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Blue-collar drive

Laff net parks 'Trucker,' brings improv 'Home'

Comedy Central has ordered up a pair of new primetime series: blue-collar variety show “Naked Trucker and T-Bones” and improv half-hour “Halfway Home.”

Cabler has greenlit six episodes of “Naked Trucker,” starring Dave Allen (“Freaks & Geeks”) and Dave Koechner (“Anchorman”) as truckers recounting their misadventures through middle America via taped sketches and songs.

Laffer net also has committed to 10 episodes of “Halfway Home,” which revolves around a dysfunctional group of parolees living together in a rehabilitation facility.

“Naked Trucker” is the first series project to move forward under the overall deal between J.P. Williams’ Parallel Entertainment and Comedy Central (Daily Variety, July 19). Management/production company Parallel reps such comedians as Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall, Ron White and Larry the Cable Guy.

Skein is based on Allen and Koechner’s long-running stage show in Los Angeles and will be shot in front of a live studio audience.

“They’ve got a Smothers Bros. vibe,” said Jim Sharp, senior VP of programming and development for Comedy Central. Execs started prepping the stage show for the small screen last year at the Comedy Central Stage in Hollywood, the cabler’s live development lab.

Sharp said picking up “Naked Trucker” was a no-brainer given the cabler’s success with blue-collar fare. “The Comedy Central Roast of Jeff Foxworthy” delivered 6.2 million viewers, while the sequel “Blue Collar Comedy Tour Rides Again” drew 6.1 million.

“Naked Trucker” is set for a debut in late summer or early fall. Allen, Koechner, Williams and Norm Hiscock (“King of the Hill”) exec produced the pilot.

As for “Halfway Home,” improv skein concerns a dysfunctional group of convicts including a prostitute, a robber and an arsonist. Oscar Nunez, Jessica Makinson, Regan Burns, Octavia Spencer and Jordan Black star as the misfits, with Kevin Ruf as their house supervisor.

Scheduling is not yet set, but Sharp said “Halfway Home” could be paired with the cabler’s improv success “Reno 911!”

“It’d be our cops and robbers hour,” exec said. Unlike “Reno,” he added, “Halfway” would be more driven by narrative than a series of gags. “There are arcs and a beginning, middle and end to every episode.”

“At first you wouldn’t think there was anything funny about criminals and rehabilitation,” Martel said. “And there actually isn’t, but please don’t tell Comedy Central — they seem really excited about this.”

Nunez, Jay Martel and Damon Jones exec produced the pilot. Jones directed.

Comedy Central’s new seasons of “South Park” and “Mind of Mencia” made a big splash Wednesday, drawing 3.5 million and 2.2 million viewers, respectively (Daily Variety, March 24). Sophomore bow of “The Showbiz Show With David Spade” Thursday drew 1.1 million viewers (up slightly from its first-season average of 1 million) after a repeat episode of “South Park.”

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