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USA Upfront: Network Seeks Big Bang From ABC’s ‘Modern Family’

The cable network will use "Modern Family" the way TBS has used "Big Bang Theory"

One of the shows USA is most proud of next season is… ABC's "Modern Family."

USA's upfront presentation to advertisers Thursday focused heavily on the show's arrival — in repeats — on USA next fall. NBCUniversal president of ad sales Linda Yaccarino declared "Modern Family" to be her favorite show.

USA, the top-rated cable network, will begin airing repeats of ABC's hit series on Sept. 24. The network hopes to use it to promote its own new original comedies, airing early in 2014, just as TBS has boosted its comedy lineup with reruns of CBS's "The Big Bang Theory." ("Big Bang" and "Modern Family" are the two biggest sitcoms on TV.)

The "Modern Family" cast appeared in a series of videos that imagined all the things "Modern Family" will be able to do on cable: Grandmothers will get to say the F-word, and Sofia Vergara's Gloria can proposition delivery boys. (To everyone's disappointment, those things won't actually happen.)

USA also announced a few originals. It said it greenlit two original half-hour comedies: Denis Leary and Bob Fisher's "Sirens" is about sometimes self-destructive EMTs, and Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Claire's "Playing House" is about a businesswoman helping her best friend raise a child.

The network also ordered a pilot of "Love is Dead," from Zev Borow ("Chuck"). It is focused on a company that specializes in breaking up couples.

USA played up a drama development slate that includes "Horizon," a World War II drama from "The Walking Dead" producer Gale Anne Hurd. And it said its "Characters Unite" campaign will team up with the NFL to help kids dealing with bullying.

Every week, a player will share a personal story about overcoming prejuduce and injustice. The campaign will culminate in a one-hour documentary about the Super Bowl.

The network's upfront, the last of upfront season, was also one of the most song-filled. Gareth Malone, star of USA's reality series "The Choir," led USA stars in a "virtual choir" in which they sang along on video screens. And the cast of "Psych" performed "Psych," the musical.

Here is USA's full drama development slate, as described by the network:

THE ARRANGEMENT (Pilot Under Consideration)- From "Numb3rs" creators Cheryl Heuton and Nicolas Falacci this one-hour drama pilot is inspired by a short story from the Elmore Leonard anthology “When The Women Come Out To Dance.”  THE ARRANGEMENT tells the story of Lourdes Nieves (Stephanie Sigman, “Miss Bala”), a Columbian woman who trades her tragic and mysterious past for a fresh start in Miami by entering into a marriage with Billy Whitley (Bryan Greenberg, “How to Make It In America”), a well-meaning and ambitious politician.  In a union of political expediency, Lourdes and Billy manage a delicate dance of romance and clear-eyed pragmatism as she leverages her experience and contacts to help her husband battle the blood sport that is local Florida politics. From Universal Cable Productions and executive producers Doug Liman and David Bartis of Hypnotic (SUITS, COVERT AFFAIRS), the pilot also stars Amanda Schull and Manolo Cardona.

THE EDGE – From Universal Cable Productions and Executive Producer John Legend’s Get Lifted Film Co. (“Get Lifted”), THE EDGE, written and executive produced by Adam Hoff and Justin Herber, is a thriller that explores one idealistic man’s journey after he leaves an NGO to join the world’s top venture capital firm. Jeff Cross believes he landed his dream job working with an elite team of progressive thinking investors who fund socially conscious projects to better the planet.  As he rises through the ranks, he discovers a morally bankrupt workplace that perpetuates shadowy agendas to control governments, industries and global leaders to fill the firm’s coffers.  If he goes up against this financial goliath, Jeff risks his soul and the lives of those closest to him. Mike Jackson and Ty Stiklorius of Get Lifted Film Co. also executive produce.

COMPLICATIONS - The story of an ER doctor whose life changes after he is involved in a gang shooting when he is forced to explore how active a doctor can be in treating the cause of his patients' medical problems. From Fox TV Studios, COMPLICATIONS is written and executive produced by BURN NOTICE creator Matt Nix.

BANK -After an unconventional act of heroism gives her the opportunity to choose her next assignment, a young FBI agent surprises everyone by choosing the bank crimes division in Los Angeles.  The city of LA is the epicenter of bank robberies in the U.S. with three to six banks robbed every day, representing 30% of all bank robberies in the country.  It takes a special kind of person to confront such an unrelenting tide of crime, leaving her peers suspicious of her intent. From Universal Cable Productions, written and co-executive produced by Nora Zuckerman and Lilla Zuckerman (“Fringe,” “Human Target”) and executive produced by Doug Liman and David Bartis of Hypnotic. 

BLANCO COUNTY – Based on a series of books by Ben Rehder, BLANCO COUNTY follows the story of John Marlin, a worldly pro baseball player who would rather spend his down time traveling the world than return to his small Texas hometown. After the death of his father, Marlin returns home to find a lot has changed since he left. The place is now booming with rich ranchers and tourists and there's an uneasy alliance between the locals and the nouveau rich. Believing the local cops to be inept, Marlin runs for sheriff and surprisingly wins. A man who spent his entire life running away from his roots must now adapt to a new way of life. From Tom Welling Productions and Rob Thomas Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television, BLANCO COUNTY is written by Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars”) and executive produced by Thomas, Tom Welling, Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.

DON’T TURN AROUND – A haunting limited series set on a beautiful but remote island. As the summer draws to an end and the vacationers/weekenders have all left the island, the young staff left behind is ready to finally let loose before they pack up as well. When an unexpected storm rolls across the island during the party, several people mysteriously vanish and turn up dead. Trapped on the island with no means of escape, the remaining group struggles to survive – against whatever is out there … and each other. From Grady Girl Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television, DON’T TURN AROUND is written by J.R. Orci, who executive produces with Dawn Olmstead.

HUNGRY - From ROYAL PAINS executive producer Michael Rauch and restaurateur Joe Bastianich, HUNGRY is an inside look at the opening of a New York City hot spot, inspired by Bastianich's life and his New York Times bestseller “Restaurant Man.”  Well versed in the toll that restaurant life can take on one’s relationships, the son of a famous chef nevertheless tries to open his own eatery. He juggles negotiating with teamsters, working the front of the house with high-end clientele, managing a large staff and finding time to follow his passion: cooking. He is monomaniacal in his pursuit of the perfect restaurant, at a steep cost to himself and those he loves. From Universal Cable Productions, HUNGRY is written and executive produced by Rauch and executive produced by Bastianich.

SHADOW COUNSEL ­ A legal thriller centered on Ethan, a former Army JAG attorney now working as a criminal lawyer in NY who is recruited by the FBI to crack an ongoing investigation. Ethan serves as a shadow counsel – a secret lawyer who operates behind the scenes and completely off the record to circumvent existing roadblocks (hired attorneys, interrogators, etc) in classified cases. Reluctantly agreeing to take the case, Ethan’s life rapidly descends into chaos as he finds himself on the run, unsure of who his friends are or who he can trust.  From Universal Cable Productions, SHADOW COUNSEL is written and executive produced by Barry Schindel ("Castle") and executive produced by David Semel ("Hemlock Grove," "American Horror Story").