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Coming off the most watched quarter in cable history, USA is continuing its push beyond its popular “blue skies” dramas.
In addition to a collection of comedy projects in the works, USA’s newly installed co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber are ushering the No. 1 cable network into unscripted fare with a slate that includes both musical performance and docu-soap. “One of the things that Chris and I have come to together and enunciated internally is that one thing that you can’t do is maintain success. If you sit on your lead, you lose your lead,” Wachtel tells The Hollywood Reporter of the inspiration to broaden its schedule of hit dramas, including Burn Notice, Covert Affairs and new entry Suits.
What’s more, says McCumber of unscripted’s appeal, “it’s a new audience that isn’t necessarily watching USA right now.”
Here’s an exclusive first look at the network’s reality projects, which are featured in a wide-ranging new interview with THR about the state of the network, the allure of comedy and why a talk show could be in their future:
The Shed Media format features choir master Gareth Malone, who unites and transforms unsuspecting communities with music. A UK iteration has already won two BAFTA Awards during the course of its run. “It has a bit of a Fully Monty vibe to it,” says Wachtel; Adds McCumber: “[Shed] came in and pitched the idea of having a town or a team that’s at odds and in conflict, and they work together and build a community around the simple act of a song. It’s very inspirational and I don’t want to say ‘blue sky’ but it does have feeling to it.”
The high-stakes format concept hosted by NFL star Kurt Warner, is produced by Charlie Ebersol and Justin Hochberg’s newly launched shingle The Company.
*Untitled Social Experiment
The high concept relationship docu-soap/social experiment hails from the Magical Elves, the production company behind such franchises as Top Chef and Work of Art.
The primetime reality soap opera with details being kept under wraps comes from MTV’s The Hills and spin-off The City creator Adam DiVello.
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