[03/10/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 10
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.

AVERAGE JOE/DOG EAT DOG (NBC) - GSN, the Game Show Network, has purchased the off-network rights to both series from NBC Enterprises. The deal includes all 26 produced episodes of "Dog," three of which (1005, 2007, 2013) never aired on the Peacock, and the first two installments of "Joe." GSN also has the option to buy "Adam Returns," the third season of "Joe." Coincidentally (or not), Melana Scantlin, of "Average Joe" fame, is the co-host of GSN's upcoming "The World Series of Blackjack From the Mohegan Sun," which debuts on Monday at 10:00/9:00c. Both "Dog" and "Joe" are set to unspool on the cable channel in late spring.

DEMARCO AFFAIRS (ABC) - Lindsay Sloane ("The Stones"), Sabrina Lloyd ("Sports Night"), Lara Cox ("Kangaroo Jack") and Chris Diamantopulos ("Third Watch") have all joined the cast of the David E. Kelley/Jason Katims drama pilot, which revolves around three sisters who inherit their family's full-service wedding-planning business. Sloane will play Sammy DeMarco, the youngest sibling while Lloyd is set as Jessica DeMarco, the eldest sister. The duo join the previously cast Selma Blair, who plays the middle sister. Cox and Diamantopulos' roles are that of European princess Erika Liechtenstein and DeMarco Palace resident chef Ernesto Boticelli. One should also note Sloane's involvement is secondary to her commitment to "The Stones," which bows next week on CBS.

THE DISTRICT (CBS) - The Eye has added a special all-new episode of the veteran drama to its schedule. The installment, "The Black Widow Maker," airs Friday, April 2 at 10:00/9:00c. Here's how CBS describes the episode, via press release: "Mannion gets involved in a local murder investigation when he travels to a small town to fight a warrant for his arrest for a traffic violation, on THE DISTRICT, on a special night, Friday, April 2 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Series star Jonathan LaPaglia directed the episode from a script written by Tom Spezialy. "Coach" series stars Jerry Van Dyke and Bill Fagerbakke guest star in the episode. Van Dyle, who played assistant coach Luther Horatio Van Dam on "Coach," plays Judge Beers, and Fagerbakke, who played Michael "Dauber" Dybinski, plays Sheriff Boyle. When Mannion protests the warrant in Judge Beer�s court, he angers the judge and winds up in jail. Also behind bars is Joyce, a woman now accused of murder, with whom Brander has been having a long-distance relationship. Both Mannion and Brander decide to try to help Sheriff Boyle solve the crime when they are convinced that Joyce is innocent. Meanwhile, Temple and Debreno look into the disappearance of an armored truck owned by the company that Temple works for part time."

EMPIRE (ABC) - Vince Regan ("Black Knight") is set as Marc Antony in the upcoming limited series from Touchstone Television and Storyline Entertainment. Jonathan Cake and Santiago Cabrera star as Teranus and Gaius Octavius respectively in the project, about the power struggle in Rome following the murder of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.

GRAMERCY PARK (ABC) - Megan Dodds ("MI-5") has been added to the ensemble cast of the drama pilot, about three nannies and the families they work for in a luxury high rise. Paul Blackthorne, Elizabeth Mitchell, Milo Ventimiglia, Travis Schuldt, Izabella Miko and Samaire Armstrong also star in the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and the Tannenbaum Co.

JESUS (CBS) - In light of the massive popularity of the feature "The Passion of the Christ." CBS has scheduled an encore of its 2000 mini-series for Sunday, March 28 at 9:00/8:00c. In an interesting twist however, the Eye will only show the second half of the four-hour project, which focuses on Christ's adult life, including the days leading up to the crucifixion, all of which are the focus in the Mel Gibson-helmed film.

KEVIN HILL (UPN) - Christina Hendricks ("Tru Calling") has been cast as Nicolette in the drama pilot, about a 30-year-old single playboy lawyer in L.A. (Taye Diggs) who suddenly has to raise his brother's six month old baby girl. Jon Seda, Patrick Breen and Kate Levering also star in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television and Icon Productions.

LOST (ABC) - Matthew Fox ("Party of Five"), Harold Perrineau ("Oz"), Malcolm David Kelley ("Antwone Fisher"), Naveen Andrews ("Rollerball") and Josh Holloway ("C.S.I.") are the latest to join the ensemble cast of the drama pilot, which also stars Dominic Monaghan, Ian Somerhalder, Jorge Garcia, Evangeline Lilly and Maggie Grace. Fox is set as Jack, Perrineau as Michael, Kelley as Walt, Andrews as Sayid and Holloway as Sawyer in the project, which comes from J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Touchstone Television.

MARTHA STEWART LIVING (Syndication) - Despite losing 31% of its coverage with the loss of the Viacom station group (read the story), the show's distributor, King World, issued a statement promising that it will continue to distribute "Martha Stewart Living" so long as stations "want to continue to broadcast the program." A Food Network representative also told Daily Variety it plans to keep airing "From Martha's Kitchen," which uses repurposed content from "Living," "as we continue to evaluate the ircumstances as we allow due process to run its course."

THE MEN'S ROOM (NBC) - Scott Cohen ("Street Time") and Eric Lively ("A Minute with Stan Hooper") have filled out the remaining lead roles in the comedy pilot, about the lives of men in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Cohen will play the fourtysomething, Lively the twentysomething and the previously cast John Cho as the thirtysomething. Danny Zuker ("Coupling," "Off Centre") is behind the project, which is set up at NBC Studios.

MONK (USA) - 5.51 million viewers watched the show's second season finale on Friday, where it helped USA earn the top spot in total viewers for the week of March 1-7 (2.47 million).

NUMBERS (CBS) - Gabriel Macht ("The Recruit") is set and Peter MacNichol ("Ally McBeal") is in final talks to join the cast of the drama pilot, about a mathematician at M.I.T. who's recruited by the F.B.I. to help solve crimes. Macht will play Don Epps in the Paramount Network Television project, an F.B.I. agent who calls upon his mathematical genius brother (David Krumholtz) to help solve crimes. MacNichol is up for the role of an M.I.T. professor, who apparently will mentor Krumholtz's character.

PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT (Showtime) - The pay channel has scheduled the show's second season premiere for Thursday, April 1 at 10:00/9:00c. According to Showtime's press release, in the new season "the duo examines taboo topics and organizations including PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), safety hysteria, the business of love, 12-stepping, death, the fountain of youth and more!" In addition, the network plans to split the show's 14-episode second season into two segments - the first beginning April 1 with eight new episodes and another in August with an additional six episodes.

THE QUINTS (FOX) - Rebecca Creskoff ("Greetings from Tucson") is set to star opposite Andy Richter in the Mark Reisman-produced comedy pilot, about a set of 15-year-old quintuplets who must forge their own identities and stay sane while living in a three-bedroom house in the suburbs. April Matson also stars in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television.

THE ROBINSON BROTHERS (CBS) - Jay Baruchel ("Undeclared," "The Stones") and David Annable ("Third Watch") have snagged roles in the comedy pilot, about a trio of adult brothers who hang out in a Los Angeles apartment building that feels like a college dorm. Baruchel, whose involvement is in second position to "The Stones," will play one of the aforementioned brothers while Annable's role wasn't specified. Mark O'Keefe ("The O'Keefes") is behind the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television.

THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - 12.14 million viewers tuned into the long awaited season premiere of "The Sopranos" on Sunday, off 10% from its record-setting fourth season opener in September 2002 (13.4 million) not to mention down 15% in adults 18-49 (6.2/15 vs. 7.3/17). Nevertheless, the premiere easily topped the February 22 series finale of "Sex and the City" (10.62 million, 5.8/13 in adults 18-49) and won its time period among all networks, broadcast and cable, in adults 18-49. Among the 27 million HBO homes, "The Sopranos" also averaged a series high 23.8 rating/32 share in households. HBO reps are quick to note any declines are likely attributed to Nielsen Media Research's refinement of how it tracks the pay channel's various networks. Previously, Nielsen's average included all HBO-branded channels in the show's Sunday, 9:00/8:00c time slot.

SURGEONS (ABC) - Patrick Dempsey ("Iron Jawed Angels") has been cast as Derek, a surgeon and attending physician who supervises the show's interns, in the Shonda Rhimes medical drama pilot at Touchstone Television. T.R. Knight, Ellen Pompeo, Paul Adelstein and Chandra Wilson also star in the project, about the professional and personal lives of female doctors in surgical training at a San Francisco hospital.

THAT'S MY RODNEY (ABC) - Nick Searcy ("Runaway Jury") and Amy Peitz ("Caroline in the City") are the latest to sign on to the Rodney Carrington-led comedy pilot. Searcy will play Barry in the project while Peitz's role wasn't specified. Jennifer Aspen, Matthew Josten and Oliver Davis also star in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television.

UNTITLED DEANN HELINE/EILEEN HEISLER PROJECT (NBC) - Jennifer Finnigan ("The Bold and the Beautiful") is set to star opposite Josh Cooke in the NBC Studios comedy pilot, from writer/producers Deann Heline and Eileen Heisler ("Three Sisters"). The duo play a couple whose biggest obstacle is themselves.

UNTITLED JESSICA SIMPSON PROJECT (ABC) - Brad Rowe ("The '70s") is set as Mike the camera guy in the network's Jessica Simpson project. The untitled comedy, from Touchstone Television and Ted Harbert Productions, centers on a hard-working female producer of a primetime newsmagazine show whose world turns upside down when a pop culture icon (Simpson) signs on to do part-time work as an on-air reporter. Aimee Garcia and Ali Hillis also star.

UNTITLED JOEL STEIN/MARSH MCCALL PROJECT (ABC) - Sheryl Lee Ralph ("Moesha") will play Cicely in the comedy pilot, which is based on Joel Stein's experience as a Time magazine columnist. Colin Hanks stars in the Warner Bros. Television/Acme Productions project.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2004]  

· 70S, THE (NBC)
· OZ (HBO)

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