IFC's Stirring Things Up on 'Asia Street'


International Channel wants to stir things up with younger viewers during its English-language "Asia Street" programming block.

The network, now in some 12.5 million cable homes, will roll out the new original series Stir on March 3. Co-produced with San Francisco-based independent station KTSF, the International Channel show will feature highlights from the lives, events, interests and current topics impacting Asian-Americans aged 18 to 34.

The network plans to air 26 weekly, primetime episodes through August. They'll be hosted by four young Asian-Americans selected from a casting call that drew some 300 candidates.

The debut episode focuses on people who've decided to follow their own dreams outside the mainstream, providing a look artists, guerrilla filmmakers and garage bands, as well as other independent men and women.

"We did focus group testing and the younger Asian-Americans, those who were born or grew up in the U.S., said there wasn't anything on the air truly reflective of their lives," said vice president of marketing and communications Jim Honiotes. "The target is 18-to-24-year-olds, but 25-to-34-year-olds found it fascinating, too."

With the addition of Stir, International's Asia Street block, which debuted in January 2003, expands from 90 minutes to 2 hours. And the parcel could grow further.

Honiotes said International has two new shows planned for third-quarter debuts: a sketch comedy series featuring an Asian-American who has been on network television and a dating show.

Asia Street, airing Monday through Saturday, mixes in movies, anime, martial arts fare and music videos. All of the programming, except for the videos, is presented in English or subtitled in that language.

Asia Street serves as a complement to International's largest overall collection of language-specific offerings from around the globe. The network proffers programming from Cambodia, China (in both Mandarin and Cantonese), the Phillipines, Korea, South Asia, Thailand and Vietnam.

"About 60% of the programming on International Channel comes from six major Asian languages," said Honiotes.