LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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'70S NEW YORK COP PROJECT (NBC) - Tony Lo Bianco, who played Salvatore "Sal" Boca in the original "The French Connection," has joined the cast of the drama pilot, which stars Bobby Cannavale and Donnie Wahlberg as real-life 1970s cop heroes Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan, who inspired the Oscar-winning 1971 feature. Bianco will play Congressman Fario Cardinale, described in the show's casting notice as: "50s. Italian and good looking, his strength is evident. Formerly one of the most decorated NYPD officers ever, Cardinale now is a congressman with strong ties to his constituency. A mentor to Sonny Grosso, he got Sonny into the detectives bureau and gives Sonny a heads up that Agent Rauch wants to speak with him - alone." NBC Universal Television is behind the pilot, to be directed by Clark Johnson from a script by Rand Ravich.
3 LBS. (CBS) - Former "The Practice" lead Dylan McDermott has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of Los Angeles-based brain surgeons. He'll play Dr. Douglas Hanson in the project, which also stars Reiko Aylesworth. Hanson's character is described as follows in the casting notice: "Early-mid 40s. A brilliant neurosurgeon and a certified genius with his own practice in Los Angeles. Hanson is a man who likes to debate the philosophy of brain science while he's actually got one in his hands, Hanson is a wealthy man with a house in the Palisades, an ex-wife and son who drive him crazy, and a girlfriend who works alongside him. A man whose materialistic philosophy leads him to reject the notions of the soul and "the ghost in the machine," who plays Shostakovich while slicing through the medulla and thinks we're right on the verge of unlocking the most deeply-buried secrets of the mind (whatever the mind is), Hanson is giving his protege, Dr. Jonathan Fowler, a tour of his chaotic personal life and his highly-organized professional life. An overachiever who is hell-bent on attaining the apex of his profession and staying there like a lonely god, Hanson has a secret he's keeping to himself: he thinks there's an infinitesimal shadow on his brainscan that's giving him bizarre yet poetically beautiful hallucinations." In addition, Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson have signed on to executive produce the Paramount Network Television-based project through their The Levinson/Fontana Co. They'll serve alongside fellow executive producers Peter Ocko and Paul Stupin. Levinson had previously been attached to direct from a script by Ocko.
BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (ABC Family) - Daphne Zuniga ("Melrose Place") is the first to be cast in the upcoming original series at ABC Family, about the highs and lows of two sisters and their mother as they move from a small town in New Mexico to New York City. She'll play Lynn Kerr, said mother in the Sony Pictures Television project, which comes from executive producers Michael Rauch and Paul Stupin ("Dawson's Creek").
BOSS SWAP (ABC) - "Wife Swap's" second backdoor pilot episode - "Silver/Caden" - is now slated to air Monday, March 7 at 9:00/8:00c. "Husband Swap," the previous potential spin-off episode, aired on December 1.
COOL MONEY (A.K.A. HEIST) (USA) - The James Marsters-led telefilm, which airs Friday, March 18 at 9:00/8:00c, has been retitled "Cool Money."
JUDGING AMY (CBS) - The Hallmark Channel has purchased a shared run of the veteran CBS drama from Twentieth Television. Said pact, which allows Hallmark to run the first five seasons of the series in primetime beginning Monday, February 28, is reportedly valued at $400,000 per episode. Hallmark will share the series with TNT, who has been carrying the show's off-network run since the fall of 2003. In addition, Twentieth will shave an unspecified percentage off TNT's current license fee for "Amy" ($550,000 per episode) to make up for the network's loss of exclusivity. Overall, fans of "Amy" will be able to catch the series five times a day most weeks - 3:00, 9:00 and 10:00 p.m. eastern on Hallmark and 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. eastern on TNT - starting next month.
MANCHILD (Showtime) - Sony Pictures Television is the latest studio looking to import the BBC comedy, about four 49-year-old male friends in the midst of their midlife crises. Both ABC and CBS had previously tried to develop a domestic version of the series to no avail. As for Showtime's stab, the show's original creator Nick Fisher is on board to write and executive produce the U.S. version. No other details however were given.
MINDY & BRENDA (The WB) - Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers's comedy project at the Frog has received the green light to produce a pilot. The project, which comes from Steve Martin and Joan Stein's Martin/Stein Co. and indie studio Carsey-Werner, revolves around two twentysomething women, former college roommates and best friends, living together on the cheap in Brooklyn. Kaling and Withers will write and co-executive produce the project in addition to Martin, Stein, Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner.
PROJECT GREENLIGHT (Bravo) - Before season three of the reality series makes its debut on Bravo, viewers can catch a marathon of all 13 season one episodes on the cable channel on Sunday, March 13 starting at 11:30 a.m. eastern.
RENO 911 (Comedy Central) - Comedy Central has confirmed season three of the popular comedy series will debut Tuesday, June 14.
REVVED (FOX) - Charlie Craig ("Peacemakers") has joined the producing staff of the drama pilot, about two brothers in North Carolina NASCAR country who, working out of a chop shop, try to protect local residents from threats of big business and corrupt government. He'll serve as an executive producer on the 20th Century Fox Television-based project alongside Lorenzo di Bonaventura and creator Greg Coolidge ("Sorority Boys").
UNTITLED FREDDIE PRINZE JR. PROJECT (ABC) - Freddie Prinze Jr.'s comedy pilot at the Alphabet has been given a production green light. The project, which previously had a put pilot commitment (read the story), centers on a successful, single guy (Prinze) who after finally breaking free of his overbearing family must return home to a household of women who drive him crazy after his brother dies. In addition, John Pasquin ("The George Lopez Show") has signed on to direct the pilot, which comes from Bruce Helford, Deborah Oppenheimer and Bruce Rasmussen's Warner Bros. Television-based Mohawk Productions. The trio (along with Prinze) will then executive produce the project with Helford, Rasmussen, Prinze, and Conrad Jackson writing the pilot script.
UNTITLED JEFF KLEEMAN/MICHAEL SALTZMAN PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Former MGM executive Jeff Kleeman and writer/producer Michael Saltzman ("Baby Bob") have scored a pilot order from the Frog for a new comedy about a woman whose mother meets the man who was her anonymous sperm donor. Brian Grazer and David Nevins's 20th Century Fox Television-based Imagine Television is behind the project with Grazer, Nevis and Saltzman executive producing.
UNTITLED ROSS MCCALL/AARON PETERS PROJECT (The WB) - Ross McCall and Aaron Peters's comedy pilot has received the green light to produce a pilot. The project, about three single guys, all friends since childhood, who hire a life coach to help them with women, is set up at Jerry Bruckheimer's Warner Bros. Television-based company. The WB had previously given the project a put pilot commitment back in September (read the story). McCall and Peters have since been tapped to write the pilot script with Bruckheimer, Jonathan Littman and Marsh McCall executive producing. McCall and Peters will then serve as co-executive producers.
UNTITLED TOM FONTANA/BARRY LEVINSON PROJECT (The WB) - Milo Ventimiglia ("Gilmore Girls") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about the students and teachers at a small Manhattan college. He joins the previously cast Ernest Waddell and Penn Badgley in the project, which comes from HIP, Warner Bros. Television and The Levinson/Fontana Co. No details were available about Ventimiglia's character. Ventimiglia spent the past development season as part of the failed ABC drama pilot "Gramercy Park" and has since signed on for a 10-episode arc on NBC's "American Dreams."
WILDLIFE (UPN) - "Clubhouse" creator Daniel Cerone has signed a multi-year overall deal which will keep the writer/producer at Paramount Network Television. The pact, which begins in June, calls for Cerone to executive produce UPN's drama pilot "Wildlife," one-hour dramedy about a group of twentysomethings living in the hip Hollywood community of Silver Lake. Should "Wildlife" go to series, Cerone will then serve as the series' showrunner. In addition, he'll also develop original projects for the studio.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters