USA: Expanding Beyond DramaExecs planning ahead for 'Modern Family' lead-out in 2013 5/21/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern
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USA Network is readying its expansion outside of the
drama genre, with both comedy and unscripted series on target to launch the
next two fall seasons.
"In order for us to grow, we need to find new ways to bring in new viewers,"
network copresident Chris McCumber said last week.
For its comedy slate, the network will use repeat episodes of Modern Family
beginning in fall 2013 as a lineup launch pad. After initially stating they
wanted to get one of their comedy projects on the schedule before Modern
Family premieres, McCumber and fellow copresident Jeff Wachtel told B&C
that launching the genre with the ABC hit was "an incredible advantage" they
couldn't pass up.
"[Comedy] is a new world for us," said McCumber. "We want to make sure we have
the right product to put out there at the right time."
USA added four projects to the previously announced Paging Dr. Freed and
Dennis Leary's Sirens. Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun's Regulars,
about a group of customers and employees at a New Jersey bar, and Kelsey
Grammer's The Dicicco Brothers, about an entrepreneur who tries to make
it big in Silicon Valley, go along with Benched (about an attorney
working in the public defender's office) and Start-Up (with two young
pals trying to start their own business).
USA is also making its initial push into unscripted fare, developing series
with former NFL quarterback Kurt Warner and creating an American version of BBC
series The Choir. The net has added Mark Burnett's Romancing the
Globe and Shed Media's Bride or Best Man (working title).
"We'd be silly not to get into reality," said Wachtel. USA hopes to
differentiate its fare from the average "car-crash TV." Wachtel said the
challenge will be "how do we do our version that stays within our more upbeat,
Wachtel hopes USA will debut its first unscripted series on the air by fall or
winter, but added, "we [will] put stuff up when and where we're ready."
McCumber said they are still tinkering with the right balance of scripted vs.
unscripted: "There's no perfect formula."
USA will experiment with airing dramas straight through as opposed to the usual
split-season strategy, a tactic McCumber and Wachtel said they were considering
back in January. Wachtel cautioned that the strategy won't be in place for
every show, adding that USA's many series allow for such an experiment.
"We both have the luxury and the challenge of figuring out where the shows play
best," said Wachtel.
To that point, Wachtel added that it's "starting to feel like Royal Pains
is a pure summer-for-summer show." Fourteen of the 16 episodes of Royal
Pains' fourth season will air in the summer, with the other two being used
for a holiday-themed prequel movie.
The network is adding six new dramas, including projects from Law &
Order creator Dick Wolf, Bryan Fuller, Pierce Brosnan and an adaptation of
the T. Jefferson Parker novel Fallen. These join the already announced
pilot Graceland and the miniseries Political Animals, which
debuts in July.