EXCLUSIVE: USA Network‘s Fairly Legal won’t return for a third season as the network has opted not to continue with the series starring Sarah Shahi. Meanwhile, I hear USA is finalizing a deal for a 13-episode seventh-season pickup of veteran Burn Notice.
USA’s decision to cancel Fairly Legal comes after the network tried revamping the series after its ho-hum first season. USA brass gave the show a second-season renewal based on its appealing star, Shahi, and its potential but stressed that the show needed to get better. There was a showrunner change and casting tweaks on the show, but in the end, the improvements proved not enough to warrant another renewal. Paired with the final season of In Plain Sight, Fairly Legal started its second season with 3.5 million viewers, dropping to 2.5 million by the end of its run. Meanwhile, Shahi just booked a recurring role on freshman NBC drama Chicago Fire. “Sarah Shahi is undoubtedly a star and we’re thrilled she’ll be joining our sister network NBC on Chicago Fire, USA said in a statement to Deadline. “We are proud of Fairly Legal and thank the very talented cast and crew for two fantastic seasons.”
Fairly Legal joins USA freshman Common Law, which also has been cancelled. The future of Necessary Roughness is still up in the … Read More »
After two and a half years, USA Networks’ originals are back on Friday night. The second season of network’s Fairly Legal and the fifth and final cycle of In Plain Sight will air on the night starting March 16. For a long time, Friday was USA’s signature night of original scripted series where the network launched Monk, Psych and most recently White Collar in the fall of 2009. USA left Friday after that but network co-chief Jeff Wachtel indicated that reclaiming the night was a priority.
EXCLUSIVE: Ryan Johnson (Ghost Rider) has joined USA Network’s drama Fairly Legal as a new regular for Season 2. On the series starring Sarah Shahi as lawyer-turned-mediator Kate Reed, Johnson will play Ben Grogan, a sharp, up-and-coming trial attorney with a knack for making money. He sees no shame in having been “that lawyer guy on the bus ads” and is completely unafraid to speak truth to power, or anyone else for that matter. Fairly Legal, from Universal Cable Prods, is undergoing creative changes going into Season 2, including a new showrunner, Peter Ocko, who replaced creator Michael Sardo.
EXCLUSIVE: USA Network has promoted Alex Sepiol to SVP Original Scripted Series Programming. He will continue to report to Bill McGoldrick, also SVP, Original Scripted Programming. In 2005, Sepiol brought Burn Notice to the network as a pitch and supervised the development of what would become one of USA’s signature series. He subsequently brought in and developed White Collar, Fairly Legal and USA’s newest hit, Suits. As SVP, Sepiol will continue to oversee production on the four series. He is currently shepherding two recently greenlighted pilots: the untitled Douglas McGrath project, one of two half-hour pilots that mark USA’s foray into comedy, and an untitled hourlong drama by White Collar creator Jeff Eastin. Sepiol also shepherded the development at USA of In Plain Sight, which had been originally set up at UPN, and the day-to-day production through Season 2. “Alex has consistently demonstrated an eye for shows that not only connect with our audience but push the USA brand to new and exciting places,” McGoldrick said. “In his short time as an executive, he has identified and cultivated relationships with some of the most talented writers working in television today.” Sepiol joined USA in the summer of 2001 as assistant to now USA co-president Jeff Wachtel. After a brief hiatus, Sepiol rejoined the network in 2004 and was upped to VP in 2009.
EXCLUSIVE: Fairly Legal creator Michael Sardo has stepped down as executive producer and showrunner of the USA Network dramedy. Former Pushing Daisies executive producer Peter Ocko has been tapped as the new exec producer/showrunner on the series for its upcoming second season.
The changeover is part of USA’s plan for creative changes on Fairly Legal going into Season 2. When USA recently renewed the freshman series, the network’s co-president Jeff Wachtel indicated that the decision was based on the show’s appealing star, Sarah Shahi, and its potential but noted that there is room for improvement. “We think there is a creative and audience upside to the show,” Wachtel said back then. “Not every first season is the best, and we think it is a show that can do better.” While a solid performer — Fairly Legal launched as the top new cable drama of the year in adults 18-49 and has averaged a 4.6 million total viewers in Live+7 — the legal dramedy was not a breakout hit like most of USA’s recent series. Fairly Legal producer Universal Cable Prods is currently negotiating with Sardo about a potential future role on the show. Sardo is behind another high-profile UCP project — he is the creator/executive producer of the studio’s pilot Normal (formerly untitled Michael Sardo) for Lifetime. The drama pilot starring Carrie-Anne Moss is in contention for a series pickup at the cable network, with Sardo set to executive produce. (Additionally, Sardo serves as an exec producer on America’s Smartest Kids, a realty show in development at USA/UCP sibling Syfy). Read More »
USA is keeping its streak of renewing every new series alive with a second-season pickup for Fairly Legal. The top cable network will make the announcement at its upfront presentation in New York later today. Production on 13 new episodes will begin in late summer for a premiere in the first quarter of 2012. While a solid performer — Fairly Legal launched as the top new cable drama of the year in adults 18-49 and has averaged a 4.6 million total viewers in Live+7 — the legal dramedy has not been a breakout series like most of USA’s recent entries. The renewal decision was made based on the show’s appealing star, Sarah Shahi, and its potential, USA’s co-presidents Jeff Wachtel and Chris McCumber said. “We think there is a creative and audience upside to the show,” Wachtel said. “Not every first season is the best, and we think it is a show that can do better.” He didn’t elaborate, but I hear the network is planning changes in the series’ creative direction for Season 2. McCumber singled out the series’ “breakout star,” Shahi, and defended its ratings performance, noting that the series did well against stiff competition in the Thursday 10 PM time slot. Created by Michael Sardo, Fairly Legal centers on mediator Kate Reed (Shahi). It co-stars are Michael Trucco, Virginia Williams and Baron Vaughn. Sardo is exec producing with Steve Stark for Universal Cable Prods.
EXCLUSIVE: After a two-year run as an independent producer, Steve Stark has signed an overall deal with Universal Media Studios. He is already in business with the studio on the freshman UMS drama series for NBC The Event, which he brought to the network and is now executive producing. He also has a long-standing relation with NBC through the Grammnet/CBS Studios-produced Medium, on which he serves as an executive producer. The supernatural crime drama started off on NBC where it aired for 5 seasons before moving to CBS. Additionally, Stark is executive producing the upcoming USA light legal drama Fairly Legal. Read More »
USA’s newest series Fairly Legal (formerly Facing Kate) will premiere on Thursday, Jan. 20, at 10 PM. It will follow the winter cycle debut of Royal Pains, which will serve as its lead-in. Original episodes of White Collar will run Tuesdays 10 PM beginning January 18. Fairly Legal stars Sarah Shahi as a top litigator-turned-mediator.