Upfronts 2009: Spielberg, Kevin James Developing Turner Shows

Slates George Lopez TBS talker for November, Romano TNT drama for December
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Posted at 10:45 a.m. ET on May 20, 2009

Upfronts 2009: Complete Coverage From Broadcasting & Cable

Turner Entertainment Networks pulled back the curtain on the programs in development at TNT, TBS and TruTV Wednesday.

Among the projects are an untitled alien invasion project backed by Steven Spielberg for TNT and a half-hour sitcom, The Game of Life, from King of Queens star Kevin James.

The company also said that it would launch its new George Lopez TBS talk show in November, drama Men of a Certain Age, starring Ray Romano, in December and animated series Neighbors From Hell in early 2010.

TruTV ordered four series, including the previously announced conspiracy theory show with former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura, and a show from NFL Films taking viewers behind the scenes at the league.

"Our networks are continuing to grow as rivals to broadcasters, with original programming that reaches a wide spectrum of viewers," said Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks, unveiling the slate. "With TNT, we are delivering on our promise to air original programming three nights a week. TBS is offering shows that attract young viewers and a diverse audience, while TruTV continues to expand its lineup of exciting original series."

The full list of programs in development:

TNT
Untitled Alien Invasion Project - Six months after a worldwide alien invasion, a group of everyday heroes must rise up to fight for their survival - all while maintaining their humanity in the process. This project has been ordered to pilot and comes to TNT from DreamWorks Television and filmmaker Steven Spielberg, who will serve as executive producer along with DreamWorks Television heads Justin Falvey and Darryl Frank and screenwriter Robert Rodat. Rodat, who earned an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay for Saving Private Ryan, is writing the script for the pilot from an idea he co-conceived with Spielberg.

Class Action (working title) - Steven Bochco, the mastermind behind many dramas, including TNT's Raising the Bar, joins with Stephen Godchaux (Spin City) for this project, which follows a down-on-his-luck attorney as he fights for the disenfranchised.

Zapata, Texas (working title) - The husband-and-wife team of Kyra Sedgwick (TNT's The Closer) and Kevin Bacon co-conceived and will executive-produce this project, which is the story of a small Texas border town and its newly elected sheriff, "favorite son" Zeke. Zapata, Texas will follow Zeke as he navigates the equally treacherous waters of small-town politics and the volatile world of the U.S./Mexico border. Bacon is attached to direct the pilot.

Untitled Matt Williams Family Drama - Matt Williams, creator of Roseanne and co-creator of Home Improvement, takes a personal, passionate and ultimately heroic look at a loving, middle-American family that is keeping it together at a time when everything is trying to pull them apart.

Untitled Daniel Pyne Noir Drama - Daniel Pyne's many credits as a writer include The Manchurian Candidate (2004), Any Given Sunday and Pacific Heights. This project from Warner Horizon Television is set in 1954 Los Angeles, where a private detective tries to do the right thing as the ever-changing world makes it more difficult.

Pastor Jazz - This drama focuses on a minister, his music and his passion for people's hearts and souls, from the neediest to the wealthiest. Charles S. Dutton (The Express, Roc) is Pastor Jazz in this project, which is from Warner Horizon Television, Dutton, Mitchell Burgess (The Sopranos, Northern Exposure) and Robin Green (The Sopranos, Northern Exposure).

Macalister - Henry Shepard is a washed-up-novelist-turned-professor who tries to inspire the boys of The Macalister School. F.J. Pratt and Dan Cohen (Less Than Perfect) look into the minds and mischief of students at an all-boys school in upstate New York, showing how one man can have an impact on children of wealth and privilege.

Proof - Dr. Geoffrey Pierce is an eccentric neuroscientist who uses his unique outlook to help the federal government solve complex cases. With an intimate knowledge of human behavior and a masterful understanding of the mind, this quirky, crime-solving doctor pulls lessons from an odd and imaginative view of the world. This project comes from ABC Studios, Kenneth Biller (Legend of the Seeker, Star Trek: Voyager) and Mike Sussman (Star Trek: Voyager).

And unscripted series:
The Mayo Clinic - When someone is ill and has been told nothing more can be done, there is one place to go - the renowned Mayo Clinic, where hope springs eternal. This project will chronicle the lives of Mayo doctors and their patients. Bill Guttentag (Nanking) and David Kanter (Rendition) are executive producers.

Trip of a Lifetime - Everyone has a dream or a wish unfulfilled. Trip of a Lifetime will bring together extended, disconnected and deserving families. It could revolve around a lost family member, an unknown child, a missing brother or simply a returned keepsake. The project will be executive-produced by acclaimed author and travel expert Peter Greenberg and Rich Heller (Dallas: War of the Ewings).

TBS
The Game of Life - This half-hour sitcom follows four Pittsburgh friends as they reunite in their early 30s, only to discover life didn't turn out quite as planned. The Game of Life comes to TBS from Sony Pictures Television, executive-produced by Kevin James (King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop), Rock Reuben (King of Queens) and Jeff Sussman (King of Queens, Paul Blart: Mall Cop).

Big Tow - This animated project from Sony Pictures Television, Tantamount and executive producer Clay Graham (The Drew Carey Show) will follow the life of J.D. Biggs, a small-town Tennessee single dad and local hero who runs a towing company.

Wee Hours - From Second City TV and executive producer Lowell Mate, this slice-of-life sketch comedy employs the talents of the legendary Second City comedy troupe to tell stories of Chicagoans during the wee hours of midnight to 6 a.m.

The new TruTV programs:

NFL Full Contact (working title) - TruTV and NFL Films will provide exclusive access to what really goes on behind the scenes in professional football, from draft day to the Super Bowl.

Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura - He's undertaken some of the most dangerous missions in the world as a Navy SEAL. He's body-slammed giants in the wrestling ring as a WWE superstar. He's even conquered politics as the governor of Minnesota. Now, Jesse Ventura is uncovering the most compelling, modern-day conspiracy theories. Conspiracy Theory is produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions (Hell's Kitchen, I Survived a Japanese Game Show, Kitchen Nightmares).

U.S. Special Ops: Declassified (working title) - From producer Tom DeSanto (X-Men, Transformers) and 44 Blue Productions comes a thrilling new series that unlocks the case files of America's elite terrorist hunters. Through a mix of computer animation, recreations and interviews with actual agents, this series will recount the shocking, formerly top-secret details of the people who keep us safe while we sleep.

Full Throttle - This four-part series, produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions, will provide an inside look at the world's largest biker bar. Mike Ballard, beautiful bartenders and a full cast of characters race against the clock to serve huge crowds at Ballard's Full Throttle Saloon in Sturgis, S.D., during the town's famed, nine-day motorcycle rally. More than 300,000 people visit the Full Throttle Saloon during the annual event, where Ballard and his team feel the pressure to make a year's salary in a short time window, all while providing patrons an experience they will not forget. The series marks the first time cameras have been allowed to capture every minute.

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