[11/05/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 3-5
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.

AIRLINE (A&E) - A&E is moving forward with a third season of its popular "reality soap." New episodes are set to begin airing during the second quarter of next year on Monday nights at 10:00/9:00c. In addition, Houston's Hobby Airport will be added as one of the show's filming locations where it will join the current crop of LAX, Chicago's Midway, Baltimore/Washington International Airport. Nancy Dubuc, Charles Norlander, Patrice Andrews and Chris Carey will continue in their current producing roles on the series, which comes from Granada America.

ANONYMOUS REX (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has pushed back the premiere of the backdoor pilot telefilm to Saturday, December 4 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Modern-day dinosaurs in disguise live among us in this clever detective story based on Eric Garcia's bestselling novels. Sam Trammell (TV's Maximum Bob), Daniel Baldwin (Homicide: Life on the Street), Faye Dunaway (Chinatown, The Handmaid's Tale) and Isaac Hayes (the voice of Chef on South Park) star."

BLENDED (ABC Family, New!) - "Melrose Place" veterans and real-life spouses Josie Bissett and Rob Estes are set to star in the cable channel's latest original telefilm, about two single parents who impulsively marry in Las Vegas, raising the ire of the eight children who must come together as a result of the union. Steve Robman ("Love Rules!") is set to direct from a script by Stu Krieger ("Tru Confessions") with Jana Sue Memel ("Tru Confessions") executive producing and Kevin Laffery ("Crimes of Fashion") producing. Production is underway in Toronto on the project, which also stars Lyndsy Fonseca ("Boston Public"), for a February premiere.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Roger Bart ("The Stepford Wives") has booked a recurring role on the freshman hit. He'll play George Williams, a pharmacist who moves to the show's Wisteria Lane. It's not clear when Bart's first episode will air.

FUNNY CIDE (TNT, New!) - Stephen Davis ("12 Days of Christmas") and Jody Brockway ("Identity Theft") are developing a telefilm at the cable channel about the life of Funny Cide, the race horse that nearly won the Triple Crown last year. The project, based on the biography of the same name, would track the behind-the-scenes story of how the horse, the trainer, the jockey and a bunch of blue-collar high school buddies leaped to the top of the racing world. Jon Maas ("The Last Debate") is attached to adapt the book for the small screen for Granada America with Davis and Brockway executive producing.

HOME DELIVERY (Syndication) - The NBC Universal Television series has become the first of the syndicated freshman class to get the boot, just seven weeks into its run. "Delivery" averaged a paltry 1.1 rating/3 share in the metered markets last week, its lowest average to date. More telling however was that said numbers were down 31% from its lead-in average and off 27% in year-to-year time-period comparisons. Repeats of the series will continue to run through the end of the season except for the November and February sweeps periods when the remaining produced episodes will air. Overall this season "Delivery" averaged a 1.0 household rating nationally, putting it at a distant 87th place among all syndicated series, and a 0.5 rating among each of the major demographics (adults 18-34, 18-49, and 25-54). "Delivery" was Universal Domestic Television's last major syndicated development prior to its merger with NBC as most of its clearances came from the Tribune station group instead of NBC's owned-and-operated stations.

LIFE ON A STICK (A.K.A. RELATED BY FAMILY) (FOX) - FOX has opted to retitle its midseason comedy "Related by Family," giving it the new moniker of "Life on a Stick." Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "LAZ (Zachary Knighton) and FRED (Charlie Finn), both 18, have been friends forever. Just out of high school, and unsure what they want to do with their lives, they take jobs at a mall food court, at the lame �Yippee, Hot Dogs� run by the always yelling MR. HUT (Maz Jobrani). There, Laz meets the girl of his dreams, the lovely and strong-willed LILY (Rachelle Lefevre). Optimistic but not ambitious, Laz cuts a deal with his well-meaning but superficial dad RICK (Matthew Glave) and equally superficial stepmom MICHELLE (Amy Yasbeck), which allows Laz to continue living rent-free at home. All Laz has to do is keep an eye on his stepsister (Michelle�s daughter), the angry, angst-ridden, 16-year-old MOLLY (Saige Thompson). Michelle and Rick hope that Laz will help socialize Molly and get her on the right track with the boy she likes � the sweet and very honest JASPER (Ryan Belleville). Rounding out the family is the perfect and wise 8-year-old GUS (Frankie Ryan), the only product of Rick and Michelle�s union and the object of their obsession. At the whim of writer/executive producer Victor Fresco, these people are now getting a taste of LIFE ON A STICK. LIFE ON A STICK is created, written and executive-produced by Victor Fresco and co-executive-produced by Maggie Bandur, Michael Ross, Michael Teverbaugh and Miriam Trogdon. Adam Chase is the consulting producer. LIFE ON A STICK is produced by Paramount Television."

LOVE IS IN THE HEIR (E!, New!) - Princess Ann Claire, granddaughter of HH Princess Shams of the Pahlavi Dynasty, is set to be the focus of the cable channel's newest reality entry. The 10-episode project, which premieres Sunday, November 28 at 10:00/9:00c, features the rebellious princess as she seeks to land both her dream job of becoming a country music singer and a man worthy of her father's approval. The twist however is that should she not meet said goals, she'll have to move back home to London or risk having her family cut her off financially. No other details about the project were given.

THE O.C. (FOX) - Emmy winner Kim Delaney ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") has signed on to appear in at least five episodes of the show's second season. She'll play an ex-flame of Peter Gallagher's character who reappears in his life. No details were given on when Delaney's first appearance will be.

PRACTICAL MAGIC (CBS) - With the pickup of "Numbers" for midseason (read the story), CBS executives confirmed its other drama pilot that was under consideration for midseason - the Kim Delaney/Jeri Ryan-led small screen adaptation of "Practical Magic" - won't move forward to series.

PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS (Sci Fi) - Sci Fi has slated the fantasy showdown for Saturday, December 18 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the cable channel describes the project according to its press materials: "In this long-awaited cinematic showdown, descendants of the original Puppet Master discover the formula for reanimating their ancestor's long-dormant creations. Unfortunately, their success draws the attention of a fiendish group that wants to steal the Puppet Master's secret elixir, to complete a Christmas Eve spell that will transform their line of harmless dolls into homicidal toys. Corey Feldman (Gremlins, Stand by Me, The Lost Boys) and Vanessa Angel (TV's Weird Science, SCI FI Pictures' Out for Blood and Sabretooth) star."

TILT (ESPN) - Michael Madsen ("Kill Bill") has been added to the cast of ESPN's second original drama series. He'll play Don "The Matador" Everest, the top player and most influential man in Vegas, in the project, which also stars Eddie Cibrian and Chris Bauer. Brian Koppelman and David Levien ("Rounders") are behind "Tilt," which launches Thursday, January 13 at 9:00/8:00c on the cable channel.

UNIT ONE (ABC, New!) - Touchstone Television-based producers Ian Sander and Kim Moses are looking to import a domestic version of the Danish crime drama "Unit One," about an elite group of homicide detectives from multiple branches of a police force, for the Alphabet. Writer/producers Dawn Prestwich and Nicole Yorkin ("Carnivale") are on board to write and executive produce the project, which has a script commitment at the network, with Jeremiah Chechick ("Meltdown") attached to direct should it go to pilot. The pair are expected to make several changes from the show's original version - from moving the locale to California to having the team led by a woman, a single mom who lives with her boyfriend and his teenage son - however some of the Danish scripts may be used as the basis for future episodes of the U.S. series. Said "Unit One" will then travel around the state in a high-tech mobile police crime unit, solving the toughest and weirdest crimes. Sander and Moses will executive produce through their self-titled banner along with Prestwich and Yorkin. TV importer Tenpercentery will also likely receive a producing credit as the company brought the series to Sander and Moses.

UNSCRIPTED (A.K.A. UNTITLED SECTION EIGHT PROJECT) (HBO) - Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney's latest effort for the pay channel has now been branded "Unscripted." The project, which HBO gave a five-episode order to earlier this year (read the story), revolves around a trio of struggling actors - Krista Allen ("Anger Management"), Bryan Greenberg ("The Perfect Score") and Jennifer Hall ("Confessions of a Dangerous Mind") - trying to make it big in Hollywood. In addition, Frank Langella ("The Beast") will also be featured as an acting teacher whose class the trio attend. Clooney, Soderbergh and Grant Heslov serve as the show's executive producers with Matt Adler co-executive producing. "Unscripted" premieres Sunday, January 9, likely following the second season launch of "Carnivale."

UNTITLED ELTON JOHN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Elton John is looking to transition into television as the singer has pacted with Michael Edelstein ("Desperate Housewives") and Cindy Chupack ("Sex and the City") to develop a half-hour comedy for the network and Touchstone Television. It's understood the single-camera comedy, which is likened to a music business version of "The Larry Sanders Show," will revolve around the relationship between an aging rock superstar and the people around him. John insists however the show isn't based on his life, but rather that of other music divas such as Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Freddy Mercury and David Bowie. He'll nevertheless be involved in creating a full backstory for the character as well as original music for the show. John has already recorded a song about the project, entitled "Him and Us," which will be included in his forthcoming album "Peachtree Road," due out next week. Edelstein and Chupack will executive produce the untitled project alongside John as well as John's business manager Bob Halley and songwriter Bruce Roberts. The producers hope to have John guest on the show at some point, however no firm commitments were given.

VIVIAN LIVES (UPN, New!) - Jamie-Lynn DiScala ("The Sopranos") is getting into the producing game as the actress is developing a new series based on the popular web site VivianLives.com for the netlet. The project, like the web site, will track the adventures of Vivian Livingston, a fictional twentysomething career woman in New York. Sherrie Krantz created the site and has gone on to write three books based on the character. The news marks the second time "Vivian" has been developed for the small screen, the first being for FOX and Big Ticket Television in 2003 by Carol Liefer ("Seinfeld"). Matt Walden and Barry Katz of New Wave Entertainment are executive producing the project with DiScala and her husband/manager, A.J. DiScala, producing. DiScala herself hopes to topline the project should it not conflict with her work on "The Sopranos'" final season.

UNTITLED SNL REALITY PROJECT (NBC, New!) - "Saturday Night Live" creator/executive producer Lorne Michaels is reportedly developing an "Apprentice"-esque reality series in which contestants will compete for the chance to join the cast of the long-running sketch comedy series. Neither NBC nor Michaels has commented on the project, additional details of which weren't available.

THE WEST WING (NBC) - Teri Polo ("Meet the Parents") is slated to appear in at least four episodes of the veteran drama this season with an option to return for 12 more next season. She'll play the wife of Jimmy Smits' character, a three-term Democratic congressman from Texas with strong presidential aspirations. Smits also has an option to return to "The West Wing" next fall.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [november 2004]  

· HIM & US (ABC)

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