U.S. shows still central to C4 plans

Local dramas given pride of place

LONDON — U.K. web Channel 4 is putting less coin into acquisitions but its winter schedule is still heavy with fare from across the Atlantic, including ABC drama skein “Dirty Sexy Money.”

Other imports include upstart comedy “Reaper,” made by Buena Vista, plus new seasons of “Desperate Housewives,” “ER” and the final eight episodes of “The Sopranos.”

Channel topper Julian Bellamy said: “We are spending about £10 million ($20 million) less on U.S. shows, but they still play an important role for us.”

Bellamy expressed cautious optimism that the Hollywood writers’ strike would be over before the New Year — if not his schedule will have to be torn apart.

“We have made contingency plans,” he added, with at least one new long-running documentary series commissioned to help fill the gaps should the worst happen.

Home-produced shows, being sold as the first fruits of the web’s “creative renewal,” dominate the 9 p.m. slot, including Nick Broomfield’s “Battle for Haditha,” which preemed recently at the London Film Fest.

The pic forms the centerpiece of a season designed to mark the fifth anniversary of the Iraq invasion.

“Battle for Haditha,” made by Lafayette, is based on what happened when Iraqi insurgents bombed a U.S. marine convoy on Nov. 19, 2005.

The web also revealed that it has commissioned a new miniseries from BAFTA-winning screenwriter Peter Flannery. “The Devil’s Whore,” produced by Company Pictures, tells the story of the English Civil War from the perspective of a fictitious 17-year-old aristocratic woman who rebels against her background to sympathize with the anti-royalists.

It will be helmed by Marc Munden and exec produced by Charlie Pattinson and George Faber.

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