Offerings include 'Girl,' 'Negotiator'
Top-rated cable net USA is putting a slate of shows into development, including one series from film producer Donald De Line and another from TV scribe Toni Graphia.Network is looking to expand its roster of high-concept characters featured on hits such as “Monk” and “Psych.” De Line has been brought on to develop “The Negotiator,” about a hostage negotiator who’s fired and reinvents himself as a relationship counselor. The former Paramount exec’s shingle, De Line Pictures, is set up at Warner Bros. and is developing feature projects such as “Brad Cutter Ruined My Life…Again.” NBC U net has also signed Graphia, currently co-exec producer on “Battlestar Galactica” and previously a writer on shows like “Quantum Leap” and “Melrose Place,” to develop “American Girl.” Series concerns a mild-mannered Wal-Mart employee who undergoes a personality transformation after witnessing a robbery. And “Roswell” producer Kevin Brown will develop “Family Values,” about a group of unrelated undercover FBI agents masquerading as a family in the suburbs. Show, which is written by David Titcher (“Around the World in 80 Days”), will have both dramatic and comedic elements. Execs said all the series are offbeat or lighthearted takes on genres, and all will contain an unusual figure at their center. “We don’t do high-concept shows; we do shows that have high-concept characters,” said USA exec veep of original programming Jeff Wachtel. Wachtel also described the net’s emphasis on a “clean and simple marketing hook,” like the OCD-afflicted detective played by Tony Shalhoub in “Monk.” That hook, he says, helps clarify the net’s mission for both auds and the creative community. In June, USA will debut a show in that vein, “Burn Notice,” about a former special ops officer who turns to helping civilians. Cabler also plans to put Mary McCormack starrer “In Plain Sight” on the air in 2008. And right after Memorial Day, USA will air six-hour mini “The Starter Wife,” directed by Jon Avnet and based on the roman a clef from Gigi Levangie Grazer, who is married to Brian Grazer. USA has been on a hot streak of late: Net rode its slate of offbeat scripted shows and wrestling skein “Monday Night Raw” to a 13% increase in total viewers in 2006. this year it has regularly been winning weekly cable-ratings battles since “Monday Night Football” went off the air in January. Wachtel said that despite several young hits, net had room for a number of new shows and could potentially greenlight several series off the development slate. Also on Wednesday, USA announced that it has put into development “Spying in High Heels,” about a fashion fiend who uses her skills with patterns and fabric to solve crimes, and dramedy “The Oldest Rookie,” about a fortysomething man who changes careers and becomes a police officer.