October 23, 2013 1:35pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
Eliza Coupe to Star in USA Comedy Pilot 'Benched'
USA Network is adding to its comedy offerings.
The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has picked up pilot presentation Benched, starring Happy Endings alum Eliza Coupe, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The half-hour comedy hails from writers/exec producers Michaela Watkins (Saturday Night Live), Damon Jones (the Groundlings) and John Enbom (Party Down), the latter of whom will serve as showrunner. Prolific producer Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy, Ray Donovan) is on board as an EP alongside Andrea Shay for The Mark Gordon Co. The comedy marks the first project to come from ABC Studios' recently launched boutique division, ABC Signature. Mike Fresco will direct the presentation.
The single-camera comedy focuses on Nina (Coupe), a dedicated, career-driven corporate attorney who has a public nervous breakdown after getting passed over for an expected promotion and finds herself working as a public defender. Her personal and professional worlds are turned upside down when she joins the ranks of the legal world's underdogs and she quickly realizes that the law isn't quite as fair as she once thought.
For USA, the pilot presentation joins comedy pilots Divide & Conquer and Love Is Dead as the cable network continues its push into the arena. The news comes as syndicated repeats of Modern Family continue to grow for USA and months after the network was in talks to pick up ABC's critical darling but ratings under-performer Happy Endings. The network also is poised to launch scripted comedy series Sirens and Playing House -- its first original half-hours in more than a decade.
Coupe, whose credits also include an upcoming recurring role in Showtime's House of Lies and CBS' The Millers, is repped by CAA, Kirsten Ames Management and Jeff Bernstein.
For the Mark Gordon Co., Benched marks the ABC Studios-based producer's latest sale to cable, joining Showtime's Ray Donovan, which already has been renewed for a second season.
ABC Signature, under the leadership of Tracy Underwood, is ABC Studios' effort to shop low-cost fare to ABC, cable and emerging platforms in a year-round development cycle. ABC Studios launched the banner in October 2012 with the plan to expand its offerings outside of the Disney-owned network, as it has done in the past with Gordon's Army Wives, which was recently canceled at Lifetime.