USA gives series order to 'Facing Kate'


It's ladies' year at USA Network.

The top basic cable network has handed out its second series order to a female-centered drama this year, "Facing Kate."

"Kate," toplined by Sarah Shahi, has been picked up for 11 episodes in addition to its 90-minute pilot and is being co-produced by Universal Cable Prods. and Universal Networks International.

That makes it two-for-two for USA, which in January picked up to series the other pilot from its 2009 development cycle, the Piper Perabo starrer "Covert Affairs."

That means that USA will launch two new series for a second year in a row after unspooling "Royal Pains" and "White Collar," both featuring male leads, in 2009.

The launch plan for "Covert" and "Kate" is still being worked out but it is expected to follow the pattern of "Pains" and "Collar," which premiered in the summer and in the fourth quarter, respectively.

"Kate" centers on Kate Reed (Shahi), a top litigator who, frustrated with the bureaucracy and injustice she witnesses in legal system, decides to become the ultimate anti-lawyer: a mediator.

USA president of original programming and UCP co-head Jeff Wachtel said that the network tends to stay away from franchises but liked the different approach to a legal drama with a mediator.

"This is someone who lives in a world of a constant conflict," he said. "With traditional lawyers, it's always one wins, one loses; in mediation, the goal is to have win-win."

Michael Trucco, Virginia Williams and Baron Vaughn co-star on "Kate," created by Michael Sardo ("Caroline in the City"). Sardo, who wrote the project on spec, will run the series as well as executive produce with Steve Stark of Steve Stark Prods..

Russ Buchholz serves as co-executive producer on the show, whose pilot was directed by Bronwen Hughes.

"Kate" marks a first-ever co-production between UCP and Universal Networks International, the international channels division of NBC Universal, which operates TV channels in 130 countries.

UNI, which has been looking for fresh programming to put on its outlets, became involved early on in the process and is co-financing "Kate" in a co-production model similar to the one often employed by Fox TV Studios.