CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
ALIAS/UNTITLED J.J. ABRAMS PROJECT (ABC) - Creator J.J. Abrams is developing a new ensemble drama for the Alphabet network set in the world of bounty hunters. "Alias" co-star Greg Grunberg is attached to star as the male lead in the series, which is being developed by Touchstone Television for ABC's fall 2004 schedule. As for "Alias," Grunberg has been upped to series regular for the upcoming third season of the drama.
ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT (Syndication) - Paramount Domestic Television has signed a multiyear overall development deal with fashion maven Steven Cojocaru. As part of the pact, Cojocaru will become a fashion correspondent for "Entertainment Tonight" beginning in August. In addition, he'll shop around a new series developed around his feisty persona as well as continue to contribute to "People Magazine" and NBC's "Today."
EVE (A.K.A. OPPOSITE SEX) (UPN) - The netlet has changed the title of its Warner Bros. TV/Greenblatt-Janollari comedy to reflect the name of its lead, rapper Eve.
HOLLYWOOD WIVES: THE NEXT GENERATION (CBS) - Robin Givens ("Head of State") has joined the cast of the Eye's upcoming telefilm, based on the Jackie Collins novel of the same name, which already includes Farrah Fawcett and Melissa Gilbert. Production is scheduled to begin next month on the project with Joyce Chopra directing. Collins, Tom Patricia and Renee Valente are the executive producers.
HOPE & FAITH (ABC) - Ted McGinley ("Charlie Lawrence") has signed on to the Faith Ford/Kelly Ripa-led comedy. He'll replace Josh Stamberg as Charley, the embattered husband to Ford's character, Hope. Distributor Touchstone will reshoot parts of the "Hope & Faith" pilot to incorporate McGinley. No reason was given for Stamberg's exit from the series.
IDATE (Syndication) - Media company iVillage is developing a new syndicated dating series with a classier, more upscale take on the genre. Veteran TV producer Marty Berman and former King World executive Bob Jacobs are the behind the series, which is being eyed for a September 2004 start date. iVillage executives are touting the show's more family-friendly take on the dating genre in its pitch to potential distributors, which would allow the show to air in earlier dayparts. Executives are also touting the iVillage web site, which is currently visted by 15 million unique visitors each month as a means to help promote the series.
N.C.I.S. (A.K.A. NAVY/NAVAL C.I.S.) - After bouncing between several titles, the Eye has settled on "N.C.I.S." as the name of its upcoming "J.A.G." spin-off. "N.C.I.S." was the show's original title, but CBS executives feared viewers would confuse the show with its current series "C.S.I." In its upfront presentation, CBS changed the titled to "Navy C.I.S." but quickly learned that the real-life Naval Criminal Investigative Service doesn't handle just Navy cases. So shortly thereafter the title was changed to "Naval C.I.S." That title however was unpopular with both CBS and distributor Paramount Network Television as it was believed it brought up odd images of bellybuttons or oranges. (And no we're not making that up.) Both parties have since settled on reverting back to its original title.
NATIONAL LAMPOON�S THANKSGIVING FAMILY REUNION (TBS) - Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle"), Judge Reinhold ("The O'Keefes") and Penelope Ann Miller ("Carlito�s Way") has signed on to the cable channel's telefilm, which is scheduled to air this November. Neal Israel ("Bachelor Party") is directing the project from a script by Dennis Rinsler and Marc Warren ("Full House") with Gary Hoffman ("Bastard Out of Carolina") and James Shavick ("Romantic Comedy 101") producing. The telefilm stars Reinhold as an anesthesiologist to the stars, who travels with his family to spend Thanksgiving with a long lost cousin (Cranston) in Idaho. But in true National Lampoon tradition, chaos ensues after they arrive, as the conservative Snider family butts heads with the hippie cousin and his wife (Miller).
STRIP SEARCH (HBO) - Glenn Close, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Daniel Sauli have signed on to star in the pay channel's latest telefilm, to be directed by Sidney Lumet and executive produced by Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana. Fontana wrote the project, which follows three intertwined stories (Close as a federal agent, Gyllenhaal as an American student in China, and Sauli as an artist), each exploring crime and punishment in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Production is set to begin late next month in New York for a 2004 air date.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters