffer net to star in a half-hour vehicle she is working to develop with Chuck Sklar (“The Chris Rock Show,” “The Man Show”). Programming/development chief Lauren Corrao describes the premise as “Blue Collar TV” meets “Insomniac With Dave Attell.”

“Brett will be running around the country, hanging out with small-town characters,” Corrao said. Unlike the first season of “The Simple Life,” which skewered both the residents of Altus, Ark., and stars Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, net execs say Butler’s show “will expose the heartland’s really interesting characters and, in so doing, get at the root of Americana.”

Comedy Central president Doug Herzog met Butler a few years and had made several attempts to develop a show for her while he was at USA.

During the heyday of “Grace Under Fire,” which ran for five seasons on ABC, Butler was touted as the next Roseanne. A series pickup would mark her return to primetime television.

“What’s great about Brett is that she comes from a blue-collar background, but she also has perspective on it,” Corrao said. “She’s political, smart, stands up for what she believes in and has a strong personality. And that’s where our successful shows start, with a strong point of view.”

Meanwhile, “American Movie” stars Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank have pacted with Comedy Central for a show that will follow Borchardt as he endeavors to make his next horror film. Tom Green and Howard Lapides are aboard to exec produce.

The documentary “American Movie” revolved around aspiring Wisconsin filmmaker Borchardt and his attempt to shoot the horror short “Coven” with the help of his eccentric friends and family. Sony Pictures Classics distributed the 1999 Sundance Film Festival hit.

Details are still being worked out, but skein likely would follow Borchardt around the Midwest as he works on his next project.

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