LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BEHIND THE CAMERA: GROWIN' UP DIFFERENT (NBC) - The Peacock has greenlit production on the fourth installment of its "Behind the Camera" franchise, a look at the 1978-86 NBC comedy "Diff'rent Strokes." Bobb'e J ("The Tracy Morgan Show") will topline the cast as Gary Coleman with Robert Bailey Jr. as his brother and Verda Bridges (the real-life sister of Todd Bridges) as their mother. In addition, both Coleman and Bridges will serve as consultants on the project, as well as appear in on-camera interviews during the broadcast. Production is set to begin next week in Vancouver with Robert Iscove directing from a script by Greg Pincus and Susan Rinehart. Stan Brooks and Scott W. Anderson then will serve as executive producers through the former's Once Upon a Time Productions with Damian Ganczewski producing. "Diff'rent" joins previous "Behind the Camera" entries "Three's Company," "Charlie's Angeles" and the soon-to-debut "Mork & Mindy."
BOOK OF DANIEL (NBC) - Dylan Baker ("Hide and Seek") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an Episcopalian minister (Aidan Quinn) with a prescription drug problem who finds himself speaking routinely with Jesus. Baker will play the senior warden at the minister's parish. The project comes from NBC Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television with Jack Kenny and Flody Suarez executive producing.
C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - Feature helmer Quentin Tarantino ("Kill Bill") has signed on to write and direct the show's fifth-season finale, which is currently slated to air on Thursday, May 19. Tarantino reportedly is a huge fan of the series and a schedule opening coincided with the finale's production in early April. No details however were released about the episode. The news marks Tarantino's third TV directing gig, the others being a 1995 episode of "ER" and an installment of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" last year.
DIRTBAGS (FOX, New!) - FOX has added yet another comedy pilot to its roster, this time as the result of its successful "Naked TV" showcase (read the story). The project, which was created by Matt Boren and Doug Segal, revolves around a group of twentysomething friends in a blue-collar suburb of Boston, some of whom have never left and others who have ventured out and returned. Will Gluck ("Method & Red") has also signed on to executive produce the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.
E-RING (NBC) - Sarah Clarke ("24") is set to star opposite Benjamin Bratt in the drama pilot, about the fight for America's safety as revealed through the inner workings of the Pentagon. She'll play the wife of Bratt's character, full details of which weren't specified. Taylor Hackford will direct the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced pilot from a script by creators Ken Robinson and David McKenna.
THE L WORD (Showtime) - A disappointing 515,000 viewers tuned into Sunday's second-season premiere of the Showtime drama, down 45% from its debut last year (936,000 on 1/18/04).
LOVE MONKEY (CBS) - Judy Greer ("The Village") has joined the cast of the Tom Cavanagh-led drama pilot, about four male friends at different stages of life and love as told from the P.O.V. of a single, thirtysomething record executive (Cavanagh). No details were released about Greer's character. Michael Rauch and Mark Johnson are behind the project, which is set up at Paramount Network Television, Sony Pictures Television and Johnson's Grand Via Productions.
MONK (USA) - A solid 5.4 million viewers tuned into the most-recent installment of the USA series. Said number was just short of the 5.51 million that tuned into the show's first new episode of 2005.
NEW CAR SMELL (FOX) - Brooke Shields ("Suddenly Susan") and Christopher MacDonald ("Cracking Up") are the first to be cast in the pilot, a workplace comedy set at a car dealership. Details on their respective characters were not available. "Lucky" creators Robb & Mark Cullen are behind the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.
PROS & CONS (ABC) - Natasha Henstridge ("She Spies") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about five ex-cons who end up working with the government's antifraud forces. She'll play Charlie, one of said ex-cons. Henstridge joins the previously cast Billy Baldwin in the Touchstone Television-based project, which comes from executive producers J.J. Abrams, Raven Metzner, Stu Zicherman, Thom Sherman and Michael Engler.
REMIX (New!) - Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds ("College Hill") and reality gurus Scott Stone and Sharon Levy ("Making the Band") are developing a new entry into the musical-competition genre, this time with an "Extreme Makeover"-esque twist. The project reportedly will put eight struggling singers or bands from various genres through a musical makeover boot camp led by Edmonds (and two other undetermined industry experts) with the winner (as determined by audience vote) getting an album written and produced by Edmonds and other top producers. Edmonds, Alex D'Andrea and Tracey Edmonds will executive produce through their Edmonds Entertainment Group banner with Stone and Levy executive producing through the recently rebranded Stone & Co. Entertainment (previously Stone Stanley Entertainment). Said group will begin pitching the various broadcast and cable networks next week. No artists are currently attached however the producers hope to recruit artists who retain a loyal fan base but aren't selling millions of albums anymore, not one-hit wonders.
REUNION (FOX) - Will Estes ("American Dreams") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the lives of six close friends from their high school graduation in 1986 to their 20th reunion in 2006 - all told over the course of a single 22-episode season. Estes, whose involvement is in second position to "Dreams" should it return for a fourth season, joins the previously cast Chyler Leigh, Alexa Davalos, Sean Faris, Amanda Righetti and Dave Annable. Warner Bros. Television and Steve Pearlman's Class IV Productions are behind the pilot, which will be directed by Jon Amiel from a script by creator Jon Harmon Feldman ("Tru Calling").
THRESHOLD (CBS) - Carla Gugino ("Karen Sisco") has scored the lead role in the drama pilot, about a female government contingency analyst who leads a team of scientists and military personnel to respond to the threat of a mysterious alien lifeform. Gugino joins the previously cast Charles S. Dutton in the project, which comes from Paramount Network Television and executive producers David Goyer, David Heyman, Bragi Schut, Mark Rosen and Brannon Braga.
UNTITLED CAMRYN MANHEIM PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Emmy-winner Camryn Manheim ("The Practice") is making the move to comedy, as the actress is set to topline a new comedy pilot presentation for the Frog from "It's All Relative" creators Anne Flett Giordano and Chuck Ranberg. She'll play a single mother with three kids who moves into a new neighborhood filled with soccer moms in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. TV and the Tannenbaum Co. Flett Giordano and Ranberg then will serve as executive producers along with Eric and Kim Tannenbaum. Manheim had actually been in talks with ABC last season to star in a sitcom spin-off of "The Practice," in which she'd reprise her role of attorney Ellenor Frutt as she returns to her hometown and interacts with her sisters.
UNTITLED CHRISTOPHER LLYOD/JOE KEENAN PROJECT (CBS) - Kelsey Grammer is reuniting with his "Frasier" executive producers Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan as the actor/producer has signed on to direct the comedy pilot, about a family of single doctors. The project is set up at Paramount Network Television with Lloyd and Keenan writing the pilot script.
UNTITLED JEFFREY LIEBER PROJECT (FOX) - Mark-Paul Gosselaar has booked his first post-"N.Y.P.D. Blue" gig, as the actor has been cast as the male lead in the drama pilot, about a brother and sister who operate a wedding chapel in Las Vegas. He'll play Michael, said brother in the project, which comes from executive producers Jeffrey Lieber, Warren Littlefield, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent. Feature helmer Thomas Carter ("Coach Carter") will direct the pilot from a script by creator Lieber.
WINGWOMAN (UPN, New!) - Paramount Network Television, the Littlefield Co. and Evolution Entertainment have set up a new "Hitch"-esque comedy pilot at the netlet, about a woman who helps men talk to other women. Adam Chase ("Friends") and Mark Burg & Oren Koules ("Two And A Half Men") are behind the project, to be executive produced by the trio and Warren Littlefield.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters