Anybody who thought USA was kidding about getting into comedy programming is thinking again today: the network's upfront-season slate has a robust comedy development piece. New projects include talent like Amy Poehler (producing Difficult People, starring Billy on the Street ambush comics Billy Eichner and Julie Klausner, and produced in-house), Legally Blonde writer Karen McCullah (Love the One You're With) and off-Broadway darlings Jonathan Tolins and Michael Urie (Majordomo).
The drama slate is led by a "cast-contingent" pickup for a new dramedy set in an American government compound in a Middle Eastern country; both the country and the series are called Stanistan. Among the drama series being developed: Brand, about a smalltown pastor and recovering addict competing with a megachurch down the road (the show is produced by Jodie Foster); Colony, a show from Lost creator Carlton Cuse about a Los Angeles occupied by aliens; and a new one from Anonymous Content called Mr. Robot about a young man with an autism-like disorder who works for a cybersecurity firm.
“This slate represents the next generation of originals at USA, with a focus on dramas that are more serialized, provocative and culturally resonant,” said Chris McCumber, president of the network. The channel already has Complications and Rush ready to roll.
USA is trying to change things up this year; its focus on "blue-sky" dramas has been complicated somewhat by the rise of grimy, violent, sometimes explicit content in the competitive space, and these picks seem to be part of a bid to renew the younger portion of its audience. With new comedies to lead out of Modern Family, as well, the network has a much wider range of projects this year than in years past; it'll be interesting to see which make it to series, and which of those manage to hit.