The E! network has made its name by sifting through every element of celebrities' lives, no matter how sordid or uninteresting. This strategy reached its apex with Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and the associated spinoffs: shows about celebrities who were only celebrities because E! made shows about them being celebrities. (And also probably that sex tape.) Where's a network to go from there? Why, into scripted programming, of course!
The concept of E! airing original scripted shows is a little hard to wrap one's brain around, but then this is a brave new world, and if Netflix can have Kevin Spacey and David Fincher making a show for them, I guess E! can give it a shot too. Surprisingly, the line-up of shows they've announced isn't nearly as vapid or centered on conspicuous consumption as you might assume. Don't get me wrong, I probably still won't watch any of them, but I also won't spend any time judging them silently from afar.
Probably the most interesting of the line-up are Dorothy and Anne of Hollywood. The former is a modern-day retelling of the Wizard of Oz, substituting a fancy hotel for the Wizard's traditional digs. Anne of Hollywood is also an old story relocated to a current setting: in this case it's based on the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. I imagine that one's going to need some heavy rewriting toward the end. E! doesn't strike me as a network that's down with decapitations.
Here's the full line-up of the network's upcoming scripted shows, courtesy of EW:
AMY DEVLIN MYSTERIES – A modern take on procedural storytelling, Amy Devlin is a late 20something, culturally-obsessed detective who brings her own style and POV to police work. Based on the graphic novel of the same name. From writer Daniel Barnz, who wrote and directed “Won’t Back Down,” starring Viola Davis, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Holly Hunter which hits theaters in September. Executive Producers are Daniel Barnz, Eric Gitter from Oni Press and Andy Bourne from CBS Productions.
ANNE OF HOLLYWOOD –Based on the bestselling novel by Carol Wolper, the story of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII is reset in present-day Hollywood … “the flashiest, most treacherous court of all.” The elements of Anne’s true story — love, passion, intrigue, betrayal, infidelity and conspiracy — remain fully intact, and become truly relatable to today’s audience. From John Wells Productions and Warner Horizon Television.
DOROTHY – Inspired by the books “Dorothy” and “The Wizard of Oz,” a girl from Kansas City falls for a man and moves with him to the Emerald City to work at his Emerald Hotel. From writer Natalie Krinsky (“Gossip Girl,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Warner Horizon Television.
FASCINATION STREET – A then-and-now look at the tumultuous relationship between two brothers as they work to make their band a success in the past and struggle to find who is behind the disappearance of the lead singer in the present. From executive producers Phillip Noyce (directed the feature films “Salt,” “Clear and Present Danger,” “Patriot Games”), Josh Reims (“Brothers & Sisters,” “Dirty, Sexy Money,” “Felicity”), Ross Fineman (“Lights Out”), and writer Steven Kijak (documentary director of “Stones In Exile,” “Scott Walker: 30
Century Man”). From Fox Television Studios.
THE 400 – The rise of the Vanderbilt dynasty is chronicled in this sprawling, stylized and fast-paced drama set in NY society of the 1890s, where “Society” was defined by the number of people who could fit into Mrs. Astor’s ballroom. From prolific writer Emily Whitesell (“Once and Again,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Brothers & Sisters,” “Life Unexpected”) and Executive Producer Anne Thomopoulos (“Borgia,” “Camelot,” “Rome”). From Fox Television Studios.
JUROR #9 – Alex Dunbar is a good man who makes one critically bad decision –he accidentally kills a woman who has been blackmailing him for a somewhat shady business deal. He frames a man who turns out to become the scion of a business empire. The ensuing media frenzy engulfs the police investigator, the DA and even Alex’s wife as the trial becomes the national obsession. As the story unfolds, we learn that the man framed is far from innocent, the blackmailer was not who she seemed, and the puppet master for this media circus seems to be juror #9…aka Alex Dunbar. From writer Brian Ross (“Crossing Jordan,” “LA Dragnet”) and Executive Producer/Director Danny Cannon (CSI, CSI Miami, Alcaltraz). From Warner Horizon Television.
KING DAVID – From writer (and former D.C. lobbyist who has worked for Rep. NancyPelosi and Sen. George Mitchell) David Gerken (“West Wing,” “E-Ring”) comes the tale of a modern-day “Mr. Smith” who is, in this case, a self-made billionaire with a penchant for hooking up with lobbyists in the nation’s capital. Gerken will also serve as co-executive producer. From Universal Cable Productions.
UNTITLED ASSISTANT PROJECT – Ambition bordering on insubordination fuels the lives of a group of executive assistants who are seemingly loyal minions to their high-powered bosses. However, when their superiors are out of the office, the gloves come off as these aspiring titans plot their way up the corporate ladder. From writers Meredith Lavender & Marcie Ulin (“Missing,” “Covert Affairs,” “Charlie’s Angels”) and executive producer Gary A. Randall (“Saving Grace,” “The Glades”). From Fox Television Studios.
UPSTARTS – Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey and Oscar-nominated producer Michael Deluca (“The Social Network,” “Moneyball”) are Executive Producers through their respective production companies, Trigger Street Productions and Michael Deluca Productions, of this sprawling drama in which three big dreamers seek to grab their share of wealth and glory amidst Silicon Valley’s digital gold rush of the late 1990s. Fueled by power, money, sex and politics, these three will stop at nothing to earn a spot atop the digital food chain. Written by Joey Falco, who will also be a co-executive producer. Dana Brunetti and Ben Younger will also Executive Produce with Younger set to direct, if ordered to pilot. Brian Haas is also set to co-executive produce. From Universal Cable Productions.