Network gives 10-episode order to dark comedy

Diving deeper into the original series biz, Starz has given a 10-episode order to a half-hour dark comedy from multihyphenate Eric Schaeffer and “Seinfeld” alum Jill Franklyn.

Pay cabler also has a number of prospective series in development, including another project from Rob Thomas, creator-exec producer of the Starz comedy “Party Down,” and a comedy from Matthew McConaughey’s production shingle.

The Schaeffer/Franklyn series, tentatively titled “Failure to Fly,” revolves around a support group for people who tried to commit suicide but are now embracing their second chance at a happy life.

Schaeffer will co-star and exec produce along with Franklyn. Dan Pasternack will serve as a producer. Starz ordered the series on the strength of its concept. Schaeffer and Franklyn are already working on scripts and are in the process of filling out the cast.

Schaeffer’s credits include the FX comedy “Starved” and the Showtime docu-comedy “I Can’t Believe I’m Still Single.”

Starz is set to announce the pickup today during its presentation at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour in Pasadena.

“Failure” will be lensed in Gotham, where Schaeffer is based. It’s tentatively skedded to debut in the spring of 2010.

The “Failure” order is part of Starz’s long-term plan to ramp up its roster of original series. The Liberty Media-owned cabler hopes to have various original skeins cycling through its Friday 10-11 p.m. slot on a 52-week basis next year.

Projects in the development hopper at the Starz Media production wing, headed by exec veep Bill Hamm, include “Waterloo,” an hourlong laffer from scribe Thomas (“Veronica Mars”). It’s described as a coming-of-age story involving a rock band, and it is loosely based on Thomas’ youthful adventures.

Dan Etheridge, Danielle Stokdyk and Jennifer Gwartz join Thomas as producers on “Waterloo.”

“Jonah and the Whale” centers on a young man’s struggle to come into his own in the shadow of a famous, and highly disapproving, father. It hails from the J.K. Livin Prods. banner run by McConaughey, Mark Gustawes and Chad Mountain.

Martin Lawrence is working on an interracial love story for the channel that he would produce along with scribe Michael Soccio (“The King of Queens”). And Chris Albrecht and Rob Lee are shepherding a drama about a young femme fashion photographer (Daily Variety, July 15).

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