Fox hits 'Target,' 'Tucson'; Ryan doubles up with 'Lie'


In preparation for its upfront presentation next week, Fox picked up two new series Tuesday: the comic book drama "Human Target" and the single-camera comedy "Sons of Tucson." It also renewed the midseason drama "Lie to Me," tapping "The Shield" creator/executive producer Shawn Ryan as executive producer/showrunner.

Fox, which will be the first broadcast network to unveil its fall schedule to advertisers Monday, already has two new series in the can for the fall: the animated comedy "The Cleveland Show" and the dramedy "Glee."

"Target," from WBTV, DC Comics and Wonderland, emerged as an early front-runner at the network. The pilot, directed by Simon West, scored the highest marks at Fox's internal screenings last week.

Based on the DC Comics title, the show, penned by Jon Steinberg, centers on Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), a mysterious freelancer who assumes the identities of people in danger, becoming a "human target" on behalf of his clients.

Jackie Earle Haley and Chi McBride co-star in the project exec produced by Steinberg and McG.

"Tucson," from 20th TV and J2TV, also was an early favorite at the network. The pilot, directed by Todd Holland, stars Tyler Labine as a charming but misguided hustler hired by three young brothers to act as their father while their real one serves prison time for a white-collar crime.

Frank Dolce, Davis Cleveland, Troy Gentile and Natalie Martinez co-star in the comedy penned by Tommy Dewey and Greg Bratman. Dewey and Bratman exec produce with Harvey Myman, Jason Felts and Justin Berfield.

Remaining in contention for a series order at Fox are the drama pilot "Past Life" and the comedy pilot "Brothers." On the bubble front, the cult favorite "Dollhouse" is alive, with the final decision hinging on the low-rated series' economics.

The future is much clearer for Fox's other midseason drama series, "Lie," which scored its best ratings in five weeks last week. Its pickup follows the early renewal last week of Fox's other promising freshman drama, "Fringe."

Ryan had been lending a hand behind the scenes of "Lie," which stars Tim Roth as a human lie detector working with the police and private clients.

Despite his expanded duties on "Lie," Ryan remains committed to CBS' "The Unit," which he also exec produces and runs. The military drama is in contention for a fifth-season pickup after Ryan recently pitched his ideas to CBS brass and the series saw a ratings uptick the past couple of weeks.

Ryan is accustomed to running two shows simultaneously; he did it for several years with "Unit" and his FX drama "The Shield."

On "Lie," from 20th TV and Imagine TV, Ryan joins creator Samuel Baum, Brian Grazer and David Nevins. (partialdiff)