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[03/31/05 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 31
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

Looking to keep track of all the various projects in development? Click here to visit our newly revamped "Series in Development" charts. Visitors can now filter our listings by network, genre and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

AMERICAN CRIME (CBS) - David Starzyk ("A Boyfriend for Christmas") and Christian Kane ("Angel") have both been cast in the drama pilot, about a female prosecutor (Jennifer Finnigan) who juggles the world of suburban crime with the challenges of being a new mother. Starzyk will play Thom in the Warner Bros. Television/Bruckheimer Television-based project, while no details were available about Kane's character. John Carroll Lynch also stars while Jim Leonard, Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are the executive producers.

CARNIVALE (HBO) - With "Deadwood" getting an early season three nod earlier this week (read the story), the fate of fellow sophomore drama "Carnivale" remains in limbo. An above-average 2.4 million viewers tuned into the show's second season finale on Sunday, helping raise its season average to 1.7 million viewers. While that's behind "Deadwood's" average so far this season (2.9 million through four airings), it's slightly above "The Wire's" season three numbers (1.6 million on average). That series got the green light for a fourth season last month (read the story), despite its lackluster ratings.

THE COMMUTERS (CBS) - Jason Wiles ("Third Watch") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about three couples in the suburbs, the husbands of which all commute together each day on the train to New York City. No details were available about his character in the project, which also stars Jeri Ryan, David Arquette, Christine Taylor and Johnathon Schaech. Dan Bucatinsky and Michael Taylor are executive producing the pilot, which is set up at Paramount Network Television with Stephen Kay directing from a script by Bucatinsky.

EARLY BIRD (NBC) - Robert Culp ("Everybody Loves Raymond") is the latest to sign onto the comedy pilot, about a twentysomething (Timm Sharp) who opts to live in a retirement community. He'll play a member of said community in the project, which also stars Luis Avalos, Bill Macy and Larry Hankin. The pilot is set up at NBC Universal Television and 3 Arts Entertainment, with Rodney Rothman, Jonathan Groff, David Miner and Howard Klein serving as executive producers.

THE EVOLUTION OF MAN (The WB) - Marla Sokoloff ("The Practice") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about three single guys (Eric Lively, Max Greenfield & Josh Braaten), all friends since childhood, who hire a life coach (Wendie Malick) to help them with women. No character details were given however. Ross McCall, Aaron Peters, Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and Marsh McCall are behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Bruckheimer Television. George Wendt also stars.

THE OTHER MALL (FOX) - The network has officially passed on the pilot, a Christopher Guest-esque comedy set at an aging Midwest shopping mall about a young go-getter (David Hornsby) who's put in charge after it's sold to a big corporation and must deal with its many wacky retailers. Co-creater/executive producer Danny Salles ("The Joe Schmo Show") however has quickly landed on his feet, as he's signed a multi-year overall deal with Fox TV Studios. The pact calls for the Salles to develop unscripted and hybrid projects for the studio under his Semi-Cool Productions banner as well as allows him to direct a handful of outside projects. As for the Regency Television-based "Mall," the studio (which is half-owned by Fox TV Studios) is hoping to find a cable home for the project.

THE SHIELD (FX) - 3.3 million viewers watched the second installment of the show's new season last week. Said numbers were off a noticeable 16% from its stellar debut on March 15 (3.93 million).

SIX FEET UNDER (HBO) - Executive producer Rick Cleveland has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with NBC Universal Television. It's there he'll develop drama projects for the studio, the first year of which will be spent exclusively on new concepts (instead of both new and existing properties). The pact kicks off in June once the writer/producer has wrapped his work on the HBO series.

STOLLER WARS (CBS) - JoBeth Williams ("14 Hours") has booked a role on the comedy pilot, about a New York couple (Tiffani Thiessen, Darren Ritchie) who are forced to grow up when they have kids of their own. Rhea Perlman, Rebecca Creskoff and Benjamin King also star in the Sony Pictures Television/Paramount Network Television-based project, which comes from creators Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa.

THE TRIANGLE (Sci Fi) - Craig Baxley ("Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital") has been tapped to direct the three-part, six-hour mini-series for the cable channel. The project, about a team of scientists and investigators from different fields who come together to figure out the truth behind the Bermuda Triangle, is set to begin production in South Africa at the end of May for a December premiere. He'll direct from a script by Rockne O'Bannon ("Farscape") with Dean Devlin and Bryan Singer executive producing. No casting has been announced.

TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS) - Co-creator/executive producer Lee Aronsohn has signed a new two-year production deal with the show's producer Warner Bros. Television. It's believed the pact calls for Aronsohn to continue with his duties on "Men" through the length of the deal.

UNTITLED CHRIS KATTAN PROJECT (ABC) - Leigh-Allyn Baker ("Will & Grace") is the latest addition to the Chris Kattan-led comedy pilot, about an egocentric consumer reporter (Kattan) at a fledgling cable news channel. She'll play Mona in the 20th Century Fox Television/3 Arts Entertainment-based project, who's described in the casting notice as: "28-35, a charactery woman. She is Chris's inseparable shadow and devoted assistant at the station. However, don't make the mistake of thinking that she's an underling. Lily [Tinsley Grimes], the new features editor, does - and she soon learns that Mona does not intimidate easily. In fact, as Lily later learns, Mona was offered her job first but she couldn't afford the pay cut. Mona is funny, droll and unflappable. A sort of glorified babysitter for the highly neurotic Chris, she knows how to handle him and there's very little that fazes her." Chris Williams, Kate Hodge and James Patrick Stewart also star in the comedy, which comes from executive producers Tom Maxwell, Michael McCullers, David Miner, Michael Rotenberg, Steve Tann and Don Woodard.

UNTITLED HOLLY HESTER PROJECT (ABC) - Eugene Byrd ("Crossing Jordan") is set to star opposite Brenda Blethyn in the comedy pilot, about a middle-aged woman (Blethyn) who suddenly decides to make a change in her picture-perfect family life, gets divorced and gets a job. He'll play Jake, the owner of a Web design firm in the project, which now appears to be produced by both Touchstone Television and Conan O'Brien's NBC Universal Television-based Conaco banner. O'Brien, Holly Hester, A.J. Morewitz and Jeff Ross are the executive producers.

UNTITLED SUSIE ESSMAN PROJECT (CBS) - Gregory Harrison ("Safe Harbor") is set to star opposite to Susie Essman in the comedy pilot, about an urbanite (Essman) who becomes a newlywed and stepmom in suburbia. He'll play her new husband, who owns a construction company in the 20th Century Fox Television/Paramount Network Television-based project, which also stars John Michael Higgins and Stacy Keach. Essman and Tom Leopold are writing the pilot script and executive producing along with Brad Johnson (through his Watson Pond banner) and Brillstein-Grey Management's Lee Kernis.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· 14 HOURS (TNT)
· ANGEL (WB)
· BOYFRIEND FOR CHRISTMAS, A (HALLMARK)
· CARNIVALE (HBO)
· CLOSE TO HOME (CBS)
· COMMUTERS, THE (CBS)
· CROSSING JORDAN (NBC)
· DEADWOOD (HBO)
· EARLY BIRD (NBC)
· ENOUGH ABOUT ME (ABC)
· EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
· FARSCAPE (SYFY)
· JOE SCHMO SHOW, THE (SPIKE TV)
· MARSHA POTTER GETS A LIFE (ABC)
· MODERN MEN (WB)
· OTHER MALL, THE (FOX)
· PRACTICE, THE (ABC)
· SAFE HARBOR (WB)
· SHIELD, THE (FX)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· STEPHEN KING'S KINGDOM HOSPITAL (ABC)
· STROLLER WARS (CBS)
· THIRD WATCH (NBC)
· TRIANGLE, THE (SYFY)
· TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS)
· UNTITLED SUSIE ESSMAN PROJECT (CBS)
· WILL & GRACE (NBC)
· WIRE, THE (HBO)





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