[09/24/09 - 06:04 PM] Development Update: Thursday, September 24 By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)
LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Stephen Root ("True Blood") is the 16th addition to the show's massive season eight ensemble, due in January. He'll play Ben Prady, an officer of the Department of Corrections looking into a parolee gone missing, in a multi-episode arc.
AMERICAN IDOL (FOX) - The network and Simon Cowell are reportedly in talks to import his U.K. series "The X Factor." Said development comes as negotiations continue with the judge to extend his current pact, which ends after the upcoming season. The "Idol" portion of the deal is said to be valued in the nine-figure range to return for two more seasons while "Factor" could net just as much per season. Cowell's existing "Idol" deal prohibited him from bringing "Factor" to the U.S., hence the added pressure to either keep Cowell exclusive or fold "Factor" under the FOX tent.
THE BILL ENGVALL SHOW (TBS) - The cable channel has pulled the plug on the sitcom after three seasons. In a statement released to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the network said: "TBS has cancelled The Bill Engvall Show after three seasons. We had a great experience working with Bill and the cast. Bill is a terrific comic, and we have tremendous respect for him. While the show didn't attract the audience we need to renew it for another season, we're proud of the work of everyone involved."
THE CAPE (NBC, New!)/THE MYSTERIES OF OAK ISLAND (FOX, New!) - Tom Wheeler ("Empire") has landed script commitments - with penalties attached - for new dramas at FOX and NBC. The former, the Warner Bros. Television-based "The Mysteries of Oak Island," revolves around "a single mom and her two children who inherit a 200-year-old lighthouse on [a] mysterious island off the coast of Nova Scotia known for numerous quests to find treasure believed to be buried there." Meanwhile, "The Cape" centers on "a former cop framed for a crime he didn't commit who becomes the Cape, a masked hero, to clear his name and reunite with his son." Said hour, set in the fictional Jefferson City ("a Los Angeles-type city where corrupt private industries are taking over everything"), comes from Universal Media Studios and fellow executive producers Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman.
HOUSE (FOX) - Entertainment Weekly reports Jennifer Morrison is departing the series later this season. Said development is being billed as "a creative decision on the part of producers." It's understood Morrison's character, who will say goodbye during an episode in November, won't be killed off but rather exit for other reasons. Producers nevertheless reportedly will leave the door open for future appearances.
LAWMAN (FX) - "Dirty Sexy Money" alum Natalie Zea has joined the cast of upcoming drama, about "a modern-day, 19th-century-style lawman (Timothy Olyphant) enforcing his brand of justice." She'll play the ex-wife of said character after guest starring in the pilot. Sony Pictures Television and FX Productions are behind the hour, which rolls out early next year.
SKY JOCKEYS (FOX, New!) - RDF Media and UKTV, a joint venture between BBC Worldwide and Virgin Media, are set to team for a potential new animated comedy set inside an airport. Anil Gupta (U.K.'s "The Office") and Richard Pinto ("Mutual Friends") are behind the half-hour, the pilot of which has been sold to FOX. The project is a result of RDF Media's new script-development deal with UKTV's digital outlet Dave which calls for the company to develop three half-hour scripts, including "Sky Jockeys," at least one of which will be picked up for broadcast sometime in late 2010. No other details about "Jockeys" however were released.
UNTITLED JIM BREUER PROJECT (NBC, New!) - "SNL" alum Jim Breuer is set to topline a new multi-camera comedy at the Peacock about "a father who decides to stay home and raise his three daughters and at the same time take care of his elderly parents." Wil Calhoun ("What I Like About You") is penning the half-hour for Sony Pictures Television. It's understood the project, which has a script commitment, is inspired by Breuer's recent documentary "More Than This," which followed the comedian as he embarked on a stand-up tour with his father. Breuer and Calhoun then will executive produce alongside Brian Robbins and Sharla Sumpter of Varsity Pictures and Judi Brown-Marmel of Levity Entertainment Group.