Continuing to build on the network's strength of signature original series, USA announced today a powerful new drama slate of upcoming development from high-profile auspices and homegrown series producers. The network also announced that it will start production on HORIZON, a period genre project from Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd ("Walking Dead"). USA's newest original series GRACELAND, from WHITE COLLAR creator Jeff Eastin, will kick off the network's summer slate of original dramas, featuring SUITS, BURN NOTICE, ROYAL PAINS, COVERT AFFAIRS and NECESSARY ROUGHNESS. The announcement was made in conjunction with USA's Upfront (#USAupfront), which is being held today at Pier 36 in New York and emceed by the cast of SUITS.
"We have an incredibly strong pipeline of new drama in development from a collection of top writers in the industry, many of whom have enjoyed a successful track record at USA," said Jeff Wachtel, co-president of USA Network. "Our drama development slate represents a broad range of themes, and ensures USA will continue to have a powerful mix of its dynamic originals as we plan for the future," said Chris McCumber, co-president of USA Network.
HORIZON is a period genre drama set at the height of World War II. At a time when many American women took more significant roles in the workplace than ever before, a secretary at the FBI begins a secretive investigation into files that have been stamped with the codename "horizon." This mysterious project provides links to the death of her husband and the disappearance of a young girl, and has also - unbeknownst to her - aroused the interest of undercover Nazi spies working in the US. From Universal Cable Productions, Hurd will executive produce through her Valhalla Entertainment, with writer and co-executive producer Bridget Tyler (BURN NOTICE). The pilot will go into production this summer.
USA's drama slate includes:
THE ARRANGEMENT (Pilot Under Consideration) - From "Numb3rs" creators Cheryl Heuton and Nicolas Falacci this one-hour drama pilot is inspired by a short story from the Elmore Leonard anthology "When The Women Come Out To Dance." THE ARRANGEMENT tells the story of Lourdes Nieves (Stephanie Sigman, "Miss Bala"), a Columbian woman who trades her tragic and mysterious past for a fresh start in Miami by entering into a marriage with Billy Whitley (Bryan Greenberg, "How to Make It In America"), a well-meaning and ambitious politician. In a union of political expediency, Lourdes and Billy manage a delicate dance of romance and clear-eyed pragmatism as she leverages her experience and contacts to help her husband battle the blood sport that is local Florida politics. From Universal Cable Productions and executive producers Doug Liman and David Bartis of Hypnotic (SUITS, COVERT AFFAIRS), the pilot also stars Amanda Schull and Manolo Cardona.
THE EDGE - From Universal Cable Productions and Executive Producer John Legend's Get Lifted Film Co. ("Get Lifted"), THE EDGE, written and executive produced by Adam Hoff and Justin Herber, is a thriller that explores one idealistic man's journey after he leaves an NGO to join the world's top venture capital firm. Jeff Cross believes he landed his dream job working with an elite team of progressive thinking investors who fund socially conscious projects to better the planet. As he rises through the ranks, he discovers a morally bankrupt workplace that perpetuates shadowy agendas to control governments, industries and global leaders to fill the firm's coffers. If he goes up against this financial goliath, Jeff risks his soul and the lives of those closest to him. Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius of Get Lifted Film Co. also executive produce.
COMPLICATIONS - The story of an ER doctor whose life changes after he is involved in a gang shooting when he is forced to explore how active a doctor can be in treating the cause of his patients' medical problems. From Fox TV Studios, COMPLICATIONS is written and executive produced by BURN NOTICE creator Matt Nix.
BANK - After an unconventional act of heroism gives her the opportunity to choose her next assignment, a young FBI agent surprises everyone by choosing the bank crimes division in Los Angeles. The city of LA is the epicenter of bank robberies in the U.S. with three to six banks robbed every day, representing 30% of all bank robberies in the country. It takes a special kind of person to confront such an unrelenting tide of crime, leaving her peers suspicious of her intent. From Universal Cable Productions, written and co-executive produced by Nora Zuckerman and Lilla Zuckerman ("Fringe," "Human Target") and executive produced by Doug Liman and David Bartis of Hypnotic.
BLANCO COUNTY - Based on a series of books by Ben Rehder, BLANCO COUNTY follows the story of John Marlin, a worldly pro baseball player who would rather spend his down time traveling the world than return to his small Texas hometown. After the death of his father, Marlin returns home to find a lot has changed since he left. The place is now booming with rich ranchers and tourists and there's an uneasy alliance between the locals and the nouveau rich. Believing the local cops to be inept, Marlin runs for sheriff and surprisingly wins. A man who spent his entire life running away from his roots must now adapt to a new way of life. From Tom Welling Productions and Rob Thomas Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television, BLANCO COUNTY is written by Rob Thomas ("Veronica Mars") and executive produced by Thomas, Tom Welling, Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.
DON'T TURN AROUND - A haunting limited series set on a beautiful but remote island. As the summer draws to an end and the vacationers/weekenders have all left the island, the young staff left behind is ready to finally let loose before they pack up as well. When an unexpected storm rolls across the island during the party, several people mysteriously vanish and turn up dead. Trapped on the island with no means of escape, the remaining group struggles to survive - against whatever is out there ... and each other. From Grady Girl Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television, DON'T TURN AROUND is written by J.R. Orci, who executive produces with Dawn Olmstead.
HUNGRY - From ROYAL PAINS executive producer Michael Rauch and restaurateur Joe Bastianich, HUNGRY is an inside look at the opening of a New York City hot spot, inspired by Bastianich's life and his New York Times bestseller "Restaurant Man." Well versed in the toll that restaurant life can take on one's relationships, the son of a famous chef nevertheless tries to open his own eatery. He juggles negotiating with teamsters, working the front of the house with high-end clientele, managing a large staff and finding time to follow his passion: cooking. He is monomaniacal in his pursuit of the perfect restaurant, at a steep cost to himself and those he loves. From Universal Cable Productions, HUNGRY is written and executive produced by Rauch and executive produced by Bastianich.
SHADOW COUNSEL - A legal thriller centered on Ethan, a former Army JAG attorney now working as a criminal lawyer in NY who is recruited by the FBI to crack an ongoing investigation. Ethan serves as a shadow counsel - a secret lawyer who operates behind the scenes and completely off the record to circumvent existing roadblocks (hired attorneys, interrogators, etc) in classified cases. Reluctantly agreeing to take the case, Ethan's life rapidly descends into chaos as he finds himself on the run, unsure of who his friends are or who he can trust. From Universal Cable Productions, SHADOW COUNSEL is written and executive produced by Barry Schindel ("Castle") and executive produced by David Semel ("Hemlock Grove," "American Horror Story").
USA Network today greenlit its first original half-hour comedies, with series orders for SIRENS from Denis Leary ("Rescue Me") and Bob Fisher ("Wedding Crashers") and PLAYING HOUSE from Jessica St. Clair ("Bridesmaids," "Best Friends Forever") and Lennon Parham ("Best Friends Forever," "Accidentally On Purpose"). The network also picked up a new comedy pilot, LOVE IS DEAD. The new series will debut in the first quarter of 2014, and will be strong complements to MODERN FAMILY, the award-winning and top-rated comedy, which premieres on USA Tuesday, September 24 at 8/7c. The announcement was made in conjunction with USA's Upfront (#USAupfront), which is being held today at Pier 36 in New York.
"This is the right time to be introducing half hour original comedies to the USA audience. 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. "Our new series come from some of the best comedic talent in the business, and reflect USA's style - with great characters, strong execution and compelling storytelling," said Jeff Wachtel, Co-President of USA Network.
From the distinct comedic point of view of Leary and Fisher, SIRENS follows three of Chicago's best EMTs whose sometimes silly, self-righteous and even self-destructive personalities make them unqualified for sustaining relationships, friendships and most occupations. They are, however, uniquely qualified for saving anyone who winds up in their ambulance. Based on a UK format, SIRENS stars Michael Mosley ("Pan Am"), Kevin Daniels ("Modern Family"), Jessica McNamee ("The Vow") and Kevin Bigley ("Game Change"). Leary and Fisher co-wrote the pilot and both executive produce the series. Jim Serpico ("Rescue Me") of Apostle, and Hal Vogel, David Aukin ("Hyde Park on Hudson"), and David Leach of Daybreak Pictures also executive produce. Filmed on location in Chicago, the series is from Apostle and Fox Television Studios, in conjunction with Daybreak Pictures.
PLAYING HOUSE is a single-camera buddy comedy about what happens when two best friends come back together, just when they need each other most. The original half-hour series is inspired by the ultra-close friendship between St. Clair and Parham. In PLAYING HOUSE, when mother to-be Maggie (Parham) asks her single and career-driven best friend Emma (St. Clair) to return home from her job overseas to attend her baby shower, she has no idea what's truly in store. Parham and St. Clair co-wrote the presentation and will executive produce the series along with Scot Armstrong ("The Hangover: Part II," "Old School") and Ravi Nandan ("Best Friends Forever," "Animal Practice") of American Work. The series is from Universal Cable Productions and American Work.
LOVE IS DEAD (pilot order): This single-camera comedy is set at a unique company that specializes in breaking-up romantic relationships -- rationally, compassionately, thoroughly -- on behalf of those who are willing to pay to not be around when it happens. It's the unconventional romantic comedy that asks: "Why, if love is so fickle, do we keep coming back for more?" Written and executive produced by Zev Borow ("Chuck"), the pilot is from Universal Cable Productions and Gaumont International Television. Katie O'Connell, Elisa Roth, Sidonie Dumas and Christophe Riandee executive produce for Gaumont International Television. The pilot is based on the award-winning French short film of the same name, written and directed by Eric Capitaine and produced by Carole Lambert and Carine Ruszniewski of De Films Aiguille.
USA Network announced today that it is expanding its Characters Unite collaboration with the National Football League. The initiative, which works to combat hate and intolerance, kicks off with a new series of vignettes during the NFL regular season and culminates with the third annual NFL CHARACTERS UNITE hour-long special documentary premiering around Super Bowl XLVIII. Super Bowl champion Ray Rice will be among the players featured in the weekly vignettes that highlight NFL stars sharing their personal stories of overcoming discrimination and helping a young person facing similar challenges today. Launching in November 2013 on-air, online and in select stadiums around the nation, the series will be offered as a sponsorship opportunity to marketing partners looking to align their brand to the important cause of promoting greater respect and acceptance. The announcement was made in conjunction with USA's Upfront (#USAupfront), which is being held today at Pier 36 in New York.
"We are proud to expand the collaboration between Characters Unite and the National Football League. With the combined resources of the top cable network and the top professional sports league, we can exponentially increase the reach and impact of our shared effort to combat hate and bullying - two critical issues facing today's youth," said Toby Graff, USA's Senior Vice President, Public Affairs. "The powerful and courageous stories of the NFL stars taking part will help to inspire greater respect, tolerance and acceptance.
"Each of the eight heart-warming and inspiring vignettes will profile a NFL star who serves as a role model, using his own experiences to mentor a young person who is experiencing similar prejudice and discrimination today. Among those featured will be Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back and Super Bowl XLVII champion, who will be tackling the problem of bullying and teen suicide in conjunction with his efforts through Ray Rice Charitable Fund.
The vignettes will be broadcast on-air, and viewers can delve deeper into the series online, where there will be even more background on the emotional stories behind each player and young person. The documentary will kick off Characters Unite Month in February 2014, a time when USA Network shines a brighter spotlight on the initiative and the importance of promoting greater respect and acceptance.
"We are pleased to continue working with Characters Unite to highlight the positive impact NFL players have on their communities," said Tracy Perlman, NFL Vice President of Entertainment Marketing and Promotions. "We look forward to working with USA Network and The Hochberg Ebersol Company to tell these important stories."
"Each year, it is one of our company's great honors to produce 'NFL Characters Unite,'" said executive producer Charlie Ebersol. "We are thrilled that USA Network, the NFL and its players will continue to truly inspire teens while giving viewers an often ignored first person depiction of the cycle of negativity that we all should be fighting to end with today's youth.
"Previous players who participated in NFL CHARACTERS UNITE included Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain, Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu, New York Giants Pro Bowl defensive end Justin Tuck, Arizona Cardinals Pro Bowl MVP wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Atlanta Falcons Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez, New Orleans Saints star tight end Jimmy Graham, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and Super Bowl XL MVP Hines Ward, and NBC's Football Night in America analyst and Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy. The films have been narrated by former NBC's Football Night in America Emmy-winning sportscaster Cris Collinsworth.
NFL CHARACTERS UNITE was created by The Hochberg Ebersol Company and executive produced by company co-founders Charlie Ebersol and Justin W. Hochberg. The 2012 documentary was produced in by Paul Pawlowski and P3 Entertainment and directed by Ezra Edelman (HBO's Magic and Bird: A Courtship of Rivals). For more information on CHARACTERS UNITE, visit www.charactersunite.com.