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 DREAM DERBY (GSN, New!) - The formerly named Game Show Network has committed to seven one-hour episodes of a new reality series set in the high-stakes world of horse racing. The project plans to turn six ordinary racing fans into thoroughbred owners and track them as they select, train and race their horses. The contestants will then go on to complete in GSN's inaugural "American Dream Derby," the winner of which receives ownership of all six horses, a contract with a trainer and $250,000 to fund the new stable. In addition, viewers will be able to bet on the "American Dream Derby" at the (to be determined) track and online in states where it is legal. Production is set to begin this summer for an early 2005 premiere date.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi) - David Eick has exited his post as executive VP of USA Cable Entertainment to become a co-executive producer on the upcoming Sci Fi series. Eick was involved in the development of the four-hour mini-series that serves as the basis for the new series. He'll share executive producing duties with showrunner Ron Moore. Production is set to begin by month's end on the show's 13-episode order, which is budgeted at $1.8 million per episode.
DARK SHADOWS (WB) - Blair Brown ("Ed") is set as Elizabeth Collins Stoddard in the Frog's remake of the cult classic series. She joins the previously cast Marley Shelton, Ivana Milicevic, Alec Newman, Jessica Chastain, Martin Donovan, Matt Czuchry and Alexander Gould in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and John Wells Productions.
THE DEERINGS (FOX) - Newcomer Taylor Korsak is the latest to join the cast of the pilot, an irreverent dramedy about a man (D.W. Moffet) who falls in love with and marries his wife's best friend (Noelle Beck), and now must blend their families together. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the project, which also stars A.J. Trauth, Josh Henderson, Kaylee Defer and Katherine Lanasa.
THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW REVISITED (CBS, New!) - Ray Romano ("Everybody Loves Raymond") is set to host a reunion special for 1961-66 CBS series which the Eye is billing as the show's "159th" episode. Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Carl Reiner, Rose Marie, Larry Mathews, Ann Morgan Guilbert, Jerry Van Dyke and Bill Idelson are all set to appear in the special, which airs Tuesday, May 11 at 9:00/8:00c. According to a network press release, the special "catches up with Rob (Dick Van Dyke) and Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore), in the present day, 40 years after the series was originally broadcast. In the new episode, writers Rob and Sally (Rose Marie) each receive a phone call from Alan Brady (Carl Reiner) with a strange request: Alan, who admires the eulogies that the pair wrote for Buddy and Millie's late husband's funerals, wants them to write his eulogy before he dies. He rationalizes the request by telling them that he wants to know what they will say about him and he also wants the chance to do a rewrite. To induce them, he offers to pay a very large fee for the dubious job. Rob and Sally are uncertain that they can actually complete the assignment given their real feelings about Alan, but they reluctantly agree to try... for the money! Classic clips from the original series will also be seen." TV Land, which produced the special, will also rebroadcast the installment at a later date. Ken Whittingham directed the special from a script by series originator Carl Reiner.
GAYDAR (VH1, New!) - Michael Davies ("Super Millionaire") and his Diplomatic Productions-based UR TV have landed a half-hour pilot commitment from the cable channel for a new game show in which celebrity guests try and guess whether contestants are gay. Production has already begun in Los Angeles on the project, which is hosted by Brian Dunkleman ("American Idol"). Each episode sees a three-person celebrity panel playing a series of games which will yield clues about whether or not any of the three contestants are in fact homosexual. Those who select correctly will be given a cash prize for their favorite charity. Comedian Scott Kennedy has been tapped as one of the panelists for the pilot.
THE GUARDIAN (CBS) - The Eye will begin running new episodes of series, not repeats as previously reported (read the story), when the drama returns to CBS' schedule on Tuesday, April 6 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how CBS describes "Remember," the first of the show's final four episodes this season: "Nick defends a sexually abused teenager who seems to be protecting his father from being implicated in the crime, on THE GUARDIAN, Tuesday, April 6 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Bill Norton directed the episode from a script by creator and one of the series' executive producers David Hollander. A teenage boy's failed memory about the details of the sexual attack in his home leads Nick and the police to assume that the boy's father might be guilty of sexually abusing his son. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh police hope that by forcing Alvin to turn over files from past child clients, they will be able to solve a string of murders involving convicted pedophiles. Also, Lulu offers Emily a job at legal services."
THE HELP (WB) - The Frog apparently has upped its commitment to the midseason comedy by one episode, bringing its season total to seven installments. Said episode, "Searching For Grampa Eddie," will serve as the show's season finale on Friday, April 16 at 9:30/8:30c. Here's how the WB's press materials describe the broadcast: "When Arlene (Brenda Strong) implements an "employee of the month" competition, Molly the dog-walker (guest star Tori Spelling) decides she will win Arlene over by taking Grandpa Eddie (Jack Axelrod) along when she walks the dogs. However, when Molly loses Grandpa Eddie in the park, the help must come together to cover for Molly while they search for Grandpa or risk losing their jobs. Camille Gauty, Al Santos, Antonio Sabato, Jr., Mindy Cohn, Marika Dominczyk, Kerri Lynn Pratt and Graham Murdoch also star. Gerry Cohen directed the episode written by Marcy Vosburgh (#102)."
I MARRIED SOFIA (ABC) - Victoria Jackson ("Saturday Night Live") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which stars Sofia Vergara as a single Latina mom from Colombia who, in order to stay in the U.S., finds a local stockbroker and pays him to marry her for a green card. Jackson will play Gina in the Touchstone Television/DDJ Productions project, the best friend of Vergara's character.
MY 11:30 (NBC) - Connie Britton ("Spin City") is set to star alongside Jeff Goldblum in the comedy pilot, about relationship betweeen a shallow fortysomething Los Angeles businessman (Goldblum) and his no-nonsense therapist. Britton will play the ex-wife of Goldblum's character in the project, which comes from NBC Studios and Paul Reiser's Nuance Productions. Kathryn Hahn and Brian Stokes Mitchell also star.
NASHVILLE STAR (USA) - The cable channel has scheduled the show's second season finale for Saturday, May 1 at 10:00/9:00c.
OUT FOR A KILL (USA) - The Steven Seagal-led telefilm has been slated to air Sunday, April 25 at 8:00/7:00c on the cable channel. Here's how USA's press materials describe the project: "Archeology Professor Robert Burns (Steven Seagal) is leading an important dig of ancient ruins on the eastern Chinese border when he discovers that the Chinese Mafia, known as the Tong, is using his shipments of newly-discovered artifacts to smuggle narcotics across the border. He attempts to flee, but is stopped at the border, framed with some damning evidence, and thrown into Chinese prison, where he is presumed guilty until proven innocent. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency eventually convinces the Chinese that Burns will be of more use to them outside of jail, where he can hunt down the real smugglers and lead the authorities to them. But it's not long before the Tong find out when and why Burns has been released, and they will stop at nothing to kill him in to protect their own corrupt interests."
THE PRACTICE (ABC) - Vincent Pastore ("The Sopranos") has signed on to appear in three of the show's final four episodes this season. He'll play Lenny Pescatore, a bully of a lawyer who faces off against Jimmy Berluti (Michael Badalucco). His contract also includes the option to become a regular on "The Practice's" forthcoming spin-off.
REBA (WB) - Supervising producers Patti Carr and Lara Runnels have inked a two-year, seven-figure development deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which has an option for a third year, calls for the duo to be upped to co-executive producers next season as well as develop new comedy projects for the studio.
SWEDEN, OHIO (FOX) - Jessica Lundy ("Some of My Best Friends"), Peter Mackenzie ("Herman's Head") and Ashley Johnson ("What Women Want") have all joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a teenage boy whose life changes when a sexy Swedish female exchange student (Helena Mattsson) moves in. Lundy and Mackenzie will play the yet to be cast boy's parents while Johnson is set as his 17-year-old sister.
TOUCHING EVIL (USA) - The midseason drama is currently set to wrap its first season on Friday, June 11 at 10:00/9:00c according to published schedules.
UNTITLED JENNIFER HEWITT PROJECT (ABC) - Ed O'Neill ("L.A. Dragnet") has joined the cast of the Jennifer Love Hewitt-led comedy pilot, which stars the actress as a sports reporter and single mother. He'll play Buzz, the executive producer of the sports show for which Hewitt works. Touchstone Television is behind the project, which also stars John Patrick Stewart and Josie Davis.
UNTITLED LEWIS BLACK PROJECT (ABC) - Newcomer Stephanie Childers has been added to the cast of the comedy pilot, which stars Lewis Black as a cantankerous history teacher who is named high school principal. Childers will play Kate, Black's ex-girlfriend, an opinionated biology teacher at the school. Anne Dudek and Brad Raider also star in the project, which is set up at Paramount Network Television.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters