EXCLUSIVE: With USA Network now officially in the comedy business with its first half-hour pilot orders, the network has hired a dedicated comedy executive. ABC Studios’ Melanie Frankel has joined USA as VP Original Comedy Series. She will oversee comedy development and production, reporting to USA’s SVP original scripted programming Bill McGoldrick. “As we aggressively expand our scripted portfolio to include half-hours, this is the perfect time to add an experienced comedy executive to our team,” McGoldrick said. “We feel lucky to have found someone with Melanie’s keen instincts, depth of experience and collaborative spirit as we create our own distinctive brand of comedy with the most talented minds in the genre.”

Frankel comes from ABC Studios, where she was most recently director of comedy and served as ABC Studios’ primary comedy executive for studio-based pods/producers the Mark Gordon Co, the Warren Littlefield Co, Stu Bloomberg, Mandeville, Coquette, Little Engine, Sally Bradford, Steven Cragg & Brian Bradley, Laurie Zaks/Beacon and Jennifer Weiner. She also oversaw the studio’s pilots Great State Of Georgia (which went to series on ABC Family), How To Be A Better American and This Little Piggy, and served as the current executive on the CBS comedy series Gary Unmarried. Prior to ABC Studios, Frankel worked as manager of development and current at Grammnet Prods.

USA first signaled its intention to move into the half-hour comedy arena in May 2010 when the network’s current regime bought their first half-hour script. The move into comedy accelerated a month later when USA outbid cable rivals for the off-network rights to ABC’s Modern Family. As part of its plan to have original half-hour series on the air when Modern Family launches on the cable network in fall 2013, USA has put a number of half-hour projects in development, and in September it greenlighted its first two half-hour pilots: an untitled project from Douglas McGrath starring Nathan Lane and a sibling medical comedy penned by Michael Feldman.