A&E picks up 'Sugarloaf'

Drama chosen over 'The Quickening' for summer slot

A&E is loading up on "Sugarloaf."

The network has picked up the hourlong pilot starring Matt Passmore with a 13-episode order.

The Fox TV Studios drama centers on Jim Longworth (Passmore), a brilliant-but-difficult Chicago homicide detective who's wrongfully accused of sleeping with his former captain's wife and forced into exile. Longworth relocates to Sugarloaf, a sleepy Gulf Coast resort town in Florida where life can be less beautiful than it first seems.

Kiele Sanchez and Carlos Gomez co-star. Production is set to begin in Miami this winter for a summer premiere.

"Sugarloaf" was one of two drama pilots that A&E picked up last fall, along with "The Quickening," which starred Radha Mitchell as a bipolar homicide detective. The network passed on "Quickening" this month.

"We have only one spot for the summer, and when we screened 'Sugarloaf' we knew this is the one," A&E senior vp drama programming Tana Nugent Jamieson said. "It takes a typical gritty police procedural but has fun with the main character against the blue-sky backdrop of rural Florida. It's pure entertainment that will complement the network's current lineup of hit real-life series and off-net dramas."

The series order for "Sugarloaf" -- created by Clifton Campbell and executive produced by Campbell and Gary Randall -- represents a tonal shift at A&E.

After a six-year hiatus, the basic cable network re-entered the scripted-series arena with two gritty dramas, "The Cleaner" in 2008 and "The Beast" in 2009, which lasted two and one season, respectively. In its latest round of pilots, A&E had a choice between staying the course with the dark and edgy "Quickening" and going lighter with "Sugarloaf."

"Quickening" also came from Fox TV Studios, which produces USA Network's "Burn Notice" and "White Collar."

"'Sugarloaf' is a mystery show with a light touch set in a fun location with a lot of playfulness and wit to it, and it fits nicely alongside 'Burn Notice' and 'White Collar,' " FtvS exec vp David Madden said. "We've found a bit of a sweet spot for us."