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Sam Esmail’s ‘Briarpatch,’ Starring Rosario Dawson, Scores USA Series Pickup

JANUARY 24, 2019 12:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg

Writer Andy Greenwald has also signed an overall deal with Universal Cable Productions.
With the end of Mr. Robot in sight, USA Network is moving full steam ahead on a new series from its creator.

The NBCUniversal-owned cable network has handed out a series order to Sam Esmail anthology Briarpatch, starring Rosario Dawson. The first season of the drama, produced by Universal Cable Productions and Paramount Television, will be based on the Ross Thomas novel of the same name. Andy Greenwald penned the script and exec produces alongside Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail. Additionally, Greenwald has inked an overall deal with UCP and will develop and produce premium scripted fare for cable and streaming platforms.

The series hails from Esmail’s UCP-based Esmail Corp. banner and marks his second drama for USA Network and third overall (joining Amazon’s Homecoming). An episode count and premiere date have not yet been determined.

Briarpatch follows Allegra Dill (Dawson), an investigator returning to her border-town Texas home after her sister is murdered. What begins as a search for a killer turns into an all-consuming fight to bring her corrupt city to its knees. The series is described as a blend of crime and pulp fiction. Jay R. Ferguson, Brian Geraghty and Edi Gathegi co-star in the drama, which will film in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Anonymous Content’s Chad Hamilton will also exec produce alongside Dawson, Esmail and Greenwald. Ana Lily Amirpour directed the pilot.

Briarpatch arrives at a turning point for USA Network, which this year will say farewell to critical darling Mr. Robot and Suits. The latter was the last of the cabler’s former “Blue Skies”-branded programming of upbeat procedurals. With the breakout success of Mr. Robot, USA shifted to darker and edgier fare. With both shows ending this year, USA Network will need to launch new hits to join returning series Queen of the South and The Purge. The network will next introduce Treadstone, its Tim Kring-produced spinoff of the Bourne feature franchise, as well as Suits spinoff Pearson. Still to be determined is the fate of fellow anthology The Sinner, though it is expected to return.

“When we were first introduced the anthology by Andy Greenwald, UCP and Paramount Television, we were immediately struck by the show’s unique tone and captivating story,” said Chris McCumber, president of entertainment networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. “And Sam Esmail’s incomparable vision and style, coupled with Rosario Dawson’s tremendous performance as Allegra Dill, will no doubt leave audiences buzzing.”

In addition to the final season of Mr. Robot, Esmail has season two of Amazon’s Homecoming and is developing Fritz Lang’s Metropolis for TV. He’s also adapting Angelyne, based on a Hollywood Reporter feature, with wife Emmy Rossum set to star.

Both Briarpatch and Treadstone were part of USA’s crop of four pilot orders placed last April. Still awaiting word are cheerleading drama Dare Me and Erase, starring Denis Leary.

Greenwald is repped by UTA.

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