Showtime spices up

Pilot slate includes serial killer, escort dramas

HOLLYWOOD — Showtime has ordered up its next round of drama development, greenlighting four pilots from feature producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, “Sopranos” scribe James Manos Jr. and reality vet Ben Silverman.

Pay cabler entertainment chief Robert Greenblatt continues to broaden Showtime’s once niche-specific lineup, ordering up a handful of pilots that range in subject from high-end escorts and a twentysomething Henry VIII to a scheming young lawyer and a forensics expert with homicidal tendencies.

Greenblatt describes his second major development slate as “a quantum leap forward.”

“These concepts are very attention-getting, and backed up by superb writers and producers who represent the tops in their fields,” he said.

From Manos, “Dexter” focuses on a Miami Police Dept. forensics expert who moonlights as a serial killer — murdering only guilty parties. Based on Jeff Lindsay’s book, “Darkly Dreaming Dexter,” skein will be exec produced by Manos, John Goldwyn (“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”) and Sara Colleton (HBO’s “Live From Baghdad”).

Ensemble piece “Filthy Gorgeous” revolves around on the employees and clients of New York’s most lucrative male and female escort service. Creator Ron Nyswaner (“Philadelphia”) exec produces with Zadan, Meron and Robert Allan Ackerman (“The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone”). Ackerman also will direct the pilot.

“The Tudors,” from scribe Michael Hirst (“Elizabeth”), Reveille and Working Title, centers on the early years of Henry VIII, his first encounter with Anne Boleyn and the marriage that would turn his world upside down (Daily Variety, Oct. 18). Hirst exec produces alongside Silverman and Working Title’s Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan.

Then there’s dark mystery “The Bastard,” from David Greenwalt (“The X-Files”), about a young lawyer who schemes to claim his birthright in a wealthy dysfunctional family that owns a lavish resort.

Showtime is currently in production on its upcoming comedy skeins “Barbershop” and “Weeds,” both of which bow Aug. 10. No word yet on a renewal for Kirstie Alley starrer “Fat Actress.”

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