CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BECK & CALL (UPN) - Christina Vidal ("10-8") has been cast in the drama pilot, which revolves around the lives of three twentysomethings in their first jobs. She'll play an aspiring child psychologist who takes a job as a nanny in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Shephard-Robin Productions ("Nip/Tuck").
BIG LOVE (HBO) - Bill Paxton ("Apollo 13") is in talks to star in the Tom Hanks-produced drama pilot, which comes from Hanks and Gary Goetzman's production company, Playtone Productions ("Band of Brothers"). Paxton is up for the lead role, Bill Henderson, a practicing polygamist and successful home improvement warehouse store owner. Should he sign on he'll join the previously cast Chloe Sevigny ("Boys Don't Cry"), who'll play one of his wives. In addition, Rodrigo Garcia ("Six Feet Under") has come aboard to direct the pilot from a script by Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen.
THE CATCH (ABC)/UNTITLED HUGHES & MILBAUER PROJECT (CBS) - There seems to be some debate over which project David Cubitt ("Robbery Homicide Division") has been attached to. The Hollywood Reporter says ABC's bounty hunter drama (read the story), while Zap2It.com says CBS' bounty hunter drama (read the story). Zap2It.com generally cites The Hollywood Reporter as the source of their stories, which no doubt adds to the confusion. Nevertheless, "The Catch" star Greg Grunberg has been kind enough to write in this morning and settle the matter, confirming Cubitt is cast in the CBS project, not his.
CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE (CBS) - Diedrich Bader plans to move from "The Drew Carey Show" to John Goodman's comedy pilot next season as the actor has joined the cast of the project, which stars Goodman as a family man who tries to keep the peace with his extended Chicago family. He'll play Tommy, the eccentric brother of Goodman's character in the pilot, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television, CBS Productions and the Tannenbaum Co.
COOKING LESSONS (CBS) - Constance Zimmer ("Good Morning, Miami") has joined the cast as Georgia in the pilot, a one-hour romantic dramedy about the exploits of a female food critic. She'll play the best friend of the lead character, who has yet to be cast. Ivan Reitman ("Six Days, Seven Nights") will direct the Warner Bros. Television/Tannenbaum Co. pilot from a script by Emily Fox ("New York Minute").
GRAMERCY PARK (ABC) - Samaire Armstrong ("The O.C.") is the latest to join the cast of the ensemble drama pilot, about three nannies and the families they work for in a luxury New York high rise. She'll play one of the three leads, a struggling actress who winds up working as a nanny. She joins the previously cast Milo Ventimiglia, Elizabeth Mitchell, Travis Schuldt, Izabella Miko and Paul Blackthorne in the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and the Tannenbaum Co.
LACKAWANNA BLUES (HBO) - S. Epatha Merkerson ("Law & Order"), Markus Franklin, Delroy Lindo, Henry Simmons ("N.Y.P.D. Blue"), Terrence Howard, Macy Gray ("Training Day"), Hill Harper ("The Handler") and Thomas Jefferson Byrd ("He Got Game") will round out the cast of the telefilm, which revolves the caretaker (Merkerson) to a group of eccentrics at an all-black rooming house in Lackawanna, N.Y. The group joins the previously cast Jeffrey Wright, Rosie Perez, Liev Schreiber, Ruben Santiago-Hudson and Halle Berry, the latter two of which will serve as executive producers. "Blues" will begin shooting next month in Los Angeles with George C. Wolfe directing from a script by Santiago-Hudson.
OUR FATHERS (Showtime, New!) - The pay channel has begun casting a new telefilm based on the book of the same name by Newsweek magazine senior editor David France, which features the subtitle "The Secret Life of the Catholic Church in an Age of Scandal." The book tracks the story of the Boston Globe reporters who uncovered the sex abuse scandal surrounding former priest John J. Geoghan, who ultimately was convicted of groping a 10-year-old boy and was slain in prison last fall. Showtime executives insist the project won't be exploitive, as the names will be changed to protect the victims involved. Dan Curtis ("Dark Shadows") is on board to executive produce and direct the telefilm, which is set to begin production in April, from a script by Thomas Michael Donnelly ("A Soldier's Sweetheart"). France will serve as a consultant on the project.
THE PRACTICE (ABC) - William Shatner is set to guest star in four of the show's final six episodes this season as Danny Crane, the chief partner of a rival law firm that goes head-to-head with the show's Young, Frutt & Berluti firm. Also cast is Vince Colosimo ("Lantana") as Shatner's junior partner in the firm, however it's not clear how many episodes he'll appear in. While the plot for Shatner's episodes has not been specified, both he and Colosimo have options to appear in additional episodes should their storylines prove popular.
REAL WORLD/ROAD RULES (MTV) - MTV has confirmed "The Real World's" 15th season will be shot in Philadelphia beginning in the spring, with the show itself premiering in the fall. The network also revealed that production is underway on the 13th season of "Road Rules," which will send six strangers to Chile and Argentina, for a May 2004 premiere date. 24 episodes of the former's and 16 episodes of the latter's season are set to be produced.
THE TONY DANZA SHOW (Syndication) - The syndicated talk show has been bumped from a 45% to a 65% clearance rate as stations from the Hearst-Argyle, Raycom and Young Broadcasting groups have signed on to carry the Buena Vista-distributed series beginning this fall. Those stations join the previously committed ABC owned-and-operated and Gannett stations.
UNTITLED ROB LONG/DAN STALEY PROJECT (CBS) - Ricki Lake ("King of Queens") is in final talks to come aboard the comedy pilot, which comes from "Cheers" producers Dan Staley and Rob Long. She's up for the lead role in the Paramount Network Television project, which centers on a mother who, following the death of her policeman husband, raises her two little boys with her mom while running a bar frequented by cops. Lake's involvement stems from a talent deal the actress/talk show host signed with CBS back in September (read the story). Jennifer Crittenden ("Everybody Loves Raymond") was behind the Eye's attempt earlier this season to develop a show around Lake, which cast her in a workplace comedy as a human interest reporter.
UNTITLED SHONDA RHIMES PROJECT (ABC) - Ellen Pompeo ("Old School") has landed a lead role in the drama pilot, which centers on a group of female residents in a surgical training program in San Francisco. She joins the previously cast T.R. Knight in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters