Showtime's 2003 series lineup is continuing to round into shape.
The premium channel has ordered 13 episodes plus the two-hour pilot of Dead Like Me, and given the go-ahead for Out of Order
as a limited series: a two-hour premiere, followed by a quartet of one-hour installments. Both will bow sometime next summer, according to Showtime Networks Inc. executive vice president of programming Gary Levine.
These shows join Earthlings
(a summer debut) and Penn & Teller: Bullshit
(beginning in January) as the newcomers to Showtime's series roster, which also includes Queer as Folk, Soul Food, The Chris Isaak Show
and Jeremiah. Levine said the network, which recently cancelled Resurrection Blvd.
after three seasons, will make the renewal or cancellation decision on first-year entries Odyssey 5
and Street Time
"within a couple of weeks."
Dead Like Me
centers on a young woman who is killed when a piece of the MIR space station crashes her head. Georgia "George" Lass (newcomer Ellen Muth), is not only surprised that there is an afterlife, but she already has been assigned a job. Her boss Rube (Mandy Patinkin) is also a reaper, one who plucks the souls of the living and escorts them to their eternal reward.
"This is a very stylish, quirky show. It's really a coming of age story in different kind of way," said Levine. "Ellen Muth isn't a household name, but she's a player on the independent film scene."
Starring Eric Stoltz (Pulp Fiction) and Felicity Huffman (Sports Night), Out of Order
will offer a distinctive take on scenes from a troubled marriage. It is told from the point of view of the screenwriter husband torn between his love of a clinically depressed wife and their young son, and his attraction for another woman with whom he ultimately initiates an affair.
Out of Order, originally considered as a full series, may still wind up in an expanded form. "There were a number of considerations, financial, the availability of actors and scheduling, that contributed to this format decision," said Levine. "What we've ordered will give everyone a complete taste of the complex characters and compelling story. There is a possibility that this will grow."
Levine said the additions feature comedic and dramatic moments. "We feel good about the range of both shows. There is some great humor in Out of Order, while there are some really touching moments in Dead Like Me."
Staffing and the hiring of writers will soon begin for the shows, shooting for which will commence this spring.