USA Network is showing comedy creators that it is willing to stick with new series while they find their legs, giving a 13-episode second-season order to freshman paramedic comedy Sirens, from Fox TV Studios, Denis Leary and Bob Fisher. Sirens was the first original half-hour comedy series to launch under USA’s current push in the genre. It was a slow build but the show developed a following from a loyal core audience and even showed ratings growth over its run, despite losing its Suits lead-in halfway through. It ranks as the top new basic cable comedy series of the year among total viewers, averaging 1.62 million, and in adults 25-54 (870,000). “Sirens resonated with a broad fan base, and we are excited to grow this new audience further, as season two promises a lot more laughs and irreverent humor,” said USA Network President Chris McCumber. “We’re pleased to continue our partnership with Denis Leary and Bob Fisher, whose unique brand of witty, off-kilter and laugh-out-loud writing is brought to life by the immensely talented cast.”
UPDATED WITH TCA TRAILER: “[USA] said ‘OK, listen, you can’t show the horse actually getting a blowjob’, and we said, ‘We know we can’t show the horse getting the blowjob,’ but, secretly, we were, ‘F*ck! We can’t show the horse getting a blowjob!’ ” Denis Leary told TCA critics this morning when asked the difference between making Rescue Me for FX and making his new series, Sirens, for USA Network.
Leary and Bob Fisher came to the winter TV press tour to talk about Sirens, premiering March 6 at 10 PM after the return of Suits at 9 PM. It moves to a single episode at 10 PM the next week, paired with a Modern Family repeat at 10:30 PM. The single-camera comedy follows three Chicago EMTs played by Michael Mosley (Pan Am, Scrubs), Kevin Daniels (Modern Family), and Kevin Bigley. It’s based on a British series of same name. Leary’s business partner, Jim Serpico, was approached by the British producers, who were fans of Rescue Me, wondering if they wanted to adapt it for the U.S. “We really liked those guys, and USA was pillaging the cast of Rescue Me and putting them into shows,” Leary explained. So they decided “we can make some money off these USA people,” he said.
USA Network has set a midseason schedule, which includes drama Suits returning to Thursdays to lead into new comedy Sirens, USA’s first original half-hour comedy in a long time. White Collar also will air on Thursdays, while Psych‘s eighth season, expected to be the hourlong comedy’s last, will air on Wednesdays. The midseason premiere of Suits will be on Thursday, March 6 at 9 PM, followed by the debut of medical comedy Sirens, executive produced by Denis Leary, at 10 PM. (trailer below) Sirens will launch with two back-to-back episodes before switching to a single episode at 10 PM the following week, paired with a Modern Family repeat at 10:30 PM. Suits started on Thursday before moving to Tuesday. White Collar will start things off on Thursday, returning on hiatus on January 9, paired with Law & Order: SVU reruns. Season 8 of Psych will air on on Wednesdays, beginning on January 8. It is somewhat surprising that USA chose a drama, Suits, instead of a comedy like Psych or Modern Family as a lead-in for new comedy Sirens. “As a top cable drama, Suits has a huge following of young viewers making a perfect segue to Denis Leary and Bob Fisher’s brand of comedy,” said USA”s EVP Jackie de Crinis. “Both series feature sharp, witty banter from an ensemble of great characters.”
Three years after USA Network signaled a move into half-hour comedy with the off-network acquisition of Modern Family and three months before the ABC comedy is to launch on the cable network, USA has greenlighted its first original half-hour comedies in some 15 years: the single-camera Sirens from Denis Leary and Bob Fisher and Playing House, from Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham. Additionally, USA, which is holding its upfront today, has picked up single-camera half-hour comedy pilot Love Is Dead, from writer Zev Borow. USA’s other half-hour pilot, Paging Dr. Freed, is still alive. And USA is in conversations about picking up ABC comedy series Happy Endings.
Sirens and Playing House will premiere in the first quarter of 2014 as companions to Modern Family, which is set to bow on USA on September 24. “With Modern Family joining our lineup in the fall, we can leverage television’s most popular comedy to serve as a powerful launch pad for new originals in this genre,” said USA’s co-president Chris McCumber. Added co-president Jeff Wachtel, “Our new series come from some of the best comedic talent in the business, and reflect USA’s style — with great characters, strong execution and compelling storytelling.” USA ran several half-hour comedies under the network’s old regime in the 1990s, including Weird Science, USA High and Campus Cops, before USA rebuilt its brand as a home of light, character-driven hourlong series over the past decade.
USA Network has cast the four leads in the Denis Leary comedy pilot Sirens: Michael Mosley (Pan Am, Scrubs), Kevin Daniels (Modern Family), Kevin Bigley and Jessica McNamee. Co-created by Leary and Bob Fisher, Sirens follows three of Chicago’s best EMTs — Johnny (Mosley), Hank (Daniels) and Brian (Bigley) — whose sometimes self-loathing, other times narcissistic, and always downright self-destructive personalities make them unqualified for sustaining relationships, friendships and most occupations. They are, however, uniquely qualified for saving anyone unlucky enough to wind up in their ambulance.
It took almost a year, but USA Network has closed a deal for a pilot order to single-camera comedy Paging Dr. Freed. The network has finalized the pilot pickups for both Paging Dr. Freed and the Denis Leary-produced single-camera comedy Sirens. The move is significant as it creates a deal template for half-hour series on USA, which is returning to the comedy business after more a decade. Paging Dr. Freed is from 20th TV’s Fox21, while Sirens is produced by Fox TV Studios, which also operates under the 20th TV umbrella.
USA Network, which is holding its first upfront presentation during the traditional broadcast upfront week this afternoon, has announced a couple of greenlights and a slew of drama, comedy and reality projects in development from the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Dick Wolf, Bryan Fuller, Doug Liman & David Bartis, Howie Mandel, Mark Gordon, Kelsey Grammer and Mark Burnett. The pickups include reality pilot Bride Or Best Man and comedy pilots Paging Dr. Freed and Sirens.
The most action is in the comedy arena, where USA prepares for the fall 2013 arrival of its first off-network comedy acquisition, the hit Modern Family. The network’s goal is to have an original series ready by then to be paired with the Emmy-winning ABC comedy. USA is now finalizing the pilot order deals for two half-hour hopefuls: Paging Dr. Freed and the Dennis Leary-produced Sirens. Meanwhile, the network has opted not to go forward with its first comedy pilot greenlighted as part of its current push in the genre, the single-camera Douglas McGrath project starring Nathan Lane. “We love Nathan, he was really good but we are not sure if this is the first comedy series we want to go out with,” USA co-president Jeff Wachtel said. The Nathan Lane project and medical comedy Paging Dr. Freed were greenlighted together last September.
Denis Leary & Peter Tolan To Co-Write Half-Hour Comedy For Leary To Star; Tolan Gripes About “The Insanity Of Pilot Season”
With their seriocomic firefighter drama Rescue Me ending its run on FX in September, series co-creators Denis Leary and Peter Tolan are embarking on another series project together. “I guess I can say right now that Mr. Leary and I are tomorrow starting writing on our next show, a half-hour for him to star in,” Tolan told Deadline today after the TCA panel on the final season of Rescue Me. He described it as “strictly a comedy, like nothing we’ve done before. It’s not a traditional comedy, probably for cable. We’re doing it totally on spec and taking it out.” Before Rescue Me, Leary and Tolan co-created the underrated ABC cop comedy The Job, which also starred Leary. Tolan said that after 10 years of working together, first on The Job and then on Rescue Me, he figures that he and Leary “have some connection in our comic sensibilities.” Leary has another half-hour project in the works as a writer: He recently signed on to co-pen with Bob Fisher an adaptation of the upcoming British series Sirens for USA Network.
In his first series writing gig since FX’s Rescue Me, Denis Leary is set to co-pen an adaptation of the upcoming British series Sirens for USA Network. Leary will co-write the half-hour project about the antics of young paramedics with Bob Fisher, who most recently adapted another foreign comedy format, Israeli’s Traffic Light, for Fox. Leary and Fisher will executive produce with Leary’s producing partner at Apostle Jim Serpico, and Hal Vogel and David Aukin of Daybreak Pictures. Apostle will co-produce with Fox TV Studios, where the company has an overall deal for cable projects, in association with Daybreak. (For broadcast series, Apostle has a pact with CBS TV Studios.) It was during a general meeting Leary, Serpico and FtvS execs took with USA that Leary and Serpico mentioned Sirens. The USA brass were eager to get in business with the producers and asked to see a script of the British series. “When we read the material, we fell in love with the leads,” USA’s SVP original scripted programming Bill McGoldrick said. The project is not being written as a starring vehicle for Leary and for now he is only attached to co-write and executive produce, but there is a possibility for him to take on a small role if the comedy goes to series. Created by Brian Fillis, the six-episode UK series Sirens was inspired by EMT paramedic Tom Reynolds’ book, Blood, Sweat and Tea. It revolves around a trio of paramedics who bicker, fight and shag their way through the darkly funny maelstrom of their lives.