USA Network will venture into the scripted comedy arena with the development of two half-hour sitcoms and one comedy pilot, the network announced Thursday in advance of its upfront presentation this afternoon.
"The major messaging for us is the expanison of the portfolio," USA Network co-president Jeff Wachtel told Multichannel News. "We've talked about entering the reality and comedy space and this is the year that we're really walking the walk."
The new comedy series include Sirens from Denis Leary (Rescue Me) which focuses on the lives of three Chicago EMTs; and Playing House, starring Jessica St. Clair (Bridesmaids, Best Friends Forever) and Lennon Parham (Best Friends Forever, Accidentally On Purpose) as two friends who reunite at critical times in their lives. In addition the network has set a pilot order for Love Is Dead, a single-camera comedy set at a company that specializes in breaking-up romantic relationships.
The comedies will complement the network’s off-network acquisition of ABC’s hit series Modern Family which debuts on the network later this year. “With Modern Family joining our line-up in the fall, we can leverage television’s most popular comedy to serve as a powerful launch pad for new originals in this genre,” said Chris McCumber, Co-President of USA Network.
The network will also add to its scripted drama series lineup with several new shows including Horizon, a period genre drama from Gale Anne Hurd (Walking Dead) set at the height of World War II; The Arrangement, from Numb3rs creators Cheryl Heuton about a Columbian woman who trades her tragic and mysterious past for a fresh start in Miami by marrying an ambitious politician; Complications, from Burn Notice creator Matt Nix which follows the story of an ER doctor whose life changes after he is involved in a gang shooting; and Bank, which follows a young FBI agent who works in bank crimes division in Los Angeles.
The network will also develop Blanco Country, a drama based on a series of books by Ben Rehder which follows a worldly pro baseball player who returns to his small Texas hometown to take over as sheriff; Don’t Turn Around, a limited series that follows the mysterious disappearances of young workers trapped on a remote vacation island; Hungry, from Royal Pains executive producer Michael Rauch that takes a behind the scenes look at the opening of a trendy New York City restaurant; and Shadow Counsel, a legal thriller that revolves around a criminal lawyer who is recruited by the FBI to crack an ongoing investigation.
The network also announced that journalist and Talk Stoop host Cat Greenleaf will host the network's 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daytime block through several interstitials that will run during and between its lineup of off-network dramas and original series. USA officials say that it hopes the interstitials will draw advertisers looking for unique marketing and product placement opporunities.