Granada USA readies slate for nets, cablers

Brit b'caster offshoot prepping telepix, pilots for U.S. auds

Granada Entertainment USA, the L.A.-based offshoot of the British commercial broadcaster, is readying an extensive slate of telepics and a trio of series pilots for the American networks and cablers.

The telepic projects alone account for some 38 hours of airtime. That makes Granada one of the most active foreign suppliers to U.S. outlets, along with Britain’s Pearson and Carlton and Canada’s Alliance Atlantis.

However, Granada execs say they are taking a broader approach to supplying the U.S. markets.

“We are going after the same market as the U.S. majors, and we’re going after it in a diversified way, with sitcoms, dramas, telepics and minis,” Granada USA president Scott Ziegler said, observing, “In the two and a half years we’ve been in existence, the MOW business has been shrinking, yet still we’re managing to be a very active player in that genre.”

Among the series projects is one based on the format of Lynda LaPlante’s U.K. series “The Governor,” which is being prepped as a telepic/pilot for TNT and has been refashioned as “The Warden.” It toplines Ally Sheedy as the female warden of a men’s maximum security prison and will be directed by Stephen Gyllenhall (“Waterland”). Supporting cast includes Ron Rifkin, Lindsay Crouse and Sam Robards. Shooting begins next week in Montreal.

“Silent Witness,” in association with NBC Studios and Columbia TriStar, is the first project from GBTV, the American co-venture between Britain’s pubcaster BBC and Granada. The Peacock project is based on the eponymous BBC drama and revolves around the professional and personal life of a female coroner. Paige Turco toplines.

Carving ‘Day One’

For the WB netlet, Granada is teaming with Regency TV on a futuristic hour adventure series involving former “Star Trek” scribes called “Day One.” Production began this week in Vancouver with Michael Katleman directing and Brad Johnson starring.

Word on whether these projects have been picked up for the fall will come in May.

Meanwhile seven Granada telepics have been sold to various outlets, and scripts are being written under the supervision of GEUSA senior VP Antony Root:

  • “Hearts and Arrows,” the first non-Disney-produced “Wonderful World of Disney” project for ABC, with a twist on the classic Robin Hood story.

  • “Reckless,” a four-hour love story for CBS about a young male doctor and an older woman, based on the Granada mini. It toplines Candice Bergen. Lynn Siefert will adapt Paul Abbots’ British script.

  • “Tidings,” also for CBS, about a middle-aged couple in crisis during the Christmas season. It’s being developed as a star vehicle for Joanne Woodward.

  • “Chico Cervantes,” a series of branded telepics toplining Benjamin Bratt and based on the detective novels of Bruce Cook. The project is in negotiations with an unspecified network.

And still more

Other projects are “Dying for a Laugh,” “McNally’s Risk” and “Hunt for the King,” all three for A&E.

During the May sweeps two Granada-produced telepics will air — “Take Me Home: The John Denver Story,” toplining Chad Lowe, Kristin Davis and Gerald McRaney, on CBS, and “The Great Gatsby,” starring Mira Sorvino and Toby Stephens, for A&E.

In addition to projects in the pipeline Granada has received a greenlight for the second season of its series for cabler Showtime, “Beggars and Choosers.”

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