[09/25/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: September 25
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

44 MINUTES: THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT (FX) - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment will release the recent telefilm on DVD come December 16. The disc, which retails for $29.95, comes in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, with two featurettes, "Behind the Scenes" and "The Shield FX."

ALTER ROAD (NBC, New!) - The Peacock has ordered a script for a new drama based on Lowell Cauffiel's novel of the same name. David Schwimmer's Dark Harbor Productions will executive produce the project which revolves around two families separated by race and class in the Detroit suburb Grosse Pointe.

THE BACHELOR (ABC) - Attorney Kenneth Chyten is suing the show's distributor, Warner Bros. Television, for $5 million in damages to his Malibu home. Chyten rented his estate to the studio in June for $45,000 to be used as home for the show's fourth season. After filming had completed, Chyten then reportedly returned home to find "cigarette butts, fast food wrappers, holes in the walls, a rodent and poisonous spider infestation, discarded feminine hygiene products, and other assorted damage and trash," according to Daily Variety. Scott Rowe, a spokesman for Warner Bros., said the company doesn't comment on pending litigation.

THE BROTHERHOOD OF POLAND, N.H. (CBS) - Last night's premiere went on as scheduled despite a lawsuit against the show's producers and CBS by New Hampshire filmmaker Michael J. MacLeod. MacLeod and his MJM Prods., based in Manchester, N.H., were the producers of a film titled "Brotherhood," about a group of five college-age friends returning to New Hampshire. He said the David E. Kelley-produced series violated copyrights and trademarks because of the alleged similarity to his own film and asked for an injunction to keep CBS from airing the show. U.S. District Court Judge Joseph DiClerico refused to bar last night's airing but a trial is likely to go forward. In a joint statement, CBS, 20th Century Fox Television and Kelley Productions said: "We are pleased that common sense and freedom of expression prevailed in today's dismissal of MJM's motion for a preliminary injunction. As we've maintained all along, 'The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.' is an entirely original work that comes solely from the mind of David E. Kelley, one of the most respected creators of programming in the country."

CELEBRITY POKER SHOWDOWN (Bravo, New!) - 25 Hollywood stars are set to compete in a new six-part, one-hour original series on the cable channel. Hosted by Kevin Pollak and poker champion Phil Gordon at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, the series is set to air on Tuesdays nights (time slot still to be announced) this winter. Each episode will feature five celebrities in a winner takes all game of No Limit Texas Hold 'em poker for the charity of their choice. The winner from each week's game will go on to compete in the championship final episode. Already on board are "C.S.I.: Miami's" Emily Procter, rapper/actor Coolio, "The West Wing's" Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, John Spencer and Richard Schiff, actress/comedian Sarah Silverman, actor/comedian Jack Black, "The Simpsons'" Hank Azaria and Nicole Sullivan of "King of Queens," with others to be announced shortly. The project was originally pitched to NBC by "The West Wing's" Joshua Malina and Andrew Hill Newman, who will executive produce the series with Marcia Mul´┐Ż and Bryan Scott of Picture This Television.

COLD CASE (CBS)/TARZAN (WB) - Shaun Cassidy ("The Agency") has exited his role as executive producer of the Eye's new fall drama "Cold Case" after three months on the job. He's set to leave the series in favor of the WB's "Tarzan," which also comes from Warner Bros. Television. There he'll serve as an executive producer alongside Laura Ziskin, David Gerber, P.K. Simonds and David Nutter. Eric Kripke, who wrote the pilot, is co-executive producing. The change was said to be amicable to all parties as the studio felt the need for Cassidy was greater on "Tarzan" than "Case." Cassidy is expected to help the show's producing team with overseeing the writing, production and postproduction on the series. "Cold Case," a joint production of Warner Bros. Television, Jerry Bruckheimer TV and CBS Productions, will continue to be executive produced by creator/showrunner Meredith Stiehm, Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman.

HOW TO REMODEL A MAN (NBC, New!) - Actor/producer David Schwimmer has pacted with author Bruce Cameron ("8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter") to develop a TV version of his next book, "How to Remodel a Man." The project, which is targeted for fall 2004, takes a comedic look at ways men might reinvent themselves when looking to attract the opposite sex. The TV version will focus on a divorced young man who relies on the women in his life to help him re-examine his relationships. Schwimmer and partner Larry Hancock will executive produce the project via the pair's NBC-based Dark Harbor Productions banner. Cameron, who wasn't involved with the writing on "Rules," will help write the "Remodel" pilot script with Schwimmer expected to direct. The project is the end result of Dark Harbor's two-year, first-look deal signed with the Peacock in April.

LOST IN SPACE (New!) - Kevin Burns and Jon Jashni's Synthesis Entertainment are set team with feature director John Woo and writer Doug Petrie for a new take of the classic TV series. Regency and 20th Century Fox Television are behind the project, which is said to have drawn interest from several networks. A telefilm revival was in development at NBC last year however it reportedly fell apart due to the death of Jonathan Harris. Synthesis, a company formed by Burns and Jashni, was formed in order to bring new life to the creations of Irwin Allen. They'll work with Woo's Terence Chang-headed Lion Rock Productions on the new version. Burns says the project will be set about 100 years in the future and will feature a relatable, contemporary family at its core. The last Allen property to snag a pilot commitment was "Time Tunnel," which didn't go forward as a series on FOX.

THE NEW TOM GREEN SHOW (MTV) - The music channel has pulled back its recent order of 65 new episodes of the talk show and is set to halt production after just 23 episodes. The news is the result of a recent nosedive in the ratings for the series. The show bowed on June 23 to 871,000 viewers but had fallen to an average 355,000 in September.

NED & STACY (FOX)/THE NAKED TRUTH (NBC) - WE: Women's Entertainment has snagged the rights to the short-lived comedies, both of which come from Sony Pictures Television. "Ned & Stacey," which starred a then unknown Debra Messing ("Will & Grace"), lasted from September 1995 to January 1997 on FOX and produced 46 episodes. "The Naked Truth," toplined by Tea Leoni, started on ABC in September 1995 before jumping to NBC the following season, where it lasted through June 1998. In total 55 half-hours of "Truth" were completed. WE plans to strip both series beginning Monday, October 20 with "Truth" at 6:30/5:30c and "Ned" at 7:30/6:30c. Current staple "Two Guys and a Girl" will anchor the block at 6:00/5:00c and 7:00/6:00c. Both "Truth" and "Ned" were previously stripped on USA when the network ran daytime sitcom repeats.

NICE GUYS (CBS, New!) - Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon") has landed a hefty put pilot commitment at the Eye for a new buddy action series. Black and fellow writer Anthony Bagarozzi have signed on with Joel Silver ("The Matrix") to write the project, described as "Rockford Files" meets "Lethal Weapon," for his Silver Pictures banner. The put pilot carries a $2 million penalty should it not go to series. The trio will executive produce the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television, along with Tommy Schlamme ("The West Wing"), who's also on board to direct. "Nice Guys" is based on a feature spec script about mismatched partners that Black and Bagarozzi teamed to write earlier this year. Silver spent the past development season on the drama pilot "Future Tense" for NBC, which didn't go forward to series. Currently he's working on the reality series "The Next Action Star," also at NBC.

STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN) - The latest "Star Trek" spin-off will now carry the franchise name as part of its title as of this week's airing. The switch was made so that UPN "will be able to further capitalize on and form a stronger connection to the famous and highly successful "Star Trek" franchise," according to a network press release.

THE TRACY MORGAN SHOW (NBC) - Actor/director David Schwimmer is set to direct several episodes of the midseason comedy.

TIME PATROL (Sci Fi, New!) - Ron Silver ("The Matrix") is developing a limited series at the cable channel based on Poul Anderson's novel of the same name.

UNTITLED ARTIE LANGE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The "Mad TV" alum has signed a one-year talent holding deal with ABC and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the studio to develop a comedy project for the actor, last seen on the Alphabet channel's "Norm." Lange is expected to end up co-writing and producing any project that results from the deal, which is targeting the network's fall 2004 schedule. Currently Lange is set to lend his voice to UPN's midseason animated comedy "Game Over."

UNTITLED GRAHAM NORTON PROJECT (Comedy Central, New!) - The cable channel has beaten out NBC and ABC to land the popular Irish comic, who's a household name in the United Kingdom thanks to his nightly talk show "So Graham Norton." The comedian, who's currently touring the U.S., has signed a two-year deal with the network that will give him at least 13 episodes of a U.S. version of his Channel Four talk/variety show, as well as hosting duties on various specials. The untitled Comedy Central project represents Norton's first original venture outside the United Kingdom. His contract with Channel Four ends next year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the two-year pact is standard for talent on Comedy Central, which typically commits to 13 episodes with an option for a second season as it did with "Chappelle's Show" and "Reno 911!" The network also could potentially order an additional nine episodes for the first season. Norton's vehicle will be Comedy Central's first hourlong series with each episode being produced the week before it airs, likely in New York or Los Angeles. The project, which is expected to debut in June, will retain the format of "So," which blends celebrity interviews with audience interaction and pretaped gags. In addition to the series, Norton also will get his own stand-up special and serve as host of four installments of "Reel Comedy," a series that promotes new theatrical releases.

UNTITLED JOSH FREEDMAN PROJECT (FOX, New!) - The feature writer ("Chain Reaction") has landed a script commitment at the network for a family drama about a child prodigy. Ron Silver will executive produce the project via his Warner Bros.-based Silver Pictures banner.

UNTITLED STEVE KOREN PROJECT (FOX, New!) - "SNL" writer Steve Koren has landed a comedy script at FOX and Universal Television. The project, which comes attached with a $750,000 penalty should it not go to pilot, revolves around two straight men who move into an apartment building that rents to gays and lesbians. Koren's resume includes the screenplays for the features "Bruce Almighty," "Superstar" and "A Night at the Roxbury" as well as the hit comedy "Seinfeld."

UNTITLED TOM PALMER PROJECT (New!) - NBC is reportedly close to ordering a pilot script from the writer/producer, described as a "Soap"-esque look at a father with four sons, each from a different marriage. The project comes from David Schwimmer's NBC-based Dark Harbor Productions. Palmer spent this past development season on the Scott Wolf-led comedy pilot "Rubbing Charlie" at CBS.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [september 2003]  


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