TNT, TBS Show Off New Fare


New York -- Steven Bochco and the executive-producing team of The Closer are among the top talent developing new series for TNT.

The drama network, at an upfront presentation to advertisers here Tuesday, said Bochco (NYPD Blue, LA Law) is serving as an executive producer and co-writer on an as-yet-untitled series from ABC Television Studios about young barristers -- best friends from law schools now working on opposite sides.

And the executive producers for The Closer, Michael Robin and Greer Shephard -- who had the unenviable task of informing the assembled media buyers and planners that series star Kyra Sedgwick couldn’t attend the event -- are working on Mrs. America, a one-hour show following the life of a woman juggling her home and professional lives.

Elsewhere, TNT is developing an updated version of 1960s series The Saint; Leverage, about a six-person team of modern-day Robin Hoods who protect society’s underlings from power and corruption; and A.D., a one-hour show from Angelo and David Anspaugh, who worked on theatricals Hoosiers and Rudy.

Network officials also talked up The Talisman, which is expected to bow in the summer of 2008. The six-hour limited series is an adaptation of the Stephen King/Peter Straub novel from Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks.

This June will mark the third-season debut of The Closer, basic cable’s highest-rated series to date. Taking the place of Saved, Heartland -- about a recently divorced couple (Treat Williams and Kari Matchett) who live in high-tension world of a hospital for organ donors -- will claim the coveted lead-out spot from the Sedgwick-starrer.

In July, TNT will premiere Saving Grace, in which Holly Hunter makes her TV-series debut as Grace Hanadarko, a fast-living Oklahoma City detective who tries to steer clear of her destructive tendencies and toward a redemptive path, guided by a tobacco-spitting angel (HBO’s Deadwood’s Leon Rippy).

The Company, the six-hour limited series based on the best-seller about CIA activities during the Cold War, will air in August.

As for sister network TBS, it will complement a pair of returning comedies with new original entries this summer.

The “very funny” network will debut the half-hour scripted series The Bill Engvall Show, a domestic sitcom in which family therapist Dr. Will Pearson (Engvall, Blue Collar TV) may need some help coping with his own brood.

The show, also starring Nancy Travis (Becker), will complement the second season of My Boys -- in which guy’s girl and sportswriter PJ (Jordan Spiro) tries to find love within her world dominated by male friends -- in its primetime lineup.

Fans will be able to find additional content for both shows, including a broadband extension in which Dr. Will answers questions before a studio audience, on, senior vice president of original programming for TNT and TBS Michael Wright said at an upfront presentation to advertisers here Tuesday.

TBS will also stream full episodes of The Family Guy.

Continuing its push to find more edgy fare in late-night, the network will unleash master impersonator Frank Caliendo (Mad TV) in his own stretch comedy, The Frank Show. TBS also OKed an eight-episode second season of 10 Items or Less for the daypart.

And the network has other projects in development on the scripted front in primetime and fare that will appear to a younger adult audience in late-night.

For the latter, TBS is planning an anthology showcase for young comedians with Bob Newhart serving as host and executive producer. Wright said Newhart will hit the road with up-and-comers to “prove that the genre is still alive and well” on Bob Newhart: In Search of Comedy.

The network also has an untitled sketch-comedy project from Jenny Hunter, the associate producer of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and executive producer of Man Bites Dog,in the works for late-night.

Vying for a primetime green-light are these projects in various stages of development: Uncommon Sense, in which stand-up and actor Larry Miller takes a unique look at suburbia as a dad, husband and newspaper columnist; Big Shot, about a National Basketball Association rookie who still lives in his parents’ home; and an untitled project from Dave Caplan (The Drew Carey Show) based on his childhood experience with a single mother raising three kids while running a business.

TBS also announced that Jerry Seinfeld will headline the 2007 Comedy Festival, which it airs in conjunction with sister service HBO.