Net sets epic CIA thriller

TNT and Ridley Scott are collaborating on the cable network’s “The Company,” a six-part miniseries based on Robert Littell’s bestselling Cold War epic.

Cabler has greenlit the Sony Pictures TV project and ordered a slew of series projects from heavy hitters including Robert Redford and the Shephard/Robin Co. (also behind TNT original series “The Closer”).

Sister network TBS, meanwhile, unveiled its first original sitcoms, “My Boys” and “10 Items or Less.”

Announcements were made during Turner Broadcasting’s upfront presentation for advertisers Tuesday in New York.

Executives were high on the growing lineup of originals on TNT, which includes the second season of “The Closer” and new EMT drama series “Saved” for June; Stephen King’s eight-part event “Nightmares & Dreamscapes” for July; and the sequel to original movie “The Librarian” for the fourth quarter.

For next summer TNT has set “The Company.” Scott, Tony Scott, John Calley, David Zucker and Ken Nolan will exec produce the thriller following the lives of a group of CIA agents. Project had initially been set up as a feature at Sony.

“I love the schedule we’re building. It’s built off of (acquired) shows that always relate back to drama, and a growing number of strong originals,” said TBS/TNT exec VP-chief operating officer Steve Koonin.

Drama projects announced in development at TNT include the following:

  • “Generations,” from Robert Redford and John Sacret Young (“The West Wing”), which goes back and forth in time to follow the story of three generations of a family who have all lived in the same house.

  • “The Norms,” from Warner Bros. TV, Shephard/Robin and Michael Lewis, which revolves around a dysfunctional family in the South.

  • “Middletown,” from Sony and John Masius (“Providence”), which centers on a high school principal and his wife as they raise both their students and their two children, one of whom is autistic.

  • An untitled project, from WBTV and David Hollander (“The Guardian”), about a recently separated couple who each work in the business of heart transplant surgery: She’s a counselor, he’s a surgeon.

  • An untitled project, from WBTV, Shephard/Robin, Richard Levine and Lyn Greene (“Nip/Tuck”), about a top sports doctor who winds up working with the disabled at a rehabilitation clinic in New Jersey.

  • An untitled project, from William M. Finkerstein (“NYPD Blue”) and Bill Clark (“Blind Justice”), about a neighborhood cop, based on Clark’s experiences as a former NYPD detective.

As for TBS, senior VP of programming for TNT/TBS Michael Wright announced greenlights for scripted laffers “My Boys” and “10 Items or Less.” Both Sony-produced skeins will premiere in the fourth quarter.

“My Boys” follows a female sportswriter as she winds her way through the dating scene. Gavin Polone, Jamie Tarses and Betsy Thomas exec produce. Scripted/improv comedy “10 Items” concerns a less-than-successful New York businessman who moves back home to take over his family-run supermarket after the death his father. Robert Kickey, Nancy Hower and John Lehr exec produce and star.

Wright said the skeins signal a new programming direction for the comedy cabler, which had foundered in its previous attempts at original reality shows like “Minding the Store” and “Daisy Does America.”

“We’re producing comedies that are recognizable to the people who are already coming to TBS for shows like ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ and ‘Sex and the City,’ ” Wright said.

Koonin said “My Boys” was designed as a companion to “Sex and the City,” with which it will likely be paired, while “10 Items” will twin with male-skewing laffers “Family Guy,” “Seinfeld” or “Raymond.”

TBS is also developing “My Embarrassing Life” from David Rosenthal (“Gilmore Girls”), a coming-of-age laffer about an awkward 14-year-old with a quirky family; and a half-hour from Sony and standup comic Larry Miller about being a suburban husband, dad and newspaper columnist.

Previously produced pilot “Boy’s Life,” a mother-son comedy, is still up for 2007 consideration. Wright confirmed that the network has passed on “The Jeff Garlin Show.”

Elsewhere during the presentation, Turner entertainment chief Mark Lazarus hinted at potential deals with nontraditional platforms — an area in which TNT and TBS have yet to make a splash.

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