CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
ANGEL (WB) - Network topper Jordan Levin confirmed to Daily Variety the WB will go forward with a full season of 22 episodes for the show's fifth season. The Frog previously had the option to trim its run from 22 episodes to 13 should it have faltered behind "Smallville" this season. Last night's episode saw "Angel" holding a solid 84% in households and 87% in adults 18-49 of "Smallville's" lead-in audience according to fast national data.
DARK ANGEL (FOX) - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has provided us with some additional details about the show's upcoming DVD release of its second season. The six-disc set includes all 21 episodes of the show's second (and final) season in full frame (1.33:1) video. Extras include commentaries on four episodes ("Designate This," "Berrisford Agenda," "Hello, Goodbye" and "Freak Nation"), three featurettes ("Max Resurrected," "Making the Manticore Monsters�" and "Manticore on the Loose") and a gag reel. The set streets on October 21 and carries a suggested retail price of $59.98.
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet network and Touchstone Television have committed to a pilot script for a new comedy from Alan Zweibel ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"). Zweibel and Mandeville Films' David Hoberman are the executive producers of the project, which centers on a divorced father who moves in with his estranged, and recently divorced, son.
LOST IN SPACE (WB) - The Frog has emerged as the winner in a bidding war to revive the 1960s classic. At least three other networks were in the mix to land the sci-fi franchise, whose planned revival comes from writer/producer Doug Petrie ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), director John Woo and the Kevin Burns/Jon Jashni's Synthesis production banner. The WB has committed to a $2 million pilot for the 20th Century Fox Television/Fox TV Studios-distributed project. In addition, the network has agreed to a hefty $1.2 million per episode license fee should the pilot go to series, a fee which would escalate over the years to the studio's full production cost. The news marks a surprisingly large commitment between 20th Century Fox Television and the WB just two years after a widely publicized dispute over the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" franchise. Regardless both parties seem happy with the arrangement, which more or less guarantees "Space" a spot on the Frog's fall 2004 schedule.
As for specifics about the revival, details were not released other than it will take place in 2097 and won't feature a Dr. Smith character, however there will be a robot. Petrie will write and executive produce the pilot with Woo himself directing. Terence Chang and Suzanne Zizzi of Woo's Lion Rock Prods. are also on board as executive producers. This isn't the first attempt at a new small screen version of the Irwin Allen series. NBC tried to get a three-hour telefilm off the ground last season but it fell apart following the death of original "Space"-man Jonathan Harris.
NINE LIVES (A.K.A. UNTITLED BOHEM/SPIELBERG PROJECT) (Sci Fi) - The Emmy-winning "Taken" team of executive producer Steven Spielberg and writer Les Bohem have chosen the project for their proposed reteaming: the "first true miniseries trilogy ever," according to the network's press release. The "saga of love, death and beyond" will be entirely written by Bohem, who will also executive produce with Spielberg and DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey. Details beyond that are sketchy as even the number of hours is up for debate. Dreamworks has said they're looking at 18 hours while Sci Fi topper Bonnie Hammer is expecting close to 12. Both parties hope to have the script completed in 2004 when production will start for a projected 2005 air date with a budget of about $2 million per hour, on par with "Taken." While all three films will be shot together, Sci Fi will air each as three distinct parts, separated by weeks or months.
OLIVER BEENE (FOX) - Former "The Wonder Years" star Fred Savage is set to direct an upcoming episode of the Kennedy-era comedy. The episode, "The King and I," is written by Stephen Lloyd and tracks "Oliver's (Grant Rosenmeyer) experiments with a microscope turn him into a hypochondriac while Ted (Andrew Lawrence) dates the daughter of a sporting goods store owner in order to get the new baseball glove he didn't get for his birthday," according to a network press release.
RAISING HELEN (ABC, New!) - Mandeville Films ("Monk") is developing a small screen version of the upcoming Garry Marshall-helmed feature "Raising Helen." ABC is close to picking up the script for the project, which is set up at Touchstone Television. Like the film, the series revolve around a Manhattan socialite (played by Kate Hudson in the feature) whose life changes when she's forced to raise her recently deceased sister's children. The series then would pick up where the feature leaves off, when Hudson's character gets a job at a modeling agency in Manhattan while taking care of the kids. Mandeville topper David Hoberman is on board to executive produce the project alongside Marshall, who is expected to direct the pilot should it be greenlit.
RHAPSODY (FOX, New!) - Writer-producer Shaun Cassidy ("The Agency") is set to team with Elton John and Bernie Taupin for a new musical drama series for the network and Warner Bros. Television. FOX has committed to a pilot for the project, which is expected to feature original music from John and Taupin as well as selections from their catalog of pop hits. Cassidy likens the series to a small screen version of "Moulin Rouge," telling Daily Variety it's "a murder mystery, a power struggle and a big, grand love story." He also plans to totally revamp the series every year as each season will feature an almost entirely new cast as well as a new catalog of music. John and Taupin will serve as consultants on the series with Cassidy writing the pilot.
RICH GIRLS (MTV) - MTV will have the "Rich Girls" step in when the "Newlyweds" take off at the end of this month. The reality series will air Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c following "The Real World" beginning October 28. "Rich Girls" tracks the lives of privileged New York City teens Ally Hilfiger and Jaime Gleicher as they wrap up their senior year of high school and travel abroad.
SEE ARNOLD RUN (A&E, New!) - Producers Gerald W. Abrams and Michael Goldstein are developing a new telefilm about California governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger described as "Pumping Iron" meets "Primary Colors." The picture will start with the actor turned politician in the middle of his gubernatorial campaign and flash back to 1973, when his driving ambition as a bodybuilder was to become Mr. Olympia. No other details are available.
SPLITSVILLE (FOX) - The writing/producing duo of Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein are redeveloping the failed pilot for consideration next season. In addition, the pair is working on a new drama for FOX to which "Bringing Down the House" director Adam Shankman is attached to executive produce and possibly direct. No additional details about the new project were given. As for "Splitsville," the semiautobiographical series centers on a couple who break up but continue to pen a "he said/she said" advice column together. Both projects are produced by 20th Century Fox Television, where Kohn, Silverstein and Shankman have overall deals. Shankman directed the original "Splitsville" pilot which starred Christopher Gartin ("Johns"), Heather Stephens ("Men, Women and Dogs"), Katherine Towne ("Mulholland Drive") and Lynn Collins.
THE SWAN (FOX, New!) - FOX has committed to six episodes of a new reality series from "American Idol" producer FremantleMedia. The project, described as an even more extreme version of ABC's "Extreme Makeover," follows a group of women age 22-38 as they get what the producers call a "full-life" makeover, complete with plastic surgery, and then find themselves competing against one another in a live, two-hour beauty pageant finale. So-called "life specialists" will guide the women through their transformation, offering advice on everything from fashion to speech. Nely Galan will executive produce the project which is in the process of picking a showrunner.
THREAT MATRIX (ABC) - Executive producer Michael Edelstein has signed a two-year overall development deal with Touchstone Television to continue working on the drama as well develop other projects. The pact keeps him exclusive to "Matrix" during its first season after which he'll oversee new projects for Touchstone as a nonwriting producer, developing both comedies and dramas under his Edelstein Company banner.
TRADING MOMS (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet network has committed to six episodes of a domestic version of the British reality series "Wife Swap." The project, which is targeted for next summer, has two women from different social backgrounds switch families for two weeks. The title change was done to make the show sound less risque, as there's no sexual element implied in the "swap." ABC previously commissioned a pilot from producer RDF Media.
TRADING SPACES (TLC) - Sunday's two-hour special "Trading Space 100 Grand" drew 9.1 million viewers and a 4.4 rating/11 share among adults 18-49, second only to FOX's baseball coverage in the key demographic during the period.
"100 Grand" was the highest-rated series among total viewers and adults 18-49 for the week on cable. Also on tap as special editions of the series are March's nine-week extravaganza, "Home Free," in which homeowners compete to win a dream house; "The British Invasion," which will feature a visit from the hosts of U.K.-based "Changing Rooms"; a bloopers compilation; and a behind-the-scenes edition.
UNTITLED EARTHQUAKE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Standup comic Earthquake, a regular on the "Kings of Comedy" tour, has signed a talent holding deal with ABC and Touchstone Television to develop a half-hour comedy around him. Producer David Himmelfarb ("My Wife and Kids") is on board as an executive producer of any project that results from the deal.
UNTITLED MANDEVILLE FILMS PROJECT (USA, New!) - The company behind "Monk" is developing a companion piece to the USA series. The project, which comes from Mandeville topper David Hoberman and Howard Franklin ("AntiTrust"), revolves around a Los Angeles detective who relies on impersonations and disguises to solve crimes. No other details are available.
UNTITLED RUSSO BROTHERS PROJECT (ABC, New!) - ABC is developing a horse racing drama loosely based on the relationship between renowned Churchill Downs trainer Jerry Romans and his sons. Anthony and Joe Russo ("Lucky," "Arrested Development") and 20th Century Fox Television are behind the project, which tracks son Bruce as he returns home to help run the family's horse racing business with his brother Dale after their father suffers a stroke. Bruce Romans himself, who first pitched the idea of making the story of his family into a TV series, is expected to serve as a consultant. Joe Russo will write, direct and executive produce the project, which has a pilot script order, with brother Anthony. The Russos plan to film the pilot in Louisville, where the show is set, using the Romans' stables, horses and jockeys.
UNTITLED SHANNEN DOHERTY PROJECT (New!) - The former "Charmed" star is looking to branch out into comedy as the actress has signed a talent holding deal with NBC-based Pariah Productions. The project, which is still in the early stages of development, tracks a young woman who is stuck with a reputation of being headstrong and nasty but is nice and fragile at heart. Jessika Borsiczky is producing the project for Pariah.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters