[06/18/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: June 17-18
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (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.

ACCESS HOLLYWOOD (Syndication) - "Access" anchor Pat O'Brien has exited his post at the syndicated newsmagazine after seven years as he's expected to take over hosting duties for Paramount's upcoming "Entertainment Tonight" spin-off, "The Insider." The show's East Coast correspondent, Billy Bush, will take over for O'Brien as co-host alongside Nancy O'Dell once he completes his coverage of the Summer Olympics. O'Brien, whose last day was on Friday, will nevertheless still be part of NBC's Summer Olympic coverage as part of a seperate deal with NBC Sports. As for O'Dell, the sometimes actress has inked a new multi-year pact to remain with "Access" for the foreseeable future. In addition to O'Brien, "Good Morning America" alum Lara Spencer is also expected to sign on as part of "The Insider," which bows on September 13.

BLOW OUT (Bravo) - 727,000 viewers tuned into the second week of the cable channel's new reality series, up 12.71% from its debut numbers last week (645,000 viewers). At 10:00/9:00c, lead-out "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" pulled in another 1.8 million viewers, on par with its previous week.

EIGHT SIMPLE RULES (ABC) - Writer/producers Judd Pillot and John Peaslee ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") have signed on as the executive producers/showrunners of the comedy series. They'll take over for Tracy Gamble, who exited the series for personal reasons earlier this month (read the story). Pillot and Peaslee's involvement stems from a one-year overall deal, that has an option for a second year, the duo recently signed with Touchstone Television, "Rules'" distributor. As for Gamble, Touchstone reportedly is seeking to keep him on board the comedy as a consulting producer at the very least.

HUMANITAS PRIZE - The finalists for the 2004 Humanitas Prize have been announced, an award which recognizes writers of works that investigate the meaning of human life, speak to freedom and reveal the common humanity in society. Among the television categories, "Angels in America" (Tony Kushner), "Iron Jawed Angels" and "Jasper, Texas" were recognized in the 90-minute plus category while "ER" ("Makemba" by John Wells and two scripts from "Joan of Arcadia" ("Pilot" by Barbara Hall and "The Uncertainty Principle" by Joy Gregory) got the nod in the 60-minute category. As for the 30-minute category, a script from "Scrubs" ("My Screwup" by Garrett Donovan & Neil Goldman) and a pair from "The Bernie Mac Show" ("Eye of the Tiger" by Richard Appel and "Saving Sergeant Tompkins" by JacQui Clay) were recognized. The winners will be announced on Thursday, July 8 at a luncheon at the Universal Hilton in Los Angeles.

THE JOE SCHMO SHOW (Spike TV) - Season two of the cable series opened to a disappointing 596,000 viewers on Tuesday as the launch suffered against the NBA Finals. Among the network's target demographics of men 18-34 and men 18-49 the broadcast posted a paltry 0.6 rating/2 share and 0.4/1 respectively. Overall the series was off 23.49% from its launch numbers last summer (779,000 viewers). "Schmo" went on to draw 3.4 million viewers for its first season finale.

MARTHA STEWART LIVING (Syndication) - E! sibling the Style Network has signed a three-year deal to carry repeats of the series weeknights at 8:00/7:00c starting later this month. The move will eventually make Style the exclusive home to "Living," whose syndication contracts expire this fall after 11 seasons. In addition, Style has ordered four original one-hour specials from Stewart's company that focus on weddings. No target air dates for said specials were given.

NEWLYWEDS: NICK & JESSICA (MTV) - A more than solid 3.1 million viewers tuned into the show's summer premiere on Wednesday. Said installment however was down a surprising 34.04% from its January second season premiere (4.7 million). Lead-out "The Ashlee Simpson Show" nevertheless took full advantage of its "Newlyweds" lead-in, pulling in 2.6 million viewers.

THE REAL GILLIGAN'S ISLAND (TBS) - Industry insiders have confirmed the cable channel has already committed to two eight-episode seasons of the upcoming reality series from reality guru Mike Fleiss. Casting is underway on the show's first installment, which is set to launch this fall. Fleiss executive produces the series alongside "Gilligan's Island" creator Sherwood Schwartz and son Lloyd Schwartz.

SEX AND THE CITY (TBS) - The show's syndicated run kicked off on Tuesday to the tune of a whopping 4.0 million viewers, making it the most-watched cable series that night among total viewers and adults 25-54. The broadcast also fared well among adults 18-49 (2.3 million), women 18-49 (1.6 million) and women 25-54 (1.5 million). A second episode at 10:30/9:30c also fared well, drawing in 3.4 million viewers while its second night on the TBS schedule still impressed with 3.0 million viewers.

THE SHIELD (FX) - The cop drama wrapped its third season with 2.1 million viewers, including a 1.3 rating/4 share in men 18-49 and a 1.4/4 in men 18-34. Said numbers were down 25% from its season opener (2.8 million on 3/9/04).

THIEF (FX) - The cable channel has given the go ahead to produce a pilot for the drama project, about a thief (Andre Braugher) and his robbery crew who, preparing for their next hit, find themselves chased not only by the law but also by the Chinese mafia. Malik Yoba ("New York Undercover"), Mae Whitman ("State of Grace") and Will Yun Lee ("Die Another Day") also star in the project, which comes from Fox TV Studios, Regency Television and Pariah Television. Yoba will play a crew member who is a demolition expert and former Marine, while Lee will play a member of the Chinese mafia. In addition, Whitman is set as the teenage stepdaughter of Braugher's character, whom he's forced to take care of after a personal crisis. Paul McGuigan ("Gangster No. 1") will direct the pilot from a script by the show's creator, Norman Morrill ("Early Edition").

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [june 2004]  

· ER (NBC)

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