Having enjoyed much needed summerlong ratings success with original series “The Dead Zone” and “Monk,” USA Network is looking to keep the momentum cranking into the new season.
“The network this fall is in a different place than it was last year,” says the cable net’s prexy, Doug Herzog. “Last fall the train had come to a complete halt.”
He says USA put its series eggs firmly in its summer basket. During the rest of the year, the network is planning to concentrate on event longforms, specials and sports coverage, which mainly consists of tennis and golf. (The first season of “Dead Zone” just wrapped, while “Monk’s” season finale is scheduled for Oct. 11.)
“The idea is to maintain the momentum that we’ve gained without necessarily launching new series this fall,” Herzog says. “We’re really most interested in launching new series in June, July, January, March and April.”
Among some future limited-run series USA is mulling is a long-talked-about version of “Traffic,” likely for an early 2003 start.
Movies and back-door pilots are likely to show up at the end of the work week throughout the year, as USA attempts to capitalize on how well “Monk” established Crime Fridays as a themed destination night.
On tap for Crime Fridays are at least three original movies: “Blood Crime,” starring James Caan and Jonathan Schaech, in September; “Case of Evil,” starring Vincent D’Onofrio, in October; and “Murder in Greenwich,” co-starring Christopher Meloni and Robert Forster, in November.
Event longforms around which USA is rallying include a biopic on former N.Y. Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a Helen of Troy project.
“We’re also looking at a holiday music special for December, and then our usual great assortment of theatrical movies and off-network series will get us through the end of the year,” Herzog says. “We kind of shy away from major fall premieres, and that has been a strategy that’s paid off so far.”