A&E Green-Lights Cleaner as First Scripted Series in Six Years

With the Writers Guild of America strike over, A&E Network green-lit to series its pilot Cleaner, picking the show from two lead contenders to be its first scripted drama in some six years.

The cable network green-lit a pilot of the show in August with the intent to premiere an original alongside its acquired series this summer, and it now it looks like the network will hit that target.

Cleaner, from CBS Paramount Television and based on a true story, stars Benjamin Bratt as an interventionist who dedicates his life to helping others conquer their demons after conquering his own. The show was created by Jonathan Prince and Robert Munic. Prince will executive-produce for CBS Paramount. Jay Silverman and Warren Boyd are co-executive producers.

A&E will likely eventually green-light to series the other show it had in contention for this summer, Sony Pictures Television’s The Beast, which stars Patrick Swayze as an FBI veteran being chased by the law and was also green-lit as a pilot in August.

The network also ordered pilots for Sony’s Danny Fricke and Fox Television’s Under, starring Connie Nielsen and Henry Thomas, respectively. It shot a pilot of Under, but it hasn’t yet shot Fricke.

Cleaner will put A&E in the game of running high-quality scripted originals during the summer, alongside Turner Broadcasting System’s TNT, NBC Universal’s USA Network, Rainbow Media Holdings’ AMC and others.

For years, executive vice president and general manager Bob DeBitetto has said that making a scripted original was part three in a three-part evolution plan for the network, after first lowering its median age through reality shows and then buying up pricey off-network dramas like The Sopranos and CSI: Miami.

“We’re excited to launch our first original scripted drama series in some time with Cleaner,” DeBitetto said in a statement. “With an exceptional lead character, strong ensemble and superb emotional storytelling, the series will be a great companion to A&E’s current programming hit real-life series and popular off-net dramas.”

At its upfront in May, A&E Television Networks said it would invest more than $600 million in new programming across its cable networks, up from the $500 million it said it would spend the year before.

Earlier this year, the network announced its forthcoming four-hour miniseries, The Andromeda Strain, which will be the second adaptation of the Michael Crichton novel. Other series on the development slate announced at the upfront included Homestead, a show about Los Angeles cops who live in the neighborhoods they police (Fox Television Studios); and Takedown, a thriller about U.S. marshals chasing fugitives (Warner Horizon Television).