[03/18/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 18
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 BACHELOR (ABC) - The Alphabet has announced it has expanded the show's fifth season premiere to two hours, beginning at 8:00/7:00c on Wednesday, April 7. In addition, the network has revealed several extra twists for the new season, according an ABC press release: "Right from the start, season five of 'The Bachelor' tantalizes viewers with exciting new elements. Unbeknownst to the women, there�s a spy living with them in the house who appears to be one of the romantic hopefuls � but is secretly entrusted to give Jesse the lowdown on the behind-the-scenes competition for his heart. The show also offers a new 'first impression' rose, extended on episode one to the woman who has made the best first impression on Jesse. Additionally, the very first rose ceremony takes a startling turn when Jesse makes 'a terrible mistake.' Can he recover?"

C.S.I.: NEW YORK (CBS) - After almost a month of discussions, Gary Sinise ("Forrest Gump") has officially climbed aboard the show's latest spin-off. He'll play Det. Rick Calucci, an elite first-grade detective of a New York C.S.I. unit who lost his wife on 9/11. The actor, along with co-stars Vanessa Ferlito and Carmine Giovinazzo, will appear in the second-to-last episode of "C.S.I.: Miami" this season in which a case sends David Caruso's character to New York where he teams with Calucci's unit. The producers are still casting for a female co-lead for Sinise to round out the show's four principal roles. Industry insiders say Sinise is expected to earn between $120,000-$150,000 per episode to star in the series, a relative bargain when compared to stars like Ray Romano, who earns $1.7-$2 million per episode. In addition, creator Anthony Zuiker is looking to feature an episode of "New York" each season in which the team travels outside the confines of the Big Apple mentioning it "could be to investigate a war crime in Iraq or 16 people stuck in a mountain in Alaska," to Daily Variety. Zuiker also noted that the show's theme song will again be classic rock track however no decision as to what it will be has been made.

CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE (CBS) - Ed Asner ("Elf") is the latest actor to join the cast of the comedy pilot, about a family man (John Goodman) who tries to keep the peace with his extended Chicago kin. He'll play the father to John Goodman's character in the project, which also stars Jean Smart, Diedrich Bader, Melinda McGraw, Spencer Breslin and Olympia Dukakis. Mitchell Katlin, Nat Bernstein and Eric and Kim Tannenbaum are behind the pilot, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television, CBS Productions and the Tannenbaum Co.

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (Comedy Central) - Jon Stewart has signed a four-year extension with the network, which will keep the host at "The Daily Show" desk through 2008. Stewart's contract was set to expire at the end of this year. "A lot of people like to get out when their show's still going well," Stewart said in Comedy Central's press release touting the news. "This gives me the opportunity to beat this thing into the ground."

THE FURST FAMILY (ABC) - French Stewart ("3rd Rock From the Sun") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which is based on the British comedy "The Royle Family." Stewart will play Rusty, the young husband of the grandmother character in the Touchstone Television/Granada Television project, which also stars Marissa Jaret Winokur and comes from Alan Zweibel ("Curb Your Enthusiasm").

GRAMERCY PARK (ABC) - Camille Guaty ("The Help") will round out the cast of the drama pilot, about three nannies and the families they work for in a luxury high rise. She'll play Maddy, one of the aforementioned nannies, alongside Samaire Armstrong and Izabella Miko in the Warner Bros. Television/Tannenbaum Co. project. Guaty's involvement is in second position to her current series "The Help" on the WB.

HAWAII (NBC) - Michael Biehn ("Aliens," "The Terminator") has replaced Michael Madsen on the drama pilot, about a diverse group of Honolulu police officers. He'll take over the role of Max Harrison, a talented cop and devoted father, on the NBC Studios project, which also stars Sharif Atkins, Ivan Sergei and Eric Balfour.

HOW CLEAN IS YOUR HOUSE (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel has given a series commitment to a new makeover project from FremantleMedia ("American Idol"). The series, which is based on the U.K. show of the same name, tracks British cleaning divas Kim Woodburn and Aggie Mackenzie as they tackle tidying fraternity houses, apartments and family homes. No other details were given, other than it's expected to roll out this fall.

KAT PLUS ONE (ABC) - Brian Van Holt ("S.W.A.T.") and Christina Pickles ("The Wedding Singer") have snagged guest spots in the drama pilot, about a 30-year-old publicist (Marisa Coughlan) who must suddenly raise her sister's child (Jimmy Bennett). The pair will play Tommy and Gloria respectively, where they join the previously cast Wendie Malick, Heather Burns and Michael Urie in the Warner Bros. Television/Berlanti-Liddell Productions project.

NUMBERS (CBS) - Anna Deavere Smith ("The West Wing," "Presidio Med") is set among the cast of the drama pilot, about a mathematician from M.I.T. (David Krumholtz) who is recruited by the F.B.I. to help solve crimes. She'll play the head of the F.B.I. unit that works with Krumholtz's character in the Paramount Network Television/Scott Free Productions project. Michael Rooker, Peter MacNichol, Gabriel Macht and Alimi Ballard also star.

PERFECT ROMANCE (Lifetime, New!) - Kathleen Quinlan ("Apollo 13") will topline a new telefilm for the cable channel, about a single mom who's bent on finding the perfect match for her daughter via the Internet but winds up finding her own. Production is set to begin shortly on the project, with Doug Barr ("Beautiful Girl") set to direct from a script by Allison Burnett ("Autumn in New York"). Alexander/Enright and Associates is producing in association with Clarity Pictures while Don Enright, Les Alexander, Andrea Baynes, Kerry David and Allison Burnett are the executive producers.

THE REAL WORLD (MTV) - Bunim/Murray Productions announced this week it has given up plans to tape the 15th season of "The Real World" in Philadelphia. The news is said to be the result of a labor dispute that started over the producers' decision to hire a non-union company to renovate the former Seamen's Church Institute in Old City, where it planned to have the cast members live. The decision caused members of the building trades unions to picket outside the building. Production had been set to begin on the new season next month for a fall premiere date.

REEFER MADNESS (Showtime) - Alan Cumming ("X-Men 2"), Steven Weber ("The D.A."), Neve Campbell ("Party of Five"), Kristen Bell ("Deadwood"), Christian Campbell, Ana Gasteyer ("Saturday Night Live"), John Kassir and Robert Torti are set to star in the pay channel's small screen version of the off-Broadway musical, a lighthearted satire of the 1936 film about the evils of marijuana. Cumming will star as an anti-marijuana authority figure while Weber will play a pot pusher with Neve Campbell as the owner of the Reefer Den, a risque swing spot where the local kids indulge, and Gasteyer as Mae, the hostess of the Den. Bell, Christian Campbell, Kassir and Torti all starred in the original stage version. Production is set to begin next month in Vancouver on the project, with Andy Fickman directing from a script by Kevin Murphy and Dan Studney, for a 2005 air date. The trio will executive produce alongside Jim Veres and Jan Korbelin for Dead Old Man/Apollo Screen in association with Showtime.

ROME (HBO) - Kevin McKidd ("Trainspotting"), Ray Stevenson ("King Arthur"), James Purefoy ("The Mayor of Casterbridge"), Polly Walker ("Emma"), Kerry Condon ("Ballykissangel"), Ben Whishaw ("The Booze Cruise"), Indira Varma ("Psychos") and Aaron Johnson ("Shanghai Knights") have all joined the ensemble cast of the network's upcoming drama series, a co-production with the BBC. The group joins the previously cast Ciaran Hinds as Gaius Julius Caesar and Lindsay Duncan as Servilia in the the project, production of which is set to begin this month for a 2005 premiere date. Michael Apted ("The World Is Not Enough") is set to direct the first three of the show's 12-episode order with Bruno Heller, William J. MacDonald, John Milius, Anne Thomopoulos and Gareth Neame executive producing.

SHACKING UP (A.K.A. ROBBING THE CRADLE) (WB) - The Jamie Kennedy-produced comedy pilot is now running under the title "Shacking Up." Ben Feldman ("Kissing Jessica Stein") stars in the project, which comes from Regency Television and Kennedy's Wannabe Producers, about a 24-year-old (Feldman) who moves back home with his mom and her 24-year-old boyfriend.

WANTED (CBS) - Jason Gedrick ("Boomtown") has joined the cast of the Eye's drama pilot about the L.A.P.D.'s fugitive apprehension department. He'll play Dexter Smalls in the Warner Bros. Television/CBS Productions/25C Productions project, which comes from Cynthia Cidre, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Thomas Carter and Greg Hoblit. Scott Glenn, Yancey Arias and Louise Lombard also star.

UNTITLED AISHA TYLER PROJECT (CBS) - Lucy Davis (BBC's "The Office") has joined the cast of the Aisha Tyler-led comedy pilot, about a single New York woman (Tyler) who leaves an edgy fashion house to join the corporate world. Adam Goldberg also stars in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Is or Isn't Entertainment.

UNTITLED EILEEN HEISLER/DEANN HELINE PROJECT (NBC) - Tammy Lynn Michaels ("Popular") is set as Tess in Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline's untitled comedy pilot at the Peacock, about a romance between an unlikely couple (Josh Cooke, Jennifer Finnigan). NBC Studios is behind the project.

UNTITLED LEWIS BLACK PROJECT (ABC) - Anne Dudek ("The Human Stain") has been added to the cast of the comedy pilot presentation, which stars Lewis Black as a frustrated principal of a high school. Victor Fresco is behind the project, which is set up at Paramount Network Television.

UNTITLED MARSH MCCALL PROJECT (NBC) - Greg Pitts ("Normal, Ohio") has snagged the role of Luke MacGregor in the comedy pilot, which centers on the relationship between an adult son (Mitch Rouse) and his newly divorced father (Tom Conti). Pitts will play the other son in the family, a slacker, in the Warner Bros. Television project.

UNTITLED MARSH MCCALL/JOEL STEIN PROJECT (ABC) - Roger Rees ("Oz") will play Marshall Cahill in the Colin Hanks-led comedy pilot, which is based on Joel Stein's experiences at Time magazine. He'll play the magazine's editor in the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Acme Productions.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2004]  

· OZ (HBO)

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