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Jackie de Crinis Returns From Paradise to Take On USA’s Wider Development Mission

Goes well beyond original scripted dramas


 

 Specs
Who Jackie de Crinis
New gig Evp, original programming, USA Network 
Old gig Senior programming executive, USA Network
Age 49 

In a recent interview with Adweek, chairman of NBCU Cable Entertainment Bonnie Hammer said USA Network is going to get more edgy. How’s that going to evolve?
With the advent of Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, VOD and all these new ways people are consuming TV, we now have the permission to do more serialized drama, which allows us to evolve our brand beyond the bread and butter of our success, which is the one-hour scripted franchise dramas. So we are going more edgy, more provocative and culturally relevant, and hopefully thread the needle of not chasing our competitors while finding ways to reinvent unique storytelling.

You are back in the day-to-day fray after taking a hiatus in Hawaii. How’s the return been? 
It’s been exhilarating and terrifying, and it’s both familiar and different. The really big difference is the ability to play in more than one sandbox and not just do original scripted drama but also to do limited series and to do comedy for the first time. This is my first foray into the unscripted world, and out of the gate we have great success with The Chrisleys.

So what did the network have to do to get you to come back from paradise?
It was really only a physical hiatus because I ran current programs from Maui for the four-and- a-half years I was there. It was very full-time, I just didn’t do development. But coming back was really seeing the opportunity to develop in all these new arenas. This has been my home for 13 years, so it was really a homecoming combined with a new challenge.

Can you discuss the network’s plans for comedy?
We’re sticking our toe in the water. We had a nice first foray in with Sirens and Playing House and now with the larger comedy slate we announced this month. But finding our focus and what works for our audience is still an evolution. Comedy is very tricky, but if you hit it right, it’s so universal and such an opportunity for co-viewing. Historically, most of our dramas have been infused with a great sense of humor, starting with Monk and more recently Psych. So keeping that element of our brand alive in a different genre is exciting and fun.

How do you keep the brand balanced between comedy and the grittier stuff you’ve announced?
Our intention is to never be shocking or inorganic. We like authenticity in writing and of character, and that’s the lens we use when we first approach both comedy and edgier development.

What programming slates do you most admire?
There are shows that I admire—I can’t say that there are slates that I admire.
I like shows that go beyond being passive entertainment and spark conversations after they are watched because of the characters or the story or because it transports you. That’s the kind of product we want to create.

What trends or themes are you expecting to see out of the upfront?
I think everyone is chasing dark, which is why I don’t like to use that word. Edgy yes, but I think this dark trend is going to become very one-note and relentless and that we’ll ultimately see a shift away from it.

What’s the Industry catchphrase you are so over at this point? The (blank) city really is a character.

If you had to pick your five desert- island TV series, what would they be?
In no particular order: Friday Night Lights, I Love Lucy, Chrisley Knows Best, The Brady Bunch and Twin Peaks.

Photo: Karl J Kaul/Wonderful Machine

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