Mira Sorvino has been tapped to do a multi-episode arc on USA Network‘s Psych. The Oscar winner will join the seventh episode of Season 8 playing the Santa Barbara Police Department’s newest head detective, Betsy Brannigan — an incredibly sweet, adorably reserved and yet certified badass. Brannigan’s record for taking down ruthless criminals is rivaled only by her skills in sparkly craft making, and her seemingly bubbly demeanor can turn on a dime once she straps in the dual-wielded Colt .45s. She’s a scrapbooking, cat loving, crime-fighting machine. The 10 episodes of Season 8 have been widely considered to be the series’ final ones. USA originally ordered eight episodes in December ahead of the show’s delayed seventh season, which did very well. Two additional episodes were subsequently ordered; USA brass picked among five extra scripts for one episode, and for the other the network is letting fans choose from three episodic storylines.
On the heels of ordering five additional scripts of veteran Psych in April, USA Network has greenlighted two additional episodes for the dramedy’s upcoming eighth season. That brings the total order for what most likely will be Psych‘s final season to 10 episodes. For one of the extra episodes, USA brass picked among the five extra scripts. For the other, the network is letting fans choose from three episodic storylines. The script for the one that gets the most votes will be produced, with the winning premise getting announced at the Psych Comic-Con panel on July 18 hosted by returning guest star Cary Elwes.
USA originally ordered eight episodes for Season 8 in December, ahead of the show’s delayed seventh season, which did very well. Female lead Maggie Lawson’s ABC pilot Back In The Game was picked up to series, so she will only be available to do up to five episodes of Psych in Season 8. Here are the storylines Psych fans can vote on starting tomorrow:
USA Network unveiled its drama development slate today and said it will start production this summer on the pilot Horizon, the period genre drama from The Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd that the network pushed in February. The new slate (see the full list below) includes Complications, the latest from Burn Notice‘s Matt Nix; the new Rob Thomas project Blanco County; and works from Doug Liman and David Semel. The news comes on the heels of the network’s newest original series, the Jeff Eastin-created Graceland, joining the summer drama schedule with a premiere set for June 6.
Comedy is expected to take center stage at USA Network‘s upfront presentation this afternoon as the cable network touts to advertisers the fall launch of its big off-network acquisition, Modern Family, and unveils its newly picked up original comedy series Sirens and Playing House. The cable network has been getting extra attention from comedy fans in the past week following ABC’s decision last Friday to cancel cult series Happy Endings. Talks between USA and leading Happy Endings producer Sony TV continue. At this point, I hear a pickup appears unlikely but the network is carefully exploring the opportunity to migrate a show with some success on broadcast TV and a dedicated fan base the way ABC’s Cougar Town moved to TBS.
Of its three comedy pilot/presentations it had in consideration, USA picked up two, Sirens and Playing House. The third, Paging Dr. Freed, which was the first one ordered almost two years ago, is still in contention. I hear USA brass liked the pilot for the family medical comedy but thought it felt more like a season finale and didn’t properly introduce the characters. I hear the network approached Paging Dr. Freed creator Michael Feldman and studio Fox 21 about redeveloping the project and writing a new pilot script. If USA likes the new script, I hear it is intent on picking up the project straight to series. The options on the Paging Dr. Freed producers have been extended while those on the cast have lapsed. I hear USA is keen on bringing Annie Potts back if she is available. (Her ABC pilot Murder In Manhattan did not get picked up but is being considered by cable networks.)
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 continues its push in half-hour comedy. The cable network has bought Smother, a project from writers Jeremy Miller & Dan Cohn, Universal TV and Peter Traugott’s studio-based TBD Prods about a 30-year-old man who has three moms after his mother and father both marry other women. When he has to go back to living at home, all three moms take control of his financial, professional and personal life. Miller and Cohn executive produce alongside Traugott and Rachel Kaplan of TBD, Brad Epstein of Panther Films and Margaret Riley of Brillstein Entertainment Partners. Traugott and Riley began working on the idea while Traugott was still at Brillstein, with the project ultimately landing at Uni TV after Traugott set up shop there.
EXCLUSIVE: Despite ratings hardship and real and clear danger of cancellation, Happy Endings may live up to its title even if ABC opts not to order a fourth season. I hear that Sony TV, the leading studio behind the underrated comedy series, has quietly reached out to a couple of networks, including USA Network and NBC, about the possibility of continuing the comedy there if ABC does not renew it. I hear USA, which has been looking to break into the half-hour original series space, has expressed interest and has had discussions about picking up Happy Endings in case of a cancellation by ABC.
If the financials can be worked out, a Happy Endings pickup would be fortuitous for USA, which has been actively developing half-hour comedies and has ordered several pilots but has yet to greenlight a half-hour series. USA had been looking to have an original comedy on tap for the fall premiere of its marquee off-network series Modern Family. Happy Endings would be a suitable companion for Modern Family as it already spent two seasons on ABC paired with the Emmy-winning family comedy. Happy Endings did well behind Modern Family, but its fortunes changed this past fall when it was moved to Tuesday to form a comedy block with Don’t Trust The B—- At Apt. 23 in a crowded comedy hour. Despite strong cult following and critical praise, Happy Endings struggled mightily on Tuesday and was recently relocated to Fridays. ABC brass had been strongly supporting the show from Day 1, but they will likely won’t be able to keep the series on broadcast TV at these ratings levels. In a last-ditch effort, the network recently launched a Save The Show-themed promo campaign for Happy Endings‘ move to Friday. The call to arms didn’t help, with the two back-to-back Friday originals drawing a 0.9/3 and a 0.7/3 in adults 18-49, down 25% and 46% from the show’s last Tuesday airings on January 29.