[02/17/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: February 17
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

Looking to keep track of all the various pilots and other projects in development? Be sure to check out our detailed production chart listings by clicking here.

THE CLUBHOUSE (CBS) - Dean Cain ("Perfect Husband: The Laci Peterson Story"), Mare Winningham ("The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H."), Kirsten Storms ("Days of Our Lives"), Dan Byrd ("Any Day Now") and newcomer JD Pardo have been added to the cast of the drama pilot, which revolves around the life of Pete Young (Marc Donato), a 16-year-old who lands a dream gig as a bat boy for the New York Yankees. Winningham will play Pete's mother while Storms will play his sister. Cain's role is that of an aging former all-star player while Byrd and Pardo's parts were not revealed. Mel Gibson's Icon Productions and Spelling Television are behind the pilot, which is being written by Daniel Cerone ("Charmed") and directed by Gavin O'Connor ("Miracle").

EYES (ABC) - Tim Daly ("Wings," "The Fugitive") is in final talks for the lead role in the drama pilot, which comes from John McNamara's Warner Bros. Television-based McNamara Paper Products. Daly is up for the part of Harlan Judd, the owner of a "risk management" firm, a company that operates along the fringes of the law in order to affect the outcome of a host of civil and criminal matters.

FAMILY SINS (CBS) - The Eye has scheduled the telefilm, which stars multiple Emmy Award-winner Kirstie Alley ("Veronica's Closet," "Cheers") and Will Patton ("The Agency," "Armageddon"), for Sunday, March 14 at 9:00/8:00c.

JOINT CUSTODY (WB) - Kate Walsh ("The Drew Carey Show") has scored the lead role in the comedy pilot, which revolves around two young teens with divorced parents who spend part of their week living with ultrapermissive mom and the rest of the week with disciplinarian dad. Walsh's role is that of the "ultrapermissive mom." Dottie Dartland-Zicklin ("Dharma & Greg," "Caroline and the City") is behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television.

THE JURY (FOX) - The network has released an official description of the series: "Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson ("Rain Man"), Emmy Award-winning writer Tom Fontana ("Homicide: Life on the Street") and Peabody Award-winning writer James Yoshimura team up to bring suspenseful and unique storytelling to FOX with their intense new courtroom drama THE JURY, a series that looks at criminal cases from the jury�s point of view. Set in New York City, the series brings the viewer right into the jury room to watch the deliberators shout, beg, squirm, persuade, vote, then vote again until they reach a verdict in each gripping case. The first scene of each episode opens at the end of a trial. For the remainder of the episode, the viewers follow the jury in their deliberations as the facts of the case are revealed through flashbacks of expert testimony, pre-trial conferences, witnesses� recollections and police interrogations. As facts are exposed, viewers will form their own opinions about the guilt or innocence of the defendant and the validity of the jury�s ultimate verdict. In the pilot episode, the trial of Officer James Byrnes, accused of killing a homeless man in a hit-and-run, leaves the jury with many unanswered questions. Is he guilty or is someone else? Was it an accident or a murder? Witness testimony and evidence presented during the case may put Officer Byrnes at the scene of the crime, but there is doubt, be it reasonable or not. THE JURY will have to decide.

Although the case and jury change in every episode, the officers of the court are series regulars. As they anxiously wait for the jury�s decision we learn their personal views on the case. And as we learn more about the case, we discover the role they have played. Among the key players are the fiery prosecutors, JOHN RANGUSO (Billy Burke) and KEENAN O�BRIEN (Jeff Hephner) and the defense attorney MELISSA GREENFIELD (Shalom Harlow), who has gone into private practice after a long tour of duty in the legal aid office. Other courtroom regulars include STEVE DIXON (Adam Busch), the loquacious court bailiff and MAUGERITE CISNEROS (Cote de Pablo), the legal intern. Executive producer Barry Levinson plays HORATIO HAWTHORNE, the upstanding, no-nonsense judge whose unrelenting purpose is to direct the jury to consider only the facts not their emotions, in rendering a verdict. Throughout the season, THE JURY will feature riveting cases full of twists and turns that will keep the audience guessing. Following each verdict, a final flashback will let viewers see the crime as it actually happened and reveal whether or not the jury made the right decision. But the heart of the series lies in the jury�s deliberations. Whether they are ranters and ravers or timid men and women of conscience who stand their ground � the jurors ultimately have the responsibility to render a verdict based on their personal principles, their honesty and the merits of the law -- putting aside their own prejudices in order to see that justice prevails. The show offers a glimpse into a world that is rarely depicted on television. THE JURY is produced by 20th Century FOX Television. The series was created by Tom Fontana and James Yoshimura. Barry Levinson, Tom Fontana, Jim Finnerty and James Yoshimura are also executive producers." "The Jury" is set to roll out this summer on FOX.

KEVIN HILL (UPN) - Taye Diggs ("Ally McBeal") has been cast in the lead role in the drama pilot, which comes from Jorge Reyes ("Resurrection Blvd.") and is set up at Mel Gibson's Icon Prods. and Touchstone Television. Diggs will play the title role of Kevin Hill, a thirtysomething legal eagle who suddenly finds himself charged with raising his cousin's daughter.

LUCKY US (FOX) - Chyler Leigh ("Girls Club," "The Practice") has snagged a role in the comedy pilot, which revolves around a couple forced together due to an unintended pregnancy. Leigh will play Lucy Reed, a conservative architect who gets pregnant after a blind date. Holly Hester ("Sabrina, the Teenage Witch") is behind the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television-based Original Television.

MR. ED (FOX) - Sherman Hemsley ("The Jeffersons") is set as the voice of the talking horse in FOX's re-imaging of the 1961-66 CBS comedy. Hemsley joins the previously cast David Alan Basche and Sherilyn Fenn as the Posts. 20th Century Fox Television-based Original Television is the studio behind the project, which is being developed by Jack Handey ("Saturday Night Live").

OAHU (FOX) - Rachel Shelley ("Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India") has joined the ensemble cast of the drama pilot, which revolves around the interactions between the staffers at a luxury Hawaiian hotel and the hotel's wealthy guests. Shelley will play the hotel manager. She joins the previously cast Kristoffer Polaha, a hotel executive and one-time paramour of the manager. Writer Peter Elkoff ("Mr. Beautiful") and director Peyton Reed ("Bring It On") are behind the pilot, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.

PLAINSONG (CBS) - The latest "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation is set to air Sunday, April 25 at 9:00/8:00c. Aidan Quinn ("Stolen Summer") and Rachel Griffiths ("Six Feet Under") star in the project, which is based on the New York Times best-selling novel of the same name by Ken Haruf.

THE SURVIVOR'S CLUB (CBS) - The Roma Downey-led ("Touched By An Angel") telefilm has been scheduled for Sunday, March 7 at 9:00/8:00c. Jacqueline Bisset ("America's Prince: The John F. Kennedy Jr. Story") and Lauren Lee Smith ("Dark Angel") also star in the project, which is based on the best-selling novel by Lisa Gardner.

UNTITLED AISHA TYLER PROJECT (CBS) - The Eye has greenlighted production on the Aisha Tyler-led comedy pilot. The "Friends" actress stars as Melanie, a sophisticated single New Yorker who makes the move from a small, edgy fashion house to a large corporation. Writer/producers Bill Martin and Mike Schiff ("Grounded for Life") are behind the project, which is set up through their overall deal at Warner Bros. Television in association with Dan Bucatinsky and Lisa Kudrow's Is or Isn't Entertainment.

UNTITLED EARTHQUAKE PROJECT (ABC) - The Alphabet has given a pilot presentation order for a new comedy starring the single-named comedian. The project, which is loosely based on Earthquake's experiences, centers on a father of four (Earthquake) and self-proclaimed unluckiest man alive who tries to make ends meet with his wife. Touchstone Television and Tollin-Robbins Productions are behind the project, while will be executive produced by David Himelfarb, Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola and David Goldman. Les Fierstein ("Wanda at Large") is also on board to write and executive produce the pilot. The Earthquake project is the result of a talent deal the comedian signed with ABC back in October (read the story).

UNTITLED EILEEN HEISLER/DEANN HELINE PROJECT (NBC) - Newcomer Josh Cooke has been cast as the male lead in the comedy pilot, about a romance between an unlikely couple. Cooke will play half of said couple, whose biggest obstacle is themselves. DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler ("Three Sisters") are behind the project, which is set up at NBC Studios.

UNTITLED JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT PROJECT (ABC) - Jennifer Love Hewitt's ("Party of Five") untitled project at Touchstone Television has been given a pilot presentation order by ABC. She'll play an up-and-coming sports producer and single mom who unwillingly becomes an on-camera reporter. Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah ("Freaks and Geeks") will write and executive produce the project which is based on an idea by Hewitt. Hewitt will also co-produce via her Love Spell Entertainment banner as will Jeff Pollack of Handprint Entertainment. Hewitt pacted with Touchstone back in Novmeber to develop a comedy project for the actress (read the story).

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [february 2004]  

· MR. ED (FOX)

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