Cable's 2004 Pitch

Provocative fare in reality and original series

A Mob daughter with her own reality show. A Frankenstein revival. A new Partridge Family. If variety is a lure for critics, cable can rest easy. As the broadcast networks wind down their presentations at the semiannual Television Critics Association gathering in Los Angeles, it's cable's turn to showcase upcoming fare this week. The goal is to entice TV writers and grab some headlines.

They have plenty to sample.

In Growing Up Gotti, A&E gets down home Aug. 2 with Star
-magazine columnist Victoria Gotti, daughter of the Dapper Don, crime boss John Gotti. USA Network puts a modern twist on a classic tale with new limited fall series Frankenstein: New Orleans homicide detectives uncover the myth. And VH1 is remaking The Partridge Family, reality-style: In September, viewers will vote on new family members, who then star in a scripted pilot airing on VH1 this fall.

"A lot of edgier stuff is happening on the fringes in cable," says Peter Carlin, TV critic for The Oregonian. "It tends to foreshadow what will happen on broadcast." His cable favorites include FX's The Shield, as well as Spike TV's Joe Schmo 2,
even its ratings are sluggish.

Philadelphia Daily News
critic Ellen Gray is intrigued by Entourage, HBO's new comedy about a young Hollywood star and his hometown buddies. The series, which debuted July 18, "has an MTV vibe," she says.

Rick Kushman of the Sacramento Bee considers the cable part of tour the most valuable. "It's where the networks tell us about stuff that's coming that we didn't know about before," he says.

Here is a preview of promising new cable programs on display this week.

Scripted Drama

Huff: Showtime's latest drama is the first series under entertainment chief Bob Greenblatt. Debuting Nov. 7, it stars Hank Azaria as a therapist trying to sort out his own personal issues.

Rescue Me: The firefighter drama, starring Denis Leary, is FX's third original drama. Premiering July 21, it will anchor the network's new second night of originals.

Earthsea: In December, Danny Glover and Isabella Rossellini will headline this four-hour Sci Fi Channel mini-series, based on Ursula K. Le Guin's novels about a young wizard.

Documentary-style Reality

American Candidate: Showtime's presidential reality show, from documentary producer R.J. Cutler, kicks off Aug. 1 as 10 hopefuls vie to be crowned the show's most promising candidate.

Family Bonds: The life of the Evangelistas, a family of bondsmen and bounty hunters, is the subjects of HBO's Sept. 19 reality show, produced by filmmaker Steve Cantor.


I Can Do That: Comedian Wanda Sykes takes on unusual jobs, like learning to be an airline pilot, in this Comedy Central show arriving in October.

Dr. 90210: First came drama Nip/Tuck. Now there is a reality take on plastic surgery. E! Entertainment Television's new series takes viewers inside a tony Beverly Hills practice and behind-the-scenes coverage of doctors' lives.

Taking Care of Business: TLC turns its attention to small businesses on the ropes in October. Three experts will advise business owners how to turn things around.

Movies and Documentaries

Diary of a Political Tourist
: Following up her first political documentary, Journeys with George, filmmaker Alexandra Pelosi's new project, airing Oct. 11 on HBO, is a humorous look at what it takes to become president. It is culled from two years on the campaign trail.

Hustle: Actor Tom Sizemore stars in ESPN's biopic about baseball legend Pete Rose. Debuting Sept. 25, the movie chronicles Rose's gambling scandal in the 1980s that got him banned from baseball.