“Characters Welcome” is a strong branding idea used by the USA Network cable channel. It’s straightforward, easy on the ears, makes sense for the programming (most of the time) and is differentiated. When I watch shows like In Plain Sight, Burn Notice or Monk, I get it. There are characters on these shows unlike characters anywhere else. And the Vincent D’Onofrio character on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, now only available on USA Network, could be TV’s most compelling. Holly Hunter, on a cable show called Saving Grace, is also an amazing character. So much so, that I thought her show was carried on USA. (It’s actually on TNT.)
USA Network, in an effort to bring “Characters Welcome” to life, is sponsoring something called the Character Project. I read a pretty print insert in Ad Age on the project and though I applaud the effort, it seems a bit misguided. The insert, filled with beautiful photographs of American characters, is quite handsome, but the whole thing is more about the photographs and photographers than the so-called characters. What makes USA interesting is the one-of-a-kind people portrayed in the shows. Their quirkiness, their back-stories, their lives. The Character Project needs to delve into this level of character development. Unfortunately, the idea gets lost in the photography sauce.