New Projects Light Up TCA

New original projects
highlighted the early portion of
cable networks touting their fare
at the two-week Television Critics
Association summer press
tour in Los Angeles.

FX renewed freshman comedy
series Louie for a second season.
FX president and general manager
John Landgraf said at TCA the
network ordered 13 episodes of
the series, which premiered five
weeks ago. The series, which follows
the travails of a New York
single dad/comic, airs Tuesdays at
11 p.m. and is averaging 778,000
viewers, per Nielsen. It will likely
return at about the same time
next year.

FX’s current original programming
strategy emphasizes comedy.
The home of It’s Always Sunny
in Philadelphia
said at TCA its additions
will include an outer spacebased
comedy, USS Alabama, from
the creators of Reno 911!.

“We haven’t reduced drama
programming … but I see us with
six or seven or eight comedies,”
Landgraf said. “My suspicion is
that a dozen [original series] will
be the maximum that we will get
to, but it will take a few more years
for us to reach full size.”

Investigation Discovery’s slate
of new series and specials will
include the Sept. 12 premiere of
ID Investigates: Why Is Bin Laden
It’s an in-depth look at
the hunt for Al Qaeda leader Osama
bin Laden, who has evaded
capture for nine years after orchestrating
the Sept. 11 terrorist

For the Love of Money, a special
about the 2008 collapse of Lehman
Brothers, debuts Dec. 4.

New series on tap are Hardcover
, with several of America’s
most popular mystery writers;
and The Will: Family Secrets Revealed,
about the impact the final
wishes of the deceased have on
family members left behind.

ID will also debut two independent
films under the ID Films
banner: Cropsey: The Urban Legend,
about mysterious events
surrounding the abandoned Willowbrook
Mental Institution in
Staten Island, N.Y.; and Final Judgment,
about the death penalty.

IFC moves further into the
scripted series arena with an
original short-based comedy series,
Portlandia. Saturday Night
comedian Fred Armisen
and vocalist Carrie Brownstein
star as “progressive personalities”
living in fictional city Portlandia
— based on a “rendering”
of Portland, Ore., where it will be
shot on location. Lorne Michaels
(Saturday Night Live) is the executive

“This series truly personifies
the sharp/cool/twisted filter of
IFC’s programming,” Debbie
DeMontreux, senior vice president
of original programming
for IFC, said. “Fred and Carrie
are amazing artists and their
distinct sense of humor makes
this show uniquely IFC and sets
it apart from anything else on

Syfy will boost the reality quotient
with the Nov. 4 debut of
Hollywood Treasures, a weekly
documentary-reality series about
collecting showbiz and pop-culture
memorabilia, and ordered
another six episodes of newcomer
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files.
Syfy last month launched a new
Thursday-night reality block, centered
on originals Fact or Faked
and Mary Knows Best.

spinoff network Wedding
will tap into America’s
fascination with royal
weddings with a Saturday block
of royal-themed wedding shows
debuting Aug. 21. The block will
launch with the U.S. television
premiere of Kate: The New Diana?,
about the longtime relationship
of Prince William and Kate Middleton
and Kate as the potential
next queen of England.

Showtime CEO Matt Blank
touted the premium network’s
subscr iber growth, which
reached the 18 million subscriber
mark last year, crediting its slate
of original programming, comedy
shows, sports series, documentaries
and feature films. He
also pointed to several new original
series currently in development
including the medieval
drama The Borgias, starring Jeremy
Irons, and Shameless, produced
by John Wells and starring
William H. Macy.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.