LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE AMAZING RACE (CBS) - Casting has begun on a seventh edition of the series despite only being halfway through its fifth edition. The news comes as the show is experiencing a ratings renaissance on Tuesday nights as last week's installment was the sixth most-watched program for the August 2-8 period (10.55 million viewers). Season six of the series will shift to Saturday nights at 8:00/7:00c beginning September 25. Note that the casting order does not guarantee production will commence on a seventh season of "Race."
C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - Spike TV's nightly off-network run of the top-rated drama is set to begin Monday, September 13 with episodes airing weekdays at 7:00/6:00c and 8:00/7:00c with additional airings on Fridays at 9:00/8:00c and 10:00/9:00c. The cable channel had previously only been allowed to air the series once a week outside of primetime. To celebrate the show's new five-night-a-week run, Spike TV will air five nights of "best of" marathons the week leading up to its premiere: Best of Season 1 (Monday, September 6: 9:00 AM-9:00 PM, ET/PT & 11:00 PM-3:00 AM, ET/PT), Best of Season 2 (Tuesday, September 7: 9:00 AM-3:00 AM, ET/PT), Best of Season 3 (Wednesday, September 8: 9:00 AM -3:00 AM, ET/PT), Best of Season 4 (Thursday, September 9 - 9:00 AM-9:00 PM, ET/PT & 10:00 PM-3:00 AM, ET/PT) and Best of All Seasons (Friday, September 10: 9:00 AM -3:00 AM, ET/PT). In addition, Spike has slated a special "C.S.I."-themed episode of "MXC" for Thursday, September 2 at 10:00/9:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the episode: "In homage to CBS� popular series, MXC has pitted a special �CSI� forensics team challenging the combative �Kids Entertainment Industry�. MXC�s Vic Romano and Kenny Blankenship along with Inspector Guy LeDouche look to solve a grisly crime on the set."
THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (Comedy Central) - As no doubt expected, Bill Clinton's appearance on Monday drove the series to its best numbers to date, with 1.9 million viewers tuning in. Also helping out as a lead-in was the repurposed premiere of the WB's "Blue Collar TV" on the cable channel, which pulled in 2.6 million viewers.
ENTOURAGE/SIX FEET UNDER (HBO) - Things are looking up for the pay channel's comedy entry "Entourage" as the series earned 2.15 million viewers for its most recent Sunday airing, up 13.16% from its debut numbers (1.9 million). Lead-in "Six Feet Under" also saw a slight uptick with 3.95 million viewers on Sunday (versus 3.7 million for its fourth season premiere).
THE GRID (TNT) - 2.2 million viewers tuned into the show's two-hour concluding installment on Monday, including a 0.7 rating/2 share in adults 18-49. Overall the six-hour limited series averaged 3.2 million viewers for its four-week run, 1.2 million of which fell into the adults 18-49 demographic.
GROWING UP GOTTI (A&E) - Week two of the reality half-hour scored 2.6 million viewers on Monday, down 18.75% from its premiere last week (3.2 million).
MAN IN THE MIRROR (VH1) - Just over 1.0 million viewers caught the cable channel's Michael Jackson biopic on Friday. Among adults 18-49, "Mirror" earned a 0.5 rating/2 share.
OUTBACK JACK (TBS) - The show's season finale on Tuesday posted its best numbers yet as 2.6 million viewers tuned in, including a series high among adults 25-54.
ROMY AND MICHELE: IN THE BEGINNING (ABC) - The Alphabet has once again delayed the telefilm, a small prequel to the feature "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion." Originally set for Thursday, August 26, the network instead plans to air the theatrical "Charlie's Angels."
THE SIMPSONS (FOX) - Dan Castellaneta has won this year's award for voiceover performance according to an announcement by The Academy of TV Arts & Sciences this week. The news marks Castellaneta's third win, with previous victories in 1992 and 1993. This year's performance was based on the episode "Today I Am a Clown," in which he played the characters Homer, Krusty the Clown, Grampa Simpson, Groundskeeper Willie, Barney Gumble and Mel. Castellaneta will be given his Emmy during the Creative Arts portion of the 2004 Emmys on September 12. The voiceover section is a juried category, meaning no nominees are announced, only the winner.
STARTING OVER (Syndication) - Former talk show host Iyanla Vanzant ("Iyanla") and clinical psychologist Dr. Stan Katz are set to join the syndicated series when it returns for its second season on September 13. Vanzant will serve as a life coach supporting the six women on the series while Katz will serve as a consulting psychologist, offering clinical expertise. The pair join motivational expert Rhonda Britten, who is returning for her second season as a life coach.
STUDIO 7 (WB) - The Frog reportedly plans to pass on ordering a second cycle of the game show due to its dismal numbers this summer. To date this season "Studio" is averaging an invisible 1.75 million viewers and a 0.7 rating among adults 18-49. In addition, the network has opted to drop the show's Sunday, 9:00/8:00c encores, going instead with repeats of "Charmed" during the period. Should "Studio" officially get the hook, it's not clear what will air in the show's current Thursday, 9:00/8:00c slot this fall.
UNTITLED GRAHAM YOST PROJECT (New!) - "Boomtown" creator Graham Yost has signed a seven-figure, two-script deal with NBC Universal Television Studios. The pact calls for Yost to write and executive produce new projects at the studio, one of which may be co-written with his brother Chris.
WARM SPRINGS (HBO, New!) - Kenneth Branagh is set to topline a new telefilm at the pay channel focusing on Franklin D. Roosevelt's pre-presidency days. Joseph Sargent ("Something the Lord Made") is already on board to direct the project from a script by Margaret Nagle, based on her original story. The title "Springs" comes from the name of the rehabilitation retreat in Georgia where FDR battled polio. Springs went on to be nicknamed "the Little White House" as the two-term New York governor and 12-year president built a cottage nearby the grounds and frequently visited. Interestingly enough, FDR died of a cerebral hemorrhage while posing for a portrait at Warm Springs. Mark Gordon ("And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself") and Celia Costas ("Angels in America") will executive produce "Springs" with Chrisann Verges producing. Production is set to begin this fall for an early 2005 air date.
THE WEST WING (NBC) - Jimmy Smits ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") and Sam Robards ("American Beauty") are both set to take up residence on the veteran Peacock drama in recurring roles. Smits will play a three-term Houston congressman with intense political ambitions while Robards will reprise his role as Greg Brock on the series. In addition, Robards has scored a recurring role on CBS' fall entry "Clubhouse" in which he'll play a love interest for Mare Winningham's character. As for Smits, it's not clear how Smits' appearance will ultimately play in the expected turnover on "The West Wing" as speculation has Smits eventually filling in for Martin Sheen as President on the series. NBC and Warner Bros. Television have yet to confirm the Smits' news as the deal itself has yet to be finalized.
YOU ARE HERE (FOX, New!) - FOX has given a premium script commitment to a new drama series from writer/producer Jenny Bicks ("Sex and the City") about a group of small-town Minnesota teens who dream of becoming a big-time girl band. The dramedy plans to focus on the girls' lives as well as those of their parents and friends. Bicks' pact, which calls for her to write and executive produce the project via Brad Grey Television and 20th Century Fox Television, includes a six-figure penalty should the project fail to go to series. Singer-songwriter Susan Sandberg has also signed on to write the music for the series, with each episode likely featuring two musical performances.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters