LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
AMERICAN BANDSTAND (New!) - 19 Entertainment's Simon Fuller ("American Idol"), Mosaic Media Group's Allen Shapiro and Dick Clark Productions are looking to revive the 1957-87 series for network television. The trio hopes to ride the coattails of the "Idol" phenomenon by offering a new live music programming option. And like "Idol," Fuller and company are looking into sponsorship/product integration deals like the FOX series' with Coke, Ford and AT&T. It's expected to be pitched this week to the broadcast networks as a low-cast Saturday night series with a summer 2005 target launch date. Not surprisingly, the group also plans to add a few new twists to "Bandstand," including having the artists sing live, taping the show simultaneously in four cities (Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and New York) with hosts at each location, as well as possibly introducing a dance contest element to the show with viewers able to vote on the winner. None of the hosts for the new "Bandstand" have been named, however a search is underway. In addition to the network version, a weekday version is also being considered for first-run syndication. Clark, Fuller and Shapiro will serve as executive producers on the project.
ANGEL (WB) - The "Buffy" spin-off closed its five-year run last week with all-time high viewership in men 12-34 (3.8/12) and men 18-34 (4.0/12) not to mention finished second in its time period in all male demographics and third in persons 12-34, females 12-34, adults 18-34, women 18-34, and female teens, according to a network press release. In addition, the broadcast hit season highs in persons 12-34 (3.5/10), adults 18-34 (3.8/10), women 18-34 (3.5/8), adults 18-49 (2.9/7), women 18-49 (2.9/6), and men 18-49 (2.9/8), despite airing against a one-hour episode of "American Idol" on FOX. Overall, said episode was also the most-watched installment of the series in persons 12-34, adults 18-34, and adults 18-49 since November 2000 and women 18-34 since May 2001.
THE BIGGEST LOSER (NBC, New!) - Just one week after its upfront presentation, the Peacock has handed out an eight-episode order for a "new, unscripted and life-altering drama that will provide severely overweight participants with the opportunity to undergo a radical physical makeover � without any kind of surgery," according to a network press release. Ben Silverman ("The Restaurant"), J.D. Roth ("For Love or Money") and Dave Broome ("Jingle Ball Rock") are all behind the project via their respective companies Reveille, 3 Ball and 25/7 Productions. "Loser" will feature 12-16 contestants ranging from 35 to 100 pounds overweight, all of whom will take up residence in a "Big Brother"-style house. The series will then feature a series of "Apprentice"-esque challenges in a yet-to-be-announced elimination format with the winner being the person who's in the best shape at the end of the run, not necessarily the one who lost the most weight. Viewers will also be able to "play along" as they'll have access to each contestants excerise and nutrition regime. Casting is underway on the project in major cities. Interested parties can visit NBC's web site for more information.
BRAT PACK CONFIDENTIAL (VH1, New!) - Windmill Entertainment and Von Zerneck/Sertner Films are developing a four-hour mini-series at the cable channel about the adolescent years of 1980s stars Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and Demi Moore. Andrew Pulver and Steven Davies's book "Brat Pack Confidential" will serve as the basis of the project with Windmill's Craig Nevius writing the adaptation. No other details were available.
C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - Writer/producer Josh Berman has inked a three-year overall deal with the show's producers CBS Productions and Alliance Atlantis. Under the terms of the pact, he'll remain with show through the 2006-07 season and get a promotion from supervising producer to co-executive producer this fall.
CELEBRITY BLACKJACK (GSN, New!) - The cable channel is set to launch its own celebrity card series on Monday, July 5 at 10:00/9:00c. The six-episode project features 25 celebrities playing for $100,000 to be donated to their favorite charity. Much like Bravo's "Celebrity Poker Showdown," the series has the 25 celebrities playing each other in five games (one per episode) with the winners going on to play in the championship sixth episode. Here's a breakdown of the celebrties involved: Monday, July 5 (Snoop Dogg, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Alexander, Camryn Manheim, Kevin Nealon); Monday, July 12 (Richard Belzer, Chynna Phillips, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Andy Dick, Mark Steines); Monday, July 19 (Eddie Griffin, Jamie Kennedy, Melissa Joan Hart, Hal Sparks, Dean Cain); Monday, July 26 (Shannen Doherty, Caroline Rhea, D.L. Hughley, Willie Garson, Bijou Phillips); and Monday, August 2 (Billy Baldwin, Ben Stein, Shelley Morrison, Rodney Peete, John Melendez) with the finals airing on Monday, August 9. Matt Vasgersian (lead TV broadcaster for the San Diego Padres) and Alex Borstein ("Mad TV") host the series Gavin Polone's Pariah Television.
THE GREAT DOMESTIC SHOWDOWN (ABC) - After being dumped from the Alphabet's May sweeps plans, ABC has confirmed the two-night special is currently scheduled to run in July. "Showdown," which is hosted by Adam Corrolla, features six contestants as the try to prove their skill in categories such as cooking, gardening and party planning. Barry Josephson, Mindy Moore and John Saade are the executive producers in association with Michael Davies' Diplomatic Productions.
THE INSIDER (Syndication) - The "Entertainment Tonight" spin-off, which has now been cleared by Paramount Domestic Television on local stations covering 98% of the country, is set to launch on Monday, September 13. Several markets plan to pair "Insider" with its parent series in the 7:00/6:00c hour.
THE LIBRARIAN (TNT) - Noah Wyle ("ER") has signed on for the title role of upcoming telefilm, the first of a potential movie franchise for the cable channel, about the guardian of a repository of mythical artifacts (ranging from the Golden Fleece to the Ark of the Covenant) beneath the New York Public Library. Peter Winther, a second unit director on "The Patriot" and "Godzilla," will helm the project, which is executive produced by Dean Devlin's Electric Entertainment and written by David Titcher ("Around the World in 80 Days"). Electric executives Marc Roskin and Kearie Peak will also serve as executive producers on the project, which is expected to bow in December of this year.
LISTEN UP (CBS) - The producers of the Jason Alexander-led comedy are currently recasting the wife character, played in the pilot by Kirsten Nelson ("The O'Keefes").
MARTHA STEWART LIVING (Syndication) - As expected, the syndicated household-advice series has been officially placed on indefinite hiatus after its current 11th season due to host Martha Stewart's legal troubles. Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, her umbrella company, insists the move is not a cancellation. Nevertheless, the company will take a $2 million restructuring charge in the second quarter and lay off an undetermined number of employees due to the move. The show is currently cleared in just 52% of the country, down from the 90% the series earned before Stewart's convinction. Omnipedia will still continue to offer (through Tribune Entertainment) the weekly half-hour series "Pet Keeping With Marc Morrone" and is developing a series of monthly syndicated half-hours based on the "Everyday Food" segment of "Martha Stewart Living."
MEDIUM (NBC) - Rene Echevarria ("Star Trek: The Next Generation," "The 4,400") is set to reteam with his former "Now & Again" boss Glenn Gordon Caron on the midseason drama as the writer/producer has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the show's distributor, Paramount Network Television. In addition to serving as an executive producer on "Medium" alongside Caron, Kelsey Grammer and Steve Sark, Echevarria will also develop new projects for the studio. Echevarria recently completed a two-year deal with Touchstone during which he served on the short-lived ABC drama "MDs."
MISS MATCH (NBC) - The defunct series' star Alicia Silverstone has signed a one-year, six-figure talent holding deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for the studio to develop a new starring vehicle for the actress. 20th produced "Match" along with Imagine Television and Darren Star Productions.
THE MEN'S ROOM (NBC) - Eric Lively ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") has been let go of the midseason comedy for unspecified reasons. Lively played Michael in the project, about three buddies in the 20s, 30s and 40s respectively.
NEARLY NIRVANA (A.K.A. NEVERMIND NIRVANA) (NBC) - Kal Penn ("Van Wilder") has been dismissed from the lead role in the comedy project, which is under consideration for a midseason order at the Peacock. The project, which is now running under the title "Nearly Nirvana," explores what happens when an Indian-American doctor's (Penn) immigrant parents move in with him and his Caucasian wife (Judy Greer).
NORTH SHORE (FOX) - Ken Biller ("Star Trek: Voyager") has signed on as a co-executive producer of the upcoming drama series. In addition, he's landed a blind script commitment at the show's distributor 20th Century Fox Television. He'll executive produce "Shore" alongside Chris Brancato, Bert Salke, Kevin Falls and Peyton Reed and is expected to write and direct several installments this season.
OUR FATHERS (Showtime) - Ted Danson ("Becker") is the latest to join the cast of Showtime's telefilm about the sexual abuse scandal in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. He'll play the lead role in the project, Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston lawyer who took on the local Archdiocese as the attorney for some of the first victims of molestation who spoke out. Danson joins the previously cast Christopher Plummer as Cardinal Bernard Law and Brian Dennehy as Father Domenic "Spags" Spagnolia. Production is set to begin on June 21 in Toronto and Boston with Dan Curtis directing from an adaptation of David France's book of the same name by Thomas Michael Donnelly.
THE PRACTICE: FLEET STREET (ABC) - Despite a pre-existing option, Rebecca De Mornay's is not expected to graduate to "The Practice" spin-off when it launches this fall. No reason was given.
PYROR OFFENSES (Showtime) - The pay channel has greenlighted production on its comedy pilot from executive producer Richard Pryor. The project features an updated take on Pryor's real-life experience as a thirtysomething comedian on the verge of a career breakthrough who is dealing with a ton of personal issues. Also getting the green light were five other pilots: "Weeds," a comedy about a suburban mom and her daughter; "The Cell," a drama that focuses on an ex-con black Muslim recruited by the F.B.I. to go infiltrate a sleeper Islamic terrorist cell; "Southie," a drama about two ambitious bothers from South Boston, one a politician and the other a gangster; an untitled comedy described as a "Seinfeld"-like take on living in New York among all the Uptown and Downtown denizens; and the drama "Hate," a fictionalized take on the N.Y.P.D.'s real-life bias unit, which chronicles the gritty hate-crime investigations throughout New York's five boroughs.
QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (Bravo) - The cable smash will launch its second season on Tuesday, June 1 according to a network press release. Among the "guys" to be featured this season are fraternal twin frat boys Brandon and David Bravo as well as a special "Queer Eye for the Gay Guy" episode in honor of Gay Pride Month set for June 29.
THE RESTAURANT (NBC) - The Peacock has opted to burn off the show's final three installments of its second season on consecutive Saturdays beginning this week. Back-to-back episodes will run on Saturday, May 29 starting at 8:00/7:00c with the finale on Saturday, June 5, also at 8:00/7:00c. Cable's Bravo network will then encore the season's entire six-episode run Wednesdays at 9:00/8:00c starting June 9.
THE REVENGE OF THE MIDDLE-AGED WOMAN (CBS, New!) - Christine Lahti (of the upcoming "Jack & Bobby") is set to star in a new telefilm at the Eye based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Elizabeth Buchan. The project stars the actress as a woman in her late-40s who seemingly has it all - two kids, a succesful marriage and a job as a book review editor - until her husband leaves her for her young assistant and she loses her job to said assistant. Production is set to begin on June 7 in Los Angeles with the book's location not surprisingly changed from from London to San Francisco. Dan Wigutow is the executive producer of the project, additional details of which not available.
RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER (CBS) - Anjelica Huston ("Bastard Out of Carolina") has signed on to direct the telefilm, which stars Andie MacDowell ("Dinner With Friends") and Rosie O'Donnell as estranged sisters. MacDowell plays a New York photographer who ends up spending more time with her mentally challenged sister Beth (O'Donnell) after their father dies and discovers that Beth has created a whole new family through riding buses all day. Larry Sanitsky, through his Sanitsky Co., and O'Donnell serve as the executive producers of the project, which is expected to bow some time next season.
ROME (HBO) - Despite previous reports, Tony To ("Band of Brothers," "From the Earth to the Moon") has opted not to sign onto the pay channel's epic new drama project. To's decision is reportedly due to HBO's required five-year commitment to the project during which 65 hours and $400 million could eventually be produced and spent respectively. Also factoring into the move was To's desire to be involved with projects from the ground up rather than climbing aboard mid-shoot.
SEX AND THE CITY (HBO) - The show's long rumored feature version has been shot down as actress Kim Cattrall has opted not to be involved with the project. "Kim felt fortunate to have enjoyed six wonderful years, both personally and professionally, playing Samantha on 'Sex and the City,'" her spokeswoman Marvet Britto said in statement. "She would have loved to have done the movie and made a deal to do the movie, but waited as long as possible with no script or start date and felt she had to take other offers that were presented to her after the hold period had passed. Kim would of course love to do the film and would be happy to revisit the project in the future." Industry insiders however suggest that Cattrall's decision may be a salary issue as it's understood she did not agree with HBO's plans to pay star Sarah Jessica Parker more than her fellow co-stars Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis. Nevertheless, despite a completed script by writer/director Michael Patrick King, HBO appears unwilling to move forward with the film by recasting Cattrall's role or writing her out of the script.
SERIOUSLY, DUDE I'M GAY (FOX) - The network has decided not to air the much ballyhooed two-hour special on Monday, June 7. In its place FOX has opted to run the theatrical "American Pie 2." No reason for the move was given nor was a rescheduled air date.
TRU CALLING (FOX) - Jane Espenson ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is set to come aboard the drama as a co-executive producer of the series when it returns for a second season this fall. The move comes as the result of a two-year overall deal the writer/producer has signed with 20th Century Fox Television. In addition, she'll also develop new projects for the studio.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters