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USA expands slate with two new series

Net gets 'Legal Mind,' 'Necessary Roughness'

USA Network, continuing to expand its drama horizons, has picked up two pilots to series.

A Legal Mind,” which stars Patrick J. Adams, Gabriel Macht and Meghan Markle, centers on a young hotshot who doesn’t have a law degree but, with the help of a corporate attorney, uses his street smarts to serve justice and save both their jobs.

Creator Aaron Korsh wrote the pilot. Doug Liman and David Bartis exec produce for Universal Cable Prods.

Necessary Roughness,” created by Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro for Sony Pictures TV and Universal Cable Prods., stars Callie Thorne (“Rescue Me”) as a Long Island divorcee who gets a job as a therapist for a professional football team and struggles to find a balance between her personal and work lives. Kevin Dowling helmed the pilot and exec produces, with Kruger and Shapiro as co-exec producers.

Including the pilot, both shows have received 12-episode orders. They’re scheduled to launch this summer, and each will receive a 90-minute premiere.

Jeff Wachtel, USA’s prexy of original programming, said that while the net remains No. 1 in total viewers and in the 18-49 demo in cable, his job is to make sure the programming doesn’t fall into a creative rut and can move beyond viewer expectations.

“We have a desire not to be just one thing. The hidden risk of success is trying to do what you did before,” Wachtel told Variety. ” ‘Necessary Roughness’ has a bit of an emotional slant, and the approach on ‘A Legal Mind’ is a little edgier, plus the lead isn’t particularly likable. We’re certainly pushing out and appealing to a younger audience.”

Even with the two greenlights Wednesday, NBC U cabler still has four drama pilots on the shelf: Wachtel and USA topper Bonnie Hammer need to make decisions on “Eden,” “Wild Card,” “Over/Under” and “Common Law.”

With original skeins such as “Burn Notice” and “Psych” aging, Wachtel said it’s important to keep the lineup fresh. He added that comedy, reality and event programming will be a priority in 2012.

Net is looking to hire a reality exec to head its incoming nonscripted fare.

USA’s latest original drama, the Sarah Shahi starrer “Fairly Legal,” bows tonight. Shahi plays a San Francisco mediator dealing with the death of her father and having her stepmother as a boss.

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