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Spike nails laffer block

Cabler expands male-centric lineup

Spike TV is firming up its comedy brand.

Viacom-owned men’s network has slated its first comedy block, greenlighting the six-part docusoap “Raising the Roofs” and acquiring “The Dudesons,” a “Jackass”-style stunt show set in the Arctic Circle. Shows bow as a one-hour block July 6 at 10 p.m.

On the flip side, Spike has also greenlit four docu-style projects, including the one-hour special “Sports Fan,” about hardcore Minnesota Vikings fans, from Jon Stewart’s Busboy Prods., and “Journeys With George,” from filmmaker Aaron Lubarsky.

From The Jay & Tony Show, “Roofs” follows Hollywood-based working actor Michael Roof Jr., whose back-country family is in town — with pet pig Babe — for an open-ended visit. Project emerges from the initial development slate put together by Spike alternative topper Sharon Levy last winter (Daily Variety, Dec. 6). Jay Blumenfeld and Anthony Marsh (Showtime’s “Family Business”) exec produce.

In “The Dudesons,” a group of best friends dare each other to perform crazy and dangerous stunts. Spike has ordered eight episodes of the stunt comedy (with options to produce original episodes in the future), which has been going strong for four years on Finnish TV. Rabbit Films exec produces.

Spike recently unveiled a bolder branding proposition complete with the new tagline “Get More Action!” and upcoming vampire series “Blade.” Levy said comedy belongs in that mix because “it’s hugely important to guys, and for us not to do any would be a mistake. For men, ‘action’ means everything from car chases, to the ladies, to bowling over in laughter.”

Exec knows a thing or two about comedy: Spike recruited her last summer (Daily Variety, June 23) from Stone Stanley Entertainment, the shop behind the cabler’s first breakout hit, the reality satire “The Joe Schmo Show.”

But with the addition of a comedy block, Spike enters the same biz of Viacom sib Comedy Central, which also chases a young male demo. Levy said the laughs on Spike will be distinct.

“Both of our shows are about guys unapologetically being guys,” she said. “Michael’s family in ‘Raising the Roofs’ is predominantly male, and they don’t care what anyone thinks about them. The guys in ‘Dudesons’ are childhood friends. They spend all day doing insane stunts — as you can imagine, there’s not a whole lot else to do in the Arctic Circle.”

As for the other three documentary projects, Spike is producing four-part mini “Beyond the Badge,” chronicling the lives of Boston police officers; “Metal of Honor,” a feature-length doc about the ironworkers of 9/11 who assisted in the rescue and recovery efforts, from Rachel Maguire; and “CYA,” a one-hour spec on the California Youth Authority juvenile rehabilitation facility, from Snoop Dogg and documentarian Jonathan Stack (“The Farm”).

Other reality projects still in development include “Bullrun,” an unfiltered look at the popular racecar rally of the same name, and a “boys night out” show, which Levy says she is still discussing with potential producers.

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