8:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
TV Upfronts: USA Developing Dramas From Rob Reiner, Catherine Hardwicke, 'Supernatural' Boss
A year after unveiling a development slate lined with scripted comedies, USA Network has officially ditched those plans and instead unveiled a roster of nine dramas and a limited series during its upfront presentation Tuesday.
The NBCUniversal-owned cable network, which is also looking to Chrisley Knows Best to deliver a spinoff and late-night series, is teaming with top producers for a mixture of period dramas, serialized fare and a DC Comics take.
The slate features dramas from producers including Twilight's Catherine Hardwicke, Supernatural's Eric Kripke, Rob Reiner, Charlize Theron, Sleepy Hollow's Len Wiseman, Suits' Aaron Korsh as well as Life Unexecpted's Liz Tigelaar and Barry Sonnenfeld. They hail from studios including Warner Horizon, Endemol Shine, Fox 21 Television Studios and Legendary.
In addition, USA — currently seeing middling returns for Dig — is readying limited Wall Street series The Recessionistas and an unscripted series from Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
The dramas come as USA is looking to go beyond its former "blue skies" fare with upcoming dramas Mr. Robot, Colony and Complications joining previously announced pilots Shooter, based on the Mark Wahlberg feature of the same name, and Gale Anne Hurd's Henry Bromell entry Falling Water.
Of last year's upfront development slate — which included six dramas, five comedies and two limited series — Carlton Cuse's Colony and hacker entry Mr. Robot went to series, while oil drama Boom moved to ABC with a pilot order.
A closer look at each of the 10 dramas follows.
About ambitious people striving to get to the top in 1940s Hollywood, when the dream factory was at its peak. Little do they know the challenges they're about to face: the end of studio monopolies, the blacklist and the new disruptive technology of television. From Universal Cable Productions, the drama is written by Rick Muirragui (Suits), who executive produces alongside Suits creator Aaron Korsh.
A serialized workplace drama set in the high-stakes world of international architecture and design, the drama follows the embattled rise of a talented young architect taking on the cutthroat competition at a top-tier firm based in Los Angeles. The project is from writer/executive producer Mark Steilen (Mozart in the Jungle) and executive producer Christina Wayne (Copper) and co-executive producer Miura Kite (Game Change). Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight) is attached to direct and exec produce. The drama hails from Endemol Shine Studios and Universal Cable Productions.
When a neurotic family man buys an online “smart pill” to increase his focus and jolt him out of his slump, he gets much more than he bargained for. To his surprise, the pill gives him incredible strength and power. The project examines the mighty highs and humiliating lows of being a real-life superhero. The drama is based on the characters created for an upcoming comic book by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) for DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint. Kripke will serve as executive producer/writer on the drama, which hails from Kripke Enterprises in association with Warner Horizon Television.
Takes place at Yale University in 1969 and explores the height of America's cultural and political revolutions as one of its students, Jay Butler, is simultaneously recruited into the country's two most secretive and powerful organizations, the CIA and Skull and Bones. Written and executive produced by Andrew Lenchewski (Royal Pains) and Aaron Tracy (Law & Order: SVU). Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally), Alan Greisman (The Bucket List) and Charlie Ebersol (The Profit) will also executive produce, with Reiner attached to direct. The historical spy thriller is from Universal Cable Productions.
The serialized adventure in which everything we believe to be myth turns out to be a guarded truth that has been concealed by members of two opposing groups — each with differing agendas for the fate of humanity. Caught in the middle is Nate Brigman, an ordinary man thrust into an extraordinary situation by the mysterious disappearance of his wife. This high-stakes drama from Universal Cable Productions, is written by Spenser Cohen (Macklemore’s Big Surprise) and executive produced by Charlize Theron (Monster) and Laverne McKinnon (CSI: Miami) from Denver & Delilah Productions, along with Anna Halberg (Inner Demons).
Written and executive produced by Carey and Shane Van Dyke (Chernobyl Diaries), the drama deals with the gritty world of an ex-military operative who, after returning home, experiences trouble re-entering the real world and providing for his family. Desperate, he gets involved with the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles where he utilizes his military expertise in an unexpected way. AWOL is executive produced by Len Wiseman (Sleepy Hollow), Mike Connolly (Hemlock Grove) and Andrew Plotkin (Related). Wiseman is also attached to direct the drama from Fox 21 Television Studios.
Based on Karen Russell’s best-selling novel and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Swamplandia! is an offbeat family drama that centers on the Bigtrees, owners of Florida’s top alligator-wrestling theme park. The family is reeling from a recent tragedy and is struggling to maintain its livelihood when a competitor moves in across the swamp. Liz Tigelaar (Life Unexpected) is adapting the novel and executive producing the project. Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black) will also executive produce and is attached to direct. Russell will serve as executive consultant. Swamplandia! hails from Tigelaar’s Best Day Ever, in association with Warner Horizon Television.
COOLEY & THE TANK
An homage to the decade that ushered in modern television, Cooley & the Tank goes behind-the-scenes of the fictional 1981 detective drama of the same name to explore the complicated lives of its two feuding stars. Daniel Arkin and Anton Cropper (Suits) will pen the script and exec produce with Rain Management’s Jonathan Baruch and Rob Wolken. Cropper is also attached to direct. The project is from Universal Cable Productions.
Two best friends, a Wall Street broker and a struggling entrepreneur, team to capitalize on the newly legalized cannabis enterprise in Colorado. The drama follows the young duo as they enter into this highly lucrative growth industry, but their new venture is not without its obstacles such as dangerous criminals and stringent law enforcement. From writer/executive producer Josh Parkinson (Eastbound & Down) and executive producers Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers) and Dan McDermott (Zero Hour), Mile High is from Legendary Television and Universal Cable Productions.
THE RECESSIONISTAS (Limited Series)
Based on the book by Wall Street executive Alexandra Lebenthal, the ensemble drama follows a group of elite Manhattan women and their ruthless Wall Street husbands as they adjust to the new world order in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse. From Universal Cable Productions and writer/co-executive producer Melissa London Hilfers and executive producers Alan Gasmer (Vikings) and Peter Jaysen.
THE ROCK UNTITLED PROJECT (alternative development)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Dany Garcia will develop and executive produce an unscripted television series for USA Network. The project is from Garcia and Johnson’s 7 Bucks Productions.