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USA Network Upfront Slate: 13 Projects Include 5 Comedies, One With Nathan Lane

Slate is first for new co-presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel

The USA Network unveiled a new slate of 13 projects including seven dramas and five half-hour comedies, one of them starring Nathan Lane, at its upfront presentation to advertisers in New York City Monday.

The network also announced a second-season pickup for "Fairly Legal," starring Sarah Shahi, who broke the good news to the audience. It said production on 13 new episodes will begin in late summer 2011 to air in the first quarter of 2012.

Also read: Ridley and Tony Scott Get Shorty With USA Network

USA tried to woo advertisers with what it pitched as a uniquely character-driven upfront, in keeping with its successful "Characters Welcome" campaign — all actors, no executives.

The slate, the first for new co-presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel, bragged projects with Mark Gordon ("Grey's Anatomy," "Criminal Minds") and Kara DioGuardi (“American Idol”), plus Parkes/MacDonald Productions (“A Beautiful Mind,” “American Beauty,” “Saving Private Ryan”). The network also announced that Doug Liman, Dave Bartis and Gene Klein ("Covert Affairs," "Suits"), would develop shows. 

"After five years as the number one cable network, our development goal must be not only to do great new shows with original voices, but also to push the envelope of audience expectations," said Wachtel. "This new slate speaks to both of those objectives."

"This powerful slate marks an evolution for USA as we aggressively expand the scope of our content," said McCumber.  "Developed strategically through our brand lens, this diverse roster represents the network’s introduction of more provocative, innovative original programming than ever before."

USA’s description of its slated shows:

SILENT PARTNER (One hour drama)

An ambulance-chasing attorney and his idealistic young paralegal form a powerful team. Their unlikely partnership is a product of the new phenomenon of legal oursourcing:  He’s in Florida and she’s in India.  Writer/Producer is Chris Downey (creator of “Leverage”).  Executive Producers are Doug Liman & Dave Bartis and  producer Gene Klein (COVERT AFFAIRS, SUITS) of Hypnotic.  From Universal Cable Productions.

ON WE GO (1/2 hour comedy)

A single-camera comedy starring Nathan Lane  as an unlucky actor whose career has been perpetually cursed by the fact that he resembles, but is in fact not, Nathan Lane. After his father’s health takes a turn for the worse, his Broadway aspirations have to be put on hold while he returns to his Texas hometown.  Writer/Executive Producer is Douglas McGrath (“Emma,” “Infamous”).  Executive Producer is Nathan Lane (“The Lion King,” “The Producers”).  From Universal Cable Productions.

M. DEITY (One hour drama)

An unconventional medical drama about a good doctor who’s an even better meddler.  In the aftermath of Katrina, he heroically saved numerous lives and now fights an intractable foe:  hospital bureaucracy.   Writer/Executive Producer is Billy Finnegan.  Executive producers are Ann Blanchard, Sam Hansen and Jimmy Miller of Mosaic Media.  From Universal Cable Productions.

THE SPECIAL (One hour drama)

In a stark contrast to the stereotypical TV cop, THE SPECIAL is about an energetic, optimistic homicide detective who suffers from hypomania.  Despite his high clearance rate, he remains an enigma to his colleagues in a high-profile unit of the LAPD.   Writer/Producer is Bill Wheeler (“Empire,” “the Cape”).  Executive Produced by Mark Gordon (“Saving Private Ryan,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Criminal Minds”) along with the Mark Gordon Company.  The studio is ABC Studios.

BIG IN JAPAN (1/2 hour comedy)

20 years after their last concert ended in disaster and they never played again, the members of a popular boy band decide to reunite.   Writer/Executive Producer is Howard Morris (THE STARTER WIFE).  Project is from Prospect Park.  Executive Producers are Jeff Kwatinetz, Rich Frank, Paul Frank (ROYAL PAINS) plus Grammy Award-winning singer Kara DioGuardi (“American Idol”) as consulting producer with Steven Finfer.  From Universal Cable Productions.

WE THE JURY (1/2 hour comedy)

A single camera comedy that chronicles the lives of a group of jurors sequestered during a high profile celebrity murder trial.  It’s the story of strangers, thrown together in a confined setting, under duress, for an indefinite amount of time.    Written by comedy veterans Bryan Behair and Steve Baldikoski (“The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “8 Simple Rules”).  Executive Produced by Marty Adelstein with studio Fox 21. 

TGIM (1/2 hour comedy)

A look at the surburban cul-de-sac over a weekend, where parents’ lives are ruled by their children’s schedules and the idea of going back to work on Mondy sounds better each passing minute.  Writer/Executive Producer is Brent Forrester (“The Office,” “King of the Hill”).  Executive Producers are Walter Parkes, Laurie MacDonald and Ted Gold.  Produced by Parkes/MacDonald Productions (“Men in Black”).  From Universal Cable Productions.

THE ENCLAVE (Limited series)

A job opportunity forces a family to move far from their hometown…and nothing is what it seems in their new community.  A limited series from writers Andre and Maria Jacquemetton (“Mad Men”).  Negotiations are ongoing to attach Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) to direct.  Executive Producer is Dan Halsted.  From Fox Television Studios.

THE EXCEPTIONS (One hour drama)

After serving time in jail on trumped up charges, the debutante daughter of the Mayor of NYC uses her resources to solve cases that have slipped through the cracks.  Writer/Executive Producer is Megan Martin.  Produced by Reveille.  Project is from Carolyn Bernstein and Todd Cohen (“Kath & Kim”) of Reveille.  From Universal Cable Productions.

HARD COVER (One hour drama)

The best undercover operative can blend in anywhere and be completely unassuming. Then who better to go on assignment than a middle-aged Mom working with a rogue FBI agent?  Writer/Co-Executive Producers are Peter Paige and Brad Bredeweg.  Executive Producer is Laurie Zaks (“Castle”).  From Universal Cable Productions. 

WINSLOW (One hour drama)

Jimmy Winslow is a private detective who’s a recovering alcoholic with a load of debts, a father in prison, and an ex-girlfriend he’s trying to win back.  He lacks a perfect record in anything except his ability to solve cases and tell the truth to those who don’t want to hear it – and for now, that’s enough.  Writer/Co-Executive Producer is Zak Schwartz (COVERT AFFAIRS).  Executive producers are Doug Liman & Dave Bartis and producer Gene Klein (COVERT AFFAIRS, SUITS).  From Universal Cable Productions. 

HOUSE OF CARDS (1/2 hour comedy)

A recent college graduate looks for love and a successful writing career at a greeting card company.  Writer/Producer is Julien Nitzberg.  Executive Producers are Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun along with Gene Stein and Andy Weil of BermanBraun.  From Universal Cable Productions.

REGULAR EINSTEIN (One hour drama)

The Duncans are a family of geniuses with three siblings each at the top of their academic fields.  They also have a younger sibling named Einstein who is not a genius but he is a good cop and with their help, he might become a great detective.   Writer/executive producer is Nick Thiel (BURN NOTICE, “Army Wives”).  From Fox Television Studios.

This May will mark the six-year anniversary of the renowned “Characters Welcome” brand.  USA will dominateMonday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday nights this summer, bringing viewers its biggest summer ever with powerful weeknight blocks of nine original series including IN PLAIN SIGHT, LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT, WHITE COLLAR, COVERT AFFAIRS,BURN NOTICE, ROYAL PAINS, WWE TOUGH ENOUGH, and the premiere of two new original series, SUITS and NECESSARY ROUGHNESS.