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.
CANAL STREET BROTHEL (CBS) - Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn has signed on to star in the telefilm, which tells the true story of Jeanette Maier, a woman who ran a brothel with her mother and daughter in a quiet residential neighborhood in New Orleans. Burstyn will play Tommie Taylor, the mother. "Canal" was put into development after the story appeared on the Eye's newsmagazine "48 Hours," which detailed the trio's $5,000-$10,000 a week income and client roster that included powerful men in Southern business, politics and law enforcement. Vincent Patrick ("Gotti") will write the script for the project based in part on Maier's diary. Production on the project is set to begin late next month in New Orleans.
COMMANDO NANNY (WB) - Kristin Dattilo ("The Chris Isaak Show") has been added to the cast of the upcoming comedy series, the Frog's sole new scripted half-hour this fall. She'll take over for Kristin Bauer as Lizzie the new, younger wife of Gerald McRaney's character. "Nanny" stars Philip Winchester as a young ex-commando who's hired by the pair to watch over McRaney's children.
CRIMES OF FASHION (ABC Family) - The ABC cable sibling's latest telefilm pulled in 2.697 million viewers (2.0 household rating) on Sunday, good enough to put the network above the WB for the night in most of the major demographics. "Crimes" fared best among women 18-34 (1.4 rating), teens (2.1) and female teens 12-17 (3.2), finishing among the top five among all networks, broadcast and cable, in each.
FRANKENSTEIN (USA) - The cable channel has scheduled the two-hour backdoor pilot for Sunday, October 10 at 9:00/8:00c. Parker Posey and Adam Goldberg star in the project, a modern take on the classic "Frankenstein" story as the doctor (Thomas Kretschmann) and his monster are discovered in present-day Seattle by the pair, who play homicide detectives. Michael Madsen and Vincent Perez also star in the project, which comes from Dean Koontz, Martin Scorsese and Tony Krantz. USA's "Frankenstein" is not to be confused with the Hallmark Channel's own take on the tale, a four mini-series starring Alec Newman and William Hurt, which airs October 26-27.
THE GRID (TNT) - Week two of the four-week limited series snagged 3.17 million viewers on Monday, including a 1.1 rating/3 share among adults 18-49, down 30% from its two-hour opener the previous week (4.52 million, 1.2/4 in adults 18-49).
INTO THE WEST (TNT) - Keri Russell ("Felicity") and Josh Brolin ("Mister Sterling") are the latest additions to the $50 million, 12-hour limited series about the opening of the American West in the 19th century through the eyes of two multigenerational families, one of white settlers and one of Native Americans, from executive producer Steven Spielberg. Brolin will play a pioneer named Jedediah, who inspires Jacob Wheeler (Matthew Settle) and his brother Jethro (Skeet Ulrich) to head west on a treacherous wagon train journey. Russell will play their jilted cousin Naomi. Production is on track to begin later this summer for a summer 2005 premiere.
JEOPARDY! (Syndication) - The Ken Jennings phenomenon helped propel the syndicated game show to a 10.2 household rating for the week ending July 18, its highest numbers in over four years. Said number was up 21% from the previous week, helping make the series the top syndicated draw for the first time in at least 13 years.
THE CLOSER/THE LINE (TNT, New!) - The cable channel has greenlit two new drama pilots, marking the network's first venture into original drama series since it canceled "Witchblade" in 2002. "The Closer," which comes from The Shephard/Robin Co. and Warner Bros. Television, tracks a strong, provocative, atypical female character who heads up a unit of the L.A.P.D. that handles high-profile murder cases while "The Line," from DreamWorks Television and Sony Pictures Television, follows a rules-breaking Miami prosecutor whose decadent lifestyle reinforces his maverick ways on the job. James Duff ("The D.A.") is the mind behind the former while Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey ("Las Vegas") are spearheading the latter along with writer Mark Rosner ("Crime Story"). Casting is underway for both projects, the better of which will receive a series order in January for a summer 2005 premiere.
THE NEXT GREAT CHAMP (FOX) - The network has quietly wrapped production on the Oscar De La Hoya-led reality series, about the search for (you guessed it) the next great boxing champ. Producer Endemol USA also confirmed it has taped several different title fights without telling the live audience if the bout was real, among other things, in order to preserve the show's true winner. No premiere date has been set for "Champ," although it's expected to launch in October on Friday nights in time to beat NBC's similarly-themed "The Contender" to the air. The news also comes in advance of a hearing this week by the California State Athletic Commission, whose chairman has expressed concern over whether certain fights on "Champ" had appropriate supervision.
REVELATIONS (NBC) - Gavin Polone's production company Pariah has parted ways with the Peacock after two years over creative differences concerning its comedy development. The move, which involves a seven-figure settlement paid to the company by NBC, won't affect the pair's upcoming drama series "Revelations." "There were four comedy pilots we produced that I believe were better than the shows they put on," Polone told Daily Variety. "We have a different point of view on what's a viable comedy. I'm not saying I'm right; I may be wrong. But I'd rather give up some short-term (coin) and have some more latitude." The move also won't feature any executive changes as Jessika Borsiczky and Vivian Cannon will continue to head up production for the company.
THE SERRANOS (NBC, New!) - Ben Silverman's Reveille (NBC's "Coupling," "The Office") has acquired the rights to develop the Spanish series "The Serranos" for the Peacock. The project, currently one of Spanish broadcaster Telecinco's top draws, is a family drama about the rekindled romance of two former high school sweethearts - Diego Serrano, a widower with three sons who runs a tavern and cafe, and Lucia, a divorced teacher with two teenaged daughters - who meet 20 years later and remarry, blending their families along with them. No other details were available other than it will be set up at NBC Universal Television with "Serranos'" Spanish producer Globomedia, and its sister company that brokered the sale, Promofilm, likely getting producing credits.
SEX AND THE CITY (TBS) - Repeats of the HBO comedy are slowly fading for the cable channel as the off-cable run has fallen from 4.164 million households (for the combined June 22-23 broadcasts) to 3.149 for its most recent week (July 20-21), a dip of 24%. The series also experienced similar dips among women 18-34 (23%) and women 18-49 (28%). "Sex" nevertheless remains one of the TBS' top draws among adults 18-49 (935,000 viewers), nearly doubling the numbers of second place "Friends" (482,000). Overall, "Sex" helped TBS become the fifth most-watched cable network in July among total viewers (behind USA, TNT, ESPN and FX), first in adults 18-34 and third (behind TNT and USA) in adults 18-49.
SUPERNANNY (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has given an eight-episode order to a new reality series from Ricochet Productions, beating out FOX in a bidding war for the project. Described as "Extreme Makeover" for parents, "Supernanny" is based on the U.K. series of the same name. "Supernanny" tracks real-life British nanny Jo Frost as she moves in with families, figures out what's wrong and serves up some blunt advice to help parents take control of their unruly kids. Producers then return a few weeks after Frost leaves to see if her advice stuck. Nick Powell, the force behind the U.K. original, will also develop the U.S. version. Not surprisingly, the loser of the bidding war for "Supernanny," FOX, is said to be in final negotiations with Granada Television for the similarly-titled series "Nanny 911." No start date was given for "Supernanny."
THAT '70S SHOW (FOX) - Tim Reid ("Linc's") has scored a recurring role on the veteran comedy. He'll play a record producer who (highlight to read) turns out to be the father of Danny Masterson's character. It's not clear when Reid's first appearance will be.
UNTITLED JOHN STAMOS PROJECT (ABC) - Writer/producer Jeffrey Richman ("Frasier") has been tapped to serve as a showrunner on the midseason entry, a romantic comedy starring Stamos a single PR guy. He'll work alongside creator-executive producer Austin Winsberg on the 20th Century Fox Television/Brad Grey Television project. Richman's involvement is a result of his overall deal with 20th, while Winsberg has also scored a hefty blind script commitment from 20th in addition to his work on the Stamos project.
VERONICA MARS (UPN) - Sydney Tamiia Poitier ("Joan of Arcadia," "Abby") has joined the cast of the upcoming drama series. She'll play Mallory Dent, a journalism teacher who serves as a mentor to the title character (Kristen Bell). Poitier will make her first appearance on the show's second episode.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters