Network orders seventh season of hit show

USA Network has hammered out a deal for a seventh season of signature skein “Monk” and will use the Tony Shalhoub starrer to anchor an aggressive summer sked of originals.

This summer the Peacock-owned cabler will have fresh episodes of no less than seven series — a number unlikely to be surpassed by any other cabler, according to USA exec veepee of original programming Jeff Wachtel.

In addition to “Monk” — which will return with new episodes in May — Wachtel plans to run fresh segs of “Psych,” “The Starter Wife,” “Burn Notice” and newcomer “In Plain Sight” during the warm weather months. A new batch of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” segs, originally slated for March, has been pushed to summer because of the Writers Guild strike.

Seventh skein on USA’s summer slate has yet to be decided. Cabler expects to greenlight a couple of pilots in the next few months with the aim of launching one of them as a series in the summer.

Getting “Monk” back for a seventh season was a key part of USA’s summer plan. While the show’s strong ratings made a renewal likely, contract negotiations with the show’s three key profit participants — producers David Hoberman and Andy Breckman, along with Shalhoub — meant the pickup was not a sure thing.

“You might say we were obsessed with making this deal,” Wachtel quipped, alluding to Shalhoub’s obsessive-compulsive character. “It’s not easy to wash your hands of a show like ‘Monk.’ “

On a more serious note, Wachtel told Daily Variety that “Monk” is “a hugely significant show” for USA.

“It’s a tentpole for our success, and it’s been a successful launching pad,” he said, noting “Monk’s” key role in helping turn “Psych” into a success.

Despite “Monk’s” value to USA, the show’s pricetag could make the seventh season the last.

“We have to be thinking of that,” Wachtel said. Andy Breckman is “starting to wrap up the show’s mythology if this is, in fact, the final season.”

Universal Media Studios produces “Monk” in association with Mandeville Films and ABC Studios. Repeats of the most recent season of “Monk” will begin airing on NBC later this season.

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