CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
20/20 (ABC) - Barbara Walters announced this week she plans to step down as co-host and chief correspondent of the series in September. The news, announced via press release on Monday, marks the end of her 25-year stint on the popular newsmagazine. "20/20 has been an integral part of my life and a major focus of my work. Starting in September, I want to have more flexibility in my life without the responsibilities of a weekly newsmagazine. I am deeply devoted to all those who work on 20/20, and thank them for all their hard work, week in and week out, that has made this such a wonderfully successful season," Walters said in the release. She'll continue to remain an active member of the news division however as she plans to increase the number of her primetime specials next season, not to mention continue with her duties on ABC's "The View."
THE AMAZING WESTERBERGS (CBS, New!) - The Eye has picked up a comedy pilot from writer/producers Jay Sherick and David Ronn ("Spin City") that focuses on the lives of two twentysomething brothers in Manhattan who were raised to think they could accomplish anything but are confronting a different reality. Sony Pictures Television and CBS Productions are behind the project, additional details of which were not available.
ANGEL (WB) - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has provided us a disc-by-disc breakdown of the show's third season DVD set, which goes on sale on February 10. The six-disc set features all 22 episodes of the show's third season in letterbox (1.78:1 aspect ratio) format. Disc one includes the episodes "Heartthrob," "That Vision Thing," "That Old Gang of Mine" and "Carpe Noctem"; disc two includes "Fredless," "Billy" (with audio commentary by Tim Minear and Jeffrey Bell), "Offspring" and "Quickening"; disc three features the episodes "Lullaby" (with audio commentary by Tim Minear and Mere Smith), "Dad" and "Birthday" (with deleted scenes including optional commentary by Tim Minear and Mere Smith) as well as the featurette "Darla: Deliver Us From Evil" and show outtakes; disc four has the episodes "Provider," "Waiting in the Wings" (with commentary by Joss Whedon and deleted scenes with optional commentary by Whedon), "Couplet" and "Loyalty"; disc five includes "Sleep Tight," "Forgiving," "Double or Nothing" and "The Price"; and disc six features the episodes "A New World," "Benediction" and "Tomorrow" as well as the featurettes "Season 3 Overview" and "Page To Screen," screen tests for Amy Acker and Vincent Kartheiser and a stills gallery.
APARTMENT 2H (New!) - Sony Pictures Television is developing a new comedy from writer Pang-ni Landrum ("Friends," "Malcolm in the Middle") about a twentysomething Los Angeles woman whose life, and those of her pals, is complicated when her eccentric Chinese stepfather moves to town. Said character, Mr. Liu, is actually based on Landrum's own experience as her own stepfather arrived unannounced on her doorstep straight from Beijing. The project was set up through the studio's new program to develop more scripts with young and up-and-coming writers.
DEBUTANTES: ROAD TO THE BALL (VH1, New!) - Sergio Myers (MTV's "Sorority Life," "Fraternity Life") is developing a new half-hour reality series about the day-to-day life and drama involved in preparing for a cotillion. Myers, Samantha Lane and Susanna Griffith co-created the project, which is expected to be shot in the South, where a young woman's coming-out into society is a major event. Myers' 7 Ponies Productions is behind the project, which is still in the early stages of development.
HOLLYWOOD DIVISION (FOX) - Matthew Settle ("Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood"), Geoff Stults ("7th Heaven"), Rockmond Dunbar ("Soul Food"), Tsianina Joelson ("American Pie 2"), Moon Bloodgood ("C.S.I.") and Leighton Meester ("Tarzan") are set to join D.J. Cotrona ("Skin") as the principal cast of the drama pilot, which revolves around young detectives who infiltrate a Hollywood high school as well as go undercover inside the seedy side of young show business. Settle, Stults and Dunbar will play Det. Tommy Garrett, Det. Vincent Booth and Det. Reginald Feiffer respectively while Joelsen and Bloodgood will play street cops Dana Cassidy and Lisa Morales. Meester will play a high school student named Michelle. Barry Schindel ("Robbery Homicide Division") and Rob Port ("10-8") co-wrote and co-created the pilot, which comes from Universal Television.
HOME & HARDWARE (A.K.A. UNTITLED MATT TARSES/BILL WRUBEL PROJECT) (NBC) - David Schwimmer ("Friends") is set to direct Matt Tarses and Bill Wrubel's comedy pilot from NBC Studios, which now features the title "Home & Hardware." Alyson Hannigan ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") stars in the comedy, which revolves around the relationship between two siblings, a workaholic ex-dork older sister (Hannigan) and her slacker brother, both single, who haven't spoken in 18 months.
LIFE & STYLE (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared the talk show on local stations covering 60% of the country. Jules Asner, Cynthia Garrett, Lynne Koplitz and Kimora Lee Simmons host the series, described as a younger version of "The View." Recent clearances include stations in Philadelphia, San Francisco, Boston and Dallas.
THE LITTLEST GROOM (FOX, New!) - FOX has scheduled a new two-part special which chronicles a little person's search for love. Here's how the network describes the project (via press release): "Should your height determine whom you find attractive? Of course not! THE LITTLEST GROOM will venture where no other show has gone by helping a young man who is 4'5" tall to find true love. Initially believing he will choose among women of similar stature to his own, he later discovers, in a surprising twist, that some average-sized women will enter the picture. Will his ideal mate be a little person, or will she be of average height? Find out when THE LITTLEST GROOM, hosted by Dani Behr ("Boy Meets Boy"), airs in two parts on Monday, Feb. 16 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) and Monday, Feb. 23 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX." Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio and Tracy Green are the executive producers of the project, which comes from LMNO Productions.
PAT CROCE: MOVING IN (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared the half-hour series, which features motivational speaker and former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers Pat Croce as he takes up residence with troubled families seeking help, on local stations covering 60% of the country. Recent clearances include Viacom-owned stations in Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston. Barry Josephson ("The Ladykillers") and Arthur Smith ("Paradise Hotel") are the executive producers of "Croce," which is targeting a fall 2004 launch.
POINT PLEASANT (FOX, New!) - FOX has committed to a drama pilot from John McLaughlin ("The Last Good Time," A&E's "The Great Gatsby") and Marti Noxon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Still Life") described as a cross between "Peyton Place" and "The Omen." Original Television and 20th Century Fox Television are behind the project, which centers on a beachside community that is turned upside down when a mysterious girl washes ashore. John McLaughlin ("The Last Good Time") will write and executive produce the pilot along Noxon and Original's Marty Adelstein, Neal Moritz and Dawn Parouse.
UNTITLED ELIZABETH BECKWITH/JOHN RODGERS PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Writers Elizabeth Beckwith ("Ladies' Man") and John Rogers ("The Core," "Cosby") are developing an untitled comedy at FOX based on the former's life growing up in Las Vegas. The series will track a clean-cut Catholic family who moves from Brooklyn to Sin City and wind up living across the street from their morally challenged relatives.
UNTITLED NICK LACHEY PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Nick Lachey ("Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica") will follow in the footsteps of wife Jessica Simpson, as the singer/reality star has signed a six-figure talent holding deal with ABC and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the studio to place Lachey in one of the network's sitcom pilots being targeted for fall 2004. In addition, the deal also includes a feature component with Disney's film studio as well as a music or variety special on ABC. Simpson signed a development deal with ABC and 20th Century Fox Television to star in her own sitcom back in November (read the story).
UNTITLED PANG-NI LANDRUM PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Writer Pang-ni Landrum ("Malcolm in the Middle") is developing a comedy project at the Alphabet based on her relationship with her mother, Shu-Chen Li, a Taiwanese immigrant who wasn't afraid to speak her mind. The project, set in San Antonio, would revolve around the tight bond between an unlucky-in-love Asian American advertising executive and her wilder, single mother, a 40-ish firecracker who co-owns a local restaurant. Pariah TV and Touchstone Television are behind the project, which will be executive produced by Landrum and Barnet Kellman ("Alias," "Murphy Brown," "My Life as a Sitcom").
UNTITLED SABRINA DHAWAN PROJECT (HBO, New!) - Sabrina Dhawan ("Monsoon Wedding") has signed a development deal with the pay channel. The pact calls for Dhawan to write and executive produce a new comedy that explores the lives of Indian immigrant families as they transition from first-generation to second-generation Americans. Brad Grey Television is on board to produce the project, should it go forward.
XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (Syndication) - Anchor Bay Home Entertainment has provided us with a disc-by-disc breakdown of the nine-disc third season DVD release of the series, which is set to hit stores on February 10. Disc one includes the episodes "The Furies" (with audio/video commentary by R.J. Stewart, Robert Tapert and Liz Friedman), "Been There, Done That" and "The Dirty Half Dozen"; disk two features "The Deliverer," "Gabrielle's Hope" and "The Debt, Part 1" (with audio/video commentary by Lucy Lawless and Robert Tapert); disk three includes "The Debt, Part 2," "The King of Assassins" (with audio/video commentary by Ted Raimi); disk four has "The Quill Is Mightier," "Maternal Instincts" and "The Bitter Suite" (with audio/video commentary by Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor); disk five has "One Against Army" (with audio/video commentary by Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor), "Forgiven" and "King Con"; disk six includes "When In Rome" (with audio/video commentary by Steve Sears), "Forget Me Not" and "Fins, Femmes & Gems"; disk seven features "Tsunami," "Vanishing Act" and "Sacrifice, Part 1" (with audio/video commentary by Hudson Leick); disk eight includes the season finale "Sacrifice, Part 2" (with audio/video commentary by Hudson Leick) as well as bonus video material; and the ninth disc, a CD-ROM, includes screensavers, chronicles, trivia, bios, mythology and a timeline.
YOUR FACE OR MINE? (MTV, New!) - MTV has picked up a new half-hour game show pilot based on the British series of the same name. The project, hosted by stand-up comedian Dan Levy ("The Andy Dick Show"), challenges contestants to predict how handsome or ugly people think they really are.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters