[04/06/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: April 6
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.

3: THE DALE EARNHARDT STORY (ESPN) - J.K. Simmons ("The D.A.") and Elizabeth Mitchell ("The Lyon's Den") are set to star alongside Barry Pepper in the cable channel's biopic of the late NASCAR driver. Simmons will play Earnhardt's father, Ralph, while Mitchell will play the driver's wife, Teresa. Production is set to begin this summer for a December air date with Russell Mulcahy directing from a script by Robert Eisele.

ANONYMOUS REX (Sci Fi) - Stephanie Lemelin ("Malcolm in the Middle") has joined the cast of the two-hour backdoor pilot, about a group of dinosaurs that escape extinction to evolve into human-type beings that live and work in today's society. She'll play Gabrielle, the daughter of Daniel Baldwin's character in the Fox TV Studios project, which also stars Sam Trammell.

DR. VEGAS (CBS) - Tom Sizemore ("Robbery Homicide Division") has signed on to appear in the Rob Lowe-led drama pilot. He'll play the character Happy, a role which could be upgraded to series regular should the pilot go to series. Amy Adams, Joe Pantoliano and Sarah Lancaster also star in the project, which comes from CBS Productions, Warner Bros. Television and Bender-Brown PRoductions.

ER (NBC) - Shane West ("Once & Again") is set to join the cast of the veteran drama as a medical intern when it returns for its 11th season this fall. Production has already begun on the show's first two episodes for next season with West appearing in both.

HOT MOMMA (ABC) - Craig Ferguson ("The Drew Carey Show") and Elizabeth Lundberg ("Third Watch") have joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a free-spirited, New York-based wedding planner (Gina Gershon) who leads a wilder lifestyle than her kid. Lundberg is set as Ashley Ryan, the daughter of Gershon's character, while Ferguson will play Ted Moore. Warner Bros. Television is behind the project, which also stars Nick Lachey and Lindsay Price.

KYRA (Sci Fi, New!) - In addition to the projects announced at its upfront presentation yesterday (read the story), Sci Fi is apparently close to a deal for a small screen spin-off of the upcoming Universal feature "The Chronicles of Riddick." The project would focus on Alexa Davalos' character as she joins a band of mercenaries in a search for her mentor. "Riddick" stars Vin Diesel and writer/director David Twohy are set to executive produce the TV series should it go forward.

THE MAGIC OR ORDINARY DAYS (CBS, New!) - The Eye has greenlighted a new Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilm based on Ann Howard Creel's novel of the same. Keri Russell ("Felicity"), Skeet Ulrich ("Miracles") and Mare Winningham ("The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.") all star in the WWII-era project, about a young unmarried Denver woman (Russell) who is banished to Wiston, Colorado, in an arranged marriage to a local farmer (Ulrich) by her stern minister father when she becomes pregnant. Winningham plays the sister of Ulrich's character. Production of the telefilm is set to begin on May 3 near Calgary, Alberta, for a premiere date next season. No details about the production crew were revealed.

POINT PLEASANT (FOX) - Clare Carey ("Coach") has landed a recurring role on the drama pilot, about a beachside community that is turned upside down when a mysterious girl (Elisabeth Harnois) washes ashore. She'll play Sarah Parker, the mother of the lifeguard (Sam Page) who spots said mysterious girl and dives in to save her. 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television are behind the project, which also stars Cameron Richardson, Brent Weber and Aubrey Dollar.

THE PRACTICE (ABC) - Rebecca De Mornay ("Identity") is the latest potential spin-off cast member to climb aboard "The Practice." She'll appear in the show's final four episodes as a tough, capable attorney working for rival firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt. Her involvement includes an option to become a regular on the still untitled spin-off series, much like fellow guest stars Vincent Pastore and William Shatner. Should her option get picked up, she'll join the previously cast James Spader, Rhona Mitra, Fay Masterson and Lake Bell in the 20th Century Fox Television/David E. Kelley Productions project.

UNTITLED JASON HORWITCH PROJECT (NBC) - Clare Carey has also scored a recurring role on the Peacock's untitled medical mystery drama pilot. She'll play Jess Bowman, the wife of star Neal McDonough's character, in the NBC Studios/Paramount Network Television/Landscape Entertainment project. Christopher Gorham, Anna Belknap, Kelli Williams and Troy Winbush also star.

UNTITLED RIDLEY SCOTT PROJECT (Sci Fi, New!) - Ridley Scott ("Aliens," "Blade Runner") is behind a new drama series in the works at the cable channel about a race of New York-based wolf-like creatures who can transform themselves into human beings. The project, the deal for which has yet to be finalized, would focus on one of the female creatures as she falls in love with a news producer who stumbles onto their secret. No additional details were given about the project, which was announced in addition to Sci Fi's previously revealed development slate (read the story).

WE ARE FAMILY (ABC) - Annie Potts ("Any Day Now") is the latest to join the cast of the comedy pilot, about a man (Tom Everett Scott) and his estranged father (William Devane), both of whom have babies at the same time. Potts will play Linda Hubbard, the ex-wife of Devane's character and mother of Scott's, a sharp-tongued family therapist. Touchstone Television is behind the project, which also stars Nicole Sullivan and Missi Pyle.

WILD CARD (Lifetime) - Loretta Devine ("Boston Public") is set to join the cast of the drama when it returns for its second season this summer. She'll play M. Pearl McGuire, the outspoken new boss of Joely Fisher and Chris Potter's characters. Devine's involvement is the result of being released from her contract on "Public" (read the story).

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [april 2004]  

· ER (NBC)

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