CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
AMBUSH MAKEOVER (Syndication) - 20th Century Fox Television is testing the series for 13 weeks in 20 markets across the country. The results have been less than stellar as initial numbers have the series averaging a 1.7 rating and 5 share, down 22% from lead-ins and down 26% from time periods a year ago.
CLASSMATES (Syndication) - A test run of 13 weeks for the new syndicated series hosted by Ian Ziering ("Beverly Hills, 90210") is underway in 25 markets. Initial numbers indicate a rough start for the 20th Century Fox Television series as it has averaged a 2.0 rating and 5 share in the metered markets, down 20% from the same time period a year ago. Even worse, the series lost 29% on average of its lead-in audience.
EMPIRE FALLS (HBO) - Oscar-winning actress Joanne Woodward ("The Three Faces of Eve") is expected to co-star opposite husband Paul Newman in the pay channel's upcoming adaptation of the best-selling novel. The project, a blue-collar comedy, stars Newman as Miles Roby, a fortysomething decent guy stuck running Empire Grill, the town's most popular eatery, for 20 years. Woodward would play Francine Whiting, a controlling and manipulative widow who owns Empire Grill as well as almost everything else in the dead-end town. Fred Schepisi ("The In-Laws") is attached to direct the telefilm from an adaptation by "Falls'" author Richard Russo.
THE JANE PAULEY SHOW (Syndication) - While the former "Dateline NBC" anchor's new talk show has been cleared in New York, Los Angeles and San Diego (for a stellar license fee of $125,000 or so a week in each market), they've ruffled a few feathers in the process. "Pauley" is set to air on the NBC-owned WNBC New York and KNBC Los Angeles in the early fringe daypart (3-5 p.m. eastern) beginning in fall 2004. The problem is that's supposed to be home to Paramount's "Judge Joe Brown" and "Judge Judy" on WNBC through the end of the 2005-06 season according to a long-term deal signed in August 2002. And on KNBC, Telepictures has taken offense to "Pauley" airing in the daypart as it's already home to "Oprah" and its forthcoming "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." That means come fall 2004, "Ellen" could be shuffled away in favor of "Pauley." Reps from Pauley's show and both stations did not comment to the media about the news.
RACE TO THE ALTAR (NBC) - The Peacock will debut its latest reality series on Wednesday, July 30 at 8:00/7:00c. "Altar" takes over for "Fame," which wraps its run on July 23. The series "features eight engaged couples competing in a series of mental and physical challenges designed to test the strength of their relationships," according to NBC's press release. Renowned event designer Colin Cowie will plan the fantasy wedding that will be awarded as the grand prize to the winning couple in the final episode. Broadcaster and model Lisa Dergan hosts the show, which has an eight episode order.
24 (FOX) - James Badge Dale ("Hack," "Law & Order: S.V.U.") has joined the cast for the drama's third season. He's set to play Chase, a young C.T.U. agent who ends up working side-by-side with Kiefer Sutherland's character. Specific details about his character however were not released as producers hope to keep a tight lid on the new season.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters