LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BECOMING GLEN (FOX) - FOX has emerged as the winner of a bidding war with NBC and CBS to reclaim the comedy project, which was originally developed by the network for the 2002-03 season. The project, about a successful fortysomething man who looks back at 1994, when he was a 32-year-old slacker living with his parents and spending all his time lying on the couch watching TV, has been give a pilot order with a significant penalty attached if it doesn't go to series. Ricky Blitt and Seth MacFarlane are executive producing the project, which was originally created by the former.
BUST (FOX, New!) - Michael Ross ("Andy Richter Controls the Universe") is set to team with Sandy Grushow and his 20th Century Fox Television-based Phase Two banner for a potential new single-camera comedy about a single mom in Reno, Nevada, who decides to apply her anger issues to the profitable field of bounty hunting. Ross will write the pilot script and executive produce alongside Grushow.
THE CLASS (CBS) - British actress Lucy Punch ("Being Julia," "Ella Enchanted") is the first to be cast in the comedy project, about a group of eight twentysomething friends - all of whom are from the same third grade class - who reunite when one throws a party. David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik are behind the Warner Bros. Television-based series, which the Eye has already given a 13-episode commitment for next season.
CRISIS (FOX, New!) - Feature writer Darren Lemke ("Boogeyman") and feature director David Dobkin ("Wedding Crashers") have set up a new serialized drama series at FOX and Sandy Grushow's 20th Century Fox Television-based Phase Two banner. The project, about a terrorist takeover of a luxury resort in Miami's South Beach district, has been give a script order by the network with a low to mid-six-figure penalty attached should it not get ordered to pilot. As one would expect, Dobkin is attached to direct from a script by Lemke with the pair executive producing along with Grushow.
KIDNAPPED (NBC) - Jeremy Sisto ("Six Feet Under") has been tapped for the lead role in the drama pilot, about a wealthy New York family whose 15-year-old son is kidnapped and held for ransom, with the story being told from multiple points of view. His character, Knapp, is described in the casting notice as follows: "40s. The first thing about Knapp: his exterior belies his nature. He looks more like a narco out of a William Burroughs novel, than he does a kidnapping/retrieval expert. He doesn't wear a suit, or shave regularly, and he often says the opposite of what he's thinking. A former FBI agent, Knapp was drummed out of the Bureau for breaching protocol on a case, that to this day haunts him. Now, he operates in the private sector, beyond the pale, outside the walls of conventional law enforcement, with one objective: "Bringing 'em home." Knapp's hired by the Cain family, to retrieve their son Leopold, the victim of an elaborate kidnapping. During the course of the season, Knapp's search for Leopold will take him from Park Avenue penthouses to Bowery flophouses, from Washington's halls of power to the slums of Mexico City."
Also joining the cast is Timothy Hutton ("Last Holiday"). He'll play Conrad Cain, the father of the kidnapped boy. His character is detailed as: "40-50. Major American Financier. Conrad Cain's a self-made man who clawed his way from City College into genteel society, through a combination of hard work, and marrying the boss' daughter [Dana Delany], the result is a marriage and a home that looks like a fairytale, but looks can be deceiving. In the wake of Leopold's abduction, Conrad must try to keep his family and business together, and neither is what they seem: Is the company on the verge of bankruptcy? How can Conrad explain the huge kidnapping policy he took out on Leopold only a few weeks ago?" The pair join the previously cast Dana Delany, Mykelti Williamson, Carmen Ejogo, Boris McGiver, Linus Roache and Delroy Lindo in the NBC Universal Television/Sony Pictures Television/25C Productions-based project, which is currently filming in New York. Michael Dinner is directing from a script by creator Jason Smilovic with the duo executive producing along with 25C's Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly.
Meanwhile, character details for most of the remaining principal cast have been nailed down. Williamson is believed to be playing Virgil: "Mid 30s-mid 40s, African-American. You wouldn't call Virgil quiet; rather you'd say he used the least number of words necessary to get his point across. Virgil's a professional bodyguard. A protector. A modern samurai who observes a strict code, not unlike the bushido. Ex-special forces, Virgil's a man who's been to every corner of the earth and has the scars to prove it. Virgil knows, too well, the evil that men do. Virgil's wounded and left for dead, in a watery grave, during the commission of Leopold Cain's kidnapping. Virgil washes up on the beach with one objective: to restore his honor, and the only way he can do that is to track down the boy who was taken from his charge."
Ejogo then is set as Turner - "Mid 20-early 30s, female, any ethnicity. Smart, sexy, tough, attractive and on her game. She is all business. She moves stride for stride with Knapp and is integral in his Knapp's operations" - with Lindo as Tom Newland - "50-60. An FBI agent on the eve of forced retirement, with a wife in an irreversible coma. The last of the bloodhounds, Newland's a man who follows his gut, and can't even turn on a computer. The Job was everything to him. Newland's drawn into the Cain kidnapping due to a prior history with Virgil (Newland was Virgil's ranking officer in the special forces). Also, Newland was Knapp's Senior Agent at the Bureau. The Cain kidnapping is a chance for Newland to hold onto his job a little longer."
And finally, McGiver and Roache are believed to be playing the final two principal characters "Andy Archer" and "Greene," although it's not clear who is playing whom. The former is detailed as - "30s-40s. Part of the team recruited to pull off the Cain kidnapping, Greene was paid in full, with a bullet in the head. Alive and pissed, Greene goes gunning for the men behind the Cain incident, seeking retribution and monies owed." - with the latter being described as "30s. A golden boy on the rise at the Bureau, Archer's what hall monitors grow up to become. He's smart, young, ambitious; has a wife, two kids, and a third on the way. Living the American Dream with a gun and a badge. Archer's the lead investigator on the Cain kidnapping. He's a brash young prick, who plays strictly by the book, and is disliked by Knapp and Newland."
MIDNIGHTERS/PRETTY LITTLE LIARS (The WB, New!) - Both Alloy Entertainment book series are being developed as drama series at the netlet. The latter project, from author Sara Shepard, revolves around four 16-year-old girls - whose fifth best friend went missing two years ago - that suddenly become haunted by messages that appear from her. "Liars" is set up at Eric and Kim Tannenbaum's self-titled Warner Bros. Television-based banner with Lizzie Weiss ("Rocky Point") attached to pen the pilot script with Alloy's Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy executive producing alongside the Tannenbaums. The former, which comes from author Scott Westerfeld, deals with the strange happenings in the town of Bixby, Oklahoma. Every night in said town time freezes for one hour, leaving the townsfolk prey to various dark creatures, except for four teen outcasts who call themselves the "Midnighters." Darren Lemke is on board to write the script and executive produce along with Morgenstein and Levy.
NINE LIVES (ABC) - "Without a Trace" creator Hank Steinberg's drama project for the Alphabet and Warner Bros. Television has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The project, which Steinberg is co-creating with his sister, K.J. Steinberg ("Beautiful People"), follows the lives of nine strangers who share a bond after experiencing a 52-hour hostage crisis that stems from a bank robbery that goes bad. The pilot opens with the group being released after said event, depicting how each re-enters their lives and how they're affected by what happened. The robbery itself then will be played out over the course of the season as flashbacks from each character's perspective piece together when exactly unfolded during the standoff.
REVISION (FOX, New!) - "The 4,400" co-creator Scott Peters has inked a six-figure, two-script deal with Touchstone Television. The first project out of the deal has already been set up at FOX with Warren Littlefield attached to executive produce. Said project, entitled "Revision," is described as a time-travel themed drama about a man who finds himself returning to the past in order to prevent disaster in the future. As for plot specifics, the hour will focus on a government special ops agent named David Guthrie, who's recruited to head time travel missions after an incident forces the fed to use the time travel technology. In addition, Peters - who will write the pilot script and executive produce - noted a conspiracy subplot will run throughout the series.
UNTITLED BILL BURR PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Comedian Bill Burr is set to be the focus of a potential new comedy series at the network and 20th Century Fox Television. The project, which has a script commitment, will feature Burr as an unmarried 30ish man whose friends all seem to have married. Former "Everybody Loves Raymond" executive producer Steve Skrovan is behind the half-hour, which is set up at Sandy Grushow's 20th-based Phase Two banner. Skrovan will pen the pilot script and executive produce along with Grushow. No other details were given.
UNTITLED DANNY COMDEN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has given a pilot order to a new comedy written by and starring Danny Comden ("I'm With Her"). The project, a single-camera comedy about a man (Comden) who disavows his fast-paced real estate agent lifestyle to become a better person, is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Wonderland Sound & Vision. Comden will pen the pilot script and executive produce along with Wonderland principals Peter Johnson and McG. It's understood the untitled half-hour was originally developed last season and rolled over into this season when McG was unable to direct. It's not clear if McG is still on board to direct.
UNTITLED DON REO/DICK WOLF PROJECT (NBC, New!) - "Law & Order" guru Dick Wolf is switching gears to comedy, partnering with "My Wife & Kids" co-creator Don Reo for a potential new half-hour series about a hot up-and-coming prosecutor who's sent to a small courthouse in the Los Angeles area by the district attorney, who perceives her as a threat. There, she clashes with a public defender who has seen better days. Former prosecutor Marcia Clark, of O.J. Simpson trial fame, and writer/producer Cathy LePard ("7th Heaven") are also on board to produce the NBC Universal Television/Wolf Films-based project, which has received a script commitment from the network. Reo will pen the pilot and executive produce along with Wolf and his producing partners Nena Rodrigue and Peter Jankowski.
UNTITLED GREG BEHRENDT PROJECTS (ABC/Syndication, New!) - "He's Just Not That Into You: The No-Excuses Truth to Understanding Guys" co-author Greg Behrendt has lined up a pair of projects targeted for the 2006-07 season. The first, tentatively titled "The Greg Behrendt Show," is a talk/relationship show hosted by Behrendt from Sony Pictures Television and Tribune Entertainment Co. Said project, which is the result of a deal Sony signed with Tribune earlier this year, has already been cleared on Tribune Broadcasting's 26 stations for a fall 2006 launch. As for specifics, "Behrendt" will feature the author as he offers common-sense advice that is comedic and relatable to the audience.
The second project is a one-hour backdoor pilot special for ABC along the same lines. Produced by Avalon Television, a newly launched division of British comedy powerhouse Avalon Management Group, said special will feature Behrendt as he guides couples through complicated issues. David Martin, Julie James, Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner then will serve as executive producers along with Behrendt.
UNTITLED LOU BERNEY PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Feature writer Lou Berney ("Tangled Up") has scored a script order from FOX for a new drama set in a high-end Beverly Hills animal hospital. The project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television with Berney executive producing along with Sandy Grushow and his 20th Century Fox Television-based Phase Two banner. Additional plot specifics weren't specified.
UNTITLED RUTH REICHL PROJECT (HBO, New!) - The life of Ruth Reichl, editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and the former food critic of the New York Times and Los Angeles Times is set to be the focus of potential new single-camera comedy at the pay channel. Writer/producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin ("Carnivale") are behind the project, which will cover Reichel's evolution from chef to food writer in addition to the dissolution of her first marriage, a sexual awakening at the start of a second and motherhood at the age of 40. Reichl's book "Comfort Me With Apples" will serve as the basis of the series, which Cary Brokaw's Avenue Pictures ("Angels in America") will executive produce along with the company's executive VP of production Aaron Geller. Reichl herself will also serve as a co-executive producer.
WACKO (FOX, New!) - Writer/producers Barry Safchik and Michael Platt ("Weeds") are developing a new hybrid comedy at the network about Platt's true-to-life experience keeping the peace between his mother and sister after his father leaves the entire family fortune in the hands of their certifiably insane mom. FOX has given a script order to the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Sandy Grushow's studio-based Phase Two banner.
THE WORST WEEK OF MY LIFE (FOX, New!) - Regency Television has booked a pilot order from FOX for a new single-camera comedy based on the BBC limited series of the same name, about a young engaged couple's hellacious week leading up to their wedding. Feature writers Ed Decter & John Strauss ("There's Something About Mary") have been tapped to pen the pilot script to the project, which Regency will co-produce with Hat Trick Productions, as well as executive produce. As for specifics, like the U.K. original, each episode will cover one day's time with a new couple coming in every seven episodes when the previous couple's wedding wraps. The latter facet will allow the producers to sustain the concept beyond the original's "limited series" scope.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters