That's exactly what TNT did yesterday with the pickup of three new pilots: 'Delta Blues,' 'Rizzoli and Isles' and the still-untitled alien-invasion series from producer Steven Spielberg. Each show received 10-episode orders, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
'Delta Blues,' from producer George Clooney, stars Jason Lee as a Memphis cop who moonlights as a musician and still lives at home with his mother. The Boston-set 'Rizzoli,' based on a series of mystery novels by Tess Gerritsen, stars Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander as detectives, with Lorraine Bracco playing Harmon's tough, but loyal mother.
The cable network has picked up a new science fiction series about aliens overtaking humanity starring Noah Wyle, a detective series starring Angie Harmon and (surprise!) a cop drama starring Jason Lee.
The "untitled alien invasion series" (wouldn't it be a big bowl of hilariousness if that were the actual title?) will star Wyle as the leader of a band of human resisters who aspire to take back the Earth from an alien race that has laid waste to humanity. Since this is being produced by Steven Speilberg, how about calling it Close Encounters of the Ass Kicking Kind?
From Warner Horizon and Smokehouse, in conjunction with Clooney, 'Delta Blues' will follow the life of Dwight who spends his days on the force and nights as an Elvis impersonator. As we recently reported, Jason Lee has accepted the role of Dwight, while Sam Hennings, Robyn Lively and Leonard Howze will play Dwight's partner, ex-wife and co-worker, respectively. Celia Weston rounds off the cast as Dwight's mother, with whom he lives.
According to the article, DJ Qualls will be joining the series, which follows the life of Memphis police officer Dwight Hendricks (Jason Lee), who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator. Qualls, who has a forged a career in film ('Road Trip,' 'Delta Farce') and television ('Lost,' 'Scrubs') on the strength of his human dandelion looks, will play Dwight's policeman protege. The role should be familiar ground for Qualls, as the two previously worked together on 'My Name Is Earl.'
According to the Hollywood Reporter, 'Blues' follows Dwight Hendricks (Lee), who who spends his Memphis days on the police force and his nights impersonating Elvis Presley.
Hennings, who will play Whitehead, Dwight's partner on the force, has appeared in numerous movie and television roles, most notably 'CSI,' 'Dollhouse,' 'The Aviator,' 'Havoc,' starring Anne Hathaway, and the Hallmark Channel's 'Elevator Girl.'
Well, at least they grabbed someone good for the role. My Name Is Earl's Jason Lee is going to play the lead character, and I can definitely picture that. Now I just wonder if he's going to dress up as younger, thinner Elvis (circa 1959) or older, wider Elvis (circa 1975).
The pilot will be directed by Clark Johnson, who worked on The Shield.
Lee will star as Dwight Hendricks, a Memphis police officer who lives with his mother and lives a second life as an Elvis impersonator. Clark Johnson ('The Shield,' 'The Wire') will direct the pilot, written by Liz M. Garcia and Joshua Harto.
But the point is this: he may be a major movie star today, but George knows and appreciates television. That could be why George Clooney's behind Delta Blues, a cop drama that TNT has just picked up.
I use the term drama loosely, because it's something goofier than a straight drama. The lead character is an Elvis Presley impersonator when he's not working for the Memphis Police Department. One more thing: Like Elvis, he honors his mother... and lives with her. Does that make him a mama's boy? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the series, which is set in Presley's home town of Memphis, will be co-executive produced by Clooney and his collaborators at Smokehouse Pictures.
Among many announcements from TNT at upfront week was the stated goal to dramatically increase original content. The network aims to eventually reach 80% original content, with plans for three original nights a week by 2010. How are they going to reach those goals? With cops. Lots and lots of cops.
We've already heard about the new Donnie Wahlberg DEA series, Morse Code. Three other cop shows are in development at the network, including Delta Blues, from executive producer George Clooney, which follows the story of a Memphis cop who does a little Elvis impersonating on the side. 24 co-creator Joel Surnow is also joining the TNT family with an as yet untitled series built around an ATF agent. Finishing off the law enforcement party is Angel City. Written by L.A. cop Will Beall and Barry Schindel, Angel City is being compared to Adam-12. Read on past the jump for the less cuff-heavy goings on over at TNT.