CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- After years of spurning original series, TNT is looking to get back into the weekly game as the network has put five new projects into development for possible launches next summer.
Here's a breakdown of all the developments, announced today at TNT's upfront presentation to the advertising community:
TNT Greenlights Original Series for Development
TNT Original Series Development includes projects from Warner Bros. Television; Mark Rosner and DreamWorks SKG; John Ridley; Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Jorge Zamacona and Spelling Television; Gary Randall; James Manos and Sony Pictures Television
Michael Wright Leads TNT Charge for Recurring Original Series Development to augment Slate of Previously Announced Limited Original Series and Movies
Turner Network Television (TNT) will partner with some of television�s most prolific producers to put several recurring original series into development for the network, it was announced today by Michael Wright, newly appointed senior vice president of TNT Original Programming. The new recurring series projects augment the two previously announced limited series and a myriad of original films the network has commissioned under Wright, whose expanded role at the network now includes original series development in addition to movies and miniseries. Among the eight to ten new recurring series in development for TNT include projects from Warner Bros. Television; Mark Rosner and DreamWorks SKG; John Ridley; Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Jorge Zamacona and Spelling Television; Gary Randall; James Manos and Sony Pictures Television.
�We�re reaching out to some of the finest writers and producers in the business of series television and asking them to help us add high-profile, dramatic, original series to the TNT Line-up,� said Wright. �TNT looks at recurring series as the next step in our effort to grow the roster of high-quality original programming that is already a key component of the network�s drama brand.�
The series announced today for development join previously announced TNT limited series The Grid, a powerful look at the world of counter-terrorism, starring Julianna Margulies and Dylan McDermott; and Into the West, from DreamWorks and Steven Spielberg.
In addition to projects for development from Warner Bros. Television to be announced at a later date, the newly announced recurring series tapped for development by TNT include:
THE SYSTEM - From Mark Rosner (The Rock, Crime Story) and DreamWorks SKG (Las Vegas, Band of Brothers), Sean Foley is a prosecutor who walks a razor thin line between right and wrong. He's a ruthless federal prosecutor, a raging bull in a navy-blue suit, and in between dates with strippers and bar fights, he has no qualms about doing whatever it takes and breaking whatever rules necessary to put away the toughest criminals in Miami.
UNTITLED JOHN RIDLEY PILOT - From John Ridley (Three Kings, Third Watch), a new look at a very different kind of crime...and a different kind of cop. In a city like Los Angeles, everyone sees the overt dangers, but one set of crimes often goes unnoticed by the fleeced citizen - the con. Long con, or short con, it takes a special unit of LAPD to unravel and bring to justice those who weave layers of lies and deception, and particularly prey on the weak.
UNTITLED MEDICAL PROJECT - A series that brings to life the fast-paced and desperate world of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Trauma Care doctors, told from each group's unique perspective. When a 9-1-1 call is placed, EMTs must race against time to be the first on the scene at the car accident, the child who was poisoned, the freak accident, or any number of dangerous and deadly scenarios. When a victim has been rescued, revived and is stable, it's an all-out race to the ER where exhausted doctors take over and do whatever they can to stop the internal bleeding: save the child and mother in the risky pregnancy or do immediate surgery to remove the bullet lodged in the victim's lung. Each victim tells a story that begins when the trauma occurs and ends with the patient stable in a hospital bed or a visit to the morgue. The series follows two sets of characters, with half the show devoted to each: the EMTs who risk their own life and limb to keep hope alive in the first half and the ER doctors who use their training and their hearts to either reward that hope or see it put to rest in the second. From executive producer Gary Randall (Any Day Now).
UNTITLED LAPD PROJECT - From Aaron Spelling (Charmed, Seventh Heaven, Beverly Hills 90210), E. Duke Vincent (10-8, Summerland), Jorge Zamacona (Homicide: Life on the Streets, 10-8) and Spelling Television comes the story about the formation of an elite team to fight urban crime. In the late 1960�s, in response to out of control urban crime, the LAPD created SWAT, which became the model for high-intensity urban law enforcement across the nation. Thirty five years later, as street criminals have begun to ramp up their activities having become better organized and with use of automatic weapons, the LAPD determined it had to take SWAT to and even higher level. This series is about the creation of that new unit and its war on urban street crime.
HELL�S KITCHEN - From Emmy-winning writer James Manos (The Sopranos, The Shield) and Sony Pictures Television, a powerfully intense family drama that looks at cops and criminals and family life in a fresh new way. In New York�s Hell�s Kitchen, the cops and criminals live under one roof as brother and sister, mother and father, in this complex Irish-American family. At the center, the patriarch of the family is a retired cop who struggles to maintain some sense of a moral code as he and his family attempt to navigate their way through the ever-changing, ethically challenging, demanding world they inhabit.
The newly announced TNT recurring series development join previously announced limited series and original movies on the TNT slate of dramatic programming including:
THE GRID (limited series for July and August 2004) - Julianna Margulies (ER, Evelyn), Dylan McDermott (The Practice, Wonderland) and Tom Skerritt (Tears of the Sun, High Noon) star in The Grid, a dramatic new limited original series from TNT and the BBC that explores both sides of the war on terror. The Grid is being produced in conjunction with Fox Television Studios and Carnival Films. Tracey Alexander (Thanks of a Grateful Nation, Sins of the Father) executive-produces, along with Brian Eastman (Traffik) of Carnival Films. Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers, TNT�s upcoming Salem�s Lot) directs from a script by Ken Friedman and Patrick Sheane Duncan & Joshua Brand, from a story by Alexander and Friedman. Production on the six-hour limited series began in early 2004 in Toronto, London and Morocco. Margulies plays maverick NSA counter-terrorism operative Maya Jackson and McDermott plays FBI agent Max Canary, two of three young American and two British counter-terrorism agents who collaborate to disrupt a ferocious terrorist cell bent on destroying the world�s economic foundations.
INTO THE WEST (limited series for 2005) - TNT and DreamWorks Television, with Steven Spielberg executive producing, will produce an epic 12-hour, limited original series about the opening of the American West. The series will follow two multi-generational American and Native American families, with each telling the dramatic stories of the development of the West from their distinct points of view. The episodes will bring them into contact with many of the larger-than-life characters and authentic historic events of the era. Production is slated to begin in summer 2004, with its tentative premiere in summer 2005 on TNT. Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey, co-heads of DreamWorks Television, will be co-executive producers.
SALEM�S LOT (mini-series for June 2004) - Emmy-nominated Rob Lowe, Emmy Award winner Andre Braugher, Emmy Award winner Donald Sutherland, Samantha Mathis, Rutger Hauer and Emmy-nominated James Cromwell star in Salem�s Lot, an original dramatic miniseries event adapted from the Stephen King novel of the same name. TNT and Warner Bros. Television co-produce the four-hour miniseries, with Mark Wolper (TNT�s The Mists of Avalon, The Thornbirds) executive-producing for The Wolper Organization, and Jeff Hayes executive-producing for Coote/Hayes. Mikael Salomon (Band of Brothers) directs from a script by Peter Filardi (Flatliners, The Craft), based on Stephen King�s best-selling novel. In Salem�s Lot, King�s vicious take on the perfect All-American community, Lowe plays Ben Mears, a journalist who returns to his hometown to research the mysteries surrounding the memories that have haunted him since his childhood. The close-held secrets of smalltown life turn into unimaginable terror when a mysterious stranger arrives in town and ultimately reveals himself to be a vampire looking to sink his teeth into a new home.
EVEL KNIEVEL (original movie for July 2004) - TNT takes drama into high gear with a new original movie based on the life of famed daredevil Evel Knievel. George Eads (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation) will star in the title role, with Jaime Pressly (Happy Family) to portray his wife and Beau Bridges (We Were the Mulvaneys, Smile) as his father-in-law, in this production from Icon Productions and Jaffe/Braunstein Films, in association with ApolloProScreen. Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey serve as executive producers and Nancy Cotton as co-producer for Icon Entertainment; Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein serve as executive producers for Jaffe/Braunstein Films; and Jan Korbelin serves as executive producer for ApolloProScreen. The screenplay is by Jason Horwitch, who also co-produces, from the book Evel Incarnate: The Life and Legend of Evel Knievel, by Steve Mandich, with John Badham the director.
THE WOOL CAP (Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation for Fall of 2004) - The team that struck Emmy gold with the critically acclaimed, highly rated TNT Original Door to Door reteams for The Wool Cap, a Johnson & Johnson Spotlight PresentationSM to star Door to Door�s Emmy-winning lead William H. Macy (Seabiscuit). Macy and Steven Schachter co-wrote the script and serve as producers; Schachter is the director. Don Rickles (Toy Story 2), Oscar�, Golden Globe and Emmy nominee Ned Beatty (Hear My Song) and Catherine O�Hara (A Mighty Wind) also star, along with newcomer Keke Palmer. The Wool Cap, from Rosemont Productions in association with MAGNA Global Entertainment and Viacom Productions, will be executive-produced by David A. Rosemont (Door to Door) and Frances Page (MAGNA Global Entertainment). The Wool Cap tells the poignant tale of a mute (Macy) who has lost hope in life, only to find it again through his friendship with a precocious 9-year-old girl named Lou (Palmer) who has recently been orphaned. Ira (Rickles), an elderly tenant in Gigot�s building, and Gloria (O�Hara), a longtime friend, develop a silent understanding with Gigot and provide comic relief and friendship to his troubled life. Gigot eventually turns to his estranged father (Beatty) to help him with challenges he must face while caring for Lou. The script is based on an original Jackie Gleason story, previously filmed in 1962 as Gigot.
THE LIBRARIAN (original movie for Fall of 2004) - TNT and Dean Devlin�s Electric Entertainment will team to produce The Librarian, a two-hour action-adventure. Devlin (Independence Day, The Patriot) will serve as the executive producer under his Electric Entertainment banner. David Titcher (Around the World in 80 Days) wrote the teleplay and serve as co-producer. Marc Roskin, Electric�s head of development, will have producing duties on the film, as well. Hidden beneath the monolithic New York Public Library is a repository for mankind�s greatest secrets. From the Golden Fleece to the Ark of the Covenant, every enigma and artifact from every known and unknown civilization is protected from the forces of evil who, if given the chance, would use the priceless treasures for their nefarious plans. Only one man can keep them safe: The Librarian.
Turner Network Television (TNT), the destination for drama, is a Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. 24-hour advertiser-supported service. TNT, an industry leader in delivery of adults 18-49 and 25-54 in prime and total day, is cable�s only network combining award-winning original films, with upcoming fare including Salem's Lot, adapted from the Stephen King novel, and the Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation The Wool Cap; highly anticipated limited original series, including The Grid and a Steven Spielberg 12-hour series, Into the West; powerful one-hour dramas, such as Law & Order, ER, NYPD Blue, The X-Files, Charmed, Judging Amy and Angel, with Without a Trace joining in fall of 2004; broadcast premieres; and championship sports coverage including NASCAR, the PGA and the British Open and the NBA. Beginning in May 2004, TNT will be presented in high-definition.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and a leading provider of programming for the television industry.