'Bad' news very good at AMC

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AMC's hot drama pilot "Breaking Bad" is close to getting a series pickup by the network, sources said.

"Bad," from Sony Pictures Television and feature producer Mark Johnson, stars Bryan Cranston as a chemistry teacher who, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, uses his skills to launch a meth lab in order to make money quickly and provide for his wife and handicapped son.

Former "The X-Files" executive producer Vince Gilligan wrote and directed the pilot, which has been enjoying strong buzz in the creative community.

Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn, Dean Norris and Betsy Brandt co-star in the project, which is executive produced by Johnson.

Reps for AMC didn't return calls or e-mails seeking comment Tuesday. A spokeswoman for SPT declined comment Tuesday.

"Bad" is part of AMC's big push into the scripted-series arena.

Last year, the cable network picked up its first original drama series, the Lionsgate-produced "Mad Men," which is set to debut in July. In January, it announced a development deal for a hourlong untitled Western pilot from Walter Hill (director of AMC's first original movie, "Broken Trail," which broke cable ratings records in June) and Ron Parker.

AMC also is co-producing a remake of the 1960s sci-fi series "The Prisoner" with the U.K.'s Granada and Sky One that debuts next year and signed a co-production deal with BBC last year for the drama "Hustle," which recently had its fourth-season premiere on AMC.
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