Spike programming gets informative

'Declassified' one of many shows in pipeline

Spike has signed up a reality project from “Transformers” producer Tom DeSanto as part of an orientation toward what it calls factual entertainment.

Viacom net is developing a slate of projects with that focus. Essentially, programming that might be seen on the History or Discovery Channel is put “through a Spike filter,” according to nonscripted topper Sharon Levy.

DeSanto is teaming with 44 Blue to produce “Declassified,” which will showcase dangerous special ops missions from U.S. history. Project dovetails with another series on the company’s slate, “Deadliest Warrior,” which will examine feared killers throughout history.

Other projects will range from how-to programming about surviving a terror attack to the more macabre: “1,000 Ways to Die,” a skein from “Ice Road Truckers” producer Thom Beers’ Original Prods. that will show the real ways people die.

Ricochet Television project “Dive for Treasure” will feature ex-Marines and treasure hunters seeking wealth on the ocean floor.

Spike still has contest-based reality projects set to air this year, including the aspirational-jock skein “Pros vs. Joes.” But execs said they want to attempt more series that don’t feature contestants or standard reality hooks.

“We want to widen the brand to include more,” Levy said. “By being more factual, we can do that while still serving our target audience.”

Even with the historical bent of some series, net will use fast-pacing and other techniques to lure in its core young male demo; “Deadliest Warrior,” for instance, will feature large amounts of CGI.

Net is also developing a more conventional reality series, hidden-camera show “Caught in the Action,” in which people stage faux action scenes and play jokes on unsuspecting friends.

Net is aiming for about one new nonscripted series per season, with the possibility of two next summer. Execs declined to disclose its ideal number of greenlights off the half-dozen projects on the development slate. 

Company is also continuing to develops scripted programming under Bill McGoldrick, with limited-series “The Kill Point” in the running for a renewal.