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TNT Looks Toward Family Fare

4/11/2006 9:59 AM Eastern

New York -- With a pair of procedural series -- the sophomore season of The Closer and the upcoming Saved -- taking center stage this summer, Turner Network Television has an eye on more family-oriented dramas down the road.

TNT has a trio of family-centered series among the other projects in its development pipeline, which was outlined as part of the drama network’s upfront presentation to advertisers here on Tuesday.

One-hour drama Generations, from executive producer Robert Redford and writer/executive producer John Sacret Young (The West Wing), cuts back and forth between three generations of a family that still reside under the same roof.

TNT will go all in the family, so to speak, with The Norms, which relates the tale of a dysfunctional clan in the “new” south. The show comes from Greer Shephard and Michael Robin, the executive producers of The Closer and TNT sister company Warner Bros. Television.

Middletown, from writer/ executive producer John Masius (Providence, Showtime’s Dead Like Me) and Sony Pictures Television, takes a look at husband and wife team, who work as the principal and nurse in a local high school, which is attended by their 16-year-old daughter and will welcome their 14-year-old autistic son, who is being mainstreamed for the first time.

“We have procedurals with The Closer and Saved, so we want to challenge ourselves and, being mindful of what they like, our audience, with bit of family-themed dramas,” said Michael Wright, senior vice president of original programming at TNT/TBS, in an interview.

Elsewhere, TNT is focusing on The Company, based on the best-seller by Robert Littell that tracked Central Intelligence Agency activities during the Cold War, which is being crafted into six-hour limited series. From Sony Pictures Television, The Company, which will serve as one of the network’s tentpole events in summer 2007,has Ridley Scott (Gladiator) on board as executive producer.

“We’ve been trying to work with Ridley for the past two years,” said Wright, who noted that the script has been written and casting will begin shortly.

Steve Koonin, executive vice president and COO of TNT/TBS, added that it was determined that an adaptation of Littell’s book, weighing in at 1,000 pages, could be “told more convincingly” in this form, “rather than being cut down into a three-hour feature.”

Also in the works: a series rooted in the high-stakes world of heart surgery from Warner Bros. and writer/executive producer David Hollander (The Guardian); a show about a sports doctor whose career is ruined by a botched surgery on a major athlete from Warner Bros., Shephard and Robin, as well as Nip/Tuck writers Richard Levine and Lye Greene; and a program based on the experiences of former cop on the beat, ex New York Police Detective Bill Clark, which is also being written and executive-produced by William Finkelstein (NYPD Blue, Law & Order).

“TNT is very proud of the great talent we’ve been able to attract to the network,” said Wright. “The support we provide on-air, and the fact that we’re aiming at specific targets is bringing producers, writers and show-runners to us. It also doesn’t hurt that audiences are coming to us.”

Come June 12 at 9 p.m. (ET), TNT will roll out the second season of Kyra Sedgwick starrer The Closer, which was ad-supported cable’s highest-rated series last year. It will be followed by Saved, which will chase after the life of a young man, portrayed by Tom Everett Scott (That Thing You Do), struggling to find his place as a paramedic.

Anthology series Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King follows in July.

On the movie watch, TNT will premiere a sequel to the original telefilm The Librarian: Quest for the Spear. With Noah Wyle (ER) back in the title role as the protector of humanity’s greatest secrets, TNT will debut more high-paced adventure with The Librarian: Return to King Solomon’s Mines in the fourth quarter.

“It’s a real fun franchise,” Wright said. Is there another in the works?

“We hope so,” he replied.

September