LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BLUE (FOX, New!) - Brian Finkelstein is developing his one-man show as a half-hour comedy for the network. The project, a workplace comedy set in a New York suicide hotline center, is based at Regency Television and Avalon Television. Avalon's David Martin will executive produce alongside Finkelstein.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of December 11-17) - A subpar 2.1 million viewers tuned into "The Lost Room's" opening installment on Monday, well short of Sci Fi's last two December multi-night efforts: "The Triangle," which drew 4.3 million viewers for its 2005 premiere, and "Earthsea," which posted 3.7 million viewers for its 2004 bow. Getting better news was Showtime, which saw 1.1 million viewers tune into the season finale of "Dexter" on Sunday. Said numbers marked the pay channel's largest original series audience since Nielsen Media Research began reporting individual Showtime feeds separately back in 2004 as well as its most-watched program overall in 2006. "Dexter" was also up a whopping 82.42% growth from its October 1 debut (603,000) while a midnight encore drew an additional 150,000 viewers. Also of note on cable last week: ABC Family saw a solid 2.7 million viewers tune into its original movie "Christmas Do-Over" on Saturday while Hallmark's "Love's Abiding Joy" drew 2.5 million viewers that same night. And finally, "Nip/Tuck" closed its fourth season to the tune of 3.38 million viewers, including a 1.8 rating/5 share among adults 18-49. Those 18-49 numbers helped "Nip/Tuck" finish as cable's top scripted series in the key demographic for the year (2.75 million viewers on average) and were up slightly from its third season (2.70 million).
DEMONS (A.K.A. UNTITLED BARBARA HALL/JOE ROTH PROJECT) (CBS) - Barbara Hall and Joe Roth's drama has received both a pilot order and a title. Now dubbed "Demons," the project revolves around an ex-Jesuit priest/psychologist who performs exorcisms. Hall wrote the pilot script and will executive produce alongside Roth and Nina Lederman. The network originally gave the hour a put pilot commitment earlier this year.
EVIL GENIUS (Comedy Central, New!) - Paul F. Tompkins ("Best Week Ever") is developing a new comedy at the cable channel about a supervillain who takes over the world only to realize that it's not easy ruling his kingdom. Avalon Television is behind the half-hour, which the company's David Martin is executive producing alongside Tompkins.
FOOTBALL WIVES (A.K.A. FOOTBALLERS WIVES) (ABC) - Feature helmer Bryan Singer ("Superman Returns") has come aboard to executive produce and potentially direct the drama pilot, which formally received a green light this week. The Touchstone Television-based hour, about women whose lives are transformed when they marry NFL superstars, is based on the renowned U.K. soap of the same name. Marco Pennette penned the pilot script and is executive producing alongside Chris Brancato and Bert Salke. Shed Productions, the original series' producer, is co-producing with the company's Maureen Chadwick, Eileen Gallagher and Ann McManus also serving as executive producers. Whether Singer actually directs the pilot is tied to his Bad Hat Harry Productions's three-for-one development deal with the network. Should he move forward with one of his own projects he'll direct that project instead of "Wives."
HALFWAY HOME (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has confirmed the newcomer will debut on Wednesday, March 14 at 10:30/9:30c, presumably following the 11th season premiere of "South Park." Here's how the network describes the project: ""Halfway Home" is an improvised half-hour narrative about the lives of a dysfunctional group of parolees living in a halfway house. The cast features Kevin Ruf ("Fun with Dick and Jane," Groundlings member), the house supervisor who attempts to rehabilitate the misfit parolees including Oscar Nunez ("The Office," "Reno 911!"), a male prostitute who uses sex to get what he desires; Jessica Makinson ("Joe Schmo 2," "Trigger Happy TV"), a drug trafficker who can't give up her old habits; Regan Burns ("Oblivious," "The Movie Club") the house narc who has an uncontrollable obsession with fire; Octavia Spencer ("Coach Carter," "Spiderman"), an armed robbery convict and Jordan Black ("Punk'd," "Mad TV"), a wanna-be terrorist who is really just a rich kid from California."
HOGAN KNOWS BEST/SHOOTING SIZEMORE (A.K.A. UNTITLED TOM SIZEMORE PROJECT) (VH1) - The cable channel has confirmed "Hogan Knows Best" will return for the back half of its third season on Sunday, January 7 at 10:00/9:00c following the launch of "The Surreal Life: Fame Games" at 9:00/8:00c. Also bowing that night: VH1's Tom Sizemore-led reality series - now officially dubbed "Shooting Sizemore" - at 10:30/9:30c.
HONEYMOONED (FOX, New!) - Brian Keith Etheridge ("Joe Schmo Show") and Michael Glouberman ("Malcolm in the Middle") have scored a script commitment from FOX for a new comedy about two pals who wind up on a prepaid honeymoon after one of them is jilted. CBS Paramount Television and Avalon Television are co-producing the project, which the pair will executive produce with Avalon's David Martin.
LAW DOGS (CBS) - Janeane Garofalo ("The West Wing") and Australian actress Rachael Carpani are the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about the lives, relationships, cases and careers of a team of public defenders. Garofalo will play the "quirky, sassy head of the public defender's office who bears the scars of having made it in what is essentially a man's world." Carpani then will play an unspecified lawyer that works for Garofalo's character. Barry Schindel is behind the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which also comes from Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and David Zucker of Scott Free Productions.
LIFE (NBC) - Damien Lewis ("Band of Brothers") and Sarah Shahi ("The L Word") have both been cast in the drama pilot, about a former cop (Lewis) who rejoins the force after having spent years wrongly imprisoned. Lewis will play said role in the NBC Universal Television-based hour, which comes from creator Rand Ravich. Shahi then is set as the partner of Lewis's character who has a checkered past. David Semel is directing the project from a script by Ravich.
MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS (CBS, New!) - Henry Cropps has booked a script order from the Eye for a new comedy about a newly single father who winds up dating women just like his ex-wife. CBS Paramount Television is behind the half-hour, which Cropps will executive produce alongside Avalon Television's David Martin.
THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM (Comedy Central) - The network's long-delayed Sarah Silverman-led series will bow on Thursday, February 1 at 10:30/9:30c. Here's how Comedy Central's press materials describe the project: "Fresh off the success of her feature film Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, the irreverent Sarah Silverman takes on the small screen. Sarah stars as herself in this new COMEDY CENTRAL Original Series that is bound to make you feel better about your own life. Tune in to see her offend, seduce, and use everyone she knows and meets!"
SHANE (CBS, New!) - Michael Shipley and Jim Bernstein ("American Dad") are developing a new comedy about a stubborn cabbie who winds up in wild adventures with his passengers. The Regency Television-based half-hour was created by British comedy star Frank Skinner. Shipley and Bernstein are penning the pilot script, which they'll executive produce alongside Avalon Television's David Martin.
SWINGTOWN (CBS) - Mike Kelley's ("Jericho") drama has been given a pilot order by the network. The CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour revolves around married suburban couples in the 1970s who experiment with open marriages and wife-swapping. Kelley penned the pilot script and is executive producing while Alan Poul ("Six Feet Under") is attached to direct.
UNTITLED BILL ENGVALL PROEJCT (TBS) - Nancy Travis ("Almost Perfect") and Steve Hytner ("Seinfeld") have both joined the cast of the Bill Engvall-led sitcom pilot, about the family life of therapist Will Knowles (Engvall). Travis will play Knowles' wife with Hytner as his best friend and college buddy. Engvall himself and Michael Leeson penned the pilot script and are executive producing alongside Parallel Entertainment's J.P. Williams.
UNTITLED KESSLERS/ZELMAN PROJECT (FX) - Rose Byrne ("Marie Antoinette"), Tate Donovan ("The O.C.") and Zeljko Ivanek ("Shark") have all joined the cast of the Glenn Close-led drama pilot, about Ellen Parsons (Byrne), a beautiful, self-possessed attorney fresh out of law school who lands her dream job working for Patty Hughes (Close), America's foremost high-stakes litigator. Donovan then is set as Tom Kent, Hughes' "senior legal associate and most trusted adviser, a measured, thoughtful and extremely able attorney." And Ivanek is set as "a Southern legal war horse, Hughes' opposing attorney in a major case that would play out during the show's first season." Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman are behind the Sony Pictures Television-based hour, which Allen Coulter is directing. Production is set to begin in early February in New York.
THE WEDDING PLANNERS (A.K.A. THE WEDDING STORE) (FOX) - Teri Polo ("The West Wing"), Sarah Jones ("Big Love"), KaDee Strickland ("The Grudge"), Michael Landes ("Ghost Whisperer") and Benjamin King ("Saving Jessica Lynch") have all been named the principal cast members of David E. Kelley upcoming dramedy for the network. Polo, Jones and Strickland will play three sisters than run a family wedding-planning business - Jane, the oldest conservative one; Sammy, the youngest free spirited one; and Annie, the middle child that's not afraid of a fight, respectively. Landes then is set as David, their self-deprecating and charming photographer, with King as Jane's husband, who also serves as the company's chief corporate officer. In addition, Jonathan Pontell has come aboard to executive produce the series alongside Kelley while Jon Amiel has been tapped to direct and executive produce the pilot. "Planners," which is based at 20th Century Fox Television and David E. Kelley Productions, is due to launch in the spring.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters