[10/05/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: October 1-5
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.

AMERICAN IDOL/THE SIMPLE LIFE (FOX) - FremantleMedia and Twentieth Television are reportedly looking to sell repeats of their respective FOX hits "American Idol" and "The Simple Life" to cable. While no deals have been worked out Twentieth is said to be asking $200,000 per episode for "Life" while FremantleMedia's price for "Idol" wasn't mentioned. Both potential sales face a harsh climb to earn respect in the syndication market as reality series have rarely repeated well.

BEL-AIR (Lifetime, New!) - Melissa Carter ("Little Black Book") is behind a new drama project at the cable channel about a blue-collar mom who marries a millionaire and moves into his mansion with her three kids. Said project is set up at Axelrod/Edwards Co. with Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards executive producing alongside Carter.

BOOM! (Spike TV) - Original Productions has confirmed the Thom Beers-created series has a six episode order at the cable channel. The project features a group of demolition experts (not surprisingly) blowing things up as well as some prank elements.

CEO DAD (New!) - Tom Stern and Phyllis Hofberg Bruskin's nationally syndicated comic strip of the same name has been optioned by Spelling Television with an eye toward developing it as a comedy series. The project, which could be live action or animated, will track a dad who's in control at the office but frustrated at home when dealing with his family. Stern will serve as a co-producer on the project should it go forward as will Ed McMahon and his son Jeff in some capacity.

CRANK YANKERS (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has slated a special Christmas-themed episode of the series for Tuesday, December 21.

THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART (Comedy Central) - 2.4 million viewers tuned into Thursday's live broadcast following the first presidential debate. Said number marks the show's most-watched episode to date.

THE E RING (A.K.A. UNTITLED JERRY BRUCKHEIMER PROJECT) (NBC) - Jerry Bruckheimer's Pentagon-based project at the Peacock has a producing team and a title. The drama, which has a put pilot commitment from the network, will be spearheaded by feature writer David McKenna ("S.W.A.T.") and Ken Robinson, a former Army Green Beret who now serves as a terrorism and military intelligence consultant for CNN. The pair will executive produce the project alongside Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman with McKenna penning the pilot script. "E Ring" is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Bruckheimer Television.

ENEMIES/UNTITLED ALISON CROSS PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer Sean Bailey ("Push, Nevada," "Project Greenlight") has signed a one-year overall deal with Touchstone Television to write and executive produce new series projects for the studio. Bailey has already set up two dramas at ABC as part of the pact, both of which have received script commitments. The first is "Enemies," a high-concept drama that concerns a supercop fighting an archcriminal, with a complicated backstory as to how they became foes, which Bailey will write and executive produce. The other, which he'll executive produce alongside writer Alison Cross ("Philly"), is an untitled drama that combines elements of a legal show and an investigative series. While the pact is separate from Bailey's work as partner in Chris Moore, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's Live Planet banner, all of his works will carry said logo. The news marks a rather busy development season for Bailey, whom is also working on the FOX drama pilot "The Honorable and Mrs." for 20th Century Fox Television.

EXPERT WITNESS/JUDGE JOHN DEED (ABC/NBC, New!) - Former "Law & Order" showrunner Michael Chernuchin has set up two new drama projects as part of his overall deal with NBC Universal Television. The first is an adaptation of the BBC series "Judge John Deed" for the Peacock while the other is the forensic-themed drama "Expert Witness" for ABC. "Deed" focuses on the dichotomy of a federal court justice in Washington, D.C. who's extremely moral in the courtroom but not so much outside of it while "Witness" centers on a thirtysomething coroner-turned-professional freelance forensic witness who works for both prosecution and defense cases (not to mention is haunted by his mother's murder by his father). Interestingly enough, Chernuchin has already sealed a separate deal with book packager Alloy to write a series of novels based on Roger Cleary, the lead character of "Witness," regardless if the project moves forward.

LEGAL EYES (UPN, New!) - Stacy Title and Jonathan Penner ("The Last Supper") have landed a script order at the netlet for a new drama that explores what happens when two law firms with different investigative styles merge. The project is set up at the Paramount Network Television-based Axelrod/Edwards Co. with Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards executive producing alongside Title and Penner.

NEIGHBORS (ABC, New!) - George Tillman Jr. and Robert Teitel's State Street banner ("Barbershop") has landed a script commitment at ABC for a new comedy that chronicles the culture clash between two multigenerational black families from different tax brackets living in the suburbs. Jay Dyer ("All About the Andersons") is set to write the pilot script to the project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television with Tillman and Teitel executive producing.

PRISON BREAK (A.K.A. PAUL SCHEURING PROJECT) (FOX) - Paul Scheuring's ("A Man Apart") drama project is back in development as the network has given a pilot order to the project, about a prison break that takes place of the course of an entire season. The project revolves around a man who robs a bank in order to be sent to prison where once inside he uses a map imbedded in a tattoo on his chest to break himself and his brother, a death-row inmate whom he believes is innocent, out. The series would then track the fugitives as they hide from the law. "Break" was previously set up at the now defunct 20th Century Fox Television-based Original Television where attempts were made to secure the involvement of such names as Steven Spielberg, Bruce Willis and Peter Jackson to develop the project as FOX's first-ever limited series. With no deals with said talent worked out, FOX will instead keep the project as a traditional series (a la "24") where former Original principals Marty Adelstein and Dawn Parouse will executive produce via a new yet-to-be-named banner as part of a two-year overall deal with the network. Ex-Original Neil Moritz will also receive an executive producer credit.

THOUGHTCRIMES (USA) - The failed drama pilot is set to earn a second life on the cable channel as USA will broadcast the two-hour opener as an original movie on Friday, October 15 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how USA's press materials describe the project: "Freya McAllister (Navi Rawat) is a young woman who has been misdiagnosed as a schizophrenic. She is rescued by government researcher Dr. Michael Ward (Peter Horton), who soon determines that Freya is actually telepathic and is able to hear the thoughts of those around her. Dr. Ward begins to train Freya to control her gift, but Freya soon begins to suspect that her mentor's kindness and attention is concealing an ulterior motive. Also starring Joe Flanigan, Jocelyn Seagrave, and Joe Morton. Executive Produced by Jan de Bont (Speed, Twister)." "Thoughtcrimes" and "Touching Evil" were both developed in 2003, the latter of which earned a series order last season.

THE TOWERS (New!) - Donald Trump ("The Apprentice") is reportedly looking to branch out into scripted series as "The Donald" has pacted with writer/producer Gay Walch ("Summerland") to develop a new drama series set, at least in part, at Manhattan's Trump Tower. While no network has picked up the series, it's understood Trump is in talks with NBC for the project which he'll executive produce alongside Walch.

UNTITLED ASHLEY GABLE PROJECT (Lifetime, New!) - Ashley Gable ("The Division") is developing a new drama series at the cable channel about a female evangelist who returns to her family's ministry after a long absence. Axelrod/Edwards Co. is behind the project with Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards executive producing alongside Gable.

UNTITLED BILL COSBY PROJECT (FOX) - Bill Cosby's latest TV effort, an adaptation of "Congratulations! Now What?: A Book for Graduates," has found a home at FOX. 20th Century Fox Television-based First Move Entertainment is behind the comedy, which will revolve around a new college grad who moves back in with his parents and explore the father-son relationship as the father's attempts to coax his son out of the house. Chris Case ("Reba") will write and executive produce the project alongside Cosby and First Move's Susanne Daniels and Sheila Ducksworth.

UNTITLED JASON O'MARA PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Jason O'Mara ("The Agency") has inked a talent holding deal with the network and Touchstone Television to topline a new drama series project for the Alphabet and the studio. O'Mara spent the past development season as part of the ABC drama pilot "Countdown."

UNTITLED JOHN AUGUST/JORDAN MECHNER PROJECT (FOX, New! - John August (ABC's "Alaska") and Jordan Mechner ("Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time") are behind a new drama project at FOX and 20th Century Fox Television. The project, which has received a put pilot commitment from the network, revolves around two independent contractors who take on military assignments. The pair will write the pilot script with August executive producing and Mechner co-executive producing.

UNTITLED JOHNNY MESSNER PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Johnny Messner ("Tarzan") has inked a talent holding deal with FOX to topline a new series project for the network. Messner spent the past development season as part of the cast of the FOX drama pilot "Ricochet."

UNTITLED JONATHAN AXELROD/KELLY EDWARDS PROJECT (UPN, New!) - The Paramount Network Television-based Axelrod/Edwards Co. are developing a new drama at the network about young people living in Los Angeles. No other details were given about the project other than it will be shot "indie-film" style should it go forward. Axelrod/Edwards Co. principals Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards are executive producing the project, additional details of which were not available.

UNTITLED JAMIE FOXX PROJECT (FX, New!) - Jamie Foxx is getting back into the sketch comedy business as the actor/producer has booked a half-hour comedy pilot at the cable channel. No other details were given about the project other than it is expected to complete production in Los Angeles by the end of the year. Foxx, Bentley Evans and Marcus King ("The Jamie Foxx Show") will executive produce the project, one of four comedy pilots in consideration for FX's new comedy block set to launch in early 2005 ("Starved," "Human Animals and "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" being the others).

UNTITLED PAUL REISER PROJECT (New!) - Paul Reiser ("Mad About You") as inked a two-year first-look deal with Paramount Network Television. As part of the pact he'll develop new series for the studio through his Nuance Productions banner alongside principals Craig Knizek and Mitch Semel. Nuance was previously set up at NBC Studios where they spent the past development season on the NBC comedy pilot "My 11:30."

ZEN JUSTICE (CBS, New!) - Elizabeth M. Cosin ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent") has scored a script commitment from CBS for a new drama series based on her series of "Zen" novels. The project tracks an L.A. private detective who, like the writer/producer, is a lung cancer survivor. "Justice" is set up at the Paramount Network Television-based Axelrod/Edwards Co. with Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards executive producing alongside Cosin. Other novels in the series include "Zen and the City of Angels" and "Zen and the Art of Murder."

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [october 2004]  

· 24 (FOX)
· MY 11:30 (NBC)

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