'Leverage' to revolve around high-tech criminals

TNT has given the go-ahead to production of “Leverage,” a pilot directed and produced by Dean Devlin about a team of five high-tech thieves who circle the globe to rob from wealthy criminals, corrupt businessmen and venal politicians.

At the same time, the network has also cancelled its rookie series “Heartland,” a medical drama starring Treat Williams, after nine episodes. “Heartland” lost well over 50% of the audience of its lead-in “The Closer” for the first five weeks of its TNT run (June 18-July 16). When TNT moved “Heartland” up two hours (from 10 to 8) in week six, it lost more viewers and turned off Madison Avenue because it didn’t perform well among the under-50 crowd.

On “Leverage,” Devlin and lead writer of the script John Rogers (“Transformers”) said in a joint interview that their goal is to deliver the kind of action-adventure spirit found in Devlin’s two high-rated “Librarian” movies on TNT: “Quest for the Spear” and “Return to King Solomon’s Mines.”

“Leverage” is one of four scripted hourlong pilots that TNT will look at toward the end of the year, choosing at least one to go into production in March for scheduling in the summer along with the net’s scripted-series hits “The Closer” and “Saving Grace.”

The three other pilots are an untitled legal drama from Steven Bochco and Touchstone TV with Jane Kaczmarek as a kickass judge and Mark-Paul Gosselaar as an attorney; the comedy-drama “Family Man,” from Sony Pictures TV, starring William H. Macy as a model husband and father by day who runs a burglary ring at night; and the Warner Horizon drama “Truth in Advertising,” from Greer Shepherd and Michael M. Robin, about the inner workings of a contemporary ad agency.

If only one of the four goes to production for next summer, TNT will most likely sked it on Monday night as part of a three-hour block with “Closer” and “Grace.”

But if two of the pilots appear worthy of a series greenlight, TNT would create a second night of scripted originals.

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