usa networkUSA Network is looking to re-enter the half-hour comedy arena with its first script deal for a half-hour project in more than a decade. The network has put in development Driven, a single-camera comedy from Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth. The project stars comedian Ron White as a guy who, after losing his job, starts a limo service. Bloodworth will write the script and will executive produce the project with her husband, long-time collaborator Harry Thomason.

USA’s president of original programming Jeff Wachtel said Linda-Bloodworth-photothe network had been looking to expand its programming beyond its signature hourlong comedies.“We’ve had a great deal of success in the light one-hour genre, so now let’s find the next great thing for the brand,” he said. “We’re pushing in a bunch of directions, including half-hour comedy and reality.” Wachtel was quick to note that the network is not shifting its scripted development from the core one-hour fare to half-hour comedy and that agents shouldn’t be rushing to send boxes of half-hour scripts and pilots they might have lying around. “It’s a carefully staged assault; we’re not busting the door open, we’re cautiously opening the door to half-hour comedy,” he said.

ron_whiteThere won’t be a great distinction between USA’s half-hour and hourlong comedies. Half-hour projects also will be “character-based, with an aspirational, blue-sky element to it,” Wachtel said. “More significantly, we will be looking for original voices, and working with Linda is a great way to start things off.” There is no timetable on greenlighting half-hour pilots or getting a half-hour series on the air, he added.

USA ran several half-hour comedies under the network’s old regime in the 1990s, including Weird Science, USA High and Campus Cops, before USA rebuild its brand as a home of light character-driven hourlong series over the past decade.