[03/24/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 24
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.

10.5 (NBC) - The Peacock has scheduled its "four-hour, seismic-thriller miniseries" for Sunday, May 2 and Monday, May 3, both at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how NBC describes the project, via press release: "The groundbreaking and epic drama is from executive producers Gary Pearl ("Liberty Stands Still") and Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein ("Martha, Inc.: The Martha Stewart Story"). The earth-rattling miniseries -- named after a monstrous and destructive "10.5" quake that shatters the register on the noted Richter scale -- stars [Kim] Delaney ("NYPD Blue") as Dr. Samantha Hill, an intellectual earthquake research scientist at a noted university in Washington State. Dr. Hill's alternative theories -- which test the boundaries of current research -- and her take-charge attitude cause friction with her peers. When the controversial Dr. Hill is ultimately put in charge, she is effectively entrusted with saving the entire population of the West Coast from a series of earthquakes that threaten to permanently fracture the West Coast from the rest of North America."

C.S.I.: NEW YORK (CBS) - Melina Kanakaredes ("Providence") has been named the show's final principal cast member, where she'll join Gary Sinise, Vanessa Ferlito and Carmine Giovinazzo in the "C.S.I." spin-off. The quartet will appear in the penultimate episode of "C.S.I.: Miami" this season, which will serve as the backdoor pilot for "New York." Kanakaredes will play Stella, a New York crime scene unit detective. Her involvement stems from a talent deal the actress signed with the network back in August (read the story), where she was initially set up as the lead of the drama project "I.C.E.," about the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a wing of the Dept. of Homeland Security. With "I.C.E.'s" development stalled, Kanakaredes was free to join "New York." Anthony Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue, Danny Cannon, Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are the show's executive producers.

DEADWOOD (HBO) - 5.8 million viewers tuned into the show's premiere on Sunday, making it the most-watched debut ever on the pay channel. "Deadwood" unseated previous record holder "Carnivale," which drew 5.3 million for its September launch. Lead-in "The Sopranos" also fared well, earning 10.1 million viewers in its third week, where it won the Sunday, 9:00/8:00c hour among adults 18-49 (5.3 national rating). Among said demographic "Deadwood" pulled a 2.9 national rating, good enough for third place behind NBC's "Crossing Jordan" and ABC's "The Practice" in the 10:00/9:00c hour.

THE DIVISION (Lifetime) - Serena Williams and Roma Downey ("Touched By an Angel") are set to guest star on the network's veteran drama beginning next month. Williams will appear in the show's April 25 episode, "Lost and Found," where she'll play Jennifer Davis, "a young woman who, after missing for almost 20 years, is reunited with her family. A man is found dead in the Davis' neighborhood. As the pieces of the investigation come together, the Division discovers the dead man was part of a scheme to defraud the Davis family," according to a network press release. As for Downey, she'll appear in a three-episode arc begininng May 2 as Regan Delaney, "a mysterious forensic expert from Philadelphia who temporarily joins the Division to help solve a murder case while Jinny (Nancy McKeon) is on maternity leave. Inspector Delaney begins working on a case involving a recovering drug addict who, while tracking down her missing daughter in the foster care system, uncovers a huge scandal. Captain McCafferty (Bonnie Bedelia) also learns that Delaney asked to be transferred to the San Francisco precinct to be closer to an old case in which she has a personal interest."

DR. 90210 (A.K.A. FACE VALUE) (E!) - The cable channel has committed to 13 episodes of the project, which tracks the life of Hollywood plastic surgeon Robert Rey. The series, which now features the title "Dr. 90210," will bow in June and follows Rey as he works with his high-end patients as well as looks into his personal life as he and his wife expect their second child. Rick Leed (TLC's "Extreme Plastic Surgery") and Donald Bull ("The Osbournes") are behind the project, which was originally developed for sibling channel Style (read the story).

DRAWN TOGETHER (Comedy Central) - Comedy Central has announced the animated "reality" series will premiere on Wednesday, October 20 at 10:30/9:30c following the first of a new batch of "South Park" episodes. The series is "the true story of eight characters, picked to live in a house to find out what happens when people stop being real and start getting animated. Presented as if it were a real Primetime reality series, "Drawn Together" answers the question of what happens when eight completely different cartoon characters from various genres and styles live together and have their lives filmed for the entire world to see," according to the network's press materials.

FRASIER (NBC) - Lifetime has purchased the off-network rights to the Emmy Award-winning comedy from Paramount Domestic Television, the network announced this week. The pact, valued at a whopping $158.4 million (about $600,000 per episode), will give the network the exclusive cable rights to the series beginning in March 2006. In addition, the deal includes a barter component which gives Paramount 90 seconds of ad time for national sales per day. "Frasier" joins fellow Peacock comedy "Will & Grace," which begins is off-network run on Lifetime in September 2005. Lifetime reportedly beat out competiting bids from Turner Broadcasting, MTV Networks and Oxygen.

THE GRAHAM NORTON EFFECT (A.K.A. UNTITLED GRAHAM NORTON PROJECT) (Comedy Central) - The cable channel's talk show featuring the popular British comedian finally has a title and a premiere date: "The Graham Norton Effect" will premiere Thursday, June 24 in a yet to be announced time slot.

GROWING UP GOTTI (A&E) - A&E has picked up 20 half-hour episodes of the reality series, about the life of New York gossip columnist Victoria Gotti, best known as the daughter of the late mob boss John Gotti. Production completed recently on the show's pilot, which featured appearances by Courtney Love, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and Liz Smith. The network is targeting the series, which also features her three teenage sons, for a fall 2004 premiere date.

INSOMNIAC WITH DAVE ATTELL (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has scheduled a new one-hour special of the defunct series for Monday, May 31.

KEEN EDDIE (Bravo) - "Keeping Up Appearances" and "Libert�, �galit�, Fraternit�," the show's final two episodes, have been scheduled for Wednesday, April 14 and 21 respectively, both at 10:00/9:00c.

LUCKY US (FOX) - John Ross Bowie ("A.U.S.A.") has been added to the cast of the comedy pilot, which stars Embry and Chyler Leigh as a couple who go on a blind date and end up with an unexpected pregnancy. Bowie will play Charlie, the brother of Ethan Embry's character, in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television.

ME, ME, ME (UPN) - Julie Gonzalo ("Freaky Friday") and Ayda Field ("Men, Women and Dogs") are the first to join the cast of the comedy pilot, about two best friends whose shallow New York ways are compromised when one of the pair's younger sister comes to town. Gonzalo will play Pearl, said younger sister, an NYU pre-med student, in the project while Field is set as one of the two best friends (not the sister of Pearl). 20th Century Fox Television is behind the project, which comes from executive producers Tom Straw and Lisa Birnbach.

QUEEN FOR A DAY (Lifetime) - Mo'Nique ("The Parkers") is set as the host of the cable channel's revival of the 1956-65 game show, which is scheduled to air Thursday, May 27 at 8:00/7:00c. According to a network press release the new "Queen" is "based on the legendary series from the 50's and 60's, but the LIFETIME show takes the television classic to a new level. In this fun and light-hearted version, producers will sweep the nation, holding open auditions at which nominators will have the opportunity to convince the panel that their mother, sister, friend, co-worker, among others, should be "Queen for a Day." Once the four finalists have been selected, cameras will track the potential "Queens" and whisk them away to a Los Angeles studio where they will receive the royal treatment and have one last chance to make their case to the judges and studio audience. With the help of Mo'Nique, the judges and audience will cast the final vote for the one special woman about to win her dream package." Phil Gurin ("The Weakest Link") is behind the project, through his The Gurin Company.

THE REAL WORLD (MTV) - The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting the series is back on track to begin shooting in the city as producer Bunim-Murray Productions' clash with local unions apparently has been resolved. The unions had been protesting the company's decision to hire a nonunion contractor to rehab an Old City building that will serve as the home to the show's seven cast members for the series' 15th season. Production is set to begin next month.

RENO 911 (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has revealed the second season of the comedy series will debut Wednesday, June 9 at 10:30/9:30c.

THE ROSS SHOW! (Bravo, New!) - Ross Matthews, best known as Ross the Intern on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno," is set to be the focus of a new reality series at the cable channel. Bravo has committed to a pilot for the series, which will focus on Matthews as he takes on unique jobs and visits exotic locales. Basic Elements ("Boarding House: North Shore," "The Offensive Show") is behind the project, which will be executive produced by Dan Pasternack. Tentative plans for the series also include celebrity guest stars as well as a wish-fulfillment segment in which the host will take a viewer along with him for the ride.

SCREAM PLAY (E!, New!) - Executive producers Joel Klein and David Hurwitz ("Fear Factor") along with Reveille's Ben Silverman and Mark Koops ("The Restaurant") have snagged a 13-episode order for a new one-hour competition series in which teams recreate memorable stunts and scenes from the movies and TV. Among the possible scenarios mentioned were Keanu Reeves' freeway bus hopping in "Speed," wrapping and eating candies like in the the famous chocolate factory episode of "I Love Lucy," Indiana Jones' insect-eating antics in "The Temple of Doom" and the daring swashbuckling scenes from "Pirates of the Caribbean." E! has committed to 13 episodes of the project which, along with "Dr. 90210," is targeted for a June premiere date.

SHACKING UP (WB) - Fran Drescher ("The Nanny") is set to star opposite Ben Feldman in the comedy pilot, about a 24-year-old medical school drop-out (Feldman) who moves back home with his mom and her new boyfriend, who's also 24. She'll play Kate Reeves, the 40-something mom in the Regency Television/Wannabe Producers project, which comes from Jamie Kennedy, Mike Langworthy, David Garrett, Jason Ward and Josh Etting.

SHORTIES WATCHING SHORTIES (Comedy Central) - The animated comedy has been slated to premiere Wednesday, April 28 at 10:30/9:30c following the spring finale of "South Park." Patrice Oneal and Nick DiPaolo provide the voices on the series, where they play "two over-sophisticated, under-supervised infants whose primary babysitter becomes the television. Through their eyes, viewers see different animated comedy bits from existing A-list stand-up routines," according to a network press release.

STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (Spike TV) - The sci-fi drama will make its debut on the cable channel on Monday, April 5 with a five-day, 45-hour marathon. Episodes will run from noon to 9:00 p.m. eastern Monday through Friday that week, after which the series will settle into its regular time period of Monday-Friday at 7:00/6:00c on April 12 followed by current Spike TV mainstay "Star Trek: The Next Generation" at 8:00/7:00c. In addition, the network plans to present "uncut" two-part episodes of "Deep Space Nine" every Friday night at 9:00/8:00c starting April 9. Said episodes will "be presented full-screen with no black bar and limited commercial interruptions," according to the network's press release touting the news. "Additionally, the network will telecast the episodes in the marathon consecutively from the beginning of the syndicated series."

THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY (ABC) - Ever Carradine ("Once & Again," "Lucky"), Tamara Taylor ("Party of Five"), Ed Kerr ("Three Sisters") and Louis Lombardi ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") have joined the cast of the Alphabet's comedy pilot, which revolves around office-worker guys who enjoy chewing the fat about their home lives at work. Carradine will play the wife of one of the main characters in the Touchstone Television project while Taylor is set as Trish, also one of the wives. Kerr and Lombardi will play two of the male leads, Wes and Rocky, respectively.

UNTITLED MICHAEL JACOBS PROJECT (FOX) - Stephen Root ("Newsradio") has climbed aboard the comedy pilot, where he'll play a befuddled dad whose kids know the ways of the world as well as, or even better, than he does. Michael Jacobs ("Boy Meets World") and Jersey Television principals Danny DeVito, John Landgraf, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher are behind the Sony Pictures Television project, which was previously cast-contingent.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2004]  

· 10.5 (NBC)
· DR. 90210 (E)
· ME, ME, ME (UPN)

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