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.
ANONYMOUS REX (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has confirmed it will air the two-hour backdoor pilot on Friday, November 19 at 9:00/8:00c with the option of additional episodes being produced based on its ratings performance. "Rex" revolves around a private investigator (Daniel Baldwin) and his partner (Sam Trammell) who just happen to be dinosaurs disguised as humans. Production was completed on "Rex" earlier this year with Sci Fi also committing to two additional scripts.
BE THE BOSS (New!) - Lions Gate Television has teamed with "Body by Jake" pitchman Jake Steinfeld for a potential new reality series in which the infomercial guru coaches aspiring entrepreneurs as they duke it out in a series of business-related challenges. Said project will track contestants as they present, test, defend and market their product or idea with the hopes of landing the startup capital necessary to launch a company. Planet Grande Productions' John Watkin and Eamon Harrington ("Breaking the News") are on board to executive produce "Boss," which is currently being pitched to the various broadcast and cable networks. Producers hope to time the show's launch with the spring 2005 release of Steinfeld's book "I've Seen a Lot of Famous People Naked and They've Got Nothing on You."
THE BOONDOCKS (Cartoon Network) - The failed FOX pilot has found new life as the cable channel has committed to 15 half-hour episodes of the animated comedy, which is based on the Aaron McGruder comic strip of the same name. The network hopes to begin production in time for "Boondocks" to premiere in the fall of 2005 as part of its successful "Adult Swim" lineup. McGruder will executive produce the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television, alongside Reggie Hudlin. "Boondocks" tracks the adventures of two boys, Riley and Huey, who experience a culture clash when they move from inner-city Chicago to the suburbs to live with their grandfather.
C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (Spike TV) - The show's five-day marathon the week of September 1 on the cable channel drove Spike TV to its best numbers ever. More importantly, during four of the five days of the marathon, Spike was the top basic cable channel in adults 18-49 and adults 18-34. Overall among total viewers, Spike finished third among all cable networks for the week, behind only TNT and ESPN, and was up a whopping 136% in year-to-year comparisons.
DEAD LAWYERS (Sci Fi) - Sci Fi has opted not to order the pilot, about a heartless attorney (Sean Patrick Flannery) who is forced to spend his afterlife working pro bono cases, to series. F. Murray Abraham also starred in the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and the Zanuck Co. Network executives were reportedly unhappily with the pilot and due to its shortened running time (just over one-hour) won't be repackaged as a telefilm.
FRANKENFISH (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has announced its latest Saturday original will air October 9 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "In this atmospheric chiller, an enormous amphibious fish is accidentally released into the Louisiana bayou, where it terrorizes an isolated houseboat community. The ragin' Cajuns learn the hard way that when this bottom-feeder comes up to hunt, humans move to the bottom of the food chain."
MINDY & BRENDA (The WB, New!) - Carsey-Werner-based producers Steve Martin and Joan Stein are set to team with actresses/writers Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers for a new comedy at the WB. The pair caught the attention of Martin and current WB topper David Janollari earlier this year after viewing their play "Matt and Ben," a snarky comedy about the lives of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in which the script to "Good Will Hunting" literally falls out of the sky into their hands. As for the Frog comedy, the project sees the two playing twentysomething women, former college roommates and best friends living together on the cheap in Brooklyn. The pair will also executive produce alongside Martin and Stein through their Martin/Stein Co. banner. In addition, Kaling has scored a staff writing job on NBC's midseason comedy "The Office: An American Workplace."
MEDICAL INVESTIGATION (NBC) - Craig Van Sickle and Steven Long Mitchell ("The Pretender") are set to return to the Peacock as the pair have been named the executive producers/showrunners of the freshman drama. The pair will take over for Laurence Andries, who exited the role for unspecified reasons. "Larry Andries is a talented writer who did a great job getting the show up and running," NBC Entertainment president Kevin Reilly said in a statement released on Tuesday. "We are encouraged by its debut and have brought in Craig Van Sickle and Steven Long Mitchell as showrunners to oversee the show for the long term." As for Andries, he'll return to developing projects as part of his overall deal with Touchstone Television. The studio had loaned the writer/producer out to "Investigation's" NBC Universal Television and Paramount Network Television. Bob Cooper, Scott Vila and Marc Buckland will remain as executive producers on the series, as will creator/co-executive producer Jason Horwitch.
SUPERNATURAL (The WB, New!) - McG ("The O.C.") and writer Eric Kripke ("Tarzan") have booked a put pilot commitment from the Frog for a new drama described as a cross between "The X-Files" and "Route 66." The project will track Sam, a recent Stanford graduate, who along with his estranged older brother Dean encounter unusual ghosts and local creatures straight out of American folk lore and urban legends during a road trip from San Francisco back home to Los Angeles. McG and Kripe will executive produce alongside Stephanie Savage at the former's Warner Bros. Television-based Wonderland Sound and Vision.
THRESHOLD (CBS, New!) - David Goyer ("Batman Begins"), David Heyman ("Harry Potter") and Bragi Schut have all scored a put pilot commitment for a new drama project at the Eye which tracks the government's response to an alien threat. The project, which is set up at Paramount Network Television, has Goyer directing from a script by Bragi with all three executive producing along with Mark Rosen. No other details were given.
UNTITLED DAVID ISRAEL/JIM O'DOHERTY PROJECT (NBC, New!) - David Israel and Jim O'Doherty ("3rd Rock from the Sun") are developing a new semi-improved comedy about the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a documentary company charged with producing fare for networks like the History Channel and the Discovery Channel. The project, which is set up at Carsey-Werner, is based on a short film the pair shot two years ago, which featured a Christopher Guest-style look at the people who produce said documentaries. O'Doherty himself, along with Kurtwood Smith ("That '70s Show"), Richard Riehle ("Grounded for Life") and Ron West ("3rd Rock from the Sun"), all appeared in the short.
UNTITLED KATALYST PROJECT (The WB, New!) - "Punk'd" creators Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg has scored a six-episode commitment from the Frog for a new dating/makeover series, full details of which are being kept under wraps. Writer Nick Santora ("Law & Order," "The Sopranos") created the project and will likely executive produce alongside Kutcher and Goldberg through their company Katalyst with 3 Balls Productions ("For Love or Money") showrunning. The news coincides with Katalyst's recent signing of a two-year overall development and production deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for 20th's spin-off Fox 21 to work with the company to produce several low-cost scripted and reality series, including said WB series. In addition, former Miramax Television topper Eli Holzman has signed on to run the TV side of the company. Production on the untitled project is expected to begin in December for a late winter debut.
UNTITLED L.A.P.D. PROJECT (TNT) - The cable channel is reportedly close to greenlighting production on a pilot for the project, which the network's press materials describe as follows: "Aaron Spelling (Charmed, Seventh Heaven, Beverly Hills 90210), E. Duke Vincent (10-8, Summerland), Jorge Zamacona (Homicide: Life on the Streets, 10-8) and Spelling Television comes the story about the formation of an elite team to fight urban crime. In the late 1960�s, in response to out of control urban crime, the LAPD created SWAT, which became the model for high-intensity urban law enforcement across the nation. Thirty five years later, as street criminals have begun to ramp up their activities having become better organized and with use of automatic weapons, the LAPD determined it had to take SWAT to and even higher level. This series is about the creation of that new unit and its war on urban street crime."
UNTITLED LOUIS C.K. PROJECT (HBO, New!) - Emmy-winning comedian Louis C.K. has pacted with the pay channel to develop a new half-hour comedy for the network as well as headline a comedy special. No details were given about the project, which will be executive produced by C.K. and his manager, Dave Becky.
UNTITLED RON WHITE PROJECT (The WB, New!) - The Frog is fast-tracking production on a new half-hour comedy special that will serve as a backdoor pilot for a potential new half-hour series starring comedian Ron White. The special will feature White, a headliner on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour (but not the WB's "Blue Collar TV" series), in a mix of standup, sketch comedy, music and animated segments. White, who reportedly had offers from both FOX and Comedy Central to develop projects, ultimately chose the WB as the network was willing to go right into production. "I'm not in the position where I have to make another pilot for money," White told Daily Variety. "I wanted to be able to do something I like and had full creative control over. The worst-case scenario is we do a special and 6 million people see it. And if we like the way it feels and (the WB does), then we'll do a bunch of specials. Maybe 22." In addition, he'll executive produce the project alongside John MacDonald of Parallel Entertainment. As for his initial absence from the "Blue Collar TV" series (he has since appeared in guest spots), White had a put pilot commitment at ABC during the past development season which prevented him from working on the project.
UNTITLED SCOTT FOLEY PROJECT (New!) - Scott Foley ("Felicity," "Scrubs") has inked a six-figure development deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The project calls for the studio to try and create a series - either a comedy or a drama - in which Foley would star.
UNTITLED TOM ARNOLD PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Tom Arnold ("Roseanne") is nearing a return to ABC as the actor is developing a new comedy project at the network with writer/producers Josh Sternin and Jeff Ventimilia ("That '70s Show"). The project, which has a script commitment at the network, will star Arnold as a single man who lives next door to a mother with three kids and winds up taking care of the children. Said scenario is said to be loosely based on Arnold's own experience as stepfather to Roseanne's three children during their four-year marriage.
UNTITLED WILL FRIEDLE PROJECT (New!) - Touchstone Television has signed the former "Boy Meets World" star to a talent holding deal. The pact calls for the studio to cast the actor in one of its existing projects or try to developing one specifically for him.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT (ABC, New!) - Celador ("Who Wants to Be a Millionaire") is looking to import yet another U.K. format as the Alphabet has given a half-hour special/backdoor pilot commitment to a domestic version of Channel 4's "You Are What You Eat." Described as an "Extreme Makeover" of participants' eating habits, the project features an often-blunt Dr. Gillian McKeith deconstructing and chemically analyzing a person, couple or family's diet and then putting them on the road to health with a new eating regimen. It's not clear however if McKeith will be used in the U.S. version. Celador's Adrian Woolfe will supervise the production of the U.S. edition.
YOU'VE GOT A FRIEND (A.K.A. MY NEW BEST FRIEND) (MTV) - Production is quietly underway on the project, in which contestants must convince their friends and/or family that a person they have never met before is actually their new best friend with said "new best friend" actually being an improv actor designed to make the task as difficult as possible by behaving inappropriately. MTV has committed to eight half-hour episodes of the project, which comes from Ashton Kutcher and Jason Goldberg's Katalyst banner and is being targeted for the channel's "Sunday Stew" programming block for later this year.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters