Daniels still looking for alternative programming exec
Maria Grasso has been named head of scripted series development for Lifetime.Exec, currently senior VP of drama development at the WB, emerged last month as the lead contender for the position (Daily Variety, Nov. 3), which reports directly to network programming prexy Susanne Daniels. Daniels is still looking to hire an exec to run alternative programming, replacing Bill Brand, who exited in September. Topper has already greenlit at least one show in that arena, docuseries “Cheerleader Nation” from Laurie Girion. Daniels told Daily Variety that she and Grasso had worked together several times over the years, most recently while Daniels was a Warner Bros. TV-based producer and Grasso served as the studio’s head of comedy development. “Maria is incredibly creative. She’s great with writers and has excellent taste,” Daniels said. Grasso, who begins officially in January, will be charged with developing the office laffer “Lovespring” and “Scarlett,” a drama pilot from Cheyenne Enterprises and Lions Gate Television about a New Orleans horror writer whose characters mysteriously come to life. She’ll work alongside Daniels to get additional shows up and running quickly. “I need her to launch new series immediately,” Daniels said. “Some projects will still go on the normal development track, but I’m also looking to her to greenlight the right scripts and ideas to pilot instantly.” As for content, Lifetime is casting a wide net. “I’m interested in all kinds of shows: comedy, sketch, procedural, serial. We’re open to everything, and as far as I’m concerned, let the best script win.” While at the Frog, Grasso helped develop dramas “Everwood” and “One Tree Hill.” Before that, she served as head of comedy development at Warner Bros. Television and spent the prior five years as a comedy development exec at Universal Television. Separately, series programming veep Theresa Edy has ankled the network and will segue into running an online business.