Car-oriented show part of Speed's new strategy

Feature-film director Rob Cohen is heading back to TV as exec producer of upcoming auto-centric Speed network show “Gymkhana Wars.”

Cohen, who has helmed box office hits “The Fast and the Furious” and “XXX,” told Daily Variety he has always been interested in all things automotive.

Production on “Gymkhana Wars” will likely begin in mid-January. It’ll be shot at the docks in San Pedro and the abandoned Kaiser Steel plant in Fontana, east of Los Angeles. But cabler has yet to give it a formal episode order, and no launch date has been set.

Gymkhana is a competition in which sports cars travel on a closed, twisting course. “In gymkhana, the cars are dancing,” Cohen explains.

Show is one of many that Speed to launching to help halt a ratings slide. Last year the cabler gave many shows a NASCAR theme, but the programs never connected with auds. Net’s new strategy is to put more coin into original productions.

Also, many of the NASCAR-focus programs will run on Friday-Sundays when interest in auto racing is high, although a few will remain or launch during the week.

In its new lineup, Speed will be working closely with John Brenkus’ Base Prods., which currently produces a handful of shows, including “Sports Science” and “Jesse James Is a Dead Man.” Base and Speed will team on upcoming series “Wheel Wars” and “Car Science.” Others shows set to launch include “Speed Makers,” “American Trucker” and “Ticket to Ride With Dan Neil.”

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