‘Burn,’ ‘Bill’ get berths

Cablers turn greenlight

USA Network has given a series order to cop drama “Burn Notice,” while Turner Broadcasting’s TBS has given the go to eight half-hours of “The Bill Engvall Show.”

“Burn Notice” is a Matt Nix-penned drama from producer Mikkel Bondesen’s Fox TV Studios-based Fuse Entertainment. USA ordered a pilot last summer (Daily Variety, Aug. 14).

Skein, starring Jeffrey Donovan and Gabrielle Anwar, will focus on a secret agent who becomes untouchable after unknown forces put a “burn notice” out on him, effectively ending his career as a spy. He goes into business for himself as a private eye, using his special training to help people who can’t go to the police — and to search for the bad guys who ordered his career ended.

Nix (“Cock & Bull”) wrote the pilot and will co-exec produce, with Bondesen exec producing. Project marks the first series order from the Fox studio’s overall deal with Fuse.

USA expects to launch the Jace Alexander-helmed “Burn Notice” in June, using limited skein “The Starter Wife” as a promotional platform to hype its premiere. Lensing begins next month in Miami.

“Burn Notice” joins a slate of USA Network skeins that includes “Monk” and “Psych,” as well as the recently greenlit “In Plain Sight.”

USA exec veep of original programming Jeff Wachtel said the cabler is still moving forward with “To Live and Die in L.A.,” another pilot that had been in contention for a summer bow. USA has ordered backup scripts and hopes to order it to series later this year.

Meanwhile, Engvall’s skein for TBS will have the “Blue Collar Comedy Tour” comic playing a family counselor in suburban Denver who has his hands full coping with his wife, played by Nancy Travis (“Becker”), two sons and a daughter.

TBS will try to get away from the trend of shooting broadcast-network sitcoms like a film, with a single camera and no audience.

“By design,” said Michael Wright, senior VP of original programming for TBS and its TNT sibling, “we’re producing this show in real time with four cameras in front of a live audience,” giving it almost a retro look.

“Engvall” becomes the second scripted sitcom on TBS, which has renewed the first, “My Boys,” for a another cycle of nine half-hours. The first cycle of “My Boys,” about an attractive single woman who’s a sportswriter in Chicago, consisted of 13 episodes.

Wright said “Engvall” and the new episodes of “My Boys” will join TBS’ primetime sked in the summer, with “Raymond” the likely lead-in to “Engvall” and “Sex and the City” or “Friends” as table setter to “My Boys.”

TBS has made no decision yet on whether to go ahead with a second season of the latenight original sitcom “10 Items or Less.” Also awaiting a decision is latenight series “The Frank Show,” a sketch-comedy half-hour featuring the mimic Frank Caliendo, who’s known particularly for his dead-on impression of John Madden. TBS taped the pilot of “The Frank Show” and will soon figure out whether to say yes to a full season of episodes.

Engvall and Michael Leeson are creators, writers and exec producers of “The Bill Engvall Show.” Co-exec producer is J.P. Williams. Leeson’s Welladay Inc. and Williams’ Parallel Entertainment are the producers with TBS. James Widdoes (“Two and a Half Men”) is director of the pilot.

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