Denis Leary to Develop, Co-Write USA Network Comedy Pilot
USA Network is getting into business with Denis Leary.
The Rescue Me creator and star has signed on to develop and co-write a half-hour comedy pilot for the top-rated cable network. The project, an adaptation of the British Channel 4 series Sirens, chronicles the humorous antics and dramatic conflicts of a team of paramedics.
Leary will be joined by writer-executive producer Bob Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Traffic Light) as well as fellow executive producers Jim Serpico (Rescue Me) and Daybreak Pictures’ Hal Vogel and David Aukin (Hyde Park on the Hudson, End Game, The Promise). Leary’s Apostle and Fox Television Studios will produce in conjunction with Daybreak.
As for a potential acting role in the series, USA's senior vp original scripted programming Bill McGoldrick said the network intends to ask Leary, but the decision will ultimately fall to the actor-comedian. "This is not a vehicle for Denis, and smartly I think," McGoldrick said. "I don’t think you necessarily want to see him as the lead of a show so soon after Rescue Me, but ... after we get the script where we want it there may be more of a supporting thing." (Rescue Me, which Leary writes, executive produces and stars in, will roll out its seventh and final season later this summer.)
The U.K. series was inspired by EMT Tom Reynolds' darkly funny book Blood, Sweat and Tea, which revolves around three paramedics who have to not only save other people’s lives but also salvage their own. USA has not yet decided on how many EMTs it will feature in is iteration.
What the network is clear on is how the project, if picked up to series, would fit into USA's "Characters Welcome" positioning. "They’re EMTs, so you’re going to be on their side immediately, and that’s sort of half the battle," said McGoldrick. "But then there’s also some specificity to the guys on this show that we don’t think is on the air, and that’s what we spend a lot of our time thinking about, talking about, worrying about."
He added: "Its more than just blue skies and a certain tone [on USA], it’s about whether there are underlying characters that are interesting enough to spend five seasons with and we think this one has that."
The programming chief calls the network's push into half-hour comedies a "natural extension" for USA. As he sees it, it's not only a means to differentiate the network in an increasingly crowded cable landscape, but also -- and perhaps more poignantly for new owner Comcast-- a repeatable and thus potentially lucrative format in success.
Leary, whose other producer credits include the 2001 film Blow and Fox's short-lived Canterbury's Law, is repped by WME.