Upfronts 2013: USA Greenlights First Comedies

'Sirens,' 'Playing House' get series orders; 'Modern Family' to have off-net premiere Sept. 24
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Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013

Updated: 11:56 a.m. ET

USA Network on Thursday picked up its first two original half-hour comedies to series, ordering Denis Leary's Sirens and buddy comedy Playing House.

Sirens follows three Chicago EMTs who are skilled at their jobs but disastrous at relationships. Leary and Bob Fisher co-wrote the pilot, which is based on a UK format, and executive produce the series.

The single-camera Playing House is about a mother-to-be who asks her single, career-driven best friend to return home from her job overseas to attend her baby shower. The series is inspired by the real-lifefriendship of co-writers Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, who also star and executive produce.

USA will use the off-network premiere of Modern Family to launch the new comedies. Though Modern Family joins the lineup on
Sept. 24, USA is targeting the first quarter of 2014 to debut its first
original comedy.

"What we want to
do is give Modern Family a chance to
see itself on the air and give a chance for people to discover it on USA
Network," network copresident Chris McCumber told B&C. "Then hopefully, in a perfect world, we'll have a great
platform to launch these two shows."

The plan is to
sandwich the new series between episodes of Modern
Family
, so that the first original comedy will likely complete its 10-13-episode
run before the second comedy premieres.

"With the
benefit of Modern Family as a lead-in
and the lead-out, and with the benefit of the cable structure, we don't really
need to gang the shows together," said USA copresident Jeff Wachtel. "We can
pick the best place for each show to survive on its own."

McCumber
described the auspices of Sirens and Playing House as "great names for us to
be able to get in business with," for its first foray into original comedy. "We're
applying the same brand filter that we have to our dramas; it's about characters
first."

On the drama
side, USA announced it has begun production on period project Horizon, from The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, about a female
FBI secretary during World War II who begins a secretive investigation into
mysterious files. Also in consideration is The
Arrangement
, about a Colombian woman with a tragic past who enters into a
marriage with an ambitious Florida politician.

The eight total
projects in development continue the evolution of USA's drama brand that started
with the legal drama Suits and moves
forward this summer with FBI drama Graceland-both
more serialized, with darker shades though still character-based, and designed
to bring a new audience to the network.

USA has
additionally ordered the comedy pilot Love
is Dead
, about a company that specializes in breaking up romantic
relationships.

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