EXCLUSIVE: Fairly Legal creator Michael Sardo has stepped down as executive producer and showrunner of the USA Network dramedy. Former Pushing Daisies executive producer Peter Ocko has been tapped as the new exec producer/showrunner on the series for its upcoming second season.
The changeover is part of USA’s plan for creative changes on Fairly Legal going into Season 2. When USA recently renewed the freshman series, the network’s co-president Jeff Wachtel indicated that the decision was based on the show’s appealing star, Sarah Shahi, and its potential but noted that there is room for improvement. “We think there is a creative and audience upside to the show,” Wachtel said back then. “Not every first season is the best, and we think it is a show that can do better.” While a solid performer — Fairly Legal launched as the top new cable drama of the year in adults 18-49 and has averaged a 4.6 million total viewers in Live+7 — the legal dramedy was not a breakout hit like most of USA’s recent series. Fairly Legal producer Universal Cable Prods is currently negotiating with Sardo about a potential future role on the show. Sardo is behind another high-profile UCP project — he is the creator/executive producer of the studio’s pilot Normal (formerly untitled Michael Sardo) for Lifetime. The drama pilot starring Carrie-Anne Moss is in contention for a series pickup at the cable network, with Sardo set to executive produce. (Additionally, Sardo serves as an exec producer on America’s Smartest Kids, a realty show in development at USA/UCP sibling Syfy).
On Fairly Legal, Ocko will serve as executive producer alongside Steve Stark. The show centers on mediator Kate Reed (Shahi). Its co-stars are Michael Trucco, Virginia Williams and Baron Vaughn. Ocko most recently served as a co-executive producer on NBC’s The Office this past season.