USA Network, which is holding its first upfront presentation during the traditional broadcast upfront week this afternoon, has announced a couple of greenlights and a slew of drama, comedy and reality projects in development from the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Dick Wolf, Bryan Fuller, Doug Liman & David Bartis, Howie Mandel, Mark Gordon, Kelsey Grammer and Mark Burnett. The pickups include reality pilot Bride Or Best Man and comedy pilots Paging Dr. Freed and Sirens.
The most action is in the comedy arena, where USA prepares for the fall 2013 arrival of its first off-network comedy acquisition, the hit Modern Family. The network’s goal is to have an original series ready by then to be paired with the Emmy-winning ABC comedy. USA is now finalizing the pilot order deals for two half-hour hopefuls: Paging Dr. Freed and the Dennis Leary-produced Sirens. Meanwhile, the network has opted not to go forward with its first comedy pilot greenlighted as part of its current push in the genre, the multi-camera Douglas McGrath project starring Nathan Lane. “We love Nathan, he was really good but we are not sure if this is the first comedy series we want to go out with,” USA co-president Jeff Wachtel said. The Nathan Lane project and medical comedy Paging Dr. Freed were greenlighted together last September. But the Fox21-produced Paging Dr. Freed was put on hold in January after USA’s parent NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment and Fox21 parent 20th Century Fox TV — which coincidentally produces Modern Family — couldn’t close a license fee deal. The main sticking point was the issue of SVOD (subscription VOD) rights, involving subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon. Several months ago, USA moved on to pick up Fox TV Studios-produced Sirens, which had been in development, to pilot. But that deal, also made with 20th TV, to which FtvS reports, hit the same stumbling block. The two sides continue discussions, with a deal for both projects expected to be finalized in the next week. Written by Michael Feldman, Paging Dr. Freed is about two gynecologist brothers who inherit their father’s medical practice. Co-created by Leary and Bob Fisher, Sirens follows three of Chicago’s best EMTs.
While the Nathan Lane project was multi-camera, Paging Dr. Freed and Sirens are both single-camera, like Modern Family, which Wachtel called “once in a lifetime opportunity to launch our comedy brand.” Also single-camera are all other comedy projects on USA’s development slate as the network’s focus will be on single-camera and what Wachtel called “modified single-camera” original comedies. There will be a “higher threshold” for multi-camera projects, though Modern Family is at heart “a single-camera comedy with a multi-camera sensibility,” Wachtel said.
In another new area for USA, reality, the network has greenlighted to pilot Bride Or Best Man, a “bromantic comedy” with a twist produced by Shed Media, which highlights a trip down the aisle that goes completely wrong when the Groom and his Best Man are left in charge of planning the ‘big day.’ In development at USA is Romancing the Globe, a competition series, which takes participants on a globe-trotting search for love. USA co-president Chris McCumber called the series, produced by Mark Burnett, “The Bachelor meets The Amazing Race.” “What we do in the reality space is trying to find blue-sky aspirational projects with characters you can relate to,” he said.
In the drama area, USA is taking its biggest leap to date in pushing its brand in a new direction with Greg Berlanti’s upcoming drama Political Animals starring Sigourney Weaver. “We’ve never done a show that is so provocative with a level of casting and topicality you would normally see from Showtime or HBO,” Wachtel said. The network has one pilot in contention, Jeff Eastin’s Graceland, and several projects in development.
Below are details about USA’s drama and comedy series in development.
BANG BANG – An unlikely partnership is formed when veteran hitman Danny is saved by rival novice hired gun Marco, while executing a target. This dynamic duo pair up to execute contracts, if they don’t kill each other first. Based on the French television series, “Doom Doom”. Writer/executive producer is Tim Schlattmann (“Dexter,” “Smallville”). Executive Produced by Pierce Brosnan & Beau St. Clair of Irish DreamTime Productions. From Fox Television Studios.
RARE – “Tour” is San Francisco’s hottest new restaurant – an exciting fusion of world cuisines that’s drawing crowds across all demographics in the Bay Area. Part of its allure may be the chef, a mysterious ex-special forces captain who’s good with a knife both inside and outside the kitchen. Even if he tries to resist his old violent life, he will be unlikely to keep it entirely outside his new establishment. Writer/executive producer is Larry Golin (“Cross Bronx”) with Cory Concoff executive producing. From Fox Television Studios.
MIND FIELDS – At MIT, the pranks (or as they’re known there, “hacks”) are truly legendary. After one particularly striking graduation hack goes awry, a legendary prankster is dumped by his girlfriend and goes underground for many years, his only public gesture a series of grand romantic stunts he constructs with a lovestruck fellow alumni. MIND FIELDS explores the fusion of science and creativity as these three geniuses reunite amidst the upstairs and downstairs of New York society. Helmed by writer/producers Lisa Joy (BURN NOTICE, graphic novel “Headache”) and Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies”), with executive producers Howie Mandel and Mike Marks. From Universal Cable Productions.
FALLEN – After an accident, a gruff, macho cop — known for his “act first, ask questions later” approach — develops the rare condition of synesthesia and suddenly finds himself seeing “emotions.” His partner doesn’t quite understand this “touchy-feely” approach to solving crimes, but there’s no doubt that this new insight is helping clear cases. Based on the novel “Fallen” written by T. Jefferson Parker. Ed Decter & John Strauss (“There’s Something About Mary,” IN PLAIN SIGHT) are adapting for Sony Pictures Television.
WE COUNTED YOUR KNIVES – An Army medic returns home and becomes a pharmaceutical sales rep in the hopes of finding the elusive American dream. Along the way he helps those who cannot afford medical services while pushing the drugs his company sells. Writer is Michael Batistick. Produced by Doug Liman, David Bartis, Gene Klein (executive producers of COVERT AFFAIRS and SUITS) and Lindsay Sloane of Hypnotic for Universal Cable Productions.
UNTITLED DICK WOLF PROJECT – An insurance investigator who works at a traditional firm takes an untraditional turn – he gets divorced and marries a trophy wife, who happens to be a man. Project is from Dick Wolf and Peter Jankowski (creator of “Law & Order,” LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) and Danielle Gelber of Wolf Films. Produced by Wolf Films for Universal Cable Productions.
REGULARS – A misfit group of customers and employees at a suburban New Jersey bar express their joys, sorrows and observations through karaoke. Executive produced and written by Andrew Leeds & David Lampson. Executive produced by Gail Berman, Lloyd Braun and Gene Stein (BermanBraun). From Universal Television.
BENCHED – After losing her boyfriend and her high-powered job as an attorney all on one day, Nina finds that the only job available to her is at the Public Defender’s office. She quickly realizes that the system is more screwed up than her own crazy personal life. Written by Michaela Watkins and Damon Jones. Executive produced by Mark Gordon (“Grey’s Anatomy,” “Criminal Minds”) along with the Mark Gordon Company. From ABC Studios.
THE DICICCO BROTHERS – From comedy icon Kelsey Grammer and writer Ed Cannistraci comes the story of a promising dot-com entrepreneur who moves to the very politically correct culture of Silicon Valley with dreams of making it big. His dreams may unravel though when his colorful, blunt, and unrefined extended family arrives to “offer their support.” Written by Ed Cannistraci & Fred Seton (“Pierre Pierre”). Executive produced by Kelsey Grammer (“Medium,” “Girlfriends,” “The Game”) and Stella Stolper, with Grammnet Productions. From Universal Cable Productions.
START–UP – Matt and Josh don’t want to settle in life, love or in deciding on what job to get out of college. They don’t want to be cogs in some big company’s machine – they want the new American dream…being their own bosses and creating a start-up. Now all they have to do is land on an idea and hey, what could be so hard about that? Written by Justin Spitzer, (“The Office”) and executive produced by Peter Traugott (“Samantha Who?,” “Jake In Progress”), comes a comedy about the great lengths this group of friends will go to dream big and cash out. From Universal Television.