USA Unveils Sci-Fi Drama Horizon, First Sitcom Pickups

Network prepares for Modern Family to hit in syndication

USA is revisiting science fiction with a new show from Walking Dead producer Gale Anne Hurd, called Horizon. The show, set during the Second World War, will follow a secretary at the FBI as she investigates the death of her husband, the disappearance of a girl, and Nazi spies in the U.S. "Anybody who's a producer of Terminator 2 I'm a little bit in awe of," network co-president Jeff Wachtel told Adweek. "What you're seeing in Horizon is our desire to step into new areas and in new ways."

The 2013-14 season will also see USA's very first original sitcoms, which the network will launch using syndicated episodes of ABC's hit, Modern Family.

The two new comedies are Sirens, which follows Chicago EMTs who have trouble dealing with normal life; and Playing House, a single-camera sitcom about two best friends (Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham) who reunite after leading very different lives. Sirens is created by Denis Leary and Bob Fisher; Playing House is created by its stars. "They came in for a development meeting and we just fell in love with their energy," Wachtel said of St. Clair and Parham, both vets of improv troupe The Upright Citizens Brigade. "We said, 'let's just shoot a presentation,' and when we did, we were just so taken with it."

Chris McCumber (co-president with Wachtel), said that comedy "has been a long-term strategy for us," dating back to the 2010 acquisition of Modern Family. McCumber said that his team's research indicated "only 8 percent crossover between Modern Family (on USA) and viewers who watch it on ABC" in preparation for the show's debut this fall. "We think it's a sound strategy to launch our new comedies."

USA will also expand its daytime offerings with Cat Greenleaf's Talk Stoop, a show on New York NBC affiliate WNBC that will gain a national audience on the cable channel starting in the fourth quarter. Greenleaf will host USA's daytime programming block from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., a decision that will feature prominently in the network's pitch to advertisers—Talk Stoop will offer sponsored segments "that showcase products from USA's marketing partners," according to a network statement.