[12/23/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: December 23
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

30 DAYS UNTIL I'M FAMOUS (VH1) - Production has been completed on the music channel's latest original telefilm, a romantic comedy about the transformation of an unknown singer into a superstar.

ALIEN BLOOD (Sci Fi) - Brad Johnson, Lilas Lane and Carl Weathers are set to star in the telefilm, about an alien army that invades earth and demands the sacrifice of one million humans. Robert Staad is directing the UFO Films project, which is current filming in Sofia, Bulgaria.

CHAPPELLE'S SHOW (Comedy Central) - Paramount Home Entertainment will release the complete first season of the series on DVD come February 24. The two-disc set features all 12 episodes of the series in full screen video and Dolby 2.0 Surround. Extras include commentary on five episodes by Dave Chappelle and co-creator Neal Brennan, deleted scenes/gag reel with optional commentary and the featurette "Ask A Black Dude With Paul Mooney."

CHARMED (WB) - Gildart Jackson ("Providence") has signed on for a five-episode arc on the WB series. He'll play the regal yet Machiavellian headmaster of a school for magical children.

COME TO PAPA (NBC) - Mimi Kennedy ("Dharma & Greg") and Dan Lauria ("J.A.G.") have been cast in recurring roles as the parents of Tom Papa's character in the Peacock's midseason comedy. The series stars Papa as an aspiring writer who, along with his wife, dreams of making it big but settles for life in his native New Jersey town.

CROSSING JORDAN (NBC) - Jennifer Finnigan ("The Bold and the Beautiful") will appear in at least four episodes of the show's upcoming third season. No other details are available other than she'll play a coroner on the series.

THE DEAD ZONE (USA) - Lions Gate Home Entertainment will release the second season of the popular cable series on DVD on March 16. The five-disc set features all 19 episodes from the show's second season (including the seven episode "summer season"). Extras include commentary from the cast and crew for all 19 episodes, deleted scenes and several to-be-determined featurettes. Video and audio specs were also not released for the set, which is expected to retail for $49.99.

FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (Sci Fi) - Randy Quaid ("The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.") and Nicole de Boer ("The Dead Zone") have signed on to the cable channel's forthcoming mini-series. Quaid will play homicide detective Irwin Sikorski in the project, a man who is enlisted by Timothy Hutton's character in order to stop Hutton's own murder, which a mysterious briefcase tells him will occur in five days. de Boer will play the sister of Hutton's character.

THE JURY (FOX) - Billy Burke ("Wonderland"), Adam Busch ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), Jeff Hephner and Cote de Pablo have all been cast in the 20th Century Fox Television drama pilot, which comes from producers Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana. Levinson himself has also been tapped to guest star in the legal drama, currently in production, which looks at the legal process through the eyes of the jury. Burke plays supervisor A.D.A. John Ranguso in the project while Hephner plays A.D.A. John O'Brien with Busch as Steve Dixon and de Pablo as Maugerite Cisneros. The quartet joins the previously cast Shalom Harlow ("How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days"), who plays Melissa Greenfield, an ex-public defender turned private practice defense attorney. Levinson, who's also directing, will guest as Judge Horatio Hawthorne.

LIKE FAMILY (WB) - Tembi Locke ("Raising Dad," "Prep") has landed a recurring role on the freshman comedy as a love interest for J. Anthony Brown's character.

SCRUBS (NBC) - Bellamy Young ("American Dreams") is set to appear in a four-episode arc on the comedy as a surgeon with an attitude.

STARTING OVER (Syndication) - The NBC Enterprises series has been picked up for a second season on the NBC owned-and-operated stations. This past November sweeps on said stations the series, which comes from Bunim-Murray Productions, was up 50% in women 18-49 and 33% in women 25-54 in year-to-year time period comparisons.

SUBATOMIC (New!) - Ashok Amritraj's Hyde Park Entertainment is developing a six-hour mini-series based on Patrick Neighly's self-published comic of the same name. Described as a mix of "Logan's Run" and "The Prisoner," the project centers on a young surveillance expert working for a Big Brother-esque anti-terrorist agency who is hunted down after trying to leave the agency to lead a normal life. Rick Alexander ("Strong Medicine") will adapt and produce "Subatomic" with Hyde Park's Amritraj and Jon Jashni. The company is currently shopping the project to several cable networks.

SURVIVING NUGENT (VH1) - The music channel has given a series order to the recent two-hour special, which dropped contestants into the wild world of rock legend Ted Nugent. The show is expected to be a hybrid of "The Osbournes" and "Survivor" in that it would feature Nugent's home life as well as feature competitions between the houseguests. Nugent's wife and son also will star in the series.

THREAT MATRIX (ABC) - Kelly Hu ("X2: X-Men United") is set to appear in at least five episodes of the ABC series this season. She'll play a new member of the Threat Matrix team, an elite task force created to respond to daily threats to U.S. security.

UNTITLED JESSICA SIMPSON PROJECT (ABC) - Writer/producer Gayle Abrams ("Hidden Hills") is on board to write the pilot to the untitled comedy project featuring the "Newlweds" star. Touchstone Television has also signed on the produce the project, which was previously being developed by 20th Century Fox Television. 20th agreed to swap with Touchstone in order to land Barry Levinson and Tom Fontana's drama pilot "The Jury." Ted Harbert, who is set up at 20th, will however remain to executive produce.

UNTITLED KURTZMAN-COUNTER/ORCI PROJECT (ABC) - The Alphabet has officially greenlit production on the pilot, which comes from "Alias" executive producers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman-Counter. The drama revolves around a young woman who must balance her new marriage with her duties as a member of the elite Secret Service. Ken Olin (also of "Alias") will direct the Touchstone Television pilot, which the producers liken to a cross between "The French Connection" and "thirtysomething."

UNTITLED METHOD MAN/RED MAN PROJECT (FOX, New!) - FOX is developing a sitcom pilot starring popular hip-hop artists Method Man (Clifford Smith) and Redman (Reggie Noble). The duo (last seen in "How High") will play rap stars who encounter sudden success and move into a big house in the mostly white New Jersey suburbs. Also thrown into the mix are Method's mom, who decides to move in, and a 12-year-old boy who lives next door that takes a liking to the pair. Kell Cahoon ("Kid Notorious") is on board to write the project, which comes from Regency Television, and will develop the story with Method Man.

UNTITLED SCOTT HENRY PROJECT (UPN, New!) - Standup comic Scott Henry has signed a talent deal with the network to develop a sitcom loosely based on his life. The comedy revolves around Henry as a blue-collar electrician who, unhappy with his life, decides to get his college degree. He's set to team with writer Scott Tomlinson ("Cedric the Entertainer Presents," "The Andy Dick Show") on the project, which is finalizing a script deal.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [december 2003]  


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