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[05/10/04 - 12:00 AM]
Spike TV, USA Set Development Slates
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- Cable channels USA and Spike TV have outlined their respective development slates, the latter of which includes the launch of a news and documentary programming division.

As for USA, the network has several original series, telefilms and mini-series in the works. USA will still remain out of the half-hour comedy game for the time being however the channel plans to ramp up its reality series output in the future. USA series and long-form chief Jeff Wachtel says his goal is to have at least four original series on the network's schedule at any one time.

Here's a breakdown of USA's original drama series in the works:

BEFORE THE FACT - based on a format devised by Declan Croghan for World Productions Limited and Channel 5, centers on the real-life police unit that tracks violent repeat offenders after they are released from prison and before they commit their next crime. Executive producers: John Shiban ("The X-Files," "Frankenstein") and Simon Heath.

BORN AND MADE - chronicles the life of a young F.B.I. agent simultaneously with that of his career criminal father 20 years prior. Executive producer: Alfonso Moreno ("The Guardian," "The Practice").

CONFIDENCE - small screen version of the recent film from Lions Gate starring Ed Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia and Dustin Hoffman which will follow a group of hustlers who work together to pull off one heist over the course of an entire season; was previously understood to be in development at FOX. Executive producer: Craig Silverstein.

CURB APPEAL - a behind-the-scenes take on a cutthroat Beverly Hills real estate agency. Executive producers: Pat Cirillo; Gary Kurtz and Joseph Scotti; Chris Godfrey.

EDISON - revolves around a Los Angeles detective who relies on impersonations and disguises to solve crimes however his compulsive lying helps his career but hurts his home life. Executive producers: David Hoberman ("Monk") and Howard Franklin ("Antitrust") for Touchstone Television and Mandeville Films.

FRANKENSTEIN (two-hour pilot in production plus four additional scripts) - 21st century take on Mary Shelley's classic "Frankenstein" story as the doctor and his monster are discovered in present-day Seattle. Stars: Parer Posey, Adam Goldberg. Executive producers: Martin Scorsese, Dean Koontz, Marcus Nispel, Tony Krantz ("24") and John Shiban.

JOHNNY THE GREAT (cast-contingent pilot production) - about drug-addicted lawyer who manages to help other people. Executive producer: Billy Finkelstein ("L.A. Law," "Doogie Howser, M.D.").

THE MAD, THE BAD AND THE INNOCENT - deals with a forensic psychologist who's balancing his own inner demons while having to treat others. Executive producers: Patrick Cirillo ("Tears of the Sun"), Phillip Noyce ("Clear and Present Danger"), Jeff Hayes and Greg Coote ("On the Beach").

SMOKE AND MIRRORS - explores how jury selection is the primary factor in determining verdicts. Executive producers: Lee Zlotoff ("Spitfire Grille"), Raffaella De Laurentiis, Peter Saphier and Angela Mancuso.

As for its movies and limited series, the following projects were detailed, some of which were previously announced:

THE LAST RIDE (original movie, airs Wednesday, June 2 at 8:00/7:00c)* - When his wife is killed in a botched heist, notorious bank robber Ronnie Purnell (Dennis Hopper) surrenders to the police. Sentenced to a hefty prison term, he's forced to put his young son Aaron in the care of a back-stabbing friend by the name of Darryl Kurtz - who actually engineered Purnell's arrest. Thirty years later, a newly-freed Purnell is back on the streets looking for revenge - and his old getaway car, a 1969 GTO that holds the key to his redemption. Aaron (Will Patton) is now a clean-cut cop struggling to make sure his own son, Matt (Chris Carmack), steers clear of the criminal lifestyle he's been flirting with. But despite Aaron's best efforts to keep grandpa and grandson apart, Matt can't resist getting involved with Ronnie's plot to take down the man who set him up all those years ago. Nailing Kurtz and finding the vintage car means they'll have to race against the clock, the L.A.P.D. and a private security force. But in the hot new 350-horsepower 2004 GTO they just ripped off, they've got the drive to win.

36 CANDLES (original movie)* - USA Network pays homage to the 1984 classic coming-of-age flick Sixteen Candles with a two-hour original movie sequel, 36 Candles. Set twenty years after the original comedy, the definitive movie about first love returns in this look at what happens "happily ever after..." Samantha Baker comes home in time for her high school reunion and 36th birthday -- a day she wants to forget but can't since her dysfunctional family keeps reminding her. Farmer Ted, Long Duk Dong and first love Jake Ryan all converge on Shermer High for the reunion festivities. Confronted with her past and at a crossroads in her own life, Sam must figure out if what she wants at 36 is the same as what she wanted when she was 16 years old. Blue Crush producers Buffy Shutt and Kathy Jones of Shutt-Jones Prods. are developing the film with Ken Holdren producing.

AFFAIRS TO REMEMBER (limited series)* - USA Network is teaming up with executive producer Craig Anderson (Wilder Days) for Affairs to Remember, a six-hour limited series exploring infidelity from the perspectives of several interweaving couples. Craig Anderson Productions (Midwives, The Christmas Shoes) will executive produce with Cynthia Saunders (Profiler) set to write and produce.

AMITYVILLE (original movie) - focuses on the murder and abuse at the Amityville, Long Island, "haunted house." Executive producers: Bernie Sofronsky and Holly Harter for Sony Pictures Television. Writer: John Ireland.

DEVIL'S KNOT (original movie) - about three teenagers accused of killing three young boys in a small town in Arkansas. Executive producers: Elizabeth Fowler and Ilene Kahn. Writer: Anna Hamilton Phelan.

FREEFALL: TRAGEDY AND TRIUMPH ON MT. HOOD (original movie) - recounts the rescue of nine hikers swept into a crevasse. Executive producers: George Paige, John Cosgrove, Terry Meurer, Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein. Writer: Stan Chervin.

IF THE SOUTH HAD WON THE CIVIL WAR (limited series, two-hour pilot script & series bible) - a six-hour limited series based on Mackinlay Kantor's book about a fictitious modern world in which the South has won the Civil War. Executive producers: Bruce Nash and John Leekley.

ORGANIZED MEDICINE (mini-series) - based on true events surrounding organized crime infiltrating the medical profession. Executive producers: Ken Aguado and D.J. Caruso. Writer: John Gray.

THE PETER LEONARD STORY (original movie) - docudrama about a clinically retarded man who goes on to fill a seat in the New Hampshire State Senate. Executive producers: Stan Brooks and Paul Schiff. Writers: Mathew McDuffie and Susan Rhinehart. Director: Alan Shapiro.

RING OF LIES (original movie) - chronicles how the wife of wrestler Owen Hart wrested a multimillion settlement out of Vince McMahon's WWE after her husband died doing a stunt during a match. Executive producers: Robert Cooper and Paul Kaufman. Writers: T.S. Cook and Ron Hutchinson.

SCARFACE (limited series)* - This remake of the film Scarface reinvents the cult classic with a contemporary spin exploring story lines set in the Miami-based crime world. The multi-hour gangster drama will follow a modern urban criminal whose ambition thrives on pop culture, drugs and fame.

* denotes the description was taken from USA's press materials

Meanwhile, fellow cable channel Spike TV has issued a press release about its newest programming division:

Spike TV's News & Documentary Division Announces First Slate of Programming for 2004

'Hardwood Dreams 2,' 'True Dads,' 'The Precinct,' 'Glory Days,' 'Testosterone Boys' and 'Viva Baseball' to Be Telecast

Spike TV announces the first-ever slate of documentaries and specials geared specifically for men. Award-winning journalist Keith Brown, who recently was an on-air correspondent for the critically-acclaimed PBS news and public affairs magazine "Now With Bill Moyers," has developed series and special programs that address issues surrounding the male identity.

"These programs hit on a number of themes that men are concerned about -- family duty, body image, job stress as well as dealing with life challenges," says Keith Brown, vice president of news and documentaries.

For 2004, the following programs will be telecast on Spike TV and are produced by an array of award-winning producers including Paul and Holly Fine, whose credits include "The Survivors," a documentary on 9/11 burn victims and CBS Reports special "In The Killing Fields of America"; James Stoltz, an award-winning producer, who has worked CBS News "60 Minutes" and was executive producer of NBC News Specials.

* Hardwood Dreams 2 - A follow-up to the critically-acclaimed 1994 documentary "Hardwood Dreams," looks back at the five players from L.A.'s Morningside High School's beloved basketball team and their search for fame and fortune. "Hardwood Dreams 2" revisits the players ten years later to see if their adolescent dreams match their current reality. Wesley Snipes returns as narrator. The special is produced by Fred Golding in association with Tollin/Robbins Productions.

* True Dads - There is a crisis in the U.S.: fathers are missing in one out of every four homes. This two-hour program will examine this issue by taking an intimate look at what it means to be a father today. While the special explores the impact of a generation of children who have been abandoned by their fathers, the documentary will primarily focus on men who are committed to their families and the men who are trying to reconnect with their wives and children. Emmy and Peabody award winning husband-and-wife team Paul and Holly Fine will produce.

* The Precinct - A six-part series that explores the dangerous lives of police officers in one of America's most notorious precincts. Viewers get a first-hand look at the challenges police officers have to make on the street; they will also see the impact that their work has on their personal lives. The series will go beyond the standard car chases to uncover the unsettling terrain of being a police officer in America. "The Precinct" is produced by award-winning producer James Stolz.

* Glory Days (working title) - How does an athlete maintain his superstardom in the super-competitive, high-octane sports world? This one-hour series looks at the lives of America's most dynamic athletes off the playing field; and how they overcome challenges in their personal and professional lives. Dan Klein is senior producer for the series. His credits include HBO specials "A City on Fire: The Story of the '68 Detroit Tigers," and "Rebels of Oakland: The A's. the Raiders, the 70s."

* Testosterone Boys - Produced by the BBC, "Testosterone Boys" examines the lives of amateur bodybuilders and the lengths they go to in order to maintain their buffed bodies. This special features four men in their quest to attain the perfect body, no matter what cost.

* Viva Baseball - Latin America has had a profound effect on baseball over the last 50 years - producing the games' biggest stars from breathtaking grace of Roberto Clemente to the intimidating glare of fireballer Pedro Martinez. Spike TV pays homage to the legacy of the Latino baseball players in a 90-minute special and details the cultural barriers and challenges they had to overcome to succeed in America's pastime. Lou Dibella and Dan Klores serve as executive producers.

Spike TV, the first network for men, is available in 87 million homes and is a division of MTV Networks. MTV Networks owns and operates the cable television programming services MTV: Music Television, MTV2, Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite, TV Land, VH1, CMT: Country Music Television, and Spike TV, as well as The Digital Suite from MTV Networks, a package of thirteen digital services, all of which are trademarks of MTV Networks. MTV Networks also operates and offers joint ventures, licensing agreements and syndication deals whereby its programming can be seen worldwide.





  [may 2004]  
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· 24 (FOX)
· 36 CANDLES (USA)
· 60 MINUTES (CBS)
· AFFAIRS TO REMEMBER (USA)
· AKA (CBS)
· AMITYVILLE (USA)
· BEFORE THE FACT (USA)
· BORN & MADE (USA)
· CONFIDENCE (USA)
· CURB APPEAL (USA)
· DEVIL'S KNOT (USA)
· FRANKENSTEIN (USA)
· FREEFALL: TRAGEDY AND TRIUMPH ON MT. HOOD (USA)
· GUARDIAN, THE (CBS)
· IF THE SOUTH WON THE CIVIL WAR (USA)
· JOHNNY THE GREAT (A AND E)
· LAST RIDE, THE (USA)
· MAD, THE BAD & THE INNOCENT, THE (USA)
· MONK (USA)
· ORGANIZED MEDICINE (USA)
· PETER LEONARD STORY, THE (USA)
· PRACTICE, THE (ABC)
· RING OF LIES (USA)
· SCARFACE (USA)
· SMOKE & MIRRORS (USA)
· X-FILES, THE (FOX)





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