[04/19/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: April 19
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.

ACCORDING TO JIM (ABC) - Buena Vista Television has now cleared the show's syndicated run, set to launch in fall 2006, in more than 50% of the country. The latest stations to sign up include KBWB (San Francisco), WKBD (Detroit), KSTP (Minneapolis), WTOG (Tampa, Fla.), WXIX (Cincinnati) and WNPA (Pittsburgh). Said stations will pay an unspecified cash license fee as well as hand over three 30-second spots for national ad sales.

ANONYMOUS REX (Sci Fi) - Faye Dunaway and Isaac Hayes have signed on for cameo roles in the two-hour backdoor pilot. Dunaway will play Shin, "the leader of a secret governing council of brilliantly disguised modern day dinosaurs," according to a production press release. Hayes' character will also be a member of said council. Sam Trammell, Daniel Baldwin and Stephanie Lemelin topline the project, which is based on Eric Garcia's award-winning series of novels.

THE CATCH (ABC) - Kym Whitley ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") is the latest to join the cast of the midseason drama pilot, which stars Greg Grunberg and Orlando Jones as bounty hunters. She'll play the assistant of the two men's boss in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television and J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot.

THE DAYS (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has given a six-episode order to a new drama series from Tollin/Robbins Productions and media buyer MindShare North America. The project, created and executive produced by John Scott Shepherd ("Life or Something Like It"), revolves around a dysfunctional suburban Philadelphia family in which both the mother and her teenage daughter become pregnant at about the same time. Each episode will consist of the family's "day" as seen through the eyes of the family's 14-year-old child, Cooper. In a unique twist, ABC will not pay a cash license fee for the series, instead opting to split the value of the advertising inventory with Mindshare, who will cover the entire production budget. Unilever and another undisclosed MindShare client have already made advertising commitments on the project, which includes some limited product placement on camera. It's expected production will begin in Vancouver the first week of June for a late July premiere date either on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. The producers hope that should the series perform well additional episodes will be ordered for midseason 2005. MindShare director of programming Peter Tortorici and Tollin/Robbins' Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins and Joe Davola will executive produce the project alongside Shepherd.

EXTREME MAKEOVER: HOME EDITION (ABC) - The Alphabet has scheduled a special two-hour edition of the series, "Friends Helping Friends," for Thursday, May 6 at 8:00/7:00c. The episode, which will feature a live "reveal" at approximately 10:50/9:50c following a shortened edition of "Primetime Thursday," will "create magic on one home in one day for some truly deserving New Yorkers," according to a network press release. "Throughout the live special, viewers will experience the chaotic process that goes on that day, beginning with team leader Ty Pennington's now-familiar "Good Morning!" surprise wake-up call to the deserving family, and ending with the emotional reveal.In between, there will be a behind-the-scenes look at how the work gets done, and updates on the families from previous episodes, including the Powers Family from the pilot episode and "Sweet" Alice Harris and her family from Watts, in California. There will also be never-before-seen footage of some of the rooms and projects that were undertaken but simply hadn't the time to be shown -- until now. The designers for this episode will be team leader Ty Pennington, Paul DiMeo, Paige Hemmis, Tracy Hutson, Michael Moloney, Constance Ramos and Preston Sharp." In addition, ABC will encore the two-hour installment on Saturday, May 8 at 9:00/8:00c.

THE GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW (ABC) - Viewers will have a chance to win $10,000 in cash, a family vacation to the Disneyland Resort and other prizes during the show's April 30 broadcast. Here's how ABC describes the episode, entitled "George Goes to Disneyland," via press release: "George reluctantly agrees to reward Max with a trip to Disneyland for improving his grades, but makes up an excuse to get out of going to the park with his family because of his fear that seeing all of the families enjoying themselves will remind him of his desolate childhood. When guilt finally gets the better of him and he asks Benny for a ride, he finally, for the first time in his life, spends a day at the happiest place on earth alone with his mom." Eagle-eyed viewers will be invited to find the hidden images of Mickey Mouse seen in the episode - anything from T-shirts to ketchup bottles to even symbolic representations of Mickey Mouse's head's shape - and either mail in their entries or go to ABC.com and identify the Mickey images for a chance to win. Those interested can visit ABC's web site for additional information.

ME, ME, ME (UPN) - Tori Spelling ("The Help") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about two best friends (Spelling, Ayda Field) whose shallow New York ways are compromised when one of the pair's younger sister comes to town (Julie Gonzalo). Innis Casey also stars. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the project, which comes from executive producers Tom Straw and Lisa Birnbach.

OUTBACK JACK (A.K.A. UNTITLED BRUCE NASH PROJECT) (TBS) - The cable channel has outlined the details of its upcoming reality series from reality guru Bruce Nash ("For Love or Money"). The project, described as a mix of "Survivor," "The Simple Life" and "The Bachelor," tracks 12 city women as they compete for the love of Aussie adventurer Vadim Dale with the twist being the show itself takes place in the Outback, where the women must rough it alongside Dale to win him over. J.D. Roberto ("Shop 'Til You Drop") hosts the eight-episode series, which will debut on Tuesday, June 22 following the network's newly acquired repeat run of "Sex and the City."

TOUCHING EVIL (USA) - After opening to a less-than-spectacular 3.37 million total viewers on March 12, the midseason drama has averaged an even worse 2.3 million viewers in the three weeks since. Nevertheless, the series is up 122% in year-to-year time slot comparisons and has seen its audience grow from 776,000 to 1.21 million among adults 18-49 and 1.078 million to 1.311 million among adults 25-54 between its third and fourth episodes. Less encouraging however is the fact those year-to-year comparisons are against repeats of "Monk."

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [april 2004]  

· ME, ME, ME (UPN)

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