Showtime's 'Dead' reaps no more segs

NEW YORK — Showtime has made an appointment for a series version of MGM’s “Barbershop,” but has canceled the Lion’s 2-year-old melodrama. “Dead Like Me.”

Details are still being worked out on “Barbershop,” but Showtime is expected to order at least 10 episodes of the skein, which is based on the successful movie franchise of the same name. John Ridley (“Undercover Brother”) is exec producing in association with MGM.

George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel, who produced the pic, are also on board as exec producers via State Street. Ice Cube is also expected to be an exec producer via Cube Vision Prods.

The axing of “Dead” and greenlight for “Barbershop” are a sign that Robert Greenblatt, who joined Showtime as president of entertainment late last year, is completing the process of putting his stamp on the network’s lineup of original series.

With “Queer as Folk” almost certain to cease production after its fifth season, the only series still on Showtime that Greenblatt will have inherited from the previous administration is “The L Word,” the net’s highest-rated original program. “The L Word” has just completed production on its second season.

The first original shepherded by Greenblatt, “Huff,” the comedy-drama starring Hank Azaria as a psychiatrist who’s sometimes as mixed-up as his patients, has landed a second-season renewal of 13 hourlong episodes.

Edgy comedy “Fat Actress,” starring Kirstie Alley, premieres the first of seven half-hours March 7. Net has also committed to 10 half-hour episodes of “Weeds,” starring Mary-Louise Parker as a marijuana-dealing housewife.

A spokesman for the network confirmed that “Dead Like Me,” produced by MGM TV, will not return for a third season but declined to go into detail.

Scuttlebutt is that the show had pretty much mined all the variations on how reapers, people who have died and come back to earth, manage the job, assigned to them by higher powers, of “plucking the souls of the living and escorting them to their final destination.” The series starred Mandy Patinkin and Ellen Muth.

Despite a small loyal fan base, skein also never generated much press buzz– essential for payboxes like Showtime or HBO. What’s more, Greenblatt needed to make room to order new series, including “Barbershop.”

Showtime is also planning a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign for two original movies next year: the satirical musical “Reefer Madness,” based on the play, and “Our Fathers,” about child molestation by priests, based on the nonfiction book by David France subtitled “The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal.”

“Reefer” premieres in April, “Fathers” in May.

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