Showtime’s ‘Franchise’ to feature Miami Marlins

Reality skein shoots for mid-July preem date

Showtime made it official Monday by naming the Miami Marlins as the featured team in its baseball docuseries “The Franchise.”

Pay cabler kicked off the series last year with a look inside the San Francisco Giants, who were the reigning World Series champs at the time.

Production has already begun and though a premiere date hasn’t been announced, it’s likely to launch around mid-July, close to baseball’s All-Star Game.

The Marlins make for an interesting introspection in 2012. The renamed team — formerly the Florida Marlins — has a fiery new manager in Ozzie Guillen and is moving into a new stadium. Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria will clearly use the show as a marketing tool and a way to sell tickets to a heavy South Florida Latino population.

Team has recently acquired Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell and Carlos Zambrano and also has stellar third baseman Hanley Ramirez on its roster.

Showtime entertainment prexy David Nevins told Variety that in the wake of bigscreen pic “Moneyball,” he would like this year’s edition of “The Franchise” to feature as much goings-on in the front office as there will be of action on the field.

“I think we’ll end up with a show this year that is about the operation of the club,” Nevins said. “I want a show about how the team is run. I want to really develop the front office characters as much as the players. ‘Moneyball’ has come out and has opened people’s eyes to the operations of a front office. This will be the real version.”

In addition to “The Franchise,” Showtime is ramping up its sports division with a previously announced upcoming weekly show from Jim Rome that is likely to debut in November or December. Nevins would like to see the skein debut when the NFL football season is in its home stretch and while college and pro basketball, as well as the NHL, are underway.

Other Showtime sports properties include “Inside the NFL” and “Inside NASCAR” as well as boxing, which is the division’s cash cow, and mixed martial arts.

On the entertainment front, Nevins called the casting of Michael Sheen — as the male lead in drama pilot “Masters of Sex” — “a big trade up” from Paul Bettany, who left the project a few months ago. Both “Masters” and “Ray Donovan,” which recently added Jon Voight and Elliott Gould to the Liev Schreiber starrer, are scheduled to begin production next month.