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.
3: THE DALE EARNHARDT STORY (ESPN) - The network's biopic of the famed NASCAR driver was seen by 7.25 million viewers on Saturday including a 3.1 rating/10 share among adults 18-49. Said numbers were good enough to top all networks - broadcast and cable - in the key dempgrahic not to mention make it ESPN's most-watched original to date.
ALMOST FAMILY (Lifetime, New!) - Lifetime has given a one-hour pilot order to a new reality series in which a couple in a serious relationship who have never met each other's parents and are sent to live with their significant other's family for a week. Gay Rosenthal, Jeff Apploff and Paul Barrosse are behind the project, which is set up at the former's Gay Rosenthal Productions. Like the similarly-themed "Wife Swap" and "Trading Spouses," "Almost" hopes to feature couples from families of varied ethnic and religious backgrounds.
AMBULANCE GIRL (Lifetime, New!) - Kathy Bates ("Six Feet Under") is in final talks to topline a new telefilm for the cable channel, a docudrama about the true story of how former food writer Jane Stern conquered clinical depression after becoming a paramedic. Frank Von Zerneck, Robert Sertner and Patricia Clifford are executive producing the project for Von Zerneck-Sertner Films with Alan Hines ("Guilt by Association") attached to write the script. Production is expected to begin shortly on the telefilm for an unspecified 2005 air date.
BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNAUTHORIZED STORY OF 'MORK & MINDY' (NBC) - The Peacock is set to move forward with its third "Behind the Camera" telefilm, this time about the 1978-1982 ABC sitcom which starred Robin Williams and Pam Dawber. Chris Diamantopoulos ("The DeMarco Affairs") has been cast as Williams in the project, which will track the show's instant success with a focus on the meteoric rise to fame of Williams. Neill Fearnley ("Inside the Osmonds") is set to direct the telefilm from a script by former "Mork & Mindy" writer David Misch with Matt Dorff ("Growing Up Brady") and Jim Head executive producing. Like the previous installments, the project is set up at Stanley M. Brooks' Once Upon a Time Films. Production is set to begin next month.
THE BIG KAHUNA (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel is developing a docu-soap (a la A&E's "Airline") about the hypercompetitive world of wedding planners on the Big Island of Hawaii. Said project will focus mostly on Debbie, a wedding planner who must deal with the rumor-mongering and back-stabbing that exists in her cutthroat industry. Lora Marcus, who discovered Debbie when she went to Hawaii to plan her own wedding, is behind the series.
BULLHEADS (CBS, New!) - Randy Anderson ("Joan of Arcadia") is developing a new one-hour dramedy at the Eye about the quirky inhabitants of a small Minnesota town. No other details were given about the project, which is set up at Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures banner.
DIRTY (Lifetime, New!) - J. Paul Higgins ("Truth or Consequences, N.M.") is behind a new dark comedy at the cable channel, about a larger-than-life woman who runs a cosmetic company and tries to kill her husband after a dispute cripples the family business. The single-camera half-hour is set up at Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures.
ELVIS (CBS) - Rose McGowan ("Charmed") is set to play film legend, and former Elvis flame, Ann-Margret in the Eye's upcoming mini-series, which also stars Randy Quaid as Presley's manager Colonel Tom Parker. The pair met during the filming of his 1964 film "Viva Las Vegas," and went on to be romantically linked for most of his career, eventually putting a strain on his relationship with future wife Priscilla Beaulieu. Jaffe/Braunstein Films is behind "Elvis" with Robert Greenblatt and David Janollari ("Six Feet Under") executive producing alongside Howard Braunstein and Michael Jaffe ("10.5").
EMERGENCY RESCUE (New!) - Maxim magazine's Moving Pictures DPI and Red Dog Entertainment are currently developing a new primetime reality series that would follow the exploits of the specially trained Army reservists and National Guardsmen. The project would focus both on their civilian lives as well as the life-and-death situations they encounter when the government calls them back into active service. Red Dog's Michael Schlossman is the executive producer of "Rescue."
THE GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW (ABC) - The Alphabet has upped its commitment to the veteran comedy to 24 episodes this season, ordering two additional episodes. To date this season, "Lopez" is averaging a solid 8.63 million viewers in the network's Tuesday, 8:30/7:30c slot. "Lopez" joins "My Wife and Kids," "Hope & Faith" and "According to Jim" among the network's comedy crop that will produce more than the standard 22-episode order this season.
HELLRAISER (New!) - Panacea Entertainment, Park Avenue Entertainment and Blueprint Entertainment are looking to team for a TV series based on the 17-year old Clive Barker-created film franchise which has produced eight features to date (the latter half of which have been released direct-to-video). The small screen edition would focus on a tabloid journalist that stumbles onto a plot between the ghoulish Pinhead and a zillionaire software magnate that would have dire consequences for mankind. New World Entertainment's Larry Kuppin will also serve as an executive produce on the project along with Eric Gardner. A showrunner is expected to be named shortly to script a pilot episode of the potential series. No network, broadcast or cable, is currently attached.
HOUSE BROKEN (CBS, New!) - The Eye is developing a new half-hour comedy about a womanizing bachelor's difficult adjustment when he marries a woman with two kids. The project, which is based on the book of the same name by David Eddie, comes from feature helmer Luke Greenfield ("The Girl Next Door") and his WideAwake production banner. Greenfield and WideAwake's Matthew Siegel and Juan Castro will executive produce the project, which has a script commitment at the network. Michael Glouberman ("Malcolm in the Middle") is attached to write said script with Greenfield.
THE INSIDE (FOX) - Jay Harrington ("Coupling," "Summerland") has come aboard as the male lead in the midseason drama, about a young agent (Rachel Nichols) working for a unit of the F.B.I. that investigates violent crimes in Los Angeles. Harrington will take over for Peter Facinelli in the role of Paul Fattore, the partner of Nichols' character. 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television are behind the project, which is being shepherded by writer/producer Tim Minear ("Wonderfalls," "Firefly").
JUDGE HATCHETT (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared the syndicated court show on local stations covering 80% of the country for the 2005-2006 season, including all 25 top markets. The series, currently in its fifth season, is averaging a 1.7 national rating this season. Said number puts it at the bottom of the seven syndicated court shows on the air.
LEGEND OF EARTHSEA (Sci Fi) - Part one of the two-part mini-series opened to an impressive 3.43 million viewers, including a 1.3 rating/3 share among adults 18-49. Said numbers made "Earthsea" the cable channel's most-watched original movie of 2004.
LAW & ORDER: TRIAL BY JURY (NBC) - Lorraine Bracco is the latest "Sopranos" vet to climb aboard the "Law & Order" franchise. The actress is set to guest star as an ambitious attorney in the upcoming "Trial by Jury" spin-off, a potentially recurring role. Bebe Neuwirth, Jerry Orbach, Fred Thompson, Kirk Acevedo, Amy Carlson and David Rogers are also featured in the series, which bows early next year. The news comes on the heels of fellow "Sopranos" co-star Michael Imperioli's recent addition to the original "Law & Order" for its final four episodes of the season.
LIES AND THE WIVES WE TELL THEM TO (NBC, New!) - "Happy Family" creators David Guarascio and Moses Port have scored a cast-contingent pilot order for a new comedy which centers on four married best friends and explores the secrets and lies that keep marriages and friendships happy. The project is set up at NBC Universal Television where the pair have an overall deal.
MAKING WAVES (ABC, New!) - Producer Keri Selig ("It Must Be Love") and writer Trey Callaway ("I Still Know What You Did Last Summer") are developing a new family drama based on the life of surfing legend Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz. Paskowitz, his wife and his nine children - all surfers - have run surf camps in Southern California for more than 30 years. ABC has given a script commitment to the project, which will track both the family dynamics and the students at their camps. The Paskowitz clan was recently featured on HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" in a segment about the surf camps that they have hosted for autistic children in New York, Hawaii and other seaside locales. Jonathan Paskowitz is also attached to co-write the script with Callaway.
MS. MOGUL (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel has committed to 13 episodes of a new reality competition series in which 15 small-businesswomen compete to transform their new business ideas into reality by winning a startup fund of up to $1 million. The one-hour project, which comes from "The Swan" creator Nely Galan, will open and close with two-hour installments in the second quarter of 2005. As for format specifics, each competitior will be teamed with a media-mogul mentor in her respective field to help her along the way. It's not clear however how contestants will be eliminated each week.
NOWHERE FAST (FX, New!) - Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures is developing a new drama at the cable channel about a small-town drug lord who reconnects with his adult son and teenage daughter in the California desert, best known as the meth capital of the world. Said project would then track the lead character as he attempts to draw his kids into the family business. Paramount Network Television and former Viacom Productions chief Perry Simon are also on board to produce the drama, which was created by Noah Hawley.
OPRAH WINFREY PRESENTS: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD (ABC) - The Halle Berry-led telefilm has been scheduled to air Sunday, March 6 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how ABC's press materials describe the project: "Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry stars in this timeless, lyrical and passionate story of love, marriage and justifiable homicide: the drama of a strong woman's quest for sensual and spiritual fulfillment, and of her refusal to conform to expectation. Based on the classic novel by Zora Neal Hurston, this Oprah Winfrey special follows 16-year-old Janie Crawford, reared in the backlands of West Florida by her ex-slave grandmother, as she defiantly sets out to find her own identity."
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Robin Tunney ("The Vertical Limit") and Jessalyn Gilsig ("Boston Public") have each scored roles in the drama pilot, about an engineer (Wentworth Miller) who inserts himself into a prison he designed to help his brother (Dominic Purcell), a death row inmate who insists he is innocent, escape. Tunney will play the defense attorney for the engineer who has known the two brothers since childhood while Gilsig, whose role is listed as a guest star, will play the other brother's ex-lover and mother of his child. Sarah Wayne Callies, Peter Stormare, Amaury Nolasco and Marshall Allman also star in the project, which is directed by Brett Ratner ("After the Sunset") from a script Paul Scheuring ("A Man Apart").
ROCK STAR (CBS) - Mark Burnett Productions has confirmed the series, which is set to bow this summer, will run for a whopping 38 episodes over the course of three months.
SNOW (ABC Family) - The Tom Cavanagh-led telefilm posted 4.01 million viewers for its premiere on Sunday, including a 1.2 rating/3 share among adults 18-49. Overall "Snow" was ABC Family's highest-rated original among total viewers in more than two years and among adults 18-49 in over a year.
THE TYRA BANKS SHOW (A.K.A. UNTITLED TYRA BANKS PROJECT) (Syndication) - Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution has cleared the upcoming talk show on its first station - NBC affiliate KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon, the nation's 24th-largest market - for a fall 2005 launch. "Tyra" will take over for "The Tony Danza Show" on the station's 10:00 a.m. slot. Buena Vista Television, the distributor behind "Tony," plans to shop the series elsewhere in the market.
UNTITLED ADAM BELANOFF PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Adam Belanoff ("Murphy Brown") is developing a new medical drama at the Eye, full details of which weren't specified. The project nevertheless is set up at Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures.
UNTITLED CHARLIE CRAIG PROJECT (Lifetime, New!) - The lives of women training for N.A.S.A.'s space program is set to be the focus of a new drama at the cable channel from Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Motion Pictures, Lions Gate Television and writer Charlie Craig ("Peacemakers"). The project tracks the women's lives as they juggle their families and their attempt to save six castaways at the International Space Station.
UNTITLED DAVID ARQUETTE PROJECT (The WB, New!) - David Arquette ("Scream") is set to topline and executive produce a new comedy at the Frog about a twentysomething owner of a newsstand who decides to ditch his slacker life when he falls in love. Arquette, along with wife Courteney Cox, will executive produce the project, which comes from writers Steve Pink ("High Fidelity") and Patrick O'Neill. Pink and O'Neill created the short-lived WB drama "Dead Last" and shepherded the 2002 ABC comedy pilot "Sun Gods." The WB has given a script comitment to the comedy, which is set up at the Warner Bros. Television-based Coquette Productions.
UNTITLED LUKE GREENFIELD PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Feature director Luke Greenfield ("The Girl Next Door") is developing a new hybrid scripted/reality series at the network, full details of which are still being kept under wraps. Greenfield will executive produce the project with his WideAwake partners Matthew Siegel and Juan Castro.
UNTITLED PAMELA ANDERSON PROJECT (FOX) - FOX has emerged as the winner of a bidding war with ABC for the Pam Anderson-led, Steve Levitan-produced comedy, giving the project a six-episode, on-air commitment despite a pilot script not being written. The comedy, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television where Levitan has an overall deal, stars Anderson as a bad girl gone good who ends up working in an upscale bookstore.
UNTITLED RONNIE CHRISTENSEN PROJECT (CBS, New!) - "Titan A.E." screenwriter Ronnie Christensen has set up a new action-adventure drama at CBS set in the world of deep-sea divers. Paramount Network Television and Valhalla Motion Pictures are behind the project, which is executive produced by Valhalla's Gale Anne Hurd.
WHO'S YOUR DADDY? (FOX) - Industry insiders have confirmed FOX has committed to seven episodes of the series beyond its debut 90-minute special, which airs Monday, January 3 at 8:00/7:00c (read the story). Said installments will air later in the season as a weekly series or a series of specials. Fox TV Studios is behind the project in association with Ken Mok ("America's Next Top Model") and the team of Scott Hallock and Kevin Healey ("Scare Tactics").
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters