Turner nets new series

Cabler skeds include Haggis, King dramas

On the heels of greenlighting its first original dramas in four years, TNT Tuesday unveiled an aggressive series development slate that includes projects from “Million Dollar Baby” scribe Paul Haggis and Stephen King.

Sister net TBS, meanwhile, announced reality shows from Bruce Nash and from Courteney Cox and David Arquette’s Coquette Prods., as well as development projects with Cedric the Entertainer and Whoopi Goldberg.

Turner said the drama series “The Closer,” starring Kyra Sedgwick as head of a special unit within the LAPD, would launch June 13, while “Wanted” (formerly “Rush”), featuring Gary Cole as part of an elite team of crime fighters, is set to premiere July 31.

Steven Spielberg’s six-part limited series “Into the West” will bow June 10. Fresh installments of “West” will premiere Fridays at 8 p.m. and will repeat Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m.

TBS/TNT exec VP Steve Koonin said the eight series projects in consideration for a 2006 pickup represent a broader range of development for the cabler, which has two police procedurals on tap for this year.

“We’re a drama network, not a crime-drama network,” Koonin said. “We’re going to have an open mind and look at more kinds of series. Still, you won’t see us going into heavily serialized drama, either.”

In the development pipeline:

  • “Confessions,” from exec producer Haggis and Sony Pictures TV, revolves around a hit man trying to get out of the business.

  • “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King,” based on King’s anthology of short stories, is an eight-hour event being developed by exec producer Bill Harber (“Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow”).

  • “Grace,” from Nancy Miller (“CSI: Miami”) and Spelling Television, follows a female cop as she endeavors to change her life as part of an agreement with an angel to erase from her history a fatal driving accident.

  • “The Midnight Club,” from James Patterson (“Along Came a Spider”) and Lions Gate TV, is about a New York cop trying to track down a member of a secret international society of crime lords.

  • “Sanctuary,” from exec producers Deborah Joy Levine and Dan Levine (“The Division”), focuses on a young doctor and his work in a mental hospital.

  • “Smoke & Mirrors,” from Lindsay Sturman (“Joan of Arcadia”) and the Shephard/Robin Co., looks at the personal and professional lives of several people working in the cutthroat world of advertising.

  • “Talk to Me,” from Dean Devlin and Lions Gate TV, is a crime drama about hostage negotiators.

TNT has already shot the pilot for “The Dark,” from exec producer Stephen J. Cannell and helmed by Walter Hill (“Deadwood”). It’s based on a real-life FBI unit that investigates the most dangerous serial criminals.

Over at TBS, Koonin said the net is “exploring more comedic reality competitions as well as character-driven shows.”

Where last year’s rookies “Outback Jack” and “He’s a Lady” were conceived as one-season shows, fresh batch have the potential for longer runs, he said.

In July, cabler will premiere Nash’s “Loser Leaves Town,” a reality series that lets two feuding neighbors compete in a series of challenges, at the end of which the loser must move out of town. Second season of competish skein “The Real Gilligan’s Island” premieres June 8.

TBS also has ordered nine episodes of “Daisy Does America” from Coquette Prods. for the fourth quarter. Net inked a development deal with the shingle last year (Daily Variety, Oct. 18). “Daisy” follows Brit comedian Daisy Kuhlman (“The 11 O’clock Show”) as she travels the country in an attempt to become an “All-American girl.”

“Loser” and “Daisy” join previously announced “Minding the Store,” featuring Pauly Shore as he tries to revive the Comedy Store in Hollywood. That skein, too, is set for a fourth-quarter bow.

Elsewhere, TBS is shooting “Sketch Off,” a search for the best sketch-comedy troupe, from Whoopi Goldberg’s One Ho Prods. Cabler also is developing various series projects with Cedric the Entertainer’s Bird & a Bear production shingle.

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