TMN announces discreetly sexy line-up

Now sans Sopranos, the Astral movie channel plans to air some nearly-as-steamy new series.

Following the recent demise of its perpetual hot property, The Sopranos, The Movie Network has announced a discreetly sexy fall lineup.

The two highest-profile new series – Showtime’s Californication and HBO’s Tell Me You Love Me – are already notorious for their sexual content. The latter, an hour-long serial drama about married couples in therapy, is said to push the envelope even by HBO standards. But Californication, a half-hour comedy/drama starring David Duchovny (pictured) as a blocked writer who’s into sex and drugs, also sounds like a sizzler.

According to Kevin Wright, SVP of programming at parent Astral Television Networks, premium TV is no sexier or grittier than usual. ‘The Sopranos was obviously a premiere pioneer in this area, pushing both sex and violence at the service of story and character. But nobody ever said to watch The Sopranos for its sex and violence.’ He adds that TMN hasn’t noticed any subscriber decline since the mafia series wrapped in June.

TMN also announced the return of Showtime’s Dexter – which Wright says scores well as a potential draw for new subscribers – along with the Peabody-winning drama Brotherhood.

New HBO series slated for TMN include In Treatment, starring Gabriel Byrne, and 12 Miles of Bad Road, a comedy from Designing Women creator Linda Bloodworth Thomason. Returning are the sixth season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the fifth and final season of The Wire.

Next spring and summer will see the premiere of previously announced Canadian titles ZOS: Zones of Separation, an eight-part international drama from Paul Gross’s Whizbang Films; The Weight, a drama about morally suspect cops from playwright and This is Wonderland co-creator George Walker; and the fourth and final season of Re-Genesis.

Along with programming, Wright says TMN is keeping close pace with technological advances to convince subscribers they’re getting a premium experience. ‘It’s critical to us . . . to have the latest ways of experiencing that high-quality drama that make it more compelling, whether it’s [Dolby Digital] 5.1, high definition, multiplexes or, fairly recently, on-demand.’

This story first appeared in Playback Daily.