×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cabler AMC to build on drama success

Eclectic new slate includes two Westerns

Fresh off multiple Golden Globe noms for “Mad Men,” AMC is looking to build on its recent critical success with an eclectic series development slate that includes two Westerns, a drama from the exec producer of “24” and an hour from Mandalay’s Peter Guber.

According to AMC’s Christina Wayne, veep of scripted series and miniseries, net will pick up a pilot in January from among projects that have already been in the works; a second pilot, from this batch of development, will be greenlit in the spring, assuming the writers strike is resolved.

The goal is to add one new series to AMC’s stable in 2009, alongside “Mad Men,” which returns next year for its second season, and frosh entry “Breaking Bad,” which bows in January.

Projects include “Fort Smith,” from “24” exec producer Robert Cochran. Western revolves around Isaiah Parker, who polices the Five Points — comprised of five different Indian tribes — with his posse in the lawless post-Civil War West.

Another Western also in the works, from Allison Anders and Terry Graham, centers on Comanche leader Quanah Parker, who fights the U.S. Army for the rights to his tribe’s land.

Mandalay’s Guber and Elizabeth Stephens are behind the quirky drama “Uninvited Guest.” Penned by “Less Than Zero” screenwriter Harley Peyton, project follows a character who suffers from multiple personality disorder.

Then there’s “Greenfields,” written by playwright Nicky Silver (“Raised in Captivity”). Drama revolves around a psychiatrist who breaks his patient out of jail.

Wayne said the critical and cultural success of “Mad Men” has taught AMC execs an important lesson in programming.

“What we’ve learned is going with our gut works,” she said.

According to Wayne, AMC’s series will remain balanced between genre stories (such as Westerns, given the success of miniseries “Broken Trail,” or period pieces) and what she calls “curveballs” (think “Breaking Bad”).

The latter “are stories that just capture us when we heard them,” she said. “We’re willing to take risks on material that feels cinematical to us. They feel like one-hour movies to us, instead of TV shows.”

Tone and pacing will continue to distinguish AMC series from other skeins, Wayne said.

“A lot of writers are happily surprised when they get (script) notes from us,” she said. “We say things like, ‘You can slow things down.’ We want audiences to connect with characters so they feel invested in their lives. And we don’t need everything to happen in the pilot.”

While AMC will try to build on “Mad Men” with “Breaking Bad,” don’t look for a flood of original series programming from the cabler.

“Breaking Bad” will be the only new series AMC launches in 2008, with a second season of “Mad Men” on tap once the WGA strike wraps.

“We’re not in the volume business,” Wayne said. “At most, three series at a time will be on our channel. We’re purposely not doing five shows at once so that we can really get involved in the production of the shows.”

Following up on smash hit “Broken Trail,” Wayne also expects to greenlight another miniseries early next year, producing it next for airing in 2009.

“We’re definitely still moving forward in the miniseries department. We’ll probably do one every year and a half,” she said.

A correction was made to this article on Dec. 21, 2007.

More TV

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Ken Jeong to Star in CBS

    Ken Jeong to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan

    A “Crazy Rich Asians” reunion is happening at CBS. Ken Jeong has been cast in a lead role in the multi-camera comedy pilot “The Emperor of Malibu,” which is being co-written and executive produced by “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. In the series, Auggie, the son of a Chinese tech billionaire, announces his engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content