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Esquire Network Greenlights First Original Scripted Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Esquire Network is getting into the scripted game.

NBCUniversal’s male-skewing network has ordered 10 episodes of the dark drama “Spotless,” set to premiere this fall, Variety has learned exclusively.

The project hails from Tandem productions for Canal Plus and marks the first-ever scripted series for Esquire, which is home to unscripted properties “Knife Fight,” “Brew Dogs” and “Friday Night Tykes.” Ed McCardie (“Shameless”) and Corinne Marrinan (“CSI”) are co-creators, and Rola Bauer (“The Pillars of the Earth,” “Crossing Lines”) will serve as exec producer, alongside Jonas Bauer and Suzanne Berger.

Marc-André Grondin (“C.R.A.Z.Y.”), Denis Ménochet (“Inglorious Basterds”), Miranda Raison (“24: Live Another Day”) and Brendan Coyle (“Downton Abbey”) will star in the series.

Spotless,” set in London, follows a troubled man, Jean Bastiere (Grondin), whose life is turned upside down when his outlaw brother, Martin (Ménochet), crashlands into his world. Together, the brothers must confront their dark sins of the past and real dangers of the present: They’re trapped by mob boss Nelson Clay (Coyle) while corruption, drugs and death pose a constant hazard. Along with Jean’s wife Julie (Raison), the entire family struggles to gain control over their lives in the hourlong drama, described as sexy with dark humor.

“Continuing our pursuit to offer the highest quality programming, Esquire Network is excited to embark on its first scripted series and to partner with the talented team at Tandem Productions,” said Matt Hanna, head of original programming, Esquire Network. “‘Spotless’ is a genre-bending drama offering a tonality that’s unique to the current television landscape. Perfectly on point for our discerning male audience, it promises to take them on a twisted dark ride.”

Rola Bauer, CEO and partner of Tandem Productions, and exec producer, commented: “Esquire Network is the perfect home for ‘Spotless.’ Our daring, audacious and distinctive new series belongs with this network, which has been equally daring and audacious. The tremendous growth with their target audience is a testament to their strategic focus and strength in the U.S. market.”

“Spotless” is a Canal Plus Création Originale, the production banner under Canal Plus, France’s premium cable channel. Worldwide distribution will be handled by Studiocanal. Emmy-winning Eve Stewart (“The King’s Speech,” “Les Miserables”) will serve as the production designer on the series.

Wednesday, Esquire Network also announced four unscripted series in development:

“Winner’s Circle,” from exec producers LeBron James and Maverick Carter, follows two celebrity friends each episode exploring the parties, fan culture, local highlights and behind-the-scenes access at the biggest sporting events of the year including the Kentucky Derby and Super Bowl. SpringHill Productions and Magical Elves will produce with Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz exec producing with James and Carter.

Friday Night Tykes: Western, PA,” a spinoff to Esquire Network’s original series, hailing from 441 productions, this time set in Beaver County, home of Mike Ditka and Joe Namath.

“Team Ninja Warrior,” based on “America Ninja Warrior, which currently airs on Esquire and NBC, the “ninjas” (contestants) will form teams and race through the world’s toughest obstacle course, ultimately ending with a relay element each episode. The series is produced by A. Smith with Arthur Smith and Kent Weed L. as exec producers.

“Educating America,” based on the U.K. project “Educating Britain,” the docu-series produced by TwoFour America with exec producers David Clews and Andrew MacKenzie explores what really happens inside American schools.

Esquire is the latest NBC cable network to jump into scripted programming, following sister nets E! and Bravo, which shifted into the landscape with “The Royals” and “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce,” respectively. Bravo has its second scripted series “Odd Mom Out” premiering this summer, while E! just ordered a drama pilot for “The Arrangement.” Syfy is taking on a “Brave New World” miniseries, and USA is gearing up for the premieres of new dramas “Complications” and “Mr. Robot” in June. Meanwhile, NBC-owned Chiller just announced its first original scripted drama, “Slasher.”

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