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[09/24/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: September 20-24
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.

THE ACADEMY (A.K.A. PHENOM) (MTV, New!) - IMG television division TWI has pacted with MTV to develop a new reality series centered on life at IMG's 190-acre academy in Florida, where students live, train and attend classes. The complex has been home to such athletes as Andre Agassi, Monica Seles, David Gossett, Derek Jeter, Tim Couch and Al Harrington over the years. The project was previously in development at ABC Family under the title "Phenom."

AMERICAN CRIME (CBS, New!) - Jerry Bruckheimer has scored yet another put pilot commitment, this time from the Eye. The project, from writer/producer Jim Leonard ("Skin"), will focus on a female prosecutor working in a Midwestern suburb and track the "why" of how crimes happen as she builds her case. Leonard will executive produce alongside Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman via their Warner Bros. TV-based Jerry Bruckheimer Television. The news marks Bruckheimer's fourth project in the works for the 2005-06 season, the others being a comedy and drama (the latter with Jonathan Shapiro) at the WB and a Pentagon-based defense drama at NBC.

THE COMEBACK (HBO, New!) - Casting has begun on a new half-hour comedy pilot at the pay channel from writer/producer Michael Patrick King ("Sex and the City") and actress/producer Lisa Kudow ("Friends"). "The Comeback" follows a has-been actress as she struggles to make (you guessed it) a career comeback. Kudow will executive produce via her Is or Isn't Entertainment banner.

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF/UNTITLED ROD LURIE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Rod Lurie ("Line of Fire") is back at Touchstone Television, as the writer/producer/director has inked a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the studio. The pact calls for Lurie to develop new drama projects for Touchstone with two already having script commitments at ABC. The first, "Commander-in-Chief," is a political drama about the nation's first female president. Unlike NBC's "The West Wing" however, "Chief" plans to spend more time examining the president's family life with less focus on West Wing matters. The other, which is currently untitled, is a civil law drama about two mismatched attorneys at a law firm. Lurie is also said to be working on the early stages of a third project, an animated series with his sister Danielle called "Silly Chase," however no network is currently attached. "Chase" tracks a little girl with a grandiose imagination.

CONFESSIONS OF AN AMERICAN BRIDE (Lifetime, New!) - Shannon Elizabeth ("American Pie") is set to star as a 30-year-old ad executive struggling through the ups and downs of planning the perfect wedding in the cable channel's latest telefilm. Douglas Barr will direct the project from a script by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis ("Teen Wins Lottery") with production set to begin this Saturday for a spring premiere. Don Enright, Les Alexander, Andrea Baynes and Jill Canaparo are the executive produces of the project.

DEADLY ENCOUNTER (Lifetime) - The Laura Leighton-led telefilm scored 2.6 million viewers for its Monday, September 6 premiere, well above the network's primetime average.

DEADLY VISIONS (Lifetime, New!) - Anne Carlucci ("Going for Broke") is behind one of the cable channel's upcoming originals, a thriller starring Nicolette Sheridan ("Desperate Housewives"). No additional details were given.

FALSE PRETENSES (Lifetime, New!) - Peta Wilson ("La Femme Nikita") is set to star in a revenge-themed telefilm for the cable channel from producer Anne Carlucci ("Going for Broke"). No other details were available.

HIT AND RUN (Spike TV, New!) - Scott Fellows ("Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide," "The Fairly OddParents") has received a pilot order from the cable channel for a new animated series, which is likened to a TV version of the popular videogame "Grand Theft Auto." The half-hour Miami-based project revolves around an entry-level bank manager who gets caught in an underworld power struggle when he crosses paths with a professional hit man. Fellows will produce alongside wife Michelle ("Drake & Josh"). "Hit and Run" joins "Howard Stern: The High School Years," which recently received a 13-episode order, as part of the network's efforts to rebuild its animated stable.

THE HONORABLE AND MRS. (FOX, New!) - Amy Harris ("Sex and the City") has landed a script commitment at FOX for a new "Moonlighting"-esque drama about the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who's forced to marry a CIA agent in order to give her the perfect cover with the pair then being charged with solving crimes. The project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television with Live Planet's Sean Bailey ("Project Greenlight") executive producing alongside Harris. Feature director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen") is already set to helm the pilot and executive produce.

LIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME (Lifetime, New!) - Joely Richardson will spend her "Nip/Tuck" hiatus headlining an original movie for the cable channel about a seductive con artist and single mother who spends her life running from the law. The project, which is based on a true story, picks up as she remarries and after her new husband learns of her secret life, forces her to turn to murder to protect her identity and freedom. Christian Duguay will direct "Lies" from a script by Matt Dorf with Randy Robinson executive producing for Nomadic Pictures.

LONG ISLAND SOUND (ABC, New!) - Emilio Estevez is set to team with Danny Jacobson ("Mad About You") for a new comedy at the Alphabet about a Long Island-based family man (Estevez) who has to redefine his life after he loses his engineering job with a big company after the Sept. 11 attacks and finds success as a small-business entrepreneur. Rounding out the cast will be his wife and two kids, who share their home with a very spry and socially active aunt whose father has Alzheimer's. "Sound," which has a pilot commitment at the network, is set up at Warner Bros. Television, home to Estevez's brother's series "Two and a Half Men" on CBS. Estevez will also serve as a co-producer on the series with Jacobson executive producing.

MANHUNT: THE SEARCH FOR AMERICA'S MOST GORGEOUS MALE MODEL (Bravo) - Producer TWI has confirmed the cable channel has extended the show's run by two episodes, bringing its total to 10 one-hour installments. Carmen Electra hosts the series, which premieres Tuesday, October 12 at 10:00/9:00c.

THE MUPPETS' WIZARD OF OZ (ABC) - Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development") and David Alan Grier ("Life With Bonnie") are the latest additions to the cast of telefilm, a Muppet-themed retelling of the classic L. Frank Baum novel. The project centers on aspiring performer Dorothy Gale (Ashanti), who works at the diner of her Auntie Em (Queen Latifah) and Uncle Henry (Grier) in a small Kansas town until a tornado sweeps up her trailer.

PROS & CONS (ABC)/SIX DEGRESS (The WB) (New!) - J.J. Abrams' Touchstone-based Bad Robot has set up two new drama projects - one at the Alphabet and the other at the Frog - from feature writers Raven Metzner and Stu Zicherman ("Elektra," ""Rush Hour 2"). The WB project, entitled "Six Degress," centers around a group of six post-college young adults whose lives intertwine in various ways while the ABC project, dubbed "Pros & Cons," revolves around five ex-cons who end up working with the government's antifraud forces. Abrams and Bad Robot president Thom Sherman will executive produce both projects alongside Metzner and Zicherman. "Six Degress" has a premium script commitment from the Frog with a penalty attached if it's not greenlit to pilot. As for Metzner and Zicherman, the two spent the past development season working on the FX pilot "Naked Pictures of My Ex-Girlfriend" with Brett Ratner.

REHAB (A.K.A. THE FALL AND RISE OF TAYLOR KENNEDY) (HBO, New!) - Courteney Cox ("Friends") is set to star and executive produce a new drama pilot at the pay channel, which revolves around a troubled actress who's a recovering alcoholic. Nick Cassavetes ("The Notebook") will write, direct and executive produce the pilot while Cox will produce via her and husband's Coquette Productions banner.

SPELLBOUND (FOX) - Christine Baranski ("Happy Family") and Barry Bostwick ("Spin City") have been cast in the midseason comedy pilot, about a male witch (Dave Annable) who is forced to decide whether to give up his powers after falling in love with a mortal woman (Maggie Lawson). The pair will play the parents of Annable's character and are also witches. "Frasier" alums Rob Greenberg and Suzanne Martin created the series, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television.

SPIKE TV ORIGINALS (Spike TV) - The cable channel has rescheduled its three new original series, which were all previously set for October bows. "I Hate My Job" will kick off on Tuesday, November 9 while "The Club" is set to launch on Wednesday, Nov. 10 and with "Untold" (also known as "Glory Days") on Friday, November 12.

STARVED (A.K.A. RECOVERING MY LIFE) (FX) - Broadway actress Laura Benanti ("Into the Woods," "Swing!") has been cast in the comedy pilot, about the misadventures of four thirtysomething friends, all of whom are battling eating disorders. Production finished on the pilot last week with Benanti playing an anorexic, bisexual folk singer. Eric Schaeffer ("My Life's in Turnaround"), who created the series, also stars along with Sterling Brown ("ER") and Del Pentecost ("Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital"). Schaeffer and Basic Elements' Dan Pasternack are the executive producers.

UNTITLED AARON HABERTS/GRETCHEN BERG PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts ("Wonderfalls") are developing a new drama at FOX about a small-town Midwestern family that is uprooted when the mother wins a seat in the U.S. Senate. No other details were given about the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.

UNTITLED ERIK SHAPIRO PROJECT - Some additional corrections have been discovered about the project, from writer Erik Shapiro ("Yes, Dear," "Ladies Man"). The exact premise of the comedy, which is set up at Touchstone Television and will be executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron ("It's All Relative"), has yet to be announced. The previously indicated premise - about an older woman and younger man whose decision to marry wreaks havoc on both of their families - actually refers to a previous project in the works by Shapiro and David Janollari.

UNTITLED JON BECKERMAN/ROB BURNETT PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Chazz Palminteri ("The Usual Suspects") is set to topline the comedy pilot, from producers Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman ("Ed"). The untitled project, which is set up at NBC Universal Televsion and Worldwide Pants, revolves around a low-key guy whose life is shaken up when his father (Palminteri), who abandoned him as a baby, suddenly returns and wants to reconnect. Palminteri's involvement no doubt lifts the cast-contingent component of the pilot's green light.

UNTITLED MARK WILDING/SHAWN RYAN PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") and Mark Wilding ("Charmed") are behind the Peacock's latest political drama entry, about a LBJ-esque Connecticut congressman and his wife, told through the eyes of the Congressman's 17-year-old intern. NBC has given the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television, a script commitment with a heavy penalty attached should it not go to pilot. Wilding and Ryan will co-write and executive produce the project. The news marks Ryan's second major project in the works for the 2005-06 season, the other being a Delta Force-centered drama with David Mamet for CBS.

UNTITLED VANESSA WILLIAMS PROJECT (New!) - Vanessa Williams is reportedly in talks with NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution to sign a development deal with the company. While Williams will most likely host a daytime talk show for the distributor, the pact isn't necessarily limited to that genre. Neither NBC Universal nor Williams has commented about any potential pact.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· ACADEMY, THE (MTV)
· ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (NETFLIX)
· CHARMED (WB)
· CLOSE TO HOME (CBS)
· CLUB, THE (SPIKE TV)
· COMEBACK, THE (HBO)
· COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC)
· CONFESSIONS OF AN AMERICAN BRIDE (LIFETIME)
· DEADLY ENCOUNTER (LIFETIME)
· DEADLY VISIONS (LIFETIME)
· DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
· ED (NBC)
· ER (NBC)
· E-RING (NBC)
· FALSE PRETENSES (LIFETIME)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· GOING FOR BROKE (LIFETIME)
· HAPPY FAMILY (NBC)
· HIT & RUN (SPIKE TV)
· HONORABLE & MRS., THE (FOX)
· HOWARD STERN: THE HIGH SCHOOL YEARS (SPIKE TV)
· I HATE MY JOB (SPIKE TV)
· IT'S ALL RELATIVE (ABC)
· JUST LEGAL (WB)
· JUSTICE SYSTEM (ABC)
· LA FEMME NIKITA (USA)
· LADIES MAN (CBS)
· LIES MY MOTHER TOLD ME (LIFETIME)
· LIFE WITH BONNIE (ABC)
· LINE OF FIRE (ABC)
· LONG ISLAND SOUND (ABC)
· MANHUNT: THE SEARCH FOR AMERICA'S MOST GORGEOUS MALE MODEL (BRAVO)
· MODERN MEN (WB)
· MUPPETS' WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ (ABC)
· NIP/TUCK (FX)
· PROJECT GREENLIGHT (HBO)
· PROS & CONS (ABC)
· REHAB (HBO)
· SEX AND THE CITY (HBO)
· SHIELD, THE (FX)
· SIX DEGREES (ABC)
· SKIN (FOX)
· SPELLBOUND (FOX)
· SPIN CITY (ABC)
· STARVED (FX)
· STEPHEN KING'S KINGDOM HOSPITAL (ABC)
· TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS)
· UNIT, THE (CBS)
· UNTITLED BECKERMAN & BURNETT PROJECT (NBC)
· UNTITLED HABERTS & BERG PROJECT (FOX)
· UNTITLED WILDING & RYAN PROJECT (NBC)
· UNTOLD (SPIKE TV)
· WEST WING, THE (NBC)
· WONDERFALLS (FOX)
· YES, DEAR (CBS)





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