After recently picking up three new drama series, Rush, Satisfaction and Complications, USA Network has kicked off its next drama pilot cycle with a cast-contingent order to Stanistan. The network also has announced a pipeline of original series in development, including an alien drama from Carlton Cuse, a church drama from Jodie Foster and Bob Cooper, a farm drama from Michael Bay and Dawn Olmstead, a frontier drama from Tony Krantz, a ski resort comedy from Jessica Biel, a family comedy from Peter Tolan as well as a limited series about the origins of the Mexican drug cartels from Gregory Nava. “This slate represents the next generation of originals at USA, with a focus on dramas that are more serialized, provocative and culturally resonant,” said USA president Chris McCumber.
Stanistan follows the staff at the American compound in the Middle Eastern country of Stanistan, where State Department workers, covert CIA officers and journalists strike a delicate balance of danger and silliness. From Universal Cable Productions, Stanistan is written by Andy Parker, who also is supervising producer, with Richard Scarth, Mary Louise Vitelli and Maureen Ryan (Project Nim) serving as co-executive producers. Steve Scheffer is executive producing.
After ordering its first original couple comedy series in 15 years at last year’s upfront — no word yet on the future of Sirens, which pulled in respectable numbers in its first season, and Playing House is just a few episodes into its run — USA this morning officially announced comedy pilot presentation Difficult People and a slew of half-projects in development. Difficult People stars the Billy On The Street duo of Julie Klausner and Billy Eichner as pop culture-loving best friends living in NYC who hate everyone except each other. Klausner is writing for UCP, and Andrew Fleming (Hamlet 2) will direct. Poehler is an executive producer, along with Dave Becky of 3 Arts Entertainment and Michele Armour of Marobru (Chappelle’s Show). Here are the cable network’s comedies in development:
Love The One You’re With is a modern love story about a free-spirited woman who reluctantly falls in love with a Type A man 14 years her junior. Karen McCullah (Legally Blonde) is writing the pilot script and executive producing along with David Janollari. The comedy is from Universal Television and David Janollari Entertainment.
Majordomo puts a longtime friendship to the test when Danny Perkins (Michael Urie), a struggling documentarian, becomes a personal assistant to his friend Anna Grant, an unlucky in love real estate heiress with a floundering career. Universal Cable Productions is producing with writer and executive producer Jon Tolins (Queer As Folk), co-executive producer Urie (Ugly Betty), and executive producers Jeff Kwatinetz (Unstoppable) and Josh Barry (Salem) of Prospect Park.
Moguls is a single-camera comedy about the employees of a popular Colorado ski resort, focusing on a young man who thinks he’s in charge and the woman from corporate who knows she is. It’s from Better Living Through Chemistry writers Geoff Moore and David Posamentier and executive producers Jessica Biel and Michelle Purple of Iron Ocean Films. Universal Cable Productions will produce.
Royal, from Gran Torino writer Nick Schenk, is a fresh spin on family comedy – the title character being a recently defected Hells Angel who has moved to the suburbs to care for his deceased sister’s children and finds the transition difficult. Sony Pictures Television is producing with executive producers Schenk, Peter Tolan (Rescue Me), Michael Wimer (Rake) and Guymon Casady (Game of Thrones) of Television 360.
For the past eight years, USA has been the most watched basic cable network on the strength of drama series that buck the currently cable trends of angst and gore. As some of its key drama players having bowed out — Burn Notice after Season 7, Psych in March at the end of its eighth, soon to be joined by White Collar after an abbreviated sixth — the network has been exploring darker, edgier territory with new entries like Graceland. Here are USA’s next crop of drama hopefuls, now in development.
Boom is about a young couple that moves to a contemporary boomtown in North Dakota in pursuit of the American dream and are seduced by the sudden wealth of frontier life. Writer-director Josh Pate (Surface) co-wrote the project with author Rodes Fishburne (Going To See The Elephant) and executive produces with Tony Krantz (24). Boom is from ABC Signature.
Brand, executive produced by Jodie Foster (Elysium), Bob Cooper (Stargate SG-1) and writer Bill Wheeler, follows a charismatic man who found his way out of addiction and lawlessness when he was born again into the Christian faith, joining his brother ministering a small, local church where his ministry is threatened by a brand-new mega church, The series is from FremantleMedia North America in association with Landscape Entertainment. Foster is signed on to direct the pilot. J.J. Jamieson (The Wives He Forgot) also executive produces.
Colony is set in the very near future – 2015 – in Los Angeles, which is occupied by aliens with whom some humans collaborate and benefit from the new order, while others rebel and suffer the consequences. A co-production between Legendary Television and Universal Cable Productions, Colony was written and is executive produced by Carlton Cuse (Bates Motel, Lost) and Ryan Condal (the upcoming Hercules).
The Farm looks at one of the last great family-owned farms in the Midwest, where a father must battle horrors both psychological and diabolical in an effort to save those closest to him from a long-buried evil that has taken control of his only daughter. From writer and executive producer Brandon Camp (Dragonfly) and executive producers Dawn Olmstead (Prison Break), Michael Bay (Transformers films), Andrew Form (upcoming The Last Ship) and Brad Fuller (upcoming The Last Ship), The Farm is produced by Grady Girl Productions and Platinum Dunes in association with Warner Horizon Television.
Control explores the high-intensity and contentious world of air traffic control in one of America’s busiest airports and centers on a charismatic, foul-mouthed optimist who has just ascended to the ranks of manager in an environment where union vs. management is a constant, near-violent struggle. It’s from writer and executive producer Rashad Raisani (Burn Notice) and executive producers Larry Shuman (Devious Maids) and David Wolthoff. The series is from Fox Television Studios and based on the book Hidden America by Jeanne Marie Laskas.
Mr. Robot is a drama about a young programmer, Elliot, who suffers from a debilitating anti-social disorder and decides he can only connect to people by hacking them. Elliot finds himself in the intersection between a cybersecurity firm he works for, his hacking exploits at night, and the underworld hacking organization trying to recruit him to help bring down the 1 percent. The project is from writer and executive producer Sam Esmail (Comet) and Steve Golin (True Detective) and Chad Hamilton (Breakup at a Wedding) from Anonymous Content, Mr. Robot is from Universal Cable Productions.
USA also detailed two limited series in development to follow its upcoming event series DIG. Border Lord is the origin story of the Mexican drug cartels and how they sprang from one family in San Diego. It’s from executive producers Greg Nava (Selena) and Gil Netter (Life of Pi); Barbara Martinez-Jitner (Bordertown) serves as executive producer and will write along with Nava. The project is from Universal Cable Productions.
The Swap follows a woman struggling to save her marriage, who convinces her workaholic husband to swap homes with another couple so they can take their family on a much-needed dream vacation to the Cook Islands. Their dream quickly turns into a nightmare that includes a murder investigation, a kidnapping gone wrong and an international corporation on the verge of collapse. The Swap is written and executive produced by Josh Berman (Bones). Jill Green (The American) and Acorn Productions also serve as executive producers. The Swap is from Sony Pictures Television.