Spike revs up deal for mechanic

Jesse James signs deal with network

Jesse James, who became the most famous auto mechanic in the U.S. with the hit Discovery Channel series “Monster Garage,” which ran 2002-06, has signed an exclusive two-year deal with Viacom’s Spike TV to produce and star in series and specials.

“This is a big get for us,” said Sharon Levy, senior VP of development for Spike TV, which targets its original programming to male viewers. “Jesse James embodies our brand perfectly. We convinced him that our viewers are his fans.”

“I spent seven years altogether at Discovery, but the network kept trying to water me down and never really did anything to show its appreciation,” James said. “It cared more about bugs and dinosaurs.”

More than a year ago, James left Discovery, where he also starred in “Motorcycle Mania,” to form Payupsucker Prods., which will produce all his Spike projects. The first TV series likely to emerge from the contract is “Metal Church,” a Sunday-morning do-it-yourself series hosted and exec produced by James. Spike has greenlit the pilot.

Deal calls for four primetime specs over the two years and as many as four pilots for potential primetime series. First special is planned to air sometime during the second quarter. James said his major goal is to come up with a series for Spike as popular as “Monster Garage.”

Married to Sandra Bullock and based in Los Angeles, James, 38, also publishes Garage magazineand builds customized motorcycles.