USA lines up original series projects

Steve Carell teaming with John Michael Higgins

USA is developing a series about a modern-day Robin Hood in addition to a crop of crime procedurals and legal dramas.

The network Monday announced seven projects in development, including content from Steve Carell ("The Office"), Anthony Edwards ("ER") and John Michael Higgins ("Best in Show"). USA plans to order a larger-than-usual number of pilots from this batch, then pick up its usual two titles to debut as series next year.

"These new projects all combine strong characters and superior storytelling, offering viewers the kind of exceptionally written, aspirational originals they won't find anywhere else," said Jeff Wachtel, USA president of original programming.

With USA having mastered a certain brand of procedural drama, Wachtel said the top-rated cabler is seeking to expand to other genres -- including action hours and scripted comedy.

"You don't want to get remotely complacent," Wachtel said. "You always want to be pushing out and trying new things."

In "Robyn," an updated gender-twist on "Robin Hood," a young woman who decides she has done nothing with her life commits to rob from the upper class and give to the poor. Becky Hartman Edwards ("Parenthood," "Life on Mars") is the executive producer and writer.

"Becky has such a unique voice. That's what really matters on our shows -- it's why 'Monk' wasn't just another detective show," Wachtel said.

"A Legal Mind" follows a twentysomething stoner and college dropout who teams with a top corporate lawyer. The project is from writer Aaron Korsh ("The Deep End") and exec producers David Bartis and Gene Klein of Dutch Oven.

An untitled project from writer Gay Walch ("Summerland") and exec producer Burrad Marsh is a mob twist on Showtime's "Weeds": A suburban mom pays off her husband's gambling debt by becoming a fixer for a mobster.

In "Stick," from writers Mark Altman & Steve Kriozere ("Castle") and exec producers Steve Stark ("Medium") and Russ Buchholz, a former pro hockey player helps people that the law cannot.

An untitled project from Higgins has the actor teaming with Carell for a show about a middle-class insurance investigator who finds high-stakes drama in dull jobs. Carell and Thom Hinkle ("The Rockford Files") are exec producers.

USA has also ordered two FBI projects. In an untitled project, two brothers are on the same FBI task force. Mark Cullen and Rob Cullen ("Las Vegas") are the writers. Dave Broome ("Biggest Loser"), Steven Burnett, Aaron Kaplan ("Funny in Farsi," "Terra Nova"), Jim Clemente ("Criminal Minds") and Tim Clemente ("Copout") exec produce. The second project, "The Velvet Hammer," is about a Texan divorcee who's also an FBI agent; it's from writers Gail Gilchriest and Kevin Murphy and exec producers Edwards and Cheryl Dolins.

All the projects are from Universal Cable Prods., with the exception of "Velvet Hammer," which is from CBS TV Studios.

Got tips on TV industry news? Contact TV Editor James Hibberd at james.hibberd@thr.com.
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