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Starz Plex Sets Stand-Up Show

6/24/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Starz InBlack will use stand-up comedy as the launching pad for its first original series.

1st Amendment Stand-Up, a 10-week comedy show featuring up-and-coming urban comedians, will debut on the Starz InBlack multiplex service Friday nights beginning in September.

Stephan Shelanski, senior vice president of program acquisitions, scheduling and planning for Starz Entertainment Group LLC, said the series, which will feature such comics as Tommy Chunn (I Got the Hook Up), Joey Diaz (The Longest Yard), D’Militant (Inside Joke) and Miguel Nunez (Juwanna Mann), will run uncensored on the premium service.

While the former Black Starz! had bowed original movies — documentaries and theatricals that didn’t make it to the big screen — Shelanski said the network wants to broaden its horizons.

“We wanted to try to test the waters and see how we could potentially expand our channels beyond movies,” Shelanski said. “Comedy is a natural for Starz InBlack. There are so many talented up-and-coming black comedians that we thought this would be perfect for the channel.”

Shelanski said he’s not worried about potential competition from Home Box Office’s P. Diddy Presents the Bad Boys of Comedy, Black Entertainment Television’s long-running Comic View or Comedy Central’s various stand-up presentations.

“If there is a saturation of the marketplace, we’ll do it so that our product stands out,” Shelanski said. “The advantage we have is that we offer a dedicated channel to this audience, so we think our viewers will come to us.”

If the show proves successful, Shelanski wouldn’t rule out developing other original programming, including scripted fare later.

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