In what was truly a breath of fresh air after several weeks of upfronts madness, yesterday's USA Network presentation at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall -- the final event of the season -- didn't feature a single word from any executive. It's a long-standing tradition at the cabler to have their stars do the talking, which means a minimum amount of industry speak... and way more scripted banter. Since USA has acquired the syndication rights to Modern Family, the highlight of the evening was a digital short of series co-creator Steven Levitan standing in front of the Pritchett-Delgado house saying how excited he was to be part of the USA family, only to have Ed O'Neill, in character as Jay, come out and angrily demand, "Hey, get the fuck out of my driveway!" It was followed with the Modern Family framed-moment title song , where the casts of each USA original series held up a little frame until the final shot ended on the Modern Family theme final still. Another highlight, especially to WWE fans, was the announcement that in honor of Monday Night Raw's 1,000th episode, the series will now be expanded to three hours every week.
All in all, the whole presentation was pretty light and fun, except for a strange moment when Burn Notice's Bruce Campbell reminded us that USA has been number-one basic cable network for six consecutive years... and then made all of the USA talent in the audience face the media buyers in attendance in order to give the fat cats a standing ovation for their money. As for the new shows? Let's just say they're definitely on brand.
Currently in development are Paging Dr. Freed (a sitcom about two brothers who are OB/GYNs but know nothing about women, yuk yuk yuk) and Sirens (an American adaptation of the British comedy of the same name, currently being written by Denis Leary). Also (with unfortunately very little details) coming to the cabler are The Regulars, Benched, The Diccio Brothers and Start Up.
Following the trend of the Undercover Boss-type reality inspirational series, this episodic series hosted by Kurt Warner gives a new person every episode one last chance to pursue their unrealized lifelong dream. It sounds fairly bland, but perfect if you're in the mood for a good cry.
If you're familiar with the British series, this is simply the small-town American adaptation. If you're not, think Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution meets Glee; adorable Englishman Gareth Malone travels the country, tasked with teaching choral singing to unlikely passionate candidates who either have had no experience or no opportunity to sing before.
White Collar creator Jeff Eastin is back with another scripted drama featuring good looking people and high-stakes crime -- this one is inspired by real events about a group of agents from the FBI, DEA and Customs all living undercover in a luxury beach house in Los Angeles. If you're into the typical USA formula (and I am), it looks pretty cool, if not a bit campy.
Political Animals (Sundays at 10 PM)
This upcoming six-hour drama miniseries, created by Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark, stars Sigourney Weaver as a divorced former First Lady who is the current Secretary of State. The dark faux-reality show format mixed with the talent involved and powered by the patented USA energy makes it the network's most promising series of the season by far.
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