Sitcom added to USA slate

Net takes another stab at basic cable

NEW YORK — Barry Diller’s USA Networks is taking another shot at filming a sitcom despite the staggering failure rate of previous laffer attempts on basic cable.

Through its sister company Studios USA, the net has given the go-ahead to the pilot of “Brown Parcels of Land,” an “irreverent and twisted comedy,” as USA puts it, about a big-city cop who becomes sheriff of a small town.

David Eick, senior VP of original series development for USA Networks, said “Parcels” will have a look that’s different from most sitcoms because — like a theatrical movie comedy — it will be filmed with a single camera. Most broadcast network comedies are taped by four floor cameras in front of a live studio audience.

No laugh track?

It’s also possible, Eick said, that Studios USA will decide to play the show without a laugh track like “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Sex & the City” on HBO.

While pay cable has delivered successful sitcoms — HBO’s “Dream On” is another example, along with “Sanders” and “Sex & the City” — basic cable, except for kids-oriented live-action comedies on Nickelodeon, has floundered in most of its attempts.

USA got three-plus years out of a sitcom version of the theatrical movie “Weird Science,” and Lifetime has renewed “Oh Baby” for a second season.

David Richardson (“The John Larroquette Show”) is the creator and executive producer of USA’s “Brown Parcels of Land.” Boris Damast will direct the pilot. Casting is under way.

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