TNT sets busy summer schedule

'Dallas' to debut June 13 and 'Crimes' to air after 'Closer' finale

TNT has set its summer lineup, a sked that is more bountiful with original programming than at any other time in the cabler’s history.

In addition to returning series “Rizzoli & Isles,” “Franklin & Bash,” “Falling Skies” and “The Closer,” TNT is launching three new dramas — “Dallas,” “Perception” and “Major Crimes” — as well as reality show “The Great Escape.”

“It’s really a strong reflection of not only the network’s brand, but an affirmation of the tone we’ve been aiming for the last couple of years,” TNT topper Michael Wright told Variety. “We’ve intentionally moved to a lighter and brighter place. In our economic downturn, these shows are popping.”

Of its freshmen series, cabler has a lot riding on “Dallas,” which is set to premiere at 9 p.m. June 13 and will run for 10 weeks. Of the Ewing family reboot that was created by Cynthia Cidre and will be under critical scrutiny in comparisons to the iconic original series, Wright said the “conflicts are universal and timeless. … The name ‘Dallas’ is helpful in that it will get you sampled, but it won’t get you watching in week three.”

In total viewers, “Rizzoli & Isles” was TNT’s No. 1 series last year and the Angie Harmon-Sasha Alexander skein will debut its new season at 9 p.m. June 5. Show will be immediately followed by “Franklin & Bash.”

The net’s best show in the 18-49 and 25-54 demos, “Falling Skies” will launch season No. 2 on June 17 at 9 p.m., and a week later it will be paired with reality rookie “The Great Escape,” from “The Amazing Race” exec producer Bertram van Munster. Hosted by NFL Network personality Rich Eisen, “The Great Escape” drops contestants into locales such as a maximum-security prison and deserted island.

At 9 p.m. July 9, “The Closer” begins its six-episode seventh and final season. New series “Perception,” starring Eric McCormack, will serve as the show’s lead-out.

“Closer” spinoff “Major Crimes” will launch 10 p.m. Aug. 13, immediately following “The Closer” finale. “Crimes” stars Mary McDonnell as LAPD Capt. Sharon Raydor, a role she originated opposite Kyra Sedgwick on “The Closer.”

Also, “Leverage” is set to make its season debut July 15. The Timothy Hutton starrer will split its season, moving a handful of episodes to December, as it has done in years past. “Rizzoli & Isles” will also be likely dividing its season between summer and winter.

Wright said he “hates” the idea of splitting seasons — a technique that has been implemented to make sure original programming can be offered year round — but its not a strategy that isn’t likely to continue over the next few years.

Of its shows currently airing, TNT’s critically praised cop drama “Southland” has seen a ratings uptick from a year ago and looks headed toward a fifth-season renewal.

As for upcoming pilots currently gestating at the Turner cabler, Wright said he is focused on western “Tin Star,” David E. Kelley’s “Chelsea General,” Carol Mendolsohn’s canine-centric “Scent of the Missing” and Frank Darabont’s “L.A. Noir.”

“Chelsea General” began filming this week and “L.A. Noir” will see cameras roll on May 1. Wright said he expects to make decisions on the future of two of the shows by TNT’s May 16 upfront in Gotham and the other soon after that.

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