CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
AMBUSH MAKEOVER (Syndication, New!) - 20th Century Fox Television is set to launch the syndicated strip this month on several yet-to-be-determined Fox owned-and-operated stations. Banyan Prods. ("Trading Spaces," "A Wedding Story") will also produce the half-hour series which pairs everyday people with celebrity stylists for surprise makeovers. GQ's West Coast style editor Mary Alice Haney and former Cosmopolitan fashion editor Nancy Brensson are among the staff stylists set to appear on the show. The regional rollout for the series is along the lines of 20th's other recent syndicated launches "Texas Justice" and "Good Day Live."
THE BROTHERHOOD OF POLAND, N.H. (CBS) - Brian Haley has exited the role of Waylon Shaw in the David E. Kelley-produced series. The move is among many expected for the drama as a good chunk of the pilot will be reshot in order to lighten up certain elements of series, which revolves around three families in a small New England town.
CENTURY CITY (CBS) - Various sources have indicated CBS is close to ordering the legal drama from Universal Television for midseason. The project, which is also set in the year 2053, is from executive producers Paul Attanasio, Katie Jacobs and Ed Zuckerman. CBS has yet to make any midseason pickups for the 2003-04 season.
THE GOODBYE GIRL (TNT) - Alan Cumming ("X2") has signed onto the cast of the cable channel's remake of the Neil Simon classic. He joins the previously cast leads Patricia Heaton and Jeff Daniels in the project which will be directed by Richard Benjamin. Neil Simon is writing and executive producing the updated version. Cumming will play Mark Bodine, the off-Broadway director of "Richard III," in which Daniels' character stars. Production is underway in New York and Vancouver on the project for a 2004 air date.
HOLLYWOOD WIVES: THE NEXT GENERATION (CBS, New!) - Farrah Fawcett and Melissa Gilbert are set to star in the small screen version of Jackie Collins' best-selling novel. Joyce Chopra ("Blonde") is on board to direct the project from a script by Nicole Avril ("Sex and the City"). Tom Patricia ("Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story"), Renee Valente ("Blind Ambition") and Collins herself are the executive producers with production expected to begin next month. The telefilm focuses on a Hollywood superstar (Fawcett) who, fed up with her fourth husband's cheating, hires a private investigator to help her out but soon falls for him. Gilbert will play the star's best friend, an actress who is married to the most powerful director in Hollywood but is having an affair with a 20-year-old writer. "The Next Generation" is a pseudo-sequel to Collins' original "Hollywood Wives" book which was also adapted for the small screen in 1985 in an ABC miniseries starring Candice Bergen.
MASTER PLAN (FX, New!) - FX and Endemol USA are developing a new series in which viewers help individuals whose life is in need of a change. The format lets those watching vote on such things as whether someone should stay or leave a significant other or their current job. Tom Forman is the executive producer.
THE ODDS (NBC, New!) - The Peacock is teaming with Endemol USA for a new game show in which contestants get the chance to compete against experts in certain fields, such as racecar drivers or martial arts. The one-hour series sees three contestants facing off for the chance to compete against the expert. Along the way they can earn handicaps to help them level the playing field.
THE PEOPLE'S CHAMPIONS (FX, New!) - The cable channel has committed to six episodes of the series, in which everyday people make up their own crazy records and break them. Endemol USA is behind the project with Jeff Boggs executive producing.
THE PRACTICE (ABC) - James Spader ("Secretary") has joined the cast of the revamped drama as executive producer David E. Kelley has began to replace the half-dozen cast members which were let go from the series last month, including lead Dylan McDermott. Actress Rhona Mitra ("Sweet Home Alabama," "The Life of David Gale") is also in talks to join the series however no deal has been worked out.
SEE JANE DATE (ABC Family) - Charisma Carpenter ("Angel"), Holly Marie Combs ("Charmed") and Linda Dano have signed on to the cable channel's latest telefilm, based on Melissa Senate's book of the same name. Production on the project, which concerns a single New Yorker (Carpenter) who tries to impress her high school nemesis (Combs) by inventing the perfect boyfriend as her date to an impending wedding, is set to begin tomorrow in Montreal. Set to appear as Carpenter's potential beaus are Zachary Levi, Antonio Sabato Jr., Geoff Stults and "Joe Millionaire" himself Evan Marriott. Bob Berlinger is directing the telefilm, which will air in August, from a script by Sheila Lawrence. Frank von Zerneck and Robert M. Sertner are the executive producers, with Randy Sutter serving as producer.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Series star James Gandolfini has reportedly eased tensions about his holdout earlier this year (which has since been resolved) by cutting five-figure checks to more than a dozen of his fellow cast members as a gesture of goodwill. Meanwhile, creator/executive producer David Chase is in talks this week to return for a sixth season on the HBO series. HBO's option for picking up the actors' contracts for a sixth season expired Tuesday, but the cast agreed to a one-week extension. Previously various cast members had indicated they would not continue with the series without Chase at the helm.
SOUNDMIX (FOX, New!) - FOX has picked up six episodes of the overseas hit "Stars in Their Eyes" from producer Paul Buccieri. Described as a mix between ABC's "Extreme Makeover" and MTV's "Becoming," the series follows ordinary folks being transformed into pop stars via detailed backdrops, elaborate costuming, extensive makeup and dance lessons. Reality giant Endemol USA is behind the series which will be executive produced by David Goldberg, John DeMol and Buccieri. The project was originally developed as a syndicated series by Buena Vista Television (under the title "Your Big Break") five years ago but was dropped due to cost concerns. The FOX version will have five contestants competing each week, with the winners from the first five installments advancing to a final showdown in the finale, all for a cash prize. Casting will begin this month as production is scheduled to be completed by late summer or early fall this year.
UNTITLED AGATHA CHRISTIE PROJECTS (A&E, New!) - The cable channel is set to co-produce eight Agatha Christie crime stories with Granada TV and Agatha Christie Ltd. The first four projects ("Death on the Nile," "Five Little Pigs," "The Hollow" and "Sad Cypress") will star David Suchet as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot. Production is set to begin on "Pigs" next month as all four are expected to be completed by year's end. The remaining four telefilms will be shot in 2004. Casting and production details about each installment are set to be announced shortly.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters