Thirty-three Chileans proved the whole world will watch mining on TV if it's done right, and Spike TV has just such a project in the pipeline.
The cable network's 2011 lineup will include "Coal," a series the will depict West Virginia coal miners and the risks and conditions they face deep in the bowels of the earth. The project, created by "Deadliest Catch" producer Thom Beers, could get a huge boost from the feel-good story of the year, in which 33 Chilean miners were rescued after being trapped underground for 69 days, but it has been in the works for months.
"It didn't take a tragedy, and then a miracle, to get us excited about this," Spike TV executive Sharon Levy told The Hollywood Reporter. "Obviously, we're humongous fans of the kind of shows Thom does that celebrate the everyday man. He said, 'We're working on this project called "Coal," ' and we said we'd take it.
"We've tapped into something that people are passionate about; this is a topic the world is interested in," Levy said. "Everybody is afraid of being buried alive. These people risk their lives every day to make the world move, yet most of us never really think about how we get [our energy]."
Beers noted the industry has a long and rich tradition.
"Generations of families have been mining coal in the United States for nearly 300 years," Beers said. "Coal miners risk their lives in a way no one can imagine. We finally get to tell their stories."