USA spies ‘Monk’ for 2nd season

Shalhoub, primary cast members to return

USA Network’s detective drama “Monk” has been renewed for a second season set to premiere in summer 2003.

Series star Tony Shalhoub and all other primary cast members will be returning.

Move is hardly a surprise, since the show has drawn boffo ratings for USA Network on Friday nights this summer.

“Monk” also provided healthy auds for ABC, which repeated four episodes this summer and has since made “Monk” a regular part of the Alphabet sked for two months, starting Thursday.

Skein will air at 8 p.m. — opposite “Friends” and “Survivor” —  as a lead-in to ABC’s much-hyped reality/drama hybrid “Push, Nevada” (Daily Variety, Sept. 16).

Monk was penned by Andy Breckman, who also serves as executive producer, along with David Hoberman. Hoberman’s Mandeville Films produces in association with Touchstone Television.

Touchstone Television originally produced “Monk” for ABC, but the network passed; however, as part of a deal selling the show to USA, ABC included a clause allowing the skein to have a second window on ABC.

There’s been industry buzz in recent weeks that Disney topper Michael Eisner may ask old pal Barry Diller to give ABC first crack at the second season of “Monk,” with the skein airing first on ABC, then on Diller’s USA Network.

An ABC spokesman wouldn’t discuss what kind of deal may be in the works for airing future episodes of “Monk” on ABC, saying only that “discussions are ongoing” about various scenarios for repurposing the skein on the Alphabet.

“We knew ‘Monk’ was a great show,” said Jeff Wachtel, exec VP of series and longform programming for USA Network, in a statement announcing the pickup. “We hoped it would get a strong response from the critics and believed it would grow into a word of mouth hit. But its immediate reception by such a large and enthusiastic audience is the type of thing you only dream about.”

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