USA Network’s Political Mini-Series “Political Animals” May Not Be So Mini After All

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In late January, USA Network ordered Political Animals, a six episode political drama series. It was (and still is) USA’s biggest straight-to-series production commitment and I’m told it was ordered in such a manner so as to capitalise on the political atmosphere which will be booming this summer, as the presidential campaign(s) kick into high gear.

As the news of Political Animals being green-lit by USA was released, several news organisations labeled the six part event as USA Network’s new “mini-series.” Sources at USA Network tell me that the phrase is one that was bandied around by the media and not one USA ever used. Indeed, going back and looking at the press release announcing the series, the term USA Network used was “six hour drama series.”

So what does that really mean? I’m told that the series will be treated like the network’s other new addition this year, Common Law, meaning that, assuming it pulls in good ratings, the series will be under consideration for a second season. In short, the project was green-lit (without a pilot) straight-to-series so they could get it on air before the end of summer 2012 and is no different to AMC’s six episode order for The Walking Dead‘s first season; a mini-season, not necessarily a mini-series.

Political Animals was created by Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark and revolves around Elaine Barrish, a divorced former First Lady and current Secretary of State, who struggles to keep her family together while simultaneously dealing with the crises of the State Department. She finds an unlikely ally in Susan Berg, a famous D.C. journalist who has spent her career tearing Elaine down.

The series stars Sigourney Weaver as Elaine Barrish, Carla Gugino as Susan Berg, Sebastian Sian as as Thomas “T.J.” Hammond, James Wolk as Douglas Hammond, Brittany Ishibashi as Anne Ogami and Ciaran Hinds as Bud Hammond. Political Animals is produced by Berlanti Productions and Laurence Mark Productions in association with Warner Horizon Television, with Greg Berlanti and Laurence Mark serving as executive producers.