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Rose to Star in USA’s ‘Operating Instructions’

Oct 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Emily Rose, who recently appeared in “Jericho,” “ER” and “Brothers & Sisters,” will star in USA Network’s drama pilot “Operating Instructions.”
Ms. Rose will play a top trauma surgeon who returns from a tour of duty in a battle zone to take a post at a Stateside military hospital.
USA had ordered the pilot on a cast-contingent basis. With Ms. Rose on board, production will proceed, according to Jeff Wachtel, executive VP of original programming for USA Network and co-head of original content for Universal Cable Productions.
The pilot will be 90 minutes long. If the show goes to series, it will be an hourlong show.
“Emily came in and just blew us away with her energy and craft,” Mr. Wachtel said. “We are lucky to have such a rich talent at the center of this smart, funny and distinctive show.”
Mr. Wachtel said USA could have gone with a more established star, but opted for Ms. Rose.
“We love finding people who are accomplished but maybe not famous yet, and treating the show as a vehicle to turn him into a star,” much as the network did with Tony Shalhoub of “Monk” and Jeffrey Donovan of “Burn Notice.” “I think with Emily we’ve got something like that,” he said.
Mr. Wachtel said USA doesn’t have an original medical show on its air, but the success of off-network episodes of “House” created an opportunity in that genre.
Another USA pilot, “Royal Pains” is also a medical show, but the two projects are different.
“Royal Pains” is a “blue sky” medical show with an upbeat, aspirations attitude set in the Hamptons, a beautiful location, Mr. Wachtel said.
“It’s not a hospital show, it’s a doctor show,” he said.
“Operating Instructions” is more traditional, being set in a hospital. But it was created by two veteran comedy writers, Judd Pillot and John Peaslee.
“They came in with the idea for a character, and we said yes,” Mr. Wachtel said. (Characters Wanted is USA’s slogan and a part of what it looks for in choosing shows.) “We know they’re going to infuse that drama with that comic sensibility.”
With original programming including “Burn Notice,” “In Plain Sight,” “The Starter Wife,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Psych” and “Monk,” USA is the top-rated cable network in prime time.
The network also has a third pilot in the works, “White Collar.”
“Royal Pain” has finished shooting and is in post-production. “Production on “White collar” is expected to begin in three to four weeks. “Operating Instructions” should start shooting at the beginning of the year, although two key characters and an ensemble are yet to be cast.
All three shows are being developed for Summer 2009. Mr. Wachtel expects to be able to make a call on which ones will go to series in January or February.
The “Operating Instructions” pilot is being produced by Conan O’Brien’s Conaco and Universal Cable Productions. Executive producers are Conan O’Brien, David Kissinger, Judd Pillot and John Peaslee.
(Updated throughout at 7:43 p.m. ET.)

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