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QUICK HITS: TCA WINTER TOUR

1/23/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

The following are some cable highlights from Jan. 12-15 at the Television Critics
Association 2012 Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif.:

FX’s Landgraf: ‘Anger Management’ No Publicity Stunt

PASADENA, CALIF. — FX president and general
manager John Landgraf defended
the network’s decision to pick up Charlie
Sheen starrer Anger Management at the
TCA press tour Jan. 15, saying the move
was not a “cynical publicity stunt.”

“It was just a regular pitch, and I walked
into the pitch as skeptical as you would
believe,” Landgraf said. “What I heard was
a very good pitch for a comedy series.”

Sheen will play a character with a checkered
past and a complicated relationship with his 13-year-old daughter, and Landgraf
expressed confi dence that the actor is now a very different person than was
depicted in the press during his Two and a Half Men implosion last winter.

Landgraf said he has seen 15 storylines of a few sentences each, but has not
yet seen a script for Anger Management, which is why FX did not feature the series
on a TCA panel.

The deal for Anger Management follows the model used for Tyler Perry sitcoms
on TBS, with FX ordering an initial 10 episodes from Debmar-Mercury and picking
up an additional 90 episodes later on. Landgraf said that syndication model was
a motive to get the series, giving the network a stab at getting another back-end
property.

— Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

‘Mad Men’ Returns March 25 With Two-Hour Premiere

PASADENA, CALIF. — AMC will bring back its Emmy Award-winning series Mad Men on
March 25, one of nine original series the channel will air in 2012, the network confirmed during its Jan. 14 TCA presentation.

The network will debut season five of Mad Men with
a two-hour season premiere episode, according to
AMC senior vice president of original programming,
production and digital content Joel Stillerman.

The network also announced Breaking Bad will
return in third quarter, while the second season of
The Killing will debut April 1 with a two-hour premiere
episode.

Stillerman addressed criticism of AMC’s handling
of the show’s rookie-campaign finale, which did not
reveal the main killer after a season-long buildup. He
said the network wanted to remain loyal to Forbrydelsen, the Danish series from
which The Killing was adapted, which did not reveal the main killer until its second
season. “We clearly didn’t manage expectations,” he said, adding that the killer will
be revealed during the show’s second-season finale.

The shows will join the already announced Feb. 12 launch of the second half of
The Walking Dead’s sophomore season. Stillerman said the network has upped
the number of episodes for the recently green-lighted third season of the zombiethemed
series to 16 from 13.

Among the new nonfiction series premiering on the network in 2012 is Comic
Men
, a six-part series that follows the antics of owners and workers in a New Jersey-
based comic-book shop; and The Pitch, a documentary series that follows two
ad agencies as they make their business pitches.

— R. Thomas Umstead

Sundance Renews ‘Zee,’ ‘Iconoclasts’

PASADENA, CALIF. — Sundance Channel announced new seasons of its fashionthemed
series All On The Line With Joe Zee and its long-running Iconoclasts during
its Jan. 14 TCA presentation.

In addition, the network will launch a new original, nonfi ction series titled Push
Girls
, which traces the lives of four women who live life to the fullest, despite being
paralyzed from the neck or waist down. The 14-episode series will debut in April.

Sundance will launch its third season of Zee, which takes viewers behind-the
scenes world of fashion design, as well as the sixth season of Iconoclasts, which
explores the lives of two creative visionaries, later this year.

— R. Thomas Umstead

CMT, Seacrest Team To Develop Rycroft Reality Series

PASADENA, CALIF. — CMT will team with Ryan Seacrest Productions to develop a
reality series around the life of former Dancing With The Stars contestant Melissa
Rycroft, the network said Jan. 14 during the TCA press tour.

The series, Melissa and Tye: A New Reality, chronicles the lives of Rycroft — who
also starred on The Bachelor — and her husband Tye Strickland as they relocate
from Dallas to Los Angeles to pursue her TV career. The series debuts in April.

“America has fallen in love with Melissa Rycroft, but she has been in the homes
of CMT viewers since her time on Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team,”
Jayson Dinsmore, executive vice president of development and programming,
CMT, said. “We are excited to have her back on CMT as she gives us access to
her new role as wife, mother and someone who is now in the glare of the Hollywood
spotlight.”

— R. Thomas Umstead

Current TV: Olbermann Will Lead Political Coverage

PASADENA, CALIF. — Current TV on-air personality Keith Olbermann will lead the network’s
2012 political coverage, although he was a no-show at the network’s Jan.
13 TCA presentation.

Network chairman Al Gore also put to rest rumors of the network’s potential sale,
saying during the presentation that the network is not on the block.

Current TV president David Bohrman said to a packed room of TV critics that
Olbermann, who reportedly had a recent dust-up with Current executives over coverage
of the Iowa Caucuses, initially declined to anchor the network’s political coverage
but is expected to lead it going forward.

He added that Olbermann was “on vacation” and was unable to attend Friday’s
event, which elicited chuckles from the assembled press.

“We’ve been told that he will lead the network’s political coverage going forward
... that’s what we want,” Bohrman said.

The network also announced that it will launch its primetime series The War
Room With Jennifer Granholm
Jan. 30. The hour-long program will be hosted weeknights
by former two-term Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, executives said.

— R. Thomas Umstead

‘Game of Thrones’ to Return April 1

PASADENA, CALIF. — Game of Thrones will return for its 10-episode second season on
Sunday, April 1, at 9 p.m., HBO said at the TCA press tour Jan. 13.

New comedy series Girls will premiere April 15 at
10:30 p.m. From creator/star Lena Dunham and executive
producer Judd Apatow, it’s about a group of
girls in their early 20s.

Veep, created by Armando Iannucci and starring
Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president of the United
States, will launch a week later on Apr. 22 at 10 p.m.

HBO also confirmed that movie Game Change will
premiere Saturday, Mar. 10 at 9 p.m. The film portrays
John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign and his
selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate.

— Andrea Morabito, Broadcasting & Cable

A&E Slates Several Scripted Projects

PASADENA, CALIF. — A&E Network is developing a takeoff on the classic horror film
Psycho, as well as a show on serial killers, the network announced Jan. 13 at the
TCA winter press tour.

Bates Motel, produced by Universal Television,
will serve as a prequel to the popular
Alfred Hitchcock thriller and will focus on
Norman Bates’ childhood through his teen
years, according to the network. Those Who
Kill
, based on the best selling work of Elsebeth
Egholm, focuses on a police detective
and a forensic psychiatrist who track down
serial killers.

In addition, the network announced it will
launch its new western-themed series Longmire this summer. The 10-episode series,
based on the Walt Longmire Mystery novels by best-selling author Craig Johnson,
stars Robert Taylor (The Matrix) as a no-nonsense sheriff of a Wyoming county.

— R. Thomas Umstead

Starz Sets New Series Based on Marco Polo

PASADENA, CALIF. — Starz has ordered new original series Marco Polo, based on the
life of the 13th-century explorer, the premium network announced at the TCA press
tour on Jan. 13.

Starz Entertainment will own the exclusive license to the domestic premium
pay TV rights and certain digital rights to the series for its flagship network, while
Starz’s Anchor Bay arm will distribute the property in the U.S. on home video. The
Weinstein Co. and Electus’ global distribution arm Electus International control all
remaining rights.

— Tim Baysinger, Broadcasting & Cable

September