CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
AWFULLY PRETTY (UPN, New!) - The netlet is developing a new reality series which follows a group of men as they are transformed into women by their wives or girlfriends. Bruce Nash and his Nash Entertainment ("For Love or Money," "Who Wants to Marry My Dad?") are behind the project, which tracks the men as they live together in a house and are forced to live as women 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The project will also have a competitive aspect as each week the players will be put into various scenarios where they'll learn what it's like to live as a woman. Those that don't pass said tests will be eliminated, one by one, for an undetermined prize.
CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE (A.K.A. UNTITLED JOHN GOODMAN PROJECT) (CBS) - John Goodman's comedy project at the Eye has been given a title and a green light to produce a pilot. The series stars Goodman as a family man who tries to keep the peace with his extended Chicago kin. Mitchel Katlin and Nat Bernstein (of the short-lived UPN comedy "Abby") will write and executive produce the project, which comes from Eric and Kim Tannenbaum's the Tannenbaum Co., Warner Bros. Television and CBS Productions.
THE GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW (ABC) - The Alphabet has ramped up its commitment to the comedy, ordering four additional episodes of the series. The pick-up brings its third season total to 28 episodes. ABC previously extended the show's season to 24 installments back in December (read the story).
EMPIRE (ABC) - Jonathan Cake ("The American Embassy") and Santiago Cabrera ("MI-5") have been cast in the lead roles of the upcoming drama series, which chronicles the power struggle in Rome following the murder of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. Cake will play Teranus, a disgraced gladiator who has sworn to protect Caesar's 17-year-old great-nephew Gaius Octavius (Cabrera) as they battle general Marc Antony for control of Rome. According to ancient history, Octavius was the grandson of Caesar's sister Julia and eventually became the famed Roman emperor Augustus in 27 B.C. Thomas Wheeler created the series and will executive produce along with Chip Johannessen ("Millennuium") and Storyline's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("The Music Man").
GOING DOWN: THE RISE AND FALL OF HEIDI FLEISS (USA) - The cable channel has scheduled its biopic of the famed Hollywood madam (played by "The Sopranos'" Jamie-Lynn DiScala) for Monday, March 29 at 9:00/8:00c.
HOLLYWOOD DIVISION (FOX) - Nathan Fillion ("Firefly") has been tapped to replace Matthew Settle as Det. Tommy Garrett in 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. James Foley ("At Close Range") has also come on board to direct the pilot, which comes from Universal Television and executive producers Barry Schindel ("Robbery Homicide Division") and Rob Port ("10-8").
HOME & HARDWARE (NBC) - Eric Christian Olsen ("Dumb and Dumberer") has been cast opposite Alyson Hannigan ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") in comedy pilot, which revolves around the relationship between a brother and sister who haven't spoken in 18 months.
HUB (NBC) - David Paetkau ("Final Destination 2") is set to join Blair Underwood in the pilot, an ensemble drama set behind the scenes at an international airport.
LIFE & STYLE (Syndication) - The WB 100+ Station Group has cleared the Sony Pictures Television-produced talk show for its fall 2004 schedule. The station group represents 109 stations reaching 9 million households and exclusively serves markets ranked 100-210 by Nielsen Media Research. "Life & Style" will air along with "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" as part of its WB Daytime block. Sony recently cleared the talk show on stations in the Viacom, Tribune and Gannett groups, among others.
MISTER ED (FOX) - David Alan Basche ("Three Sisters") is set as Wilbur Post in FOX's update of the 1961-66 CBS comedy. The project, which has been in development for over a year, was given a green light to produce a pilot last week. Marty Adelstein, Dawn Parouse and Neal Moritz of the 20th Century Fox Television-based Original Television are behind the project, which will be written and executive produced by Jack Handey ("Saturday Night Live").
THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW (Syndication) - Oprah's 50th birthday bash delivered an impressive 11.4 rating and 25 share across the metered markets on Friday, its best score since 1996. "Oprah" also won its time period in 54 of the 55 metered markets.
SAINT LOUIE (A.K.A. UNTITLED LOUIS C.K. PROJECT) (CBS) - The Eye has greenlighted a pilot for its comedy project starring comedian Louis C.K. "Saint Louie," which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Mohawk Productions. The project centers on the lives of a bright New York couple who overcomplicate the raising of their 2-year-old child. Bruce Rasmussen ("The Drew Carey Show," "Norm") will serve as executive producer/showrunner of the series along with Mohawk's Bruce Helford and Deborah Oppenheimer. Louie C.K. ("Cedric the Entertainer Presents") himself will write the pilot along with Helford and Rasmussen.
THE SHARON OSBOURNE SHOW (Syndication) - While an official statement has yet to be released by distributor Warner Bros. Television, various sources have indicated the freshman talk show will not return this fall. The news comes on the heels of the announcement that the show's original station launch group, Tribune, will not renew the show for next season. "Osbourne" has averaged a 1.4 household rating since its premiere, where it has done especially well among adults 18-34 (1.3 rating).
SIXTEEN TO LIFE (CBS) - The failed WB comedy pilot is being redeveloped by CBS as a possible vehicle for teen star Hilary Duff. The project revolves around a blue-collar teenage girl who takes care of her father, a la "Pretty in Pink." Sprague grayden ("John Doe") and Jon Tenney ("Get Real") played the lead roles in the WB version, which was written by Rob Lotterstein ("Grosse Pointe") and the late Ellen Idelson. Lotterstein will continue to develop the new version along with Acme Productions' Mindy Schultheis and Michael Hanel ("Reba") and 20th Century Fox Television.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters