TNT is going to be television’s hottest destination for outstanding drama this summer. As part of the network’s ambitious strategy to expand its production slate, TNT will populates three nights each week with original series.
The groundbreaking schedule will start Monday, June 8, with ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, THE CLOSER, starring Golden Globe winner and Emmy nominee Kyra Sedgwick. It will be followed by the second season of Steven Bochco’s legal drama RAISING THE BAR, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Gloria Reuben and Jane Kaczmarek.
Beginning June 16, WEDDING DAY, TNT’s first foray into unscripted programming, will kick off a Tuesday night lineup that continues with the character-driven medical drama HAWTHORNE, starring Jada Pinkett Smith. The night wraps up with the third season of the provocative drama SAVING GRACE, starring Oscar winner Holly Hunter.
Wednesday nights will take ramp up the action with the thrilling, fast-paced drama LEVERAGE, starring Oscar winner Timothy Hutton, followed by executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer’s gritty undercover police drama DARK BLUE, starring Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott. The Wednesday original programming lineup will begin July 15.
The following is the complete rundown for TNT’s summer lineup of original series:
THE CLOSER Fifth season to launch Monday, June 8, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
It’s going to be a year of change for Deputy Police Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson and her Major Crimes unit as TNT’s THE CLOSER returns for its fifth season. The record-breaking crime drama, which stars Golden Globe winner Kyra Sedgwick, continues to dominate the industry as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time. Sedgwick gives an unforgettable performance as Deputy Chief Johnson, a former Atlanta detective brought to Los Angeles to head a special LAPD homicide unit. She is a top-notch investigator with unparalleled interrogation skills and a track record for closing nearly every case with a suspect’s confession. On the home front, she’s not quite as adept at handling her personal relationships. Instead, work tends to take first priority in her life and even threatened to derail her wedding in the season-four finale.
This acclaimed series also features a stellar ensemble cast that has garnered three Screen Actors Guild Award ensemble nominations. Playing Brenda’s highly capable squad are Corey Reynolds (The Terminal), G.W. Bailey (M*A*S*H), Tony Denison (Melrose Place), Raymond Cruz (Collateral Damage), Michael Paul Chan (Arrested Development) and Phillip P. Keene (The D.A.). The series also stars Jon Tenney (The Division) as Brenda’s husband, FBI Agent Fritz Howard; J.K. Simmons (Juno, Burn After Reading) as her demanding boss, Will Pope; and Robert Gossett (Arlington Road) as the head of Robbery-Homicide, Commander Taylor.
Since its premiere in 2005, THE CLOSER has earned numerous ad-supported cable viewership records, ranking as the #1 series of all time and scoring the #1 series telecast of all time. Each year, the show’s audience grows larger, with its 2008 episodes averaging more than 7.3 million viewers. It is produced by the team behind Nip/Tuck.
RAISING THE BAR Second season to launch Monday, June 8, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
This summer, court will be back in session with the return of this emotionally powerful legal drama from Emmy-winning producer Steven Bochco. The series follows the cases and lives of young lawyers who work on opposite sides the public defender’s office and the district attorney’s office as well as those who sit in judgment on their cases. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue) stars as idealistic defender Jerry Kellerman, while Gloria Reuben (ER) plays his passionate and protective boss, Rosalind Whitman. And Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle) plays imperious Judge Trudy Kessler, who has dreams of becoming the next district attorney. Co-starring in the series are Teddy Sears (Ugly Betty), Natalia Cigliuti (All My Children), Melissa Sagemiller (Sleeper Cell), Currie Graham (Boston Legal), J. August Richards (Conviction) and Jonathan Scarfe (Into the West).
RAISING THE BAR not only looks at courtroom battles but also the relationships among people on different sides, from the public defender trying to deal with her abusive, drug-addicted husband to the African-American assistant district attorney determined not to let himself be viewed as a racial token, from the judge who pushes the legal envelope in order to secure her political future to the legal aide who does everything he can to hide his homosexuality.
When it premiered last September, RAISING THE BAR was watched by 8.6 million viewers, ad-supported cable’s largest audience ever for a new series launch.
WEDDING DAY New series to launch Tuesday, June 16, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT)
Every couple dreams of having the perfect wedding. For many, it’s the most important and emotional day of their lives. But for some, insurmountable obstacles create barriers to making their dream day a reality. This new TNT series, the network’s first-ever unscripted drama, comes from producing giants Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks Television. The show gives deserving couples a helping hand to ensure the most important day of their lives is also the most magical. Each week, celebrity event planner and food expert Alan Dunn (For Better or Worse) and celebrity wedding producer and designer Diann Valentine (author of Weddings Valentine Style) host as family, friends and community come together to create a dream wedding. Along the way, viewers will learn each couple’s compelling story, from their first date to their wedding day.
HAWTHORNE New series to launch Tuesday, June 16, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix trilogy) is the latest talented actress to join TNT’s line-up of strong, complex female characters, following in the footsteps of Kyra Sedgwick on The Closer and Holly Hunter of Saving Grace. In this character-driven medical drama, Pinkett Smith plays Christina Hawthorne, a compassionate and headstrong Chief Nursing Officer heading up a group of dedicated nurses at Richmond Trinity Hospital who spend long days and nights on the hospital’s front lines. Hawthorne is the kind of nurse you want on your side when you or someone you love is in the hospital. She is the kind of nurse who fights for her patients and doesn’t let them slip through the cracks. When necessary, she takes on doctors and administrators who are overworked, distracted or just unable to see the human being behind the hospital chart.
Joining Pinkett Smith in HAWTHORNE is Michael Vartan (Alias) as Dr. Tom Wakefield, the oncologist who treated Christina’s husband and who serves as director of medicine for the hospital. The cast also includes Suleka Mathew (Men in Trees) as Bobbie Jackson, a fellow nurse and one of Hawthorne’s best friends; David Julian Hirsh (Lovebites) as Ray Stein, a nurse struggling with being accepted in a female-dominated profession; Christina Moore (90210) as Candy Sullivan, a nurse with a unique sense of duty; and Hannah Hodson (TNT’s The Ron Clark Story) as Camille, Hawthorne’s daughter. In addition, special guest star Joanna Cassidy (Six Feet Under) portrays Amanda, Hawthorne’s mother-in-law, who also happens to be a member of the hospital board.
SAVING GRACE Third season to launch Tuesday, June 16, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
Academy Award winner Holly Hunter returns in this bold series as a gutsy Oklahoma City Police detective who holds nothing back, whether on the job or in her personal life. The series follows as she investigates brutal crimes while also trying to balance her relationship with her partner, Ham (Kenneth Johnson The Shield), and figure out cryptic messages from her last-chance angel, Earl (Leon Rippy Deadwood). Hunter’s acclaimed, tantalizing performance recently earned her a second consecutive Screen Actors Guild Award nomination. She is joined in the series by an ensemble cast that includes Bailey Chase (Las Vegas), Gregory Cruz (Criminal Minds), Yaani King (The Prince & Me) and Dylan Minnette (Prison Break), with Lorraine Toussaint (Any Day Now) and Laura San Giacomo (Just Shoot Me).
The first season of SAVING GRACE on TNT, ranked as one of ad-supported cable’s top new series of 2007, averaging 4.7 million viewers. The show’s second season averaged 4 million viewers and ranked as ad-supported cable’s #1 entertainment program in its timeslot among adults 25-54, viewers and households. SAVING GRACE was created by Nancy Miller (Any Day Now).
LEVERAGE Second season to launch Wednesday, July 15, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT)
TNT set Tuesday nights on fire this winter with the first season of this thrilling, fast-paced drama series starring Oscar winner Timothy Hutton (Ordinary People). This summer, the gang is back with more elaborate scams designed to exact revenge against those who use power and wealth to victimize people. Hutton stars as Nate Ford, a former insurance investigator determined to bring down the kind of corrupt bigwigs whose neglect led to the death of his son. His highly skilled team includes Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman Coupling), a grifter who uses her acting skills to corner her marks; Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane TNT’s Into the West), a retrieval specialist with bone-crunching fighting skills; Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge Friday Night Lights), a gadget and technology wizard who keeps the team connected and informed; and Parker (Beth Riesgraf Alvin and the Chipmunks), a slightly off-center thief adept at repelling off buildings or squeezing into tight places. Together, the team puts their energy, quick minds and keen intellects toward securing justice for society’s underdogs.
LEVERAGE, which is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian movies), scored big in its first season, ranking as ad-supported cable’s #1 show in its timeslot with an average of 3.7 million viewers.
DARK BLUE New series to launch Wednesday, July 15, at 10 p.m. (ET/PT)
This fast-paced, undercover police drama from prolific producer Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace) stars Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott (The Practice, TNT’s The Grid), Logan Marshall-Green (The O.C.), Omari Hardwick (TNT’s Saved) and Nicki Aycox (Supernatural). The series follows the exploits of a crack undercover team of police officers so covert, many of their own colleagues don’t even know they are involved. Leading the group is Carter Shaw (McDermott), a deeply wounded character who has lost his wife and much of his former life as he struggles to bring down bad guys through complex undercover assignments. His team includes Ty Curtis (Hardwick), a recently married cop who struggles with personal relationships he has developed while undercover; Dean Bendis (Marshall-Green), a shoot-from-the-hip officer whose activities make fellow team members wonder if he has gone over to the bad side; and Jaimie Allen (Aycox), a green patrol cop brought in because of her excellent skill in lying and a shady past.