Far from disappearing, made-fors and minis, or limited series, comprise a broad range of more than 100 projects for broadcast and cable networks in the year ahead — even if most are not designed with Emmys in mind. Here’s a look at who’s doing what, and how often.
Heavy Hitters (12-plus movies a season):
The Eye’s firmly entrenched Sunday night movie showcase continues with a wide range of projects, including a sequel to “Stone Cold,” the Tom Selleck-toplined hit; a miniseries on the life of Pope John Paul II; ripped-from-the-headlines Cybill Shepard starrer “Martha: Behind Bars”; two Christmas-themed films; and actioner “Mayday,” based on the novel by Nelson DeMille. Hallmark Hall of Fame will supply “Silver Bells,” “In From the Night” and “The Water Is Wide” toplining Anne Heche, Marcia Gary Harden and Alfre Woodard, respectively.
Cabler is scheduled to unveil at least one new original movie a month. Projects, which include “Pizza My Heart” and “Campus Confidential,” are geared toward younger viewers and family audiences and are usually heavy on romance. Original series “Wildfire” will launch with a two-hour pilot this month. Net will continue its tradition of holiday-themed schedules such as the previous 25 Days of X-Mas and 13 Nights of Halloween.
One of cable’s busiest nets in terms of original movies, Hallmark has 17 slated to air before the end of the year. Cabler continues its Mystery Movies franchise, while several other projects are aimed toward specific holidays including Father’s Day-themed “Fielder’s Choice,” with Chad Lowe; “Halloween Romance,” with Shelley Long; and Thanksgiving-targeted “The Reading Room,” with James Earl Jones. Sci-fi/fantasy event pics “The Mysterious Island” and “Supernova” are set for Labor Day weekend.
Femmecentric cabler will continue its successful emphasis on TV movies, with 17 projects on tap for the coming year. Wide mix includes an adaptation of bestseller “The Dive From Claussen’s Pier,” toplining Michelle Trachtenberg, and Kathy Bates in the true story “Ambulance Girl.” Net ventures into limited series this summer with “Beach Girls,” featuring Rob Lowe, and unveils its first miniseries this fall, “Human Trafficking,” which stars Mira Sorvino and Donald Sutherland in what’s intended as a hard-hitting look at the international sex trade.
Cabler will maintain its Saturday night genre showcase with more than 20 low-budget originals a year. On a larger scale, net has “The Triangle,” a three-part, six-hour miniseries from Dean Devlin and Bryan Singer set against the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle. Female superhero project “Painkiller Jane” and “Eureka” — about a Pacific Northwest town that’s actually a government experiment — will premiere as TV movies in 2006 with an eye toward series orders.
Tentpole Focused (5-6 big projects):
The Alphabet will roll out limited series “Empire” this summer. Projects in line for next season include Tracey Ullmann-Carol Burnett tuner “Once Upon a Mattress” and Stephen King adaptation “Desperation,” both of which have finished filming. Net has put four-hour biblical epic “The Ten Commandments” into production and is working on an untitled project based on “The 9/11 Commission Report.”
Peacock’s big events for next season are a new three-hour take on “The Poseidon Adventure”; a sequel to ratings smash “10.5,” dubbed “10.5: Apocalypse”; and “The 9/11 Project,” a miniseries chronicling the terrorist attacks. Net’s “Behind the Camera” franchise continues with “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Diff’rent Strokes.’ ”
Cabler has set Ted Danson to star in true story “Young Knights,” about a teacher in the South Bronx, for director Allen Hughes. Additional true life-based projects include a biopic on the early years of Johnny Cash; a 9/11 project tracking events on board Flight 93; and an adaptation of “Touch the Top of the World,” the memoir of a blind man who became a world-class mountain climber.
While HBO Films ups its theatrical output through newly formed Picturehouse, the pay cabler will stick to producing just a handful of made-for marquee projects each year. Currently, the only film on HBO’s slate is June premiere “The Girl in the Cafe,” a British romance scripted by Richard Curtis, directed by David Yates and starring Bill Nighy and Kelly MacDonald. Expect a few more during the year.
Epic six-week limited series “Into the West,” from DreamWorks Television and executive producer Steven Spielberg, begins airing June 10. The cabler reunites producer Dean Devlin and actor Noah Wyle for sequel “The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines,” and plans an eight-hour Stephen King anthology based on his story collection “Nightmares and Dreamscapes.”
Lean and Mean (1-3 longform projects):
After achieving ratings success this season with its first original movie, “Samantha: An American Girl Holiday,” the Frog will try a second pic based on the American Girl series of dolls and books: “Felicity: An American Girl Adventure,” featuring Marcia Gay Harden.
Sports cabler continues its series of dramatic true-life sports tales with its fifth and sixth original movies: “The Code Breakers,” based on a cheating scandal at West Point in 1951 that led to the expulsion of 83 cadets, including most of the football team, and “Four Minutes,” the story of British athlete Roger Bannister, the mile-runner who broke that barrier.
With its focus on a growing lineup of original series, FX’s only current longform project is “The Ten Commandments,” a 10-part limited series from Section Eight producers Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney that will examine biblical laws in a modern context. Target airdate is 2006.
Cabler’s focus on original series has slowed its output of movies to a crawl. Longform projects remain in the mix, but there are currently none scheduled or in production.