AMC’s Original Programming Aims High

Joel Stillerman, who heads up original programming for AMC, won’t admit to it, but his network seems like it’s going after HBO’s mojo, or at least part of it, anyway.

Not that HBO is hurting these days with hits like “True Blood” and the just-premiered “Hung,” which just hung the pay cable channel’s biggest premiere ratings in years. But there was a time when you’d only find exceptionally well-written, character-driven dramas like AMC’s “Mad Men,” produced by former “Sopranos” scribe Matt Weiner, and “Breaking Bad” on… well, HBO.

“We love to talk about being a premium cable service on basic cable, but we don’t really compete with HBO,” Stillerman says. “There’s room for all sorts of great TV out there.”

Watch ‘Mad Men’ clips.

Certainly, AMC has more on the way. Not only is season three of “Mad Man” set to premiere August 16, but the network also has a six-part miniseries remake of 1967 U.K. sci-fi multi-parter “The Prisoner” on tap for November.

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Jim Caviezel (“The Passion of the Christ”) is set to play amnesiac captive “No. 6,” with Ian McKellen starring as the evil warden “No. 2.”

“Other than that, it’s a total re-imagining of the original series,” explains Stillerman, adding that Caviezel’s No. 6 will have some romance going, something the original No. 2, played by Patrick McGoohan, did not. Also, while the original unfolded in 17 hours, the new “Prisoner” will encompass only six hours of viewing time.

Rover, the evil white ball-like, er, creature that disposed of unwanted prisoners in the original will be back “in a very 2009 way,” Stillerman adds, noting a far more sophisticated execution that will involve CGI.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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