Cable Nets Roll Out New Season’s Titles

Apr 2, 2007  •  Post A Comment

USA Network, Hallmark Channel and the History Channel all got into the upfront spirit by announcing programming plans for next season.

USA, the No. 4-ranked basic cable channel in total viewers in 2006, said it had five new character-driven series in development.

The series feature an abrasive FBI agent turned relationship counselor (“The Negotiator”), a Wal-Mart greeter who become fearless after a shooting (“American Girl”), a team of FBI agents posing as a suburban family (“Family Values”), a 43-year-old rookie policeman (“The Oldest Rookie”) and a fashionista who becomes a detective (“Spying in High Heels”).

“Our scripted series development continues USA’s mission to bring unique, powerful and engaging characters to life,” said Jeff Wachtel, USA’s executive VP of original programming.

Over the summer, the network will be launching “Burn Notice,” a drama about a former secret agent who helps people who cannot go to the police. USA will also air the miniseries “The Starter Wife” starring Debra Messing and Joe Mantegna.

Hallmark Channel, which ranked 11th among basic cable channels in total viewers in 2006, showed off a group of new original movies, featuring actors including Valerie Bertinelli, Ernest Borgnine, Dean Cain, Faye Dunaway, Anthony Michael Hall and Tiffani Thiessen.

“Our ratings show that there is an insatiable demand — especially across middle America and among baby boomers — for good, clean, compelling and well-told stories,” said Henry Schleiff, the new CEO of Hallmark Channel’s parent Crown Media. “On the other hand there is obviously very little supply of this kind of quality programming.”

New History Channel general manager Nancy Dubuc, who is aiming to shift the network’s programming to more storytelling series from the anthology programs that tend to populate the 19th-ranked basic cable network now, has put five new weekly series into production.

The series are:

  • “Ice Road Truckers,” about drivers who deliver cargo during the winter in northern North America.
  • “The Universe,” about secrets being revealed by space exploration.
  • “Tougher in Alaska,” a sweeping historic look at how Alaskan people and their structures survive the elements.
  • “Human Weapon,” about masters of martial arts from exotic locals.
  • “Jurassic Fight Club,” about new ideas from archeologists about how pre-historic creatures battled one another.

“By invigorating history with these new series, we aim to create riveting content and powerful storytelling — something people feel compelled to tune in and watch each week,” Ms. Dubuc said.