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07.21.2004

SHOWTIME GREENLIGHTS SIX PILOTS; MARY-LOUISE PARKER, EDDIE GRIFFIN, MICHAEL EALY, ODED FEHR SET TO STAR

Richard Pryor, Mike Newell and Oscar® Winners Dan Jinks and
Bruce Cohen Among Executive Producers;
Directors Paris Barclay, Phillip Noyce, Clark Johnson, Adam Bernstein and Brian Dannelly Set

LOS ANGELES: July 21, 2004 -- Robert Greenblatt, in his first major slate of series development as President of Entertainment for Showtime Networks Inc., announced today that the premium network has greenlighted three drama and three comedy pilots featuring a high profile roster of Hollywood's most talented and award winning actors, directors, writers and producers, including legendary comedian Richard Pryor, Golden Globe® and Tony® Award winner Mary-Louise Parker, Emmy® winner Paris Barclay, Emmy nominee Clark Johnson and Oscar® winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen. 
 
The pilots reflect Showtime's move toward less niche-oriented, demographic-specific series and cover a broad spectrum of provocative topics.  The dramas range from a gritty look at a diverse group of characters in a hate crimes police unit, to the tale of two ambitious brothers on opposite sides of the law, to the chilling story of a sleeper terrorist cell in Los Angeles that is infiltrated by an undercover FBI agent.  The premium cable network is also making a concentrated effort to get half-hour comedies back on its schedule.  Those projects focus on a pot-dealing suburban PTA mom, the colorful musings of life on the chic fringes in Manhattan and a semi-autobiographical project inspired by Richard Pryor's volatile life and early career.
 
HATE  
"Hate," a one-hour drama, is a fictionalized take on the NYPD's real-life bias unit which investigates hate crimes.  Emmy® winner Paris Barclay ("NYPD Blue") and James DeMonaco ("The Negotiator") wrote the script which Barclay will direct.  Barclay and DeMonaco are executive producing this ensemble drama with Oscar® winners Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen ("American Beauty").
 
THE CELL
One-hour drama "The Cell," from writers/executive producers Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff ("Bulletproof Monk"), focuses on an American black Muslim who joins an Islamic sleeper terrorist cell in the United States and, who we learn, is working undercover for the FBI.  The lead character will be portrayed by rising star Michael Ealy, who played recovering thug Ricky in the two "Barbershop" movies and next co-stars opposite Halle Berry in the Oprah Winfrey original movie "Their Eyes Were Watching God" for ABC.  Oded Fehr, perhaps best known for his role as the mysterious prince Ardeth Bay in the "Mummy" movies, will play the charismatic Arab leader of the extremist cell.  Clark Johnson, who most recently helmed the 2003 feature film "S.W.A.T.," will direct.  Johnson directed the pilot for FX's gritty cop drama "The Shield," which earned him an Emmy® nomination.
 
UNTITLED BLAKE MASTERS PROJECT
Versatile director Phillip Noyce ("Clear and Present Danger" and "The Bone Collector") is set to helm the untitled Blake Masters project.  Noyce, who most recently helmed "Rabbit-Proof Fence" and "The Quiet American," also directed the pilot for Fox's drama series "Tru Calling."  Written by Masters ("Dreadnaught"), the one-hour drama revolves around two ambitious and ruthless brothers in Providence, Rhode Island -- one a tough politician and the other a brutal gangster.  Elizabeth Stephen ("Myst") serves as the executive producer.
 
PRYOR OFFENSES
Legendary comedian Richard Pryor and Jennifer Pryor will executive produce "Pryor Offenses," a half-hour single-camera comedy inspired by his stand-up material and his harrowing life.  This project is an updated take on Pryor's real-life experience as a thirtysomething comedian on the verge of a career breakthrough while battling his personal demons. Billy Grundfest ("Mad About You") wrote the script and is executive producing the pilot along with the Pryors.  Eddie Griffin ("Undercover Brother," "John Q") will star, marking Griffin's return to television after his four-year starring run on UPN's comedy "Malcolm & Eddie."  "Pryor Offenses" will be directed by Adam Bernstein ("Scrubs," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent").

WEEDS
In the half-hour comedy "Weeds," Golden Globe® and Tony® Award winner Mary-Louise Parker (most recently nominated for an Emmy® Award for "Angels in America") will star as a suburban wife and mother whose privileged life implodes when her husband dies suddenly, leaving her with far less than she ever thought.  As a way of surviving, she begins dealing marijuana out of her home, all the while leading a double existence as a responsible, loving mom and active PTA member.  "Weeds" is written and executive produced by Jenji Kohan ("Friends") and directed by Brian Dannelly, who recently directed Parker in the critically-acclaimed Christian high school satire "Saved!"  "Weeds" is being produced by Lions Gate Television.
 
WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE
"What's Not to Love," a semi-autobiographical half-hour comedy from comedian-writer-performance artist Jonathan Ames, is an unusual glimpse at the offbeat, chic and bizarre life of the denizens of downtown Manhattan.  Ames, who wrote the script and will star in the pilot, is executive producing with Mike Newell ("Mona Lisa Smile," "Four Weddings and a Funeral"), Cameron Jones and Braxton Pope ("Hip-Hop Cops").  Newell and Jones are also executive producers of Showtime's upcoming drama "!HUFF" starring Hank Azaria.
 
Showtime Networks Inc. (SNI), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Viacom Inc., owns the premium television networks SHOWTIME®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL" and FLIX®, as well as the multiplex channels SHOWTIME® TOO", SHOWTIME® SHOWCASE, SHOWTIME EXTREME®, SHOWTIME BEYOND®, SHOWTIME NEXT®, SHOWTIME WOMEN®, SHOWTIME FAMILYZONE® and TMC xtra.  SNI also offers SHOWTIME HD®, THE MOVIE CHANNEL HD®, SHOWTIME ON DEMAND® and THE MOVIE CHANNEL ON DEMAND". SNI operates and manages the premium television network SUNDANCE CHANNEL®, which is owned by SNI, Robert Redford and Universal Studios. All SNI feeds provide enhanced sound using Dolby Digital 5.1. SNI markets and distributes sports and entertainment events for exhibition to subscribers on a pay-per-view basis through SHOWTIME® PPV.   Additionally, the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME EXTREME® is available in Spain through a joint venture with Media Park and the advertiser-supported television network SHOWTIME is available in Turkey through a joint venture with UK-based Zone Vision.