The potentially controversial premise has white comedians playing to--as the press release carefully states--"urban audiences." Each half-hour episode will feature up to four stand-up comics and include short documentary-style interstitial vignettes.
"White Boyz In The Hood, "as socially provocative as the title may seem, is a glimpse into a world of comedy void of barriers and xenophobia," says co-creator Anthony Maddox. Maddox, who created the series with partner Peter Griffith and Lionsgate Vice President Malik Ducard, produced TV's "Bad Boys of Comedy," "Diddy Runs The City," and the Vibe Awards. Maddox also works as a creative consultant to Vibe Media Group, which will act as a marketing partner for the "White Boyz" project.
"These performers are the Larry Birds of comedy in that they can go into any space, any room, and perform," says Maddox. "Funny is funny--doesn't matter where you live."
"We're not looking to create any controversy," a Showtime spokesperson adds. "Ultimately, the goal here is to put the most interesting and entertaining content and this fits the bill."
The program launches as Showtime's latest salvo to challenge pay-cable leader HBO's supremacy in original programming. HBO's status is seen as vulnerable, since its hit shows "The Sopranos," "Deadwood," "Six Feet Under" and "Sex in the City" have either ended or will end by early next year. Its new sitcom "Lucky Louie" bombed.
While not earning the ratings numbers or awards of those programs, Showtime has earned good industry buzz with critically acclaimed shows, including the pot-pushing soccer mom comedy "Weeds," the undercover terrorist thriller "Sleeper Cell" and the political soap opera "Brotherhood." "Weeds" is the network's top draw, pulling in about 1.6 viewers a week and earning a Golden Globe for its star, Mary-Louise Parker.
Showtime's subscriber base has risen 12 percent from last year, to 14.5 million, or roughly half of HBO's 28 million subscribers.