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[09/30/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: September 29-30
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.

BETTY LA FEA (ABC, New!) - Ben Silverman's NBC Universal Television-based Reveille ("Coupling," "The Office") has found a new home for the company's domestic version of the popular 1999-2001 Columbian soap opera as well as a new partner in Salma Hayek's Ventanarosa Productions. The project was previously set up as a half-hour comedy at NBC back in 2001 but is now being redeveloped as a one-hour series for the Alphabet. The network reportedly is considering a telenovela-like production schedule and financial model for the project, which would allow the series to air multiple times per week. Silverman, Hayek and Ventanarosa's Jose Tamez will executive project the project with Kerry Ehrin ("Boston Public") writing the script. Ehrin is set up at Touchstone Television, which will also produce with Ventanarosa and Reveille. Like the South American version, "Betty" is expected to revolve around an aggressively unattractive secretary who works for a fashion design company and falls in love with her ultra-handsome boss.

FATHER OF THE PRIDE (NBC) - The Peacock has confirmed nine additional scripts of the animated comedy are in the can however the network has yet to give the production go ahead. With the significant lead time needed to produce said episodes, a decision is expected shortly about the fate of the series.

FREE FALLING/HORNET'S NEST/SIX BOROUGH (ABC, New!) - Michael Edelstein ("Desperative Housewives") has signed a new three-year overall deal with Touchstone Television, replacing the one he signed last month (read the story). The pact calls for Edelstein to develop new drama projects for the studio, three of which are already set up at the Alphabet. The first, "Free Falling," revolves around a 15-year-old who helps his father get his life back on track. Said project reunites Edelstein with his "Threat Matrix" partners Daniel Voll and Jim Parriott. The second, "Hornet's Nest" - which also comes from Nick Meyer ("Collateral Damage") - deals with a group of lawyers who live together in a small New England town and pursue cases that have constitutional implications. Rounding out the trio is "Six Borough," a gritty cop show set in Jersey City about with the connection between two cops - a father and son, which he's shepherding alongside Greg Pruss ("Alien 3") and Carol Wolper ("Charlie's Angels"). Edelstein will executive all three projects through his The Edelstein Co. banner.

IN FROM THE NIGHT (CBS, New!) - Marcia Gay Harden ("The Education of Max Bickford") is back at the Eye as the actress will topline a new Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation at the network. Taylor Handley ("The O.C."), Thomas Gibson ("Dharma & Greg"), Regina Taylor, Kate Nelligan and Roxanne Hart also star in the project, about a writer (Harden) whose carefully ordered life is turned upside-down when her 16-year-old nephew (Handley) arrives on her doorstep. Peter Levin ("Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story") is set to direct from an adaptation of the Anne Tyler novel of the same name by Susanna Styron and Bridget Terry ("Back When We Were Grownups"). Production on "Night" will begin next week in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M. for a 2005 air date with Richard Welsh and Brent Shields executive producing.

THE INSIDERS (FOX, New!) - Alloy Entertainment has received a script commitment from FOX for a new primetime soap at the network based on the company's young adult book series "The Insiders" (click here for more information). Evan Katz ("24") has signed on to executive produce the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television. The company recently signed a first-look deal with the studio.

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (FOX, New!) - "Sex and the City" creator Darren Star is developing a new half-hour project at the network, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at posh eateries. The project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television, New Line Television and Star's own Darren Star Productions, is based on Anthony Bourdain's book of the same name. Bourdain is the executive chef at brasserie Les Halles in New York. FOX has given a script commitment to the project with a six-figure penalty attached should it not move forward. Star and company are current seeking a writer to adapt the book with Star himself executive producing and directing the pilot.

LAGUNA BEACH: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY (MTV) - 2.4 million viewers tuned into the show's debut on Tuesday, with the broadcast winning the 10:30/9:30c half-hour in persons 12-34 among all cable networks.

THE LINE (TNT) - Dean Winters ("Oz") has been cast in the lead role of the drama pilot, about a federal prosecutor named Sean Foley who is equally daring in both his professional and personal pursuits. Evan Handler ("Sex and the City"), Christina Cox ("The Chronicles of Riddick"), Paul Ben-Victor ("The Invisible Man") and Victoria Cartagena have also been cast in the project, which comes from Dreamworks Television and Sony Pictures Television. Mark Rosner wrote the script to the pilot and will executive produce alongside DreamWorks' co-heads Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.

THE MEN'S ROOM (NBC) - The Peacock has opted to shut down production on the midseason comedy after six episodes. The network reportedly was unhappy with the creative direction of the show but nevertheless will keep the door open for additional episodes should ratings merit. It's understood NBC originally gave the series a 13-episode commitment back in May as part of its midseason roster, which also includes "Crazy for You" and "The Office." NBC Universal Television is behind "The Men's Room," which was created by Danny Zucker.

MURDER BOOK (FOX, New!) - Chris Brancato and Bert Salke ("North Shore," "Boomtown") have landed a put pilot commitment (with a seven-figure penalty attached) at the network for a new procedural drama about two L.A.P.D. homicide detectives as they go through the evidence files compiled on murder cases in Los Angeles. The title comes from the nickname given to said files. The project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television where the pair have an overall deal. "Book" reportedly attracted strong interest from at least two other networks before landing at FOX.

ROME (HBO) - The pay channel has funneled another $25 million into its ambitious new drama series, bringing its estimated total budget to $100 million for its first season of 12 episodes. Frank Doelger and Jim Dye have also been brought on as producers on the project, which is now expected to finish production in February for a late 2005 premiere. In addition, Alan Poul ("Six Feet Under"), Allen Coulter ("The Sopranos"), Julian Farino ("Entourage") and Timothy Van Patten ("Sex and the City") have been tapped to direct some of the remaining installments, where they'll join Michael Apted, who helmed the first three episodes. Production at Rome's Cinecitta Studios had been halted on the series for most of the summer due to heavy rains and exchange rate issues. Among the project's elaborate sets is a $13 million, five-acre structure that includes a re-creation of a large part of the Forum as well as slave dwellings, graffiti-strewn alleys and a garbage dump.

ROSEMARY'S BABY (ABC, New!) - Ira Levin's classic horror novel is set to be the focus of a new four-hour mini-series at the Alphabet as part of a potential seven-figure pact. Barbara Lieberman ("The Stranger Beside Me") is shepherding the project, which will also include events from its lesser-known sequel, "Son of Rosemary." Mia Farrow and John Cassavetes starred in the 1968 feature version helmed by Roman Polanski. Lieberman will executive produce the small screen version in association with Robert Greenwald Productions. A writer is expected to be named shortly.

SIMMONS, INC.: THE FIRST FAMILY OF HIP-HOP (MTV, New!) - Hip-hop moguls Russell Simmons ("Def Poetry") and Sean Combs ("Making the Band") are developing a new reality project at the cable channel which will track "the first family of hip-hop" (a la "The Osbournes"). The pair will executive produce the project alongside Stan Lathan and John Davies.

UNTITLED BILL COSBY PROJECT (New!) - 20th Century Fox Television-based First Move Entertainment is developing a new half hour comedy based on Bill Cosby's recent bestseller "Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates." Chris Case ("Reba") will write and executive produce the project alongside Cosby, Susanne Daniels and Sheila Ducksworth. It's understood the series will revolve around a new college grad who moves back in with his parents and explore the father-son relationship as the father attempts to coax his son out of the house. Cosby however will not star in the project. First Move and company are expected to begin pitching the broadcast networks this week.

UNTITLED CHRIS KEYSER/AMY LIPPMAN PROJECT (Showtime, New!) - "Party of Five" creators Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman are moving to Showtime, as the pair has received a premium script order for an unorthodox series centering on a twentysomething man who must figure out what to do with his life upon learning that he has a form of cancer that will kill him within five years. The pair will write and executive produce the project for 20th Century Fox Television with Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen") on board to direct the pilot.

UNTITLED JEREMY MILLER/DAN COHN PROJECT (The WB, New!) - The Frog has issued a seven-figure put pilot commitment to McG's Warner Bros. Television-based Wonderland Sound and Vision ("The O.C.," "The Mountain") for a new San Francisco-based drama series about four young rookie professionals - a cop, a lawyer, a journalist and an event planner - all of whom are just getting started in their respective professions. Writers Jeremy Miller and Dan Cohn ("That Was Then") are behind the project and will executive produce alongside McG and Wonderland's Peter Johnson.

UNTITLED MELISSA ETHRIDGE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Melissa Etheridge is the latest music star making the move to television as she's pacted with Brad Grey ("The Sopranos") and Linda Wallem ("That '70s Show") to star in a new sitcom for the Alphabet. The project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Brad Grey Television, will star Etheridge as gay woman and music teacher who suddenly finds herself a mom when her straight male roommate's teen daughter moves in with them. ABC has made a script commitment to the project with a six-figure penalty attached. Wallen will write the script and executive produce along with Grey.

UNTITLED TONI BRAXTON PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Toni Braxton is set to be the centerpiece of a new half-hour comedy featuring the singer playing a version of herself (a la "The Bernie Mac Show") as she balances career and family. The Frog was made a script commitment to the project, which is set up at Susanne Daniels' 20th Century Fox Television-based First Move Entertainment. Saladin Patterson ("The Bernie Mac Show") is on board to write the script to the project and executive produce alongside Daniels and First Movie's Sheila Ducksworth. Braxton will also receive a producer credit.

UNTITLED TYRA BANKS PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Tyra Banks ("America's Next Top Model") is looking to add talk show host to her resume as she's pacted with producer Telepictures and distributor Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution to topline a new syndicated talk show for the pair come the fall of 2005. Banks will also executive produce through her Bankable Productions banner as will Handprint's Benny Medina ("Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"). No ther details were given, other than the show will be shot in Los Angeles. Warner Bros. will begin shopping the concept to station groups in the next month or so.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· 24 (FOX)
· AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL (VH1)
· ANN RULE PRESENTS: THE STRANGER BESIDE ME (USA)
· BACK WHEN WE WERE GROWN UPS (CBS)
· BERNIE MAC SHOW, THE (FOX)
· BOOMTOWN (NBC)
· BOSTON PUBLIC (FOX)
· COMMITTED (NBC)
· COUPLING (NBC)
· DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
· DHARMA & GREG (ABC)
· EDUCATION OF MAX BICKFORD, THE (CBS)
· ENTOURAGE (HBO)
· FATHER OF THE PRIDE (NBC)
· FREE FALLING (ABC)
· HOMELESS TO HARVARD: THE LIZ MURRAY STORY (LIFETIME)
· HORNET'S NEST (ABC)
· IN FROM THE NIGHT (CBS)
· INSIDERS, THE (FOX)
· INVISIBLE MAN, THE (SYFY)
· KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (FOX)
· LINE, THE (2004) (TNT)
· MAKING THE BAND (MTV)
· MEN'S ROOM, THE (NBC)
· MOUNTAIN, THE (WB)
· MURDER BOOK (FOX)
· NEWPORT HARBOR: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY (MTV)
· NORTH SHORE (FOX)
· OC, THE (FOX)
· OFFICE, THE (NBC)
· OSBOURNES, THE (MTV)
· OZ (HBO)
· PARTY OF FIVE (FOX)
· REBA (CW)
· ROME (HBO)
· ROSEMARY'S BABY (NBC)
· RUSSELL SIMMONS PRESENTS: DEF POETRY (HBO)
· SEX AND THE CITY (HBO)
· SIMMONS, INC. (MTV)
· SIX BOROUGH (ABC)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· THAT '70S SHOW (FOX)
· THAT WAS THEN (ABC)
· THREAT MATRIX (ABC)
· TYRA BANKS SHOW, THE (SYNDICATION)
· UGLY BETTY (ABC)
· UNTITLED BILL COSBY PROJECT (FOX)
· UNTITLED KEYSER & LIPPMAN PROJECT (SHOWTIME)
· UNTITLED MELISSA ETHERIDGE PROJECT (ABC)
· UNTITLED MILLER & COHEN PROJECT (WB)
· UNTITLED TONI BRAXTON PROJECT (WB)





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