[03/05/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 5
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.

AMERICAN MELTDOWN (FX) - Leslie Hope ("Line of Fire"), Bruce Greenwood ("Thirteen Days"), Arnold Vosloo ("The Mummy") and James Remar ("Sex and the City") have all been named the principal cast members of the upcoming telefilm, which centers on a present-day nuclear plant disaster and its aftermath. Production is underway in Vancouver on the project for a June air date. Jeremiah S. Chechik ("Diabolique") is set to direct from script by Larry and Pal Barber ("The Director") while Craig Anderson and Beth Grossbard will executive produce via Craig Anderson Productions in association with Fox TV Studios.

ANONYMOUS REX (Sci Fi) - Daniel Baldwin ("Open House") and Sam Trammell ("Going to California") have snagged the lead roles in the cable channel's two-hour backdoor drama pilot, based on Eric Garcia's comic mystery novel "Casual Rex." The project tracks Vincent Rubio (Trammell), a high-tech private investigator, and his partner, Earnie Watson (Baldwin), who, along with hundreds of others on Earth, are in fact highly evolved dinosaurs (in Rubio's case, a velociraptor, and in Watson's, a triceratops) who never became extinct and have integrated themselves into modern society by disguising themselves with human-looking latex costumes. Production is set to begin on the Fox TV Studios-produced project on March 22 in Toronto where Julian Jarrold ("Great Expectations") will direct from a script by Joe Menosky ("Star Trek: Voyager").

HARRY GREEN AND EUGENE (ABC) - Arlene Tur (Telemundo's "Los Teens") and Bob Stephenson are the latest to join the cast of the drama pilot, which centers on a Los Angeles private eye Harry Green (Mark Valley) and his inept brother, Eugene (Jason Segal). The roles for Tur and Stephenson were not specified in the Paramount Network Television/Littlefield Co./Frequency Films project, which also stars Jamie King and Alex Desert.

I WILL SURVIVE (VH1, New!) - Gay Rosenthal Productions ("Behind the Music") has been given a pilot presentation commitment for a new series that would follow a two-week dance marathon. No additional details were given.

JOHNNY ZERO (FOX) - Hip-hop artist GQ ("The Bomb-itty of Errors") is set to star opposite Franky G in the John Wells-produced drama pilot, about an ex-con (Franky G) who tries to go legit and become a private eye, but is frequently tempted by the dark world he left behind. He'll play the partner of Franky G's character. Mimi Leder is set to direct the project, which is set up at the Warner Bros. Television-based John Wells Productions, from a script by R. Scott Gimmell ("ER," "J.A.G.").

MEDIUM (NBC) - Sofia Vassilieva ("Eloise at the Plaza") and newcomer Maria Lark have been added to the cast of the drama pilot, about a woman (Patricia Arquette) who struggles to balance her psychic abilities with her family life. The pair will play the children of Arquette's character in the project, which also stars Miguel Sandoval, Jake Weber and April Grace.

MR. ED (FOX) - Garret Dillahunt ("Leap Years") has joined the cast of the network's re-imagining of the classic CBS comedy which stars David Alan Basche and Sherilyn Fenn as the Posts with Sherman Hemsley providing the voice to Mr. Ed. 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television are behind the project, which is executive produced by Marco Pennette and Original's Marty Adelstein, Dawn Parouse and Neal Moritz.

MUTT MAKEOVER (USA, New!) - The cable channel is developing a dog-centric "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"-esque series as a companion piece to the network's coverage of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Gay Rosenthal Productions ("Behind the Music") and Animal Fare magazine founder Wendy Diamond are behind the project, which will use a makeover team consisting of a vet, a groomer, a stylist, a trainer and a pet psychic to give dogs a complete makeover.

MY 11:30 (NBC) - Lisa Kudrow ("Friends") is reportedly in talks to guest star in the Paul Reiser-produced comedy pilot, which revolves around a playboy New York businessman (Jeff Goldblum) who seeks help from a no-nonsense female shrink. The actress previously worked with Reiser on fellow Peacock comedy "Mad About You."

NAKED (Bravo, New!) - Gary Rosenthal Productions is developing a new celebrity biography series which has said celebrity watch the highlights of his or her life unfold in front of a studio audience. James Woods is set to be the focus of the pilot which will also feature testimony from pals Melanie Griffith, Alec Baldwin and Sharon Stone, among others. Participants and host Alex Cambert will appear on stage armed with remotes to pause footage in order to question, debate or defend some of the not-so-gushing commentary. The producers liken the project, which is based on a French television format, to a 21st century version of "Defending Your Life" as they hope celebrities will use it as a forum to respond to their critics and to debunk myths or confirm the truth about their career and personal life.

NEVERMIND NIRVANA (NBC) - Kal Penn ("Van Wilder") and Judy Greer ("Adaptation") have scored the lead roles in the comedy pilot, which is set to be directed and executive produced by David Schwimmer ("Friends"). The news marks Schwimmer's second pilot directing commitment this season for NBC, the first being "Home & Hardware." The project, which is comes from NBC Studios and the Untitled Burke/Tarses Project, explores what happens when an Indian-American doctor's (Penn) immigrant parents move in with him and his Caucasian fiancee (Greer). The duo's involvement lifts the cast-contingency on the pilot's production. Shaun Majumder ("Relic Hunter") has also joined the cast as the brother of the groom-to-be.

OAHU (FOX) - Corey Sevier ("Black Sash") is the latest to join the 20th Century Fox Television drama pilot, an "Upstairs, Downstairs"-type look at the guests and the staffers of a luxury Hawaiian hotel. The project, to be directed by Peyton Reed ("Bring It On") from a script by Peter Elkoff ("Mr. Beautiful"), also stars Kristoffer Polaha, Rachel Shelley, Nikki Deloach, Navi Rawat and Rob Estes.

POINT PLEASANT (FOX) - Aubrey Dollar ("Guiding Light") has climbed aboard the cast of the drama pilot, described as a cross between "Peyton Place" and "The Omen" that takes place in a town shaken one summer when a mysterious girl washes ashore. She joins the previously cast Cameron Richardson and Brent Weber in the 20th Century Fox Teleivison/Original Television project, which comes from John McLaughlin ("The Last Good Time") and Marti Noxon.

PRODIGY (WB) - Kate Mara ("Tadpole") and Marley Shelton ("Uptown Girls") have joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a teenage girl who hides her music talents from her family, which is busy focusing their attention on her younger brother (Cody Arens), a well-known prodigy. Mara will play said teenage girl while Shelton will play Callie Duncan in the project, which also stars Stacey Edwards as the children's mother. Warner Bros. Television and Silver Pictures are behind the pilot, which is executive produced by Josh Friedman ("Chain Reaction") and Joel Silver ("The Matrix").

REVELATIONS (NBC) - Natascha McElhone ("Solaris") is set and Bill Pullman ("Indepedence Day") is in talks to star in Pariah Television's limited series, which focuses on the final showdown between God and Satan as foretold in the Bible's Book of Revelations. Pullman is up for the role of Dr. Richard Massey, a Harvard professor whose daughter is murdered by satanists while McElhone stars as a nun who recruits Massey to help investigate whether what's told in the Book of Revelations is starting to come true.

SUDBURY (CBS) - Emmy winning actress Kim Delaney ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") is in final negotiations to star in the drama pilot presentation, which is loosely based on the 1998 feature "Practical Magic," about the trials and tribulations of two sisters, both witches. Delaney would play one of said sisters in the project, which also stars Kat Dennings. The trio of Sandra Bullock ("The George Lopez Show"), Denise Di Novi ("The District") and Becky Hartman-Edwards ("American Dreams") are behind the project, which is set up at the former's Fortis Films and Warner Bros. Television.

SWORD OF DRACULA (New!) - Chuck Gordon's Daybreak Productions and Adrian Askarieh's Prime Universe Productions have optioned the feature film and TV rights to the Jason Henderson comic series, which is published by Image Comics. The project is a contemporary revamp of the Dracula story in which competing military forces find themselves racing to excavate the great vampire himself. Daniel Alter, who brought the project to the duo, also will serve in a producing capacity.

UNTITLED TERRI HUGHES/RON MILBAUER PROJECT (CBS) - Lauren Holly ("Chicago Hope," "Picket Fences") has joined the cast of the untitled drama pilot, which stars Robert Forster as a bounty hunter who runs the family business with his two sons (David Cubitt, T.B.D.). Holly will play the girlfriend of Forster's character, who also works for the bounty hunters' team. Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer ("Idle Hands") are behind the project, which is set up at Spelling Television.

UNTITLED JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT PROJECT (ABC) - Jamie Widdoes ("Eight Simple Rules") is set to direct the Jennifer Love Hewitt-led pilot presentation, which stars Hewitt as an up-and-coming sports producer and single mom who unwillingly becomes an on-camera reporter. Touchstone Television is behind the project, which also stars John Patrick Stewart and Josie Davis.

UNTITLED RODNEY DANGERFIELD PROJECT (New!) - The life of Rodney Dangerfield is set to be the focus of a new biopic from Fox Television Studios and David Permut Presentations. The project will be based on Dangerfield's upcoming autobiography "It's Not Easy Being Me: A Lifetime of No Respect but Plenty of Sex and Drugs" from HarperCollins due to be released in May. Permut and Dangerfield will executive produce the project, which will be shopped to broadcast and cable networks in the next few weeks. Permut Presentations VP Steve Longi is also co-producing.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2004]  

· ER (NBC)
· MR. ED (FOX)
· MY 11:30 (NBC)

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