USA Network has handed out cast-contingent pilot orders to three more hourlong projects, Eden, about a resourceful young hotel concierge, Wild Card, about 2 very different lawyers in Las Vegas, and Over/Under, about an ex-day trader with a gambling problem who starts a new life. That is addition to the 3 pilots the cable network has in various stages of production or pre-production, Necessary Roughness, Common Law and A Legal Mind, bringing the total number of pilots to 6, the most ever for USA in a calendar year. “The company is investing in our success,” said USA president of original programming Jeff Wachtel, who noted that USA is projected to top the cable ratings for a fifth year in a row despite increased competition. “We’re fighting to stay No.1, and we have to step up our game. You do that by building up your portfolio, pushing out with a little more volume and moving outside your comfort zone by pushing with genre and tone.” He said that all 6 new pilots have “a little bit more bite, more edge to them but are still very much in our sweet spot.”
With its premise, a light peocedural about 2 lawyers in Las Vegas, new pilot Wild Card draws parallels to CBS’ freshman dramedy The Defenders. The difference is in the the execution, Wachtel said, noting that the CBS show has more of a procedural focus while Wild Card has more of a character focus. The project also presented a challenge to sustain the trademark USA blue-sky feel as it takes place almost entirely after sunset, he added. Meanwhile, just as the title might suggest, Over/Under has an Upstairs/Downstairs aspect to it.
USA already has 7 returning and one new series, Fairly Legal, slated to air next year, with several more expected to join them as some of the 6 pilots get picked up to series. (USA has had strong track record recently with virtually all of its pilots going to series.) With so much volume, the network is eyeing additional nights. It is looking to reclaim Friday, which had been its prime original programming destination early on, and Sunday where it had success in the past with Law & Order: Criminal Intent and In Plain Sight. As for USA’s next round of pilot pickups next year, it will most definitely include half-hour projects as the network has been actively developing comedy scripts as part of an expansion into half-hour comedy and unscripted series, Wachtel said. Here are descriptions of USA’s newly picked up pilots:
EDEN is from Universal Cable Prods. and written by Ken and Mary Hanes (Til Death Do Us Part). The show centers on a young hotel worker who, with the help of his escaped con artist cousin Eddie, gets a job as the concierge at an elite NYC hotel. Together they manage to provide the hotel guests with whatever they desire, at whatever the cost.
OVER/UNDER comes from Fox Television Studios in association with Universal Cable Productions. It is written by Sheila Callaghan (United States of Tara) and executive produced by Dan Halsted (Garden State). A day trader with a massive gambling problem is fired from his job six months after a bad trade costs his firm millions. Shut out of the job market, he and his beautiful, photographer wife retreat to a neighborhood on the cusp of gentrification. He finds an unlikely partner and starts to turn his life around in an unexpected way.
WILD CARD is executive produced and written by Stephen Godchaux (Dead Like Me). What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… but only if you have a good lawyer. In this witty procedural about people behaving badly, two very different lawyers handle the type of problems that happen after the sun goes down and need to be solved before the sun the comes up. Cary Brokaw (Closer) will serve as executive producer. The project comes from Fox Television Studios.