Oxygen airs serious slate

Big names will pump cabler's sked

Oxygen unveiled the largest development slate in its history on Thursday, toplining first-ever drama projects from Lynda Obst, Escape Artists, Debra Martin Chase and Lionsgate TV.

Other comedy, reality and movie projects come from a range of heavy hitters including Working Title, September Films, Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Lovespell, Fox TV Studios and New Line Television.

Announcement comes just months after Oxygen inked a game-changing deal to add 8 million subscribers via carriage on EchoStar’s Dish.

Drama projects are “Nicky Velvet,” about a crook who steals seemingly valueless objects for a hefty fee, based on the Edward Hoch mysteries and produced by Escape Artists; Obst’s “Robin Hudson Mysteries,” about a third-string reporter with a knack for crime-solving, from writer Jennifer Furlong and based on the Sparkle Hayter books; and “Serial,” a limited event from Chase, scribes Glenn Davis and William Laurin and Lionsgate, focusing on a sheriff tracking a serial killer in a small town.

With the influx of programming coin and success with improv laffer “Campus Ladies,” Oxygen senior VP of development/production Aaron Meyerson said the cable net will be tapping into new genres and formats.

“We have cast a wider net with our development slate by including more reality and trying different things with animation and large-scale productions,” Meyerson said. “All of these projects embody the bold, over-the-top sensibility that Oxygen has come to be known for.”

Cabler has ordered up the reality pilots “Once More With Feeling,” which coaches individuals to sing and dance in preparation of announcing a life-changing moment Broadway-style, from September Films; “Capitol Hill Girls,” a docusoap following the women who work on Capitol Hill, from City Lights TV; and “Tease,” a hairstylist competish from Michael Yuden and Brian Gadinsky.

On the comedy front are “Angry Little Girls,” based on the Web site of the same name, from Lovespell and “Family Guy” scribe Alex Borstein (Daily Variety, Jan. 27); “Bastards!,” centered on a lying cheat who becomes the headmistress of an elite academy filled with spoiled brats, from Fox TV Studios and Harry Cripps; “Identical,” a dramedy about identical twins, from Tim Perell and writer Eric Pomerance; and “Sexy Justice,” billed as “Cagney & Lacey” meets “Austin Powers” with girls, from scribe Johanna Stein and Kelly Kulcheck.

Oxygen is also working on a trio of original movies including “MK Ultra,” an actioner based on real women who are trained to be sleeper assassins, from New Line and scribe Edith Swenson; “The Pact,” a femme-powered whodunit from Fugitive Films and “Cold Case” scribe Stacey Kravetz; and “Blindsided,” a Eastern Europe-set thriller about an American seeking her birth mom, from Tim Perrell and helmer-scribe Kris Isacsson.

On the docket for the rest of the year are marquee shows “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency” and “Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty” and the return of top-rated franchises “Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance” and “Campus Ladies.”

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