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USA: Launching Original Half-Hour Comedies

Complete Coverage: Upfronts 2013

ABC: Reducing Repeats With Limited Series
CBS: Restocking the Comedy Coffers
Fox: '24' Ways to Retool With Comedy, Spectacle
NBC: Betting on Olympics, 'Voice' to Launch New Hits
The CW: Making Noise With Dramas
USA: Launching Original Half-Hour Comedies
Turner: Beefing Up Content Collection
ESPN: We Welcome the Competition
Univision: Expanding Its Hispanic Footprint
Telemundo: Batting 1,000 on Original Content
MundoFox: Bringing 'The X Factor,' 'Bridge' to Hispanic Viewers
Discovery en Espanol: Introducing a New Programming Genre, Vroom

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STRATEGY: Use the off-network premiere of Modern Family to launch a first foray into original half-hour comedy with two series in 2014.

USA Network's programming family is getting a little bigger come fall.

On Sept. 24, the Emmy-winning ABC sitcom Modern Family will premiere in off-network syndication on USA, giving the network a long-desired launch pad to break into the original halfhour comedy business.

At its upfront presentation on May 16, the network announced its first two original comedy series --  Sirens from Denis Leary (Rescue Me) and the female buddy comedy Playing House. Both are single-camera shows, like Modern Family. Sirens follows three Chicago EMTs who are skilled at their jobs but disastrous at relationships. Playing House, inspired by the real-life friendship of stars and cowriters Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, looks at an expectant mother who asks her single, career-driven best friend to return home from her job overseas to help her raise the baby.

Though Modern Family will join the lineup in September, USA is targeting the first quarter of 2014 to launch its first original comedy.

"What we want to do is give Modern Family a chance to seed itself on the air and give a chance for people to discover it on USA Network," network copresident Chris McCumber told B&C. "Then hopefully, in a perfect world, we'll have a great platform to launch these two shows."

The plan is to sandwich the new series between episodes of Modern Family, so that the first original comedy will likely complete its 10-to-13-episode run before the second comedy premieres.

"With the benefit of Modern Family as a lead-in and the lead-out, and with the benefit of the cable structure, we don't really need to gang the shows together," USA copresident Jeff Wachtel said. "We can pick the best place for each show to survive on its own. "

McCumber described the auspices of Sirens and Playing House as "great names for us to be able to get in business with" for its first foray into original comedy. "We're applying the same brand filter that we have to our dramas -- it's about characters first."

On the drama side, USA announced it has begun production on period project Horizon, from The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, about a female FBI secretary during World War II who begins a secretive investigation into mysterious files. Also under consideration is The Arrangement, about a Colombian woman with a tragic past who enters into a marriage with an ambitious Florida politician.

The eight total projects in development continue the evolution of USA's drama brand that started with the legal drama Suits and moves forward this summer with FBI drama Gracelandâ€"both more serialized, with darker shades though still character-based, and designed to bring a new audience to the network.

USA has additionally ordered the comedy pilot Love Is Dead, about a company that specializes in breaking up romantic relationships.

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