USA adds touch of 'Evil'; Spike ignited at TCA

Ozzy’s going four for four.

MTV has ordered 20 additional segs of mainstay “The Osbournes,” despite cooling ratings for its third edition.

“If you thought we wouldn’t re-sign it for another season, you’re crazy,” MTV prexy Van Toffler said.

MTV was one of several nets unveiling shows — and announcing new programming strategies — Tuesday during day two of the TV Critics Assn. press tour.

USA Network greenlit “Touching Evil,” an original series exec produced by feature film directors Allen and Albert Hughes (“Menace II Society”) and Cheyenne Enterprise principals Arnold Rifkin and Bruce Willis.

“Evil” marks the Hughes brothers’ television debut. Allen Hughes helmed the pilot, written by Bruno Heller (“The Expendables”). Based on the Brit format, series stars Jeffrey Donovan (“Storyteller”) as a detective who, after suffering a near-death gunshot wound, returns to work for an FBI-based elite crime squad, now fearless in his pursuit of justice.

As for “The Osbournes,” season four episodes are slated to bow in winter 2004.

“Osbournes” has averaged less than 4 million viewers this season after bowing to more than 6 million with its second-season opener last December.

The show’s fourth season also comes as the Osbourne clan continues to live increasingly separate lives. Matriarch Sharon’s syndie Warner Bros.-distribbed talker bows this fall; son Jack recently did time in rehab; and daughter Kelly recently bought a $1.2 million Hollywood Hills home.

The music net also revealed its Jessica Simpson/Nick Lachey reality series, now titled “Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica,” would premiere Aug. 19, coinciding with the release of Lachey’s solo debut “SoulO.”

Also making news under the MTV Networks banner:

  • TNN: First Network for Men — finally given the greenlight to rebrand itself as Spike TV — unveiled “The Joe Schmo Show,” a seemingly unscripted series in which an ordinary guy thinks he’s in a reality show. Unbeknownst to him, he’s actually surrounded by a team of actors.

    Hourlong skein, produced by Stone Stanley Entertainment, is set to air Sept. 7. KROQ-FM morning personality Ralph Garman is set to host.

    Before beginning his presentation, TNN/Spike prexy Albie Hecht made it official: “Spike TV lives.”

  • VH1 has set Aug. 24 for the rollout of “Inside Out,” which was expected to bow in first quarter 2003.

    Skein is a docu-style series chronicling the lives of artists struggling with the demands placed upon them. First seg will center on singer-songwriter Warren Zevon, who is dealing with terminal cancer.

  • Nick at Nite announced the launch dates of off-net laffer staples “Roseanne” (Sept. 21) and “Full House” (Oct. 6), both of which the cabler acquired three years ago.

USA’s slate

Over at Universal’s USA Network, besides “Touching Evil,” cabler unveiled hourlong home redesign skein “Dream House USA.”

Contest, to be exec produced by Denise Cramsey (“Trading Spaces”) and Ben Silverman (“Coupling,” “The Restaurant”), gives four families a house each and the chance to design their perfect home, room by room, in 24 days. Winning family will keep the house they designed. First of eight-seg series will bow in fall.

Also from Silverman, USA has ordered a second season of country music’s talent search “Nashville Star.” New segs will bow first quarter 2004.

USA has additionally greenlit the telepic “Hidden in the Heartland: The Eric Rudolph Story,” about the ’96 summer Olympics bomber suspect recently arrested after a five-year hunt.

Orly Adelson (“DC Sniper) and Jim Head will exec produce the project. Film is skedded to premiere in winter.

Trio counts to 24

Meanwhile, USA’s sister net Trio will launch “24 w/,” a new skein that tracks 24 hours in the life of such celebrities as Vera Wang, ‘N Sync and Tina Brown.

New episodes are set to bow Oct. 19. Show is a co-prodcution of Trio and Scout Prods. (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”).

Trio also unveiled the special “September 11,” a collection of shorts about the terrorist attacks told from the perspectives of 11 different countries.

Film will unspool Sept. 11 commercial-free to commemorate the second anni of the tragedy.

Cabler also announced three of the busted pilots that are set to air during its “Brilliant but Cancelled” strip which rolls out Sept. 1: The small-screen version of “Fargo,” starring Edie Falco; the half-hour laffer “Beat Cops”; and “Savage,” a 90-minute Steven Spielberg-helmed entry from 1973 starring Martin Landau.

Also announced at TCA: Disney Channel has picked up the stop-motion animation series “JoJo’s Circus” for Playhouse Disney, cabler’s preschooler block. Episodes will bow Sept. 1.

Cable net will also bow the original telepic “Lamont’s Maccabees,” in winter 2003. Pic is based on the true story of Lamont Carr, an African-American college basketball star whose life was changed when he agreed to coach the athletically challenged Hebrew Academy basketball team.

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