CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
ALL ABOUT THE ANDERSONS (WB) - Anthony Anderson's "Malibu's Most Wanted" co-star Kal Penn has joined the cast of the actor's new comedy for the Frog. Penn is set to play a doctor who rents a room from Anderson's family.
AMERICAN IDOL (FOX) - Paula Abdul is reportedly looking for a new, more lucrative deal along the lines of Simon Cowell's recent pact to stick with the series for its third season when it returns in January. Things however aren't going well however as the network, FremantleMedia and 19 Entertainment have recently met with Natalie Cole and Go-Go's Belinda Carlisle to join the show as a fourth judge or possibly replace Abdul entirely. Fellow judge Randy Jackson, like Cowell, is already locked in for next season.
THE D-LIST (NBC) - Kathy Griffin ("Celebrity Mole," "Average Joe") is once again back at the Peacock as the actress/comedian is developing a sitcom at the network about her life as a low-rent celebrity. "The D-List" is based on her weekly standup routine at the Laugh Factory, where she tells brutally honest stories about her run-ins with celebrities. Griffin had previously been developing a half-hour alternative series at NBC which fell through during the last development season. Currently she's looking to pair with another writer on the pilot script with her top pick being Cheryl Holliday, who's working on the Peacock's upcoming animated series "The Father of the Pride."
GAME OVER (UPN) - Executive producer David Goetsch is currently talking to video game publishers about creating a game based on the upcoming computer animated series. The show tracks a family of videogame characters headed by a below-average Grand Prix race-car driver father and a sexy archeologist mother. Goetsch said he hopes to have cameos by some well-known video game characters turn up at some point as well.
GROUNDED FOR LIFE (WB) - Actor Donal Logue has an open invitation from Tennis Channel president Steve Bellamy to do play-by-play work for the channel with commentator Barry Tompkins. Logue has previously done color commentary for the channel during its coverage of the July 24 "World Team Tennis" match between the Kansas City Explorers and the Sacramento Capitals, featuring Andre Agassi, and the July 28 "Night at the Net" celebrity match, with Dr. Phil McGraw, Arnold and Fred Willard among the name participants. Logue's involvement however is limited by his commitment to "Grounded," which returns for a fourth season this fall.
I.C.E. (CBS) - The Eye has signed a seven-figure talent holding deal with former "Providence" star Melina Kanakaredes and writer Nancy Miller ("Any Day Now") for a new drama series targeted for fall 2004. The project stars Kanakaredes as a member of the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a wing of the Dept. of Homeland Security. I.C.E. combines the investigative and enforcement arms of the Customs Service, the Federal Protective Service and the agency formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. In addition, the Bureau also has jurisdiction over cybersmuggling, money laundering, child porn and tracking stolen art, meaning there's a wealth of possible storylines for the series. No studio is attached as yet to the project and CBS has the option of finding another project for Kanakaredes should "I.C.E." not go to pilot this winter. Kanakaredes and Miller previously worked together on the short-lived ABC drama "Leaving L.A."
JEREMIAH (Showtime) - The pay channel has pushed back the second season start date of the series to Friday, October 10. Showtime had previously scheduled the premiere for September 19. The network still plans to encore the series' pilot at 8:30/7:30c before the season premiere at 10:00/9:00c.
INTERSCOPE PRESENTS THE NEXT (Showtime, New!) - Showtime has ordered six one-hour episodes of an new "American Idol"-esque contest for amateur rappers. The series, which premieres this fall, is described as a series version of the recent Eminem movie "8 Mile," which featured one-on-one freestyle rhyme "battles" whose victor is determined by crowd reaction. The series will begin with ten semifinalists already selected from New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta competing for a top prize still being decided. "Next's" executive producers include Eminem's manager, Paul Rosenberg, and Interscope chairman Jimmy Iovine, whose label distributes Eminem's albums.
NICE GUYS (HBO) - Paul Feig ("Freaks & Geeks") has landed a script commitment at the pay channel for a new comedy pilot about a trio of nerdy male co-workers looking for love in a superficial date market. Like "Geeks," Feig hopes to portray a realisitic version of the world where not everyone is gorgeous. And since it's HBO, the series will take full advantage of the lack of content restrictions much like "Sex and the City."
QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (Bravo) - The U.K.'s Living channel and Scandinavia's Viasat have licensed the rights to the hot cable series from NBC Enterprises. Both outlets acquired the U.S. episodes and format rights to produce local versions of the show. Financial details of the respective pacts were not made available."
SLAMBALL (Spike TV) - Monday's second season opener, which featured the Diablos against the Slashers, scored 2.3 million viewers, almost four times its bow last year (578,000). In addition, the premiere earned a 2.4 rating and 604,000 viewers among men 18-34, the network's target demographic. That's up 50% from last season's average in that demo. The growth undoubtedly can be traced to Spike TV's decision to move the series from Saturdays (where it averaged 437,000 viewers last season) to Mondays following "WWE Raw," its top-rated show.
THE STAR CHAMBER (FX, New!) - FX is set to remake the 1983 thriller with Frank Spotnitz ("The X-Files") at the helm as director and executive producer. The news marks Spotnitz's first longform directing gig. "Chamber" originally starred Michael Douglas as a disillusioned judge who joins a secret tribunal of peers who bestow death sentences to miscreants whose cases were dismissed on technicalities. In additon, Matt Baer and Hyde Park Entertainment's Ashok Amritraj and Jon Jashni will executive produce.
TOUGH CROWD WITH COLIN QUINN (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has renewed the late night talk show for another 26 weeks, taking it through the end of 2004. Since its bow in March the series has averaged 500,000 viewers, a 9% increase from the previous time slot average.
UNTITLED HEATHER LOCKLEAR PROJECT (NBC, New!) - The Peacock is staying in business with the actress after several failed attempts to work with her during the last development season including offers to join the casts of "A.U.S.A." and "Good Morning, Miami" at one point or another. Locklear has extended her talent holding deal with NBC through June 2004 to develop a comedy or drama series around her. Among the possibilities are a revival of her failed pilot "Once Around the Park," which is still under contract through December.
THE WEST WING (NBC) - Jesse Bradford ("Swimfan") has signed on to appear in 10 episodes of the series' upcoming fifth season. He'll play Ryan Pierce, a twentysomething intern who coasts on his wealthy family's political connections.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters