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Curtain rises on Showtime’s fall slate

Six new documentaries, an adaptation of radio series This American Life and a comedy sketch series starring Damon Wayans underpin US premium cable channel Showcase Networks’ upcoming fall season.

Six new episodes of This American Life, based on the Chicago Public Radio programme of the same name, begin production this spring. Hosted by Ira Glass, each episode will explore a single theme or topic through a ‘unique juxtaposition’ of first-person storytelling and ‘whimsical’ narrative. The goal is for the visual interpretation to reflect the structure and spirit of the radio show.

Also planned is one-hour crime series Dexter, starring Michael C Hall (Six Feet Under) as an ‘incredibly likeable’ forensics expert for the Miami Metro Police Department who moonlights as a serial killer, murdering people who deserve it. The series is set to begin shooting on location in Miami in late spring and is scheduled to debut before the end of the year.

And fresh off his Golden Globe win for his portrayal of Elvis is Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, who will be playing Henry VIII in drama series The Tudors. The 10-part series will focus on the less-frequently dramatised early years of the king’s nearly 40-year reign. Desperate Housewives director Charles McDougall is on tap to helm at least the first two episodes, which are likely to air in early 2007.

On the factual side, Showtime has six docs either in or going into production. The slate includes Three Days in September (CBS News), looking at the Beslan massacre; Shame (Mohammed Naqvi), about a Pakistani woman who spoke out after being sentenced to a gang rape; Sexually Dangerous (Drew Arvary Lucas Platt, Todd Shuster), exploring the line between ‘normal’ sexual behaviour and the pathological sex act; Medical Marijuana (Star Price), featuring four people who receive medical marijuana from the US government; Persons Unknown (Lionsgate), looking at the possibility of co-conspirators acting with the Oklahoma City bombers; and Naked on the Inside (Magic/Real Picture Company and Film Finance Corporation Australia, in association with Showtime and New South Wales Film and Television Office), an exploration of who we are beyond our clothes, skin and physical selves.

Lastly, billed as ‘Living Colour on Steroids,’ is half-hour sketch show Damon Wayans The Underground. Premiering this fall, the 10-part series will feature recurring characters and parodies of pop culture, alongside skits filmed outside the studio and a mix of music, dance and other visual arts. Also possible are behind-the-scenes moments illustrating how the show is put together and how the sketches develop.

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