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[03/25/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 25
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 BOOK OF RUTH (CBS) - The Christine Lahti-led telefilm is set to premiere Sunday, May 2 at 9:00/8:00c on the network. The project deals with "the stormy relationship between a reticent young woman who has been degraded for years by her oppressive mother and the shocking incident that ultimately frees them both from the ties that bind them together," according to a CBS press release. Nicholle Tom, Evan Jones, Teryl Rothery, Christine Willes, Britt Irvin and Stephen E. Miller also star in the drama, which is based on the novel of the same name by Jane Hamilton.

BRAVE NEW GIRL (A.K.A. A MOTHER'S GIFT) (ABC Family) - The Britney Spears-produced telefilm has been scheduled to air Sunday, April 25 at 8:00/7:00c. Lindsey Haun (Disney's "The Color of Friendship," "Get To The Heart: The Barbra Mandrell Story") stars as "a talented young singer who dreams of getting into a prestigious East Coast music and arts academy. With the help of her hard-working and slightly offbeat mother, Wanda (Virginia Madsen), she is accepted but soon learns that being admitted is only half the battle," according to the network's press materials. The project is based on the book "A Mother's Gift," written by Spears and her mother Lynne Spears. The new title comes from Spears' song of the same name from her latest album, which will be featured in the telefilm.

C.S.I.: NEW YORK (CBS) - The Eye has released official descriptions of the show's two main characters, played by Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes. The former will play Det. Rick Calucci, "a dedicated and driven crimescene investigator who leads a team of forensic experts in the Big Apple," while the latter is set as Det. Stella Bonesera, "a second grade detective for the New York City crime unit who is a workaholic and a jack-of-all-trades." Vanessa Ferlito and Carmine Giovinazzo also star in the project, however no specific descriptions have been given for their characters.

CENTURY CITY (CBS) - The "Loves And Games" episode of the series has been rescheduled for Saturday, March 27 at 10:00/9:00c. Said installment was previously set to air last Saturday however the network's coverage of the Men's NCAA Basketball Tournament ran long and pre-empted the broadcast. Here's how CBS describes the episode, via press release: "The firm argues that a young man with a bionic eye, who is being barred from playing baseball, should not be considered enhanced, but rather, disabled, on CENTURY CITY, on a special night and time, Saturday, March 27 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. J. Miller Tobin directed from a script by David Shore. When Teddy, a young baseball player with an eye implant, is prevented from playing because baseball has banned all artificial devices in order to keep a "level playing field," Lukas argues that he is not enhanced but, in fact, he can be defined as disabled. Meanwhile, a couple must redefine their marital contract when long-lived relatives seem to be constituting the "family" they pledged they'd never have."

CRIMES OF FASHION (ABC Family, New!) - Kaley Cuoco ("Eight Simple Rules") is set to topline a new telefilm at the cable channel, about a fashion-design student who takes over the family business only to discover her late grandfather was a mob boss. Production is scheduled to being next month in Toronto on the project, which is targeting a July premiere date. Stu Gillard will direct from a script by David Mickel with Kevin Lafferty and Sheri Singer producing.

FAMILY VALUES (VH1, New!) - Pre-production has begun in Calgary, Alberta on an unauthorized biopic of singer Michael Jackson for VH1. The project plans to track Jackson's life from his "Thriller"-era success to his present-day legal troubles, interspersed with flashbacks from his old Motown days. Jon Katzman ("Redemption") and the L.A.-based Blueprint Entertainment are behind the biopic, which is currently casting. "Values" reportedly will not be derived from any one source material, nor will Jackson be consulted.

HEAD RUSH (ABC Family, New!) - The cable channel has greenlit production on a new telefilm about a middle-aged dad whose past as the lead singer of a heavy-metal band comes back to haunt him when an old bandmate asks him to participate in a reunion concert. Director Ron Lagomarsino, writer William Ryan and producers Jacqueline George and Patricia Clifford are behind the project, which is set to begin production in New Orleans in May for an August premiere date.

INFIDELITY (Lifetime) - The telefilm, which stars Kim Delaney, Kyle Secor and Christi´┐Żn de la Fuente, has been scheduled for Monday, April 19 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how Lifetime describes the project: "Successful career woman Danielle Montet [Delaney] has a doting husband and a loving marriage. But when she meets a sexy stranger in a restaurant, her "perfect" world spins out of control. Torn between a lusty affair and the security of her wedding vows, she must face the demons of her family's past in order to figure out who she really is and which man will bring her the happiness that she desperately craves."

LIFE OF LUXURY (ABC) - George Hamilton ("The Family") will succeed Robin Leach as host of the series when it returns later this year. Production is underway on four new installments of the project, which will include "a look inside the world of millionaire sports moguls and kings of the Las Vegas scene, the famously rich and single Maloof brothers; living large with billionaire hip hop impresario Damon Dash; a peek at Mob princess Victoria Gotti's pampered world; and a visit to the fairy-tale Irish castle owned by "Lord of the Dance" star Michael Flatley," according to a network press release. Andy Friendly Productions is behind "Life of Luxury," which is executive produced by Friendly and Krysia Plonka (ABC's "InStyle" specials).

LOVE RULES (A.K.A. RULES OF ENGAGEMENT) (ABC Family) - The telefilm, which stars Maggie Lawson, Joseph Lawrence and Marilu Henner, has been retitled "Love Rules." The romantic comedy, set to bow in June, features Lawson and Lawrence as a young engaged couple who struggle with the bride-to-be's mother (Henner) to keep their upcoming nuptials low-key.

THE MEN'S ROOM (NBC) - Shelly Cole ("Boston Public," "Gilmore Girls") has joined the cast of the NBC Studios comedy pilot, about a group of men (Scott Cohen, Eric Lively and John Cho) re-evaluating their lives. She'll play Charlotte, a UCLA student and the daughter of Cohen's character. She joins the previously cast Maitland Ward, who plays Lily, the live-in girlfriend of Lively's character and Suzanne Cryer, whose character has yet to be specified.

PERFECT ROMANCE (Lifetime) - Henry Ian Cusick ("Gospel of John"), Michael Trucco ("Pensacola: Wings of Gold") and Lori Heuring ("Runaway Jury") have been added to the cast of the telefilm, which stars Kathleen Quinlan a single mom who's bent on finding the perfect match for her daughter via the Internet but winds up finding her own.

TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS) - The Eye has scheduled a four-episode marathon of the series for Monday, April 12 beginning at 8:00/7:00c. CBS is looking to increase the exposure of "Men," which is already expected to finish the season as the top new comedy among viewers and adults 18-49, with the marathon. Industry insiders speculate that CBS is using the move to see if the series has legs outside of its current cradle between "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "C.S.I.: Miami."

UNTITLED MARSH MCCALL PROJECT (NBC) - Beverly D'Angelo ("Talk to Me") and Jamie Denbo ("Rock Me Baby") have been added to the cast of the comedy pilot, about the relationship between a newly divorced father (Tom Conti), a professor at Stanford, and his son (Mitch Rouse). D'Angelo will play Annie, the ex-wife of Conti's character, a therapist and the mother of two adult men (Rouse, Greg Pitts) while Denbo is set as Piper. Warner Bros. Television is behind the project, which comes from Marsh McCall ("Just Shoot Me," "My Big Fat Greek Life").

WEEKENDS (NBC) - Timm Sharp ("Undeclared") is the latest to join the cast of the comedy pilot, which revolves around an Orange County couple with a kid who still long for the carefree days of their youth. NBC Studios and Spyglass Entertainment are behind project, which also stars Benjamin King and Rachael Harris.

THE WINNING SEASON (TNT) - The cable channel has scheduled its latest Johnson & Johnson team-up for Sunday, April 4 at 8:00/7:00c. According to the network's press materials the project "is an uplifting film about a legendary baseball player's struggle to choose between the love of his life and his love of the game. In the film, baseball fanatic Joe Soshack (Shawn Hatosy) finds a mint condition Honus Wagner baseball card that magically takes him back to the 1909 World Series. Joe is befriended by the legendary Wagner (Matthew Modine) and his fiancee Mandy (Kristin Davis) who show him the importance of honor, family and love. When the couple's storybook romance is challenged by Mandy's family's disapproval and Honus' passion for baseball, it is Joe who changes their lives forever."

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· BOOK OF RUTH, THE (CBS)
· BOSTON PUBLIC (FOX)
· BRAVE NEW GIRL (ABC FAMILY)
· CENTURY CITY (CBS)
· CRIMES OF FASHION (ABC FAMILY)
· CSI: MIAMI (CBS)
· CSI: NEW YORK (CBS)
· EIGHT SIMPLE RULES (ABC)
· EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
· FAMILY, THE (ABC)
· GILMORE GIRLS (CW)
· INFIDELITY (LIFETIME)
· JUST SHOOT ME (NBC)
· LIFE OF LUXURY (ABC)
· LOVE RULES (ABC FAMILY)
· MACGREGORS, THE (NBC)
· MAN IN THE MIRROR: THE MICHAEL JACKSON STORY (VH1)
· MEN'S ROOM, THE (NBC)
· MY BIG FAT GREEK LIFE (CBS)
· PERFECT ROMANCE (LIFETIME)
· POP ROCKS (ABC FAMILY)
· REDEMPTION (FX)
· ROCK ME BABY (UPN)
· TALK TO ME (ABC)
· TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS)
· UNDECLARED (FOX)
· WEEKENDS (NBC)
· WINNING SEASON, THE (TNT)











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