CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
ALIAS (ABC) - J.J. Abrams, the show's creator and executive producer, has signed a multi-year, high-seven-figure deal with Touchstone Television to keep his Bad Robot Television production company at the studio. In addition, Thom Sherman, ABC's chief of drama development, and Bryan Burk, Abrams' development partner, have been named president and executive vice president, respectively, of Bad Robot. Sherman had been running ABC's drama department for the past three seasons where he developed such series as "Line of Fire" and "Karen Sisco," not to mention "Alias." ABC executives Julie McNamara and Heather Kadin will fill in for Sherman for the remainder of the current development season. As for Abrams, the prolific producer already has two projects in the hopper for the 2004-05 season: the survival drama "Lost" and the bounty-hunter themed "The Catch."
ANDROMEDA (Sci Fi) - The cable run of the veteran syndicated drama on Sci Fi will kick off with its two-hour pilot on Friday, March 26 at 7:00/6:00c.
CELESTE IN THE CITY (ABC Family) - The cable channel has scheduled its latest telefilm, which stars Majandra Delfino ("Roswell") and Nicholas Brendon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer"), for Sunday, March 14 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how ABC Family describes the project (via press release): "When Celeste (Majandra Delfino) makes the big move from Maine to New York City for her first job after college at the city's top newspaper, she is in for a rude awakening.- Not only is she only a fact checker instead of an editorial assistant, but she's lacking the confidence and wardrobe to make it in the Big Apple.- All of that is about to change when Celeste's cousin Dana (Nicholas Brendon) and a group of his best friends decide to make Celeste look as smart and sophisticated on the outside as she is on the inside, in the ABC Family original movie CELESTE IN THE CITY."
CITY OF DREAMS (A.K.A. UNTITLED JIMMY SMITS PROJECT) (NBC) - The Jimmy Smits-led drama project is now running under the title "City of Dreams." Smits stars as a slick L.A. private investigator who specializes in fixing problems for high-end clients. Jerry Bruckheimer ("C.S.I.") and writer David Mills ("Kingpin") are behind the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television. It's not clear if NBC has given a green light to produce a pilot for the project.
COOKING LESSONS (CBS, New!) - New York Times food writer Amanda Hesser's book "Cooking for Mr. Latte: A Food Lover's Courtship, With Recipes" is set to be the focus of a new comedy at the Eye. Emily Fox ("New York Minute") is on board to write and executive produce the project, which has a pilot commitment, along with Kim and Eric Tannenbaum through their Tannenbaum Co. and Warner Bros. Television. "Cooking" is expected to revolve around the exploits of a female food critic. Hesser's book detailed her year-long courtship of New Yorker writer Tad Friend.
THE DEAD ZONE (USA) - Sarah Wynter ("24") has landed a recurring role on the show's upcoming third season, which is set to premiere in June. No details were given about her character.
HUB (NBC) - Heather Locklear ("Melrose Place") has landed the lead in the NBC pilot, an ensemble drama set behind the scenes at an international airport. She joins the previously cast Blair Underwood ("Sex and the City") and David Paetkau ("Final Destination 2") as Harley Random in the project. Interestingly enough, Locklear was offered said role last season when "HUB" was being targeted for fall 2003 consideration. The actress instead opted for the lead in the comedy "Once Around the Park," which did not get picked up for a series order. Mark Gordon ("Speed") and Nick Thiel ("Magnum, P.I.") are the executive producers of "HUB," which comes from NBC Studios and Mark Gordon Productions.
MARRIAGE 101 (WB, New!) - The Frog has given a pilot order to a new comedy about a young married couple who move in with the husband's friends. Boyce Bugliari and Jamie McLaughlin are writing and executive producing the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and Brad Grey Television, along with Brad Grey and Peter Traugott.
MEN'S ROOM (NBC) - Some additional details have emerged about the project: Danny Zuker ("Coupling," "Off Centre") is the man behind the pilot, which explores the lives of men in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
MY LIFE IS A SITCOM 2 (ABC Family) - The second season of the series is set to roll out on Sunday, March 7 at 7:30/6:30c. The new season tracks first season star, and stay-at-home dad, Joe Mozian of Old Greenwich, CT as he travels the country in search of real people to portray his various family members and friends in a sitcom pilot based loosely on his own life.
QUEEN FOR A DAY (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel is looking to revive the classic 1956-64 game show. Phil Gurin ("The Weakest Link") is behind new version, which will air as a one-hour backdoor pilot special in June. "Producers will sweep the nation, holding open auditions in which nominatorswill have the opportunity to convince the panel that their mother, sister, friend, co-worker, among others, should be 'Queen for a Day," according to a network press release. "In addition, viewers can log onto http://www.lifetimetv.com to learn more about the special and nominate their choices. Once the four finalists have been selected, cameras will track the potential "Queens" and whisk them away to a Los Angeles studio. There, they will get the royal treatment and have a chance to make their case to the judges and a studio audience who will cast the ultimate vote for one lucky woman, who will win a dream prize package." Gurin's The Gurin
Company is producing the special.
UNTITLED JASON HORWITCH PROJECT (NBC) - Neal McDonough ("Boomtown") is back at the Peacock, as the actor has landed the lead in Jason Horwitch's medical drama. McDonough's involvement lifts the cast-contingent component on the project, which comes from NBC Studios and Landscape Entertainment. Horwitch and Landscape's Scott Vila and Bob Cooper are the executive producers.
UNTITLED JOHN STAMOS PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has given a put pilot commitment to a new romantic comedy in which the entire season takes place over the course of a couple's first date. John Stamos ("Thieves") is attached to star in the project, a co-production of 20th Century Fox Television and Brad Grey Television, which will be written and executive produced by Austin Winsberg ("Still Standing").
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters