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Ami James ends TLC feud, heads to New York for Miami Ink spin-off

Former Miami Ink star Ami James has put aside bad blood with his former reality-tv bosses to step before the cameras in a new tattoo series set in Manhattan.

NY Ink

debuts next month on Discovery Communications’ TLC, but the drama has been playing out since the cable network dropped

Miami Ink

in 2008 after three years on the air. At the time, James and co-star Chris Nuñez said they had tired of their Miami Ink run, with James telling the Miami Herald, “I will never work for Discovery again.’’Now James is back with the network, but Nuñez and most of his co-stars and co-workers from South Beach’s old Miami Ink tattoo studio weren’t invited to join the new cast. Instead, the show will focus on James — always portrayed as the hard-nosed leader in South Beach — managing a new group of artists in New York’s SoHo district. “As much as I wanted to have my boys come up with me [TLC] wanted to start something fresh and new,’’ James said. “Because we were best friends already for 16 years, it was hard for us to make drama.’’The popularity of

Miami Ink

made the Washington Avenue tattoo parlor a tourist attraction. Fans snapped photos of the front window so often that it at peak times of the day it rivaled the former Versace mansion as the most photographed spot in South Beach. But friction between the stars and the show mounted as James and Nuñez plotted their post-Ink business strategy. Discovery owns the rights to “Miami Ink,’’ so the two started a second shop on the same block with a name they own, Love Hate Tattoos. The show ended shortly after the new shop opened. A new travel series based on them exploring tattoo traditions around the globe folded before the episodes aired, James said. James and Nuñez split as partners about six months ago, with James buying out his longtime friend’s shares in both the tattoo shop and a Love Hate bar they opened off Fifth Street. “I’m going to be opening my own space in the near future’’ in Miami, Nuñez said this week.Of the

Miami Ink

cast, only James and late-addition Tim Hendricks will be appear in the New York spin-off. TLC ordered eight episodes of NY Ink, and shooting is scheduled to end within two weeks. The show premieres June 2, and James said new Discovery management convinced him to rejoin TLC.

NY Ink

will unfold in a shop James opened in the SoHo section of Manhattan. It’s currently called the Wooster Street Social Club, but James said Wednesday the name might change before the show airs. He wouldn’t provide details, but said the problem centers on a familiar source of tension in James’ television career: branding. “I am having some issues with the name of the shop and trademark’’ issues, he said. “I can’t even talk about it.”James added: “The name on the shop will be my business, which I will always own.’’

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