LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC) - Ever Carradine ("Lucky," "Once and Again") is the first to be cast in the two-hour drama pilot, about the first female U.S. president. Carradine will play the president's press secretary in the Touchstone Television-based project, the production of which remains contingent on casting the lead. Rod Lurie and Marc Frydman ("Line of Fire") are the executive producers.
IN JUSTICE (ABC) - Daniel Cosgrove ("Beverly Hills, 90210") and Constance Zimmer ("Joan of Arcadia") have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of impassioned lawyers who aid the wrongly convicted. They'll join the previously cast Jason O'Mara. Details on their characters weren't specified. Mick Jackson is set to direct the Touchstone Television-based project from a script by creators Robert & Michelle King.
IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA/STARVED (FX) - The cable channel has ordered seven episodes of the single-camera comedy projects, both of which are set to launch this summer as part of a new one-hour comedy block on the network. "Philadelphia" revolves around a diverse group of friends who own a bar in philadelphia, one of whom reveals he has cancer in the first episode. Rob McElhenney ("ER") wrote, produced, directed and starred in the pilot, which was shot on spec. Jordan Berkow ("Law & Order"), Glenn Howerton ("That '80s Show") and Charlie Day ("Third Watch") also star, the latter two of which will executive produce along with 3 Arts' Nick Frenkel and Michael Rotenberg. As for "Starved," the comedy chronicles the misadventures of four thirtysomething friends (a bulimic cop, an obese writer, a commodities broker and an anorexic bisexual songwriter) as seen through the country's obsession with food. Eric Schaeffer ("My Life Is in Turnaround") wrote, directed and co-starred in the pilot, which also features Laura Benanti ("Swing!"), Sterling Brown ("ER") and Del Pentecost ("Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital"). Schaeffer and Basic Elements' Dan Pasternack will then serve as executive producers of the series.
Both "Starved" and "Philadelphia" were among four low-budget comedy projects incoming FX chief John Landgraf has been developing this season (the other two being Andrew Gurland's "Human Animals" and an untitled sketch comedy series from Jamie Foxx). In addition to their modest budgets, FX developed them all in-house meaning they doesn't have to share profits derived from areas such as home video or syndication sales. Production on the New York-based "Starved" and the Philadelphia/Los Angeles-based "Philadelphia" is set to begin in April.
LIES AND THE WIVES WE TELL THEM TO (NBC) - Ed Helms ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about four couples as they navigate their way through the "politics of marriage" with "lies that range from tiny to big, revealing how fabrications -- when done right -- may in fact further a healthy relationship." Helms joins the previously cast Kyle Chandler and Johnny Sneed. The pilot, from NBC Universal Television and executive producers David Guarascio and Moses Port, is scheduled to tape Friday, March 11 at Universal Studios.
OLD CHRISTINE (CBS) - Kari Lizer's comedy pilot for the Eye, about a 35-year-old divorced mom trying to keep pace with everyone around her including the judgmental stay-at-home moms at her son's private school and her ex-husband, is tentatively set to tape on Wednesday, April 6 at Warner Bros. Studios. The pilot's production however remains cast-contingent on the lead role.
QUANTICO (CBS) - Mandy Patinkin ("Dead Like Me"), Shemar Moore ("Birds of Prey"), Lola Glaudini ("The Handler") and Matthew Gubler ("The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, a suspense thriller that centers on the F.B.I.'s Behavioral Analysis Unit (B.A.U.). Patinkin will play Spec. Agent Jason Donovan, described in the casting notice as "35-45. Experienced and has been around the block, deceptively average-looking, articulate, with a commanding presence, he's a seasoned FBI profiler who traded in field work for seminar instruction after witnessing a dozen cops die in a shrapnel bomb. He maintains a close relationship with his ex-wife, a psychiatrist, who has been helping him deal. When a serial murderer plagues the Seattle area, Donovan is asked to return as a full-time Unit Chief, but kept under close supervision."
Glaudini then is set as Spec. Agent Elle Greenaway, described as "Late 20s. All ethnicities. She is a young, sharp, resourceful and feisty FBI agent with a background in sex offender cases. Her specialty area stems from having been raped at age 19, and the assailant never having been caught. Elle impresses the hell out of the task force members, which is what she wants, as she is bucking for the opening in the BAU (Behavioral Analysis Unit) at Quantico. According to her "file," Elle's biggest character flaw is impatience." As for Moore it's expected he'll play Spec. Agent Derek Morgan, who's detailed as "30-35. All ethnicities. He is a handsome, confident, fast-talking FBI profiler, an expert on obsessional crimes. A witty, direct lady charmer who trains new agents, Morgan joins the special profiler team led by Donovan, to save a woman from becoming the fifth victim of a deranged serial killer." Gubler's character wasn't specified. Touchstone Television is behind the project, which comes from executive producers Jeff Davis and Mark Gordon ("Grey's Anatomy").
THREE (CBS) - Zachary Levi ("Less Than Perfect") has scored the lead role in the comedy pilot, about a newly single guy (Levi) who suddenly finds himself the third wheel in the relationship between his best friend and the friend's wife. Levi's involvement is in second position to his duties on "Perfect," which has yet to be renewed for a fourth season. Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen ("Friends") are behind the project, which is set up at Paramount Network Television.
TRIANGLE (UPN) - D.B. Woodside ("24") and Elize Du Toit are the latest additions to the drama pilot, about a young doctor (Ivan Sergei) who moves to the Caribbean after his wife disappears during their honeymoon there. Woodside will play a police captain while Du Toit will play a bartender. The project is set up at Paramount Network Television and Perry Simon's Shore View Entertainment.
TRUE (The WB) - The comedy, about a woman (Anne Heche) whose boyfriend breaks up with her while she is in labor with their baby, forcing her to move back in with her parents (Ed Begley Jr., Swoozie Kurtz), is scheduled to tape Tuesday, March 15 at Warner Bros. Studios.
UNCOMMON SENSE (NBC) - The comedy pilot, about a columnist (Larry Miller) with a wry sense of humor and his relationship with his wife (Peri Gilpin), is scheduled to tape Friday, March 4 at The Culver Studios in Los Angeles. Alanna Ubach and Reg Rogers also star in the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television.
UNTITLED JEFFREY LIEBER PROJECT (FOX) - Feature director Thomas Carter ("Coach Carter") has signed on to direct and executive produce the drama pilot, about the complicated romantic relationships and the outrageous entanglements of the employees and clients of a one-stop-shopping Las Vegas wedding emporium. Carter, who actually helmed the pilot for CBS' "Hack," will direct from a script by creator Jeffrey Lieber ("Lost"). The project is set up at Spelling Television with Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent and Warren Littlefield also serving as executive producers.
UNTITLED JERRY BRUCKHEIMER/MARSH MCCALL PROJECT (CBS) - Jerry Bruckheimer has upped his 2005-06 season pilot total to five as the Eye has greenlit production on the prolific producer's comedy pilot with Marsh McCall. The project, which previously had a put pilot commitment, revolves around three adult siblings (two brothers, one sister) who rally to support their eccentric professor father when their mother leaves him. McCall, Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman are the executive producers of the Warner Bros. Television-based project. The untitled comedy joins CBS' "American Crime," NBC's "E-Ring" and "Dog Town Lawyers" and the McCall/Peters project at the WB as part of Bruckheimer's pilot roster this season.
UNTITLED SUSIE ESSMAN PROJECT (CBS) - Susie Essman's comedy pilot at the Eye has been given the go-ahead to begin production. The project, which is now set up at 20th Century Fox Teleivison, Paramount Network Television and Brad Johnson's Watson Pond, revolves around a New Yorker (Essman) who marries and suddenly becomes a stepmom in suburbia. Essman created the series with Tom Leopold, who wrote the pilot script. Leopold, Johnson and Brillstein-Grey Management's Lee Kernis will then serve as the executive producers with Essman also receiving a producing credit.
WITNESS: THE AMBER FREY STORY (CBS) - Janel Moloney ("The West Wing") is set to star while Peter Werner ("We Were the Mulvaneys") has signed on to direct the telefilm, about Frey's involvement with recently convicted murderer Scott Peterson. Production is set to begin next month in Vancouver on the project, which could be ready in time for a May sweeps broadcast. Werner will direct from a script by Donald Martin ("Family Sins") with Zev Braun and Philip Krupp ("Menendez: A Killing in Beverly Hills") executive producing for the Braun Entertainment Group.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters and Audiences Unlimited