[04/15/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: April 15
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.

Note: As we approach the end of pilot season, our "Development Updates" may not appear every day due to a lack of news.

THE DISTRICT (CBS) - The Eye has scheduled the show's two-episode season finale for Saturday, May 1 at 9:00/8:00c. There's how CBS' press materials describe the first hour, "Open Season": "Mannion�s determination to crack down on gangs puts Noland in the line of fire where he�s shot and critically wounded, on THE DISTRICT, at a special time, Saturday, May 1 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Blake T. Evans directed the episode that was written by Executive Producer Pam Veasey and Anthony Sparks. When Noland is rushed to the hospital where his diagnosis could be permanent paralysis, Mannion takes it upon himself to track down the one surgeon who could save him from that fate. Mendoza, the head of Mannion�s Gang Task Force, helps Debreno and Temple track down the gang member who shot Noland but, when they find him, his identity shocks both Debreno and his girlfriend, Maria."

And here's how the Eye characterizes the second installment: Mannion investigates the murder of two young women, one of whom is identified as Debreno�s sometime girlfriend, Maria, on the fourth season finale, of THE DISTRICT, Saturday, May 1 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Supervising Producer Oz Scott directed the episode from a script written by Jasmine Love and Noah Nelson. Jaclyn Smith returns as Mannion�s friend, Vanessa Cavanaugh, and Jean Smart returns as his ex-wife, Sherry Regan. Mannion learns that Maria�s murder was intended to send a message to Debreno and to Maria�s brother, Tico, who helped identify the suspect that put out a hit on Mendoza, the head of Manion�s Gang Task Force. The other murder was committed by two young men imitating a cop-killing video game. Brander�s instincts help Mannion find Maria�s killer but Debreno may lose his badge over his violent reaction to her death.

JOEY (NBC) - Ashley Scott ("Birds of Prey") is the latest cast member to join the forthcoming "Friends" spin-off. She'll play Allison, Joey's (Matt LeBlanc) new neighbor in Los Angeles. Drea de Matteo and Paulo Costanzo also star in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and executive producers Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Kevin S. Bright.

KAT PLUS ONE (ABC) - Jake Cherry ("Third Watch") has replaced Jimmy Bennett as A.J. in the drama pilot, about a 30-year-old publicist (Marisa Coughlan) who must suddenly raise her sister's child (Cherry). Wendie Malick, Heather Burns, Michael Urie, Brian Van Holt and Christina Pickles also star in the Warner Bros. Television project, which comes from executive producers Greg Berlanti and Mickey Liddell ("Everwood").

THE NORTH SHORE (FOX) - Rob Estes has bowed out of the upcoming drama series, which recently received a 13-episode order from the network. No reason was given for his departure however production will continue for the time being on scenes that don't include his character, Vincent Boyd, the managing partner of the hotel where the series takes place. Casting is currently underway by 20th Century Fox Television for a replacement.

ONE TREE HILL (WB) - Tuesday's broadcast marked series highs for the freshman drama in women 12-34 (4.3/12), persons 12-34 (2.8/8), adults 18-34 (2.3/6), women 18-49 (2.7/6), adults 18-49 (2.0/5), female teens (7.1/24), teens (4.3/15) and overall viewers (4.8 million) according to a network press release. Overall, "Hill" was the highest rated program of the night among women 12-34 (4.3/12), female teens (7.1/24) and teens (4.3/15).

STAN BROOKS FILMS (USA, New!) - The cable channel has greenlit production on four new telefilms from executive producer Stan Brooks ("Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss") and writer/producer John Fasano ("Darkness Falls"). The projects will all be shot back-to-back in British Columbia starting next month in order to keep budgets low and allow the network to run more telefilms each year. The four telefilms are "Ladies Night," about a father and two sons who killed several bank workers in the 1990s after convincing them to steal on their behalf (written by Marvin J. Wolf and Larry Mintz, produced by Bonnie Raskin); "Murder at the Presidio," about a Marine conspiring with his mother to kill his wife on a San Francisco military base (directed by Fasano, written by Alison Graham, produced by Yvonne Chotzen and William Jenner); and two untitled projects: an "Ocean's 11"-esque heist picture about the robbing of New York's Pierre Hotel (written by Shelley Evans; produced by Joel Rice) and a docudrama about a 1990s Norco, California bank robbery that resulted in one of the longest and most deadly car chases in American history (written by Robert B. Carney). "Call Me," Brooks' most recent USA effort, pulled in 3.6 million viewers for its debut last month.

THIEF (FX) - Andre Braugher ("Hack") is in talks to topline the cable channel's drama pilot, which has been casting for the past five months. Pariah Television, Regency Television and Fox TV Studios are all behind the project, which now centers on a family man/thief who plays both sides of a law. The series was originally conceived by creator Norman Morrill ("The Visitor," "Providence") as having each episode encapsulating a single day in the time leading up to the robbery of a national institution.

UNTITLED MICHAEL JACOBS PROJECT (FOX) - Taylor Handley ("The O.C.") and Michelle Alexis have joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about parents who must contend with the fact that their kids are growing up. Handley will play Jesse while Alexis is set as Shelley. Stephen Root also stars in the Sony Pictures Television/Jersey Television project, which comes from Michael Jacobs, Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher and John Landgraf.

UNTITLED ROB LONG/DAN STALEY PROJECT (CBS) - Josh Randall ("Ed") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a young cop's widow (Ricki Lake) who raises her kids with her mom (Kirstie Alley) and runs a bar frequented by cops. Randall's role wasn't specified in the project, which is set up at Paramount Network Television.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU (WB) - Wil Calhoun, the comedy's co-creator and executive producer/showrunner, will not return for the show's third season as the writer/producer has opted to sign a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with NBC Studios. The deal calls for Calhoun to develop new projects for the studio in addition to working on its current series.

WONDERFALLS (FOX) - The show's co-creator and executive producer, Bryan Fuller, has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with series co-producer 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which has an option for a third year, calls for Fuller to create new projects for the studio as well as possibly working on its existing properties.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [april 2004]  

· ED (NBC)

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