7:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Bourne' Prequel, Denis Leary Drama Among 4 USA Network Pilot Orders
USA Network is replenishing its pilot roster, picking up four buzzy dramas from producers including Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, Denis Leary, Peter Berg, former HBO programming president Michael Lombardo and Tim Kring.
Ordered to pilot are Treadstone, a prequel to the Matt Damon-led Bourne franchise from Kring (Heroes); crime thriller Erase starring Leary; Esmail's pulpy mystery thriller Briarpatch; and Berg and Lombardo's competitive high school cheerleading entry Dare Me.
The four pilots come after USA Network's most recent crop yielded the untitled Suits spinoff, while the last of that slate, Olive Forever, was passed over. Treadstone, Erase, Briarpatch and Dare Me illustrate the cabler's commitment to make waves in the crowded Peak TV landscape that is expected to top 500 scripted shows this year. Big-name stars — like Leary — and IP (a Bourne prequel) help cut through the clutter, at least on paper.
"As the No. 1 cable entertainment network for a record 12 years in a row, USA Network delivers unmatched scale and momentum with a broad, diverse slate of programming," Chris McCumber, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment president of entertainment networks, said Thursday in a statement. "These new pilots add to our dynamic scripted pipeline with the big auspices, top creative talent and bold characters that have become USA’s signature."
All four orders hail from Universal Cable Productions, USA Network's cable-focused studio sibling at NBCUniversal as the cabler continues to be among those making a noticeable push for ownership. They join November pickup Run for Your Life, from Blumhouse and produced for USA Network and Syfy in a situation similar to the straight-to-series order for a reboot of The Purge.
The pilot pickups come as USA Network is looking to grow its scripted roster, which currently consists of Mr. Robot, The Sinner, Shooter, Falling Water, Queen of the South, Colony, Unsolved, The Purge, Suits and its untitled spinoff.
Here's a closer look at USA Network's four new pilots:
From a producer of the Bourne franchise, Treadstone explores the origin story and present-day actions of a CIA black ops program known as Treadstone — a covert operation that uses behavior modification protocol to turn its agents into nearly unstoppable superhuman assassins. The series follows sleeper agents across the globe as they’re mysteriously "awakened" to resume their deadly missions. From Universal Cable Productions, Treadstone is written and executive produced by Tim Kring. Ramin Bahrani, who will direct the pilot, will also serve as an executive producer. Ben Smith and Jeffrey Weiner will executive produce on behalf of Captivate; Justin Levy will executive produce alongside Bradley Thomas on behalf of Imperative Entertainment.
Based on the Ross Thomas novel of the same name, the drama follows Allegra Dill, a dogged investigator returning to her border-town Texas home after her sister is murdered by a car bomb. What begins as a search for a killer turns into an all-consuming fight to bring the corrupt hometown Allegra thought she left behind to its knees. Written for television by Andy Greenwald, who will executive produce along with Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail through his production company Esmail Corp and Anonymous Content’s Chad Hamilton, the series celebrates the beloved genre that Thomas’ book represents — a unique blend of crime, thriller, mystery and pulp fiction — while updating his electrifying sense of fun, danger and place for a new generation. Yann Demange will direct and serve as executive producer. Briarpatch is a co-production of Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television.
Based on the acclaimed novel by Megan Abbott, who serves as writer and executive producer along with Gina Fattore, the drama is an unflinching exploration of volatile female friendships, jealousy, loyalty and the dynamics of power in a small Midwestern town. Peering behind the all-American façade, the series dives into the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading, following the fraught relationship between two best friends after a new coach arrives to bring their team to prominence. Part coming-of-age story, part small-town drama, part murder mystery, Dare Me exposes the physical and psychological extremes that some young women are willing to endure in order to get ahead. The drama is from Universal Cable Productions in association with Film 44. Peter Berg and Michael Lombardo of Film 44 executive produce along with Sarah Condon and Karen Rosenfelt.
Created by Denis Leary and Alex Cary and starring Leary, Erase is the story of Donal O'Neal, a dirty ex-cop who decides to do the right thing and bring down his complicit superior officers. But his best weapon in this battle — a photographic memory — is suddenly compromised by symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's. In this gritty crime thriller, laced with elements of black comedy, Donal races against time to repair the damage he's done to his estranged family while trying to avoid being killed by his enemies. From Universal Cable Productions, Erase will be executive produced Leary and Cary, along with Apostle Pictures' Jim Serpico.