TCA Roundup: Rome Redux, No More Sex


Los Angeles— With pundits gathered for the Television Critics Association winter press tour here, cable-network executives trotted out their latest fare while expounding upon their strategies last week.

AMC is developing several original series to complement its acquired movie product. In April, it will launch a stop-motion comedy series titled The Wrong Coast
that will poke fun at the movie industry, said senior vice president of programming and production Rob Sorcher.

The show, co-created by actor Mark Hamill (Star Wars), will put together movies and actors from different genres to create comedy sketches, Sorcher said.

The network this summer will also premiere The AMC Project, a monthly documentary series, featuring a unique look at movie-related issues through the eyes of various filmmakers.

In a first-look deal, USA Network will provide Whoopi Goldberg's One Ho Productions with a discretionary development fund and some guaranteed overhead to develop original programming. The initial yield, Sullivan's Travels, is a movie based on a 1941 film written and directed by Preston Sturges, slated for a Christmas 2004 release.

Meanwhile, the Hughes Brothers will direct and produce Touching Evil, a 90-minute series pilot. Based on a British Granada Television series, the project focuses on a detective who, after surviving a near fatal incident, dedicates his life to solving high-profile crimes.

Other new scripted series on tap for USA in 2003 include: Thoughtcrimes, about the exploits of a woman with telepathic gifts; and Peacemakers, tracking a marshal who attempts to solve crimes in the late 1880s.

ESPN additions

ESPN will again add veteran sportscaster Jim Rome to its roster, with Rome Is Burning, a live, weekly one-hour sports-talk show to bow May 6 at 7 p.m. The program will originate from Los Angeles and showcase Rome's opinions, rants and debates, including guest stars.

The sports network also is in the early stages of development on The Ice Bowl, a movie about the legendary 1967 National Football League title game.

'Sex' climaxes

On the premium front, Home Box Office said hit comedy Sex and the City will end after its sixth season, with the final episodes airing early next year.

Production of the skein's final 20 installments will begin in March, with a dozen slated to air this summer. The balance will appear beginning in January 2004.