‘Starter Wife’ evolves on USA

Mini-series gets weekly slot starting March '08

After a successful run as a spring miniseries, “The Starter Wife” is morphing into a weekly series for USA Network.

Cabler has greenlit production on 10 hourlong episodes of the Debra Messing starrer, which snagged 10 Emmy noms and one statuette. Barring delays from a WGA strike, lensing is slated to start in March for an early summer 2008 premiere.

“Starter Wife” the series will have Messing reprising her role as newly divorced Molly Kagan. Universal Media Studios will produce.

USA programming topper Jeff Wachtel said a combination of factors led to the decision to expand “Starter Wife” into a skein.

“In part, it was the general commercial success, and in part it was the pleasant surprise of all the Emmy nominations,” he said. “But more than anything else, it was the creative team. They really had a great language with each other and wanted to work together again.”

While “Starter Wife” was designed to be a standalone project that would serve as the launching pad for USA’s summer lineup, Wachtel said that “part of one eye was focused on a possible upside” of turning it into a franchise. There was talk of simply doing another sequel, but the cabler ultimately opted for a series greenlight.

“Starter Wife” joins a USA slate heavy on skeins with male leads, including “Monk,” “Psych,” “Burn Notice” and “The Dead Zone.” Cabler is attempting to add more female-centered series, previously announcing plans for the Mary McCormack starrer “In Plain Sight” (working title).

“It would be fantastic to have more of a balance of male and female (leads),” Wachtel said.

Messing will serve as an exec producer on the series, along with Josann McGibbon, Sara Parriott and Gigi Levangie Grazer. Also serving as exec producers: Stephanie Davis, Howard Klein and Molly Madden.