CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
THE BIG ISLAND (A.K.A. UNTITLED PETER ELKOFF PROJECT) (FOX) - Peter Elkoff's ("Mr. Beautiful") drama project at FOX has been given the go ahead to produce a pilot. The drama, which tracks a group of twentysomething employees who work at a luxury hotel on Hawaii's Big Island, has been in development since February of last year (read the story) at which time music video director Dave Myers was attached to helm the pilot. It's not clear if Myers is still attached to the 20th Century Fox Television project, however Kevin Falls ("The West Wing") has come on board to executive produce along with Elkoff.
BOSTON PUBLIC (FOX) - In a follow-up to our earlier story about the series being placed on hiatus (read the story), sources close to the show have indicated production will halt after the 15th episode wraps shooting this week. Despite being widely believed to have a full season order of 22 episodes for its fourth season, "Boston" apparently was only picked up for 13 episodes this season and extended for an additional two last month. FOX was reportedly considering ordering even more episodes however plans to bring on a new female lead to revamp the series never came through. Networks reps nevertheless are insisting the show hasn't been canceled and remains in contention for FOX's fall 2004 schedule. Should it be axed however, FOX is said to be open to ordering a 16th episode to wrap-up the series.
THE CATCH (A.K.A. UNTITLED J.J. ABRAMS PROJECT) (ABC) - J.J. Abrams' bounty hunter drama has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The project, which stars Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), is expected to be considered for midseason 2005 as the prolific producer will focus on "Lost" (see the story below) first before moving on to "The Catch."
THE D.A. (ABC) - Felicity Huffman ("Sports Night") has signed on to appear in a multi-episode arc on the midseason drama. No additional details were available.
EDEN (NBC, New!) - Mark Burnett ("The Apprentice," "Survivor") is once again trying to get into the scripted game as the producer has landed a script commitment from NBC for a new series about young people on a summer study cruise who end up shipwrecked on a remote island. Burnett has teamed with writer Douglas Day Stewart ("An Officer and a Gentleman") on the project, which will be co-produced by Brunett's production company and NBC Studios should it go forward. NBC has committed to a pilot script, a backup script and a series bible for the series as well as a substantial penalty should it not go to pilot. While the original scope of the series is for a limited run of 13 episodes, the project could evolve into an ongoing weekly soap. Burnett, Stewart and Conrad Riggs will executive produce.
THE GOODBYE GIRL (TNT) - A somewhat lackluster 3.5 million viewers (1.6 million among viewers 18-49) tuned into the cable channel's premiere of its "Goodbye Girl" remake on Friday. The telefilm however delivered 6.2 million total viewers overall (5.5 million viewers in 18-49) over the course of its three-day play on the network (Friday, Saturday and Sunday this past weekend).
HARRY GREEN AND EUGENE (A.K.A. JOE GREEN AND EUGENE) (ABC) - The Alphabet's dramedy from the team behind FOX's short-lived "Keen Eddie" - actor Mark Valley, writer Joel Wyman, director Simon West, executive producer Warren Littlefield and Paramount Network Television - has been given the go ahead to produce a pilot. Valley stars in the dramedy as Harry Green, a Los Angeles private investigator whose life is complicated when his inept brother Eugene comes to town. As previously reported West will direct the pilot from a script by Wyman with the duo executive producing along with Warren Littlefield and Jib Polhemus. The Littlefield Co. and Frequency Films are also behind the Paramount-produced project.
I WANT TO MARRY RYAN BANKS (ABC Family) - Just 1.8 million viewers tuned into the telefilm's premiere on Sunday, off 36% from the network's last original - December's "Picking Up and Dropping Off," which scored 2.8 million viewers.
KAT PLUS ONE (UNTITLED MAGGIE FRIEDMAN PROJECT) (ABC) - The Alphabet has given a production green light to produce a pilot for the drama, which comes from writer Maggie Friedman ("Dawson's Creek") and "Everwood" executive producers Greg Berlanti and Mickey Liddell. The project revolves around a New York publicist who must suddenly raise a 6-year-old boy when her sister and brother-in-law die. Berlanti and Liddell's Warner Bros. Television-based Berlanti-Liddell Productions is behind the pilot.
THE L WORD (Showtime) - 936,000 total viewers watched the two-episode opener to the much-hyped lesbian drama, which averaged a 0.5 national rating among adults 18-49. While far from spectacular, both scores are on par with "Queer as Folk's" third-season opener (1.1 million) and the premiere of the controversial telefilm "The Reagans" (1.2 million).
LIFE OF LUXURY (ABC) - ABC has committed to four additional installments of the Robin Leach-hosted special, which premiered to a strong 9.3 million viewers this past December. Two of the new "Luxury" specials are expected to roll out this spring with the other two coming in the fall. Andy Friendly Productions is behind the project, which will add a contemporary co-host to serve alongside Leach for the new installments.
LOST (ABC, New!) - J.J. Abrams ("Alias") and Damon Lindelof ("Crossing Jordan") are set to team for a new drama at the Alphabet which follows a group of people stuck on a Pacific island and are forced to build a new society after surviving a plane crash. The project is actually a revamped take on "Nowhere," a drama from executive producer Aaron Spelling and writer Jeff Lieber, which ultimately did not go forward. ABC has ordered a pilot and six additional scripts for the new project, which comes from Touchstone Television, with Abrams and Lindelof executive producing. The producers plan to shoot the pilot, as well as the series should it go forward, on location.
LUCKY US (FOX, New!) - 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television are behind a new comedy at FOX about a mismatched couple who wind up permanently linked after their blind date results in an unexpected pregnancy. Holly Hester ("Sabrina, the Teenage Witch") will write and executive produce the project, which has been given a pilot commitment, along with Original's Marty Adelstein, Neal Moritz and Dawn Parouse.
MY BEST FRIEND IS A BIG FAT SLUT (Oxygen, New!) - The cable channel has pacted with Carsey-Werner-Mandabach ("That '70s Show," "Whoopi," "The Tracy Morgan Show") for the network's first original scripted series, a half-hour comedy about a pair of Minnesota twentysomethings who move to L.A. in search of the Hollywood life. Writer Claudia Lonow ("Less Than Perfect") created the series, which is being targeted for an April premiere date. Bree Turner ("Bring It On Again"), Joy Gohring ("Not Another Teen Movie"), Kevin Christy ("Love Don't Cost a Thing"), Brent King ("Without a Trace") and Nicole Hiltz ("Cold Case") have all been cast in the comedy, CWM's first original series for cable.
RELATED BY FAMILY (FOX) - Amy Yasbeck ("Wings") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which comes from writer/producer Victor Fresco ("Andy Richter Controls the Universe") and Paramount Network Television. Yasbeck will play the mother in the comedy, which focuses on two very different teenagers forced to live under the same roof when their parents remarry.
UNTITLED EILEEN HEISLER/DEANN HELINE PROJECT (NBC, New!) - The Peacock has ordered a pilot from writer/producers DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler ("Three Sisters") for a new comedy about a romance between an unlikely couple. No additional details were released about the project, which will be produced by NBC Studios.
UNTITLED SHELDON TURNER PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Feature writer Sheldon Turner ("The Longest Yard") has landed a blind script commitment from 20th Century Fox Television to develop a new drama series for the network and studio. Turner spent the past development season on an untitled drama set in the world of gunrunning at 20th from feature director John Woo's Lion Rock Productions.
UNTITLED VICTORIA GOTTI PROJECT (A&E, New!) - Star magazine gossip columnist, and daughter of the late mob boss John Gotti, Victoria Gotti is set to be the focus of a new reality series about her personal life and career as a tabloid journalist. Production is already underway on the untitled pilot, which could air as soon as this summer should it be picked up to series. The project is expected to track her transition to editor-in-chief of Red Carpet, a new magazine from Star publisher American Media.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters