LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX)/C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - Aisha Tyler ("Friends") is set to appear in a three-episode arc on both dramas. She'll play a data analyst who shakes things up at the Counter Terrorism Unit on the former and a quirky scientist who comes to work with Las Vegas' C.S.I. team on the latter. Both arcs begin on the third episode of each respective series and include the option to appear in three additional episodes.
COLD TURKEY (PAX) - The fledgling network has scheduled the A.J. Benza-hosted series to premiere Sunday, October 3 at 10:00/9:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Bamboozled into thinking they were going to join the cast of an outrageous reality show, ten unsuspecting chain smokers discover that the real task at hand is to quit smoking �cold turkey� while sequestered in a house for over three weeks. A series that is sure to have television viewers talking this fall, �Cold Turkey� reveals a new and positive side to reality, exploring the world of self-esteem and keeping one�s word."
FAITH OF MY FATHERS (A&E, New!) - The life of Sen. John McCain is set to be the focus of a new telefilm at the cable channel. The project, based on McCain's autobiography "Faith of My Fathers" which he co-wrote with Mark Salter, will focus on his experience as a Navy pilot including being shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and imprisoned for five years by the North Vietnamese. A&E is fast-tracking development on "Fathers" in order to begin production later this year for a 2005 premiere. Traveler's Rest Films is set to executive produce the project alongside Tom Thayer and A&E's Delia Fine with Alan Barnette producing and Emilio Nunez as supervising producer. William Bingham will adapt "Fathers" for the small screen while a director has yet to be announced.
THE FIVE PEOPLE YOU MEET IN HEAVEN (ABC) - The Alphabet has slated its small screen adaptation of the bestselling novel by Mitch Albom for Sunday, December 5. The ensemble cast includes Jon Voight, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Imperioli, Steven Grayhm, Dagmara Dominczyk and Jeff Daniels.
FOR THE PEOPLE (Lifetime) - Producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses have signed a one-year overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the duo to develop series projects as non-writing executive producers for the studio under their Sander/Moses Productions banner. Sander and Moses (whose credits for Touchstone include "The Beast" and the pilots "Partners in Crime" and "Astronauts") are said to already be working with writers Carole Doyle ("Veronica Guerin"), John Gray ("Helter Skelter") and Ken Sanzel ("The Replacement Killers") on potential projects.
THE INSIDER (Syndication) - Ananda Lewis ("The Ananda Lewis Show") and Victoria Recano ("Inside Edition") have both been named correspondents on the upcoming "Entertainment Tonight" spin-off. The pair will join host Pat O'Brien and New York anchor Lara Spencer when the series launches on September 13.
LAGUNA BEACH: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY (MTV) - The cable channel has bumped the show's premiere back two weeks as the reality take on "The O.C." will now launch on Tuesday, September 28 at 10:30/9:30c following "The Real World."
REVELATIONS (NBC) - Vivian Cannon and Jessika Borsiczky, the production heads of Gavin Polone's Pariah Television, have opted to exit the company by the end of the year. The pair's departure won't affect their work as executive producers on Pariah's projects - which include the FX drama pilot "Thief" and the NBC midseason drama "Revelations" - as they actually plan to focus solely on the company's current slate in lieu of having to split their energies between developing new and current properties.
SAMANTHA: AN AMERICAN GIRL HOLIDAY (The WB) - The Frog's first ever original movie, based on the bestselling line of books and dolls from Mattel, is set to air Tuesday, November 23 at 8:00/7:00c. Anna Sophia Robb ("Because of Winn-Dixie") stars as a 9-year-old orphan girl named Samantha Parkington who moves in with her grandmother (Mia Farrow) and learns how to become a proper Victorian young lady in 1904. Kelsey Lewis, Rebecca Mader and Jordan Bridges also star.
TANNER ON TANNER (Sundance) - Sundance's sequel to the HBO mini-series "Tanner '88" from Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman is set to premiere Tuesday, October 5 at 9:00/8:00c on the network. Michael Murphy and Cynthia Nixon each reprise their roles in the project, which revisits Tanner's 1988 campaign and includes footage from the 2004 DNC convention as well as cameos by Mario Cuomo, Madeleine Albright and Carl Bernstein among others.
TOUCHSTONE TELEVISISON TALENT DEALS - Peter Dinklage ("The Station Agent"), Lenny Clarke ("It's All Relative") and Eddie Cibrian ("Third Watch") have each signed separate talent holding deals with Touchstone Television. The respective pacts call for the studio to cast the actors in one of their existing projects or develop new projects around them.
TRUE (The WB, New!) - The Frog has given a cast-contingent pilot order for a new comedy from Warner Bros. Television about a twentysomething woman in her late 20s whose boyfriend breaks up with her while she is in labor with their baby, forcing her to move back in with her parents. Said development serves as a wake-up call for the new mother as she must grow out of her procrastinating ways, such as staying in school for as long as possible. Kari Lizer ("Will & Grace") is behind the project, which is currently casting for a possible midseason launch. The news marks the first major decision by incoming WB entertainment president David Janollari.
UNTITLED BOBBY BROWN PROJECT (Bravo, New!) - Bravo reportedly is in early discussions with troubled singer Bobby Brown about a new reality series for the network. Brown, through his production company B2 Entertainment, has been shopping around footage for a potential series since early April when he was released from jail and his wife, Whitney Houston, was in a rehab center. No other details, such as the level of participation by Houston, were available.
UNTITLED BOBBY KNIGHT PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Lindy DeKoven ("Listen Up") is spearheading a new comedy project at Paramount Network Television loosely based on famed college basketball coach Bobby Knight. DeKoven recently signed a deal with Paramount to set up her DeKoven Entertainment banner at the studio where she'll develop new and existing projects. Caitlin Mauney will serve as the director of development for DeKoven's company. As for the Knight project, the former Indiana University coach won't be directly involved with the comedy however he has given his blessing to DeKoven. It's not clear if the character will be named Knight or how closely it would follow Knight's life - which includes everything from three national championships to allegations of violent incidents with players.
UNTITLED DAN STALEY/ROB LONG PROJECT (New!) - Sony Pictures Television has signed the veteran writer/producer duo Dan Staley and Rob Long to a premium two-script deal with each project targeted for fall 2005. The pair spent the past development season shepherding two projects: a mother-daughter comedy starring Kirstie Alley and Ricki Lake at CBS and (alongside Timothy Fall) a father-son comedy that starred William Devane and Tom Everett Scott at ABC.
UNTITLED KEVIN SORBO PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The syndicated action star ("Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys") will switch to comedy for his latest effort as he's signed a talent holding deal with the network to develop a comedy project for the actor. Sorbo has guested on several of the Alphabet's comedies, including "Dharma & Greg," "According to Jim" and "Hope & Faith." Sorbo has just begun the process of meeting with producers and writers to hammer out a concept, but says he's hoping to do something set in the world of sports.
UNTITLED RAVEN SYMONE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Teen star Raven Symone ("That's So Raven") is looking to make the leap back to network television as the actress has signed a one-year, high-six-figure overall deal with the Alphabet. The pact calls for ABC to develop a series project for Symone targeted for fall 2005. While said project will most likely be comedy, it's understood the actress is also open to headling a drama for a network. Among the ideas being considered is a grown-up version of her current Disney Channel series, in which she plays a teenager who has the ability to receive psychic visions of the near future. Disney has already committed to 13 additional episodes of the series, bringing its total order to 78.
UNTITLED LISA & BRITTNY GASTINEAU PROJECT (New!) - True Entertainment is developing a new comic reality series (a la "The Simple Life") focusing on the mother-daughter New York partygoing team of Lisa and Brittny Gastineau. The company has completed production on a presentation pilot for the series, which would follow Lisa, 41, the ex-wife of New York Jets star Mark Gastineau and her model daughter Brittny, 21 and their expensive lifestyle. True's Steven Weinstock likens the project to a reality version of "Sex and the City" meets "Gilmore Girls." He'll executive produce the untitled series, which will be shopped to the broadcast and cable networks following the Labor Day holiday, alongside Glenda Hersh, Mark Lepselter and Lidna Lipman. Endemol ("Fear Factor," "Big Brother") owns a majority stake in True.
UNTITLED JERRY BRUCKHEIMER PROJECTS (The WB, New!) - The ever-busy Jerry Bruckheimer has scored two put pilot commitments from the Frog to develop a new comedy and a new drama project for the network. Jerry Bruckheimer Television and Warner Bros. Television are behind both projects. The drama, created by writer/producer Jonathan Shapiro ("The Practice"), centers on the relationship between a 17-year-old prodigy lawyer and his mentor. No concept has named for the comedy project under the deal. Bruckheimer and his company head Jonathan Littman will executive produce both projects.
ZOE'S LIST (ABC, New!) - John Scott Shepherd ("The Days") is sticking with Touchstone Television as the writer/producer has signed a two-script deal with the studio to develop two new projects targeted for fall 2005. The first, "Zoe's List," is set up at ABC and is described as a family-based dramedy with a supernatural hook.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters