While the broadcast networks are largely retreating from original scripted programming this summer, leading cable network USA is prepping its largest original series summer slate with eight series: newbies Suits (aka A Legal Mind) and Necessary Roughness and returning shows White Collar, Covert Affairs, Royal Pains, Burn Notice, In Plain Sight and the the final season of Law & Order: Criminal Intent. USA will use its biggest shows, Burn Notice and Royal Pains, to launch its new series, Suits and Necessary Roughness, respectively. Additionally, the network’s first reality series in five years, WWE Tough Enough, will continue to air on Monday, bringing the total of USA’s original summer series to nine and its nights of originals to five. Interestingly, Friday, where USA launched its scripted ascent, is staying dark. Network chief Jeff Wachtel had indicated that reclaiming the night was a priority. Missing from the summer schedule is veteran Psych, which won’t return until the fall. Here is USA’s original summer lineup with premiere dates (new series in bold):
USA Network continues its genre expansion with a big push in reality programming. The top basic cable network is close to ordering its first unscripted series in 5 years, WWE Tough Enough. It is also in the process of hiring a reality executive, and USA programming president Jeff Wachtel has been meeting with top reality production companies to talk about his plans in the arena. USA’s revival of Tough Enough actually came together separately from its current efforts in the unscripted area and stems from the network’ relationship with WWE through USA staple WWE Raw. Tough Enough, which features contestants competing for a contract with WWE, ran on MTV for 3 seasons, and in 2004 it moved to UPN where it aired for a season as part of SmackDown. On USA, it also is expected to run in tandem with USA’s WWE Raw series.