[03/02/05 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 2
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 projects in development? Click here to visit our newly revamped "Series in Development" charts. Visitors can now filter our listings by network, genre and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

CONVICTION (CBS) - Eriq La Salle ("ER") has been tapped to star in the pilot, a legal drama about a team of lawyers who prosecute major cases. He'll play Peter Seidman, a veteran A.D.A., in the project, which also stars Lisa Gay Hamilton. "Conviction" is set up at Warner Bros. Television and 25C Productions with Ed Redlich, Carl Beverly, Jon Avnet and Sarah Timberman executive producing.

E-RING (NBC) - Leonor Varela ("Blade 2") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, a behind-the-scenes ensemble set at the Pentagon. She'll reportedly play Catherine "Cat" Rodriquez, who's described in the casting notice as: "30s. An Army Lieutenant Colonel, she is a Military Assistant at the Pentagon, beautiful, smart, tough, and sexy. Cat has a romantic and professional history with J.T., and is the one who recommended him for his new position in the Pentagon. Prefer Hispanic actress." She joins the previously cast trio of Benjamin Bratt, Sarah Clarke and Aunjanue Ellis in the Warner Bros. Television-based project. Taylor Hackford is directing the pilot from a script by creators Ken Robinson and David McKenna. The latter also executive produces the project along with Jonathan Littman and Jerry Bruckheimer.

EMILY'S REASONS WHY NOT (ABC) - Robin Schiff ("The Bad Girl's Guide") has signed on to executive produce and showrun the comedy pilot, about a woman who publishes a self-help book but doesn't take her own advice. The project, which is based on the book of the same name by Carrie Gerlach, comes from Sony Pictures Television and Gavin Polone & Vivian Cannon's Pariah Television. Schiff's involvement lifts the contingency off the pilot's production.

EXTREME JUSTICE (New!) - Mark Geragos, who's defended everyone from Scott Peterson to Michael Jackson to Winona Ryder over the years, has pacted with Stone & Co. Entertainment to develop a new one-hour reality series which will give everyday people the chance to have their civil cases taken on by the attorney. "People's Court" creator Stu Billett has also signed on as a consultant on the series, which will be executive produced by Scott Stone, Sharon Levy, Howard Lapides and Geragos. Said project will feature Geragos facing off against other top lawyers with the winning side earning a cut of the actual settlement. As is the cast for daytime court series, all parties will agree to waive their right to a real civil trial in order to have their cases heard in the TV court. The producers plan to begin pitching the various broadcast and cable networks beginning this week.

FAMILY BUSINESS (Showtime) - The show's third season, which begins on March 12, will air Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c not Fridays at 11:00/10:00c as previously reported. Encores of the first-run Saturday episodes will instead air in the Friday slot.

FATHOM (NBC) - Jay Ferguson ("Glory Days") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of naval officers, oceanographers and fishermen from around the world who encounter a group of mysterious sea creatures. He'll play Richard Owen in the NBC Universal Television-based project. His character is described in the casting notice as: "30s-early 40s, intensely likable, Southern, charming, he's a man's man, the father of three, this Southern good ol' boy is an ex high school football star turned insurance salesman. An expert diver and spearfisherman, he accompanies his younger brother George into the Gulf of Mexico for George's first diving trip. He is stunned and tearful after they encounter the sea creature, with lethal consequences." Lake Bell, Rade Serbedzija and Leighton Meester also star in the pilot, which comes from creators Josh & Jonas Pate.

FREEBIRDS (FOX, New!) - Robert Roy Thomas ("Significant Others") has booked a pilot presentation order for a new comedy described as a partially scripted update of "The Graduate." No other details were given about the project.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) - Josh Radnor ("The Court") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about the exploits of a single man, as told through his own eyes 20 years later. Radnor will play the lead role in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas ("American Dad").

INVASION (ABC) - Eddie Cibrian ("Tilt") has joined the cast of the Alphabet's latest drama effort, about the bizarre occurrences in a small Florida town after it gets ravaged by a hurricane. It's understood Cibrian's role is that of Russell Poole, described in the show's casting notice as: "Late 30s. Clear, internal, Eastwoodian cool. A U.S. Park Ranger in the Florida Everglades who cares more about nature and family than he does about external success or climbing the career ladder. A hero of the old school, Russell's married to TV reporter Larkin Groves (now pregnant with their child) and the father of Jesse, 15, and Rose, 9, from a previous marriage to Dr. Mariel Underlay. Russell's divorce is still an open wound - his father left him when he was a kid - and he is particularly concerned about its residual effect on his children. Though not easily given to paranoia or conspiracy theories, a series of strange events in the wake of a devastating hurricane forces Russell to concede that something unusual, perhaps even dangerous, is going on in his community." Shaun Cassidy and Thomas Schlamme are behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television. Cibrian's involvement likely comes in second position to his duties on the struggling ESPN drama.

LAWS OF CHANCE (ABC) - Bruce McGill ("MacGyver") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a feisty female A.D.A. (KaDee Strickland) in Houston who uses unconventional methods against the old-boy Texas defense attorneys. No details were available about McGill's character in the project, which comes from Grant Scharbo, Gary Glasberg and Gina Matthews and is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Roundtable Ink.

LONELY ISLAND GUYS (FOX, New!) - The Los Angeles-based sketch comedy group the Lonely Island Guys is set to be the focus of a comedy pilot presentation at FOX. The project is understood to be set up at Dawn Parouse and Marty Adelstein's 20th Century Fox Television-based banner with the pair executive producing along with Phil Lord, Chris Miller, Jaorma Toccone, Akiva Schaffer and Andy Sandberg.

NEW CAR SMELL (FOX) - Actor-turned-director David Schwimmer ("Friends") has signed on to helm the pilot, a workplace comedy set at a car dealership. Brooke Shields and Christopher MacDonald star in the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, which was created by Robb & Mark Cullen.

PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT! (Showtime) - The show's third season is set to kick off on Monday, April 25. "Bullshit" will take over the 10:00/9:00c time period from newcomer "Fat Actress," which will wrap its seven-episode run the previous week.

SOUTH BEACH (A.K.A. UNTITLED MATT CIRULNICK PROJECT) (UPN) - The Jennifer Lopez-produced drama project has received a last-minute pilot order from UPN. The project, which comes from Paramount Network Television, Lopez's Nuyorican Productions and Tony Krantz's Flame Television, revolves around three young adults whose dreams and aspirations lead them to the hot beaches and glamorous spotlight of Miami's South Beach. In addition, Philip Levens ("Smallville") has been brought in as an executive producer on the pilot, where he'll serve alongside Krantz, Lopez and her manager, Simon Fields. It's not clear if previously listed creator Matt Cirulnick ("Paid in Full") is still attached to the project.

UNTITLED BRIAN LYNCH/CHUCK SWENSON PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Animation guru Chuck Swenson ("Rugrats") and feature writer Brian Lynch have scored a pilot presentation order for a new animated comedy about a 31-year-old divorcee and father of three who moves his family back into his parents' home in the near desert of California. Chris Bender and J.C. Spink's Benderspink banner and alternative studio Fox 21 are behind the project, which came out of FOX's Naked Angels alternative development showcase earlier this year.

UNTITLED TOM FONTANA/BARRY LEVINSON PROJECT (The WB) - Matthew Modine ("The Winning Season") has been cast as David Macklan in the Tom Fontana/Barry Levinson-produced drama pilot, about the teachers and students at a small Manhattan college. Modine will play the professor that teaches the controversial human behavior and sexuality class that serves as the centerpiece of the series. Julie Martin and Jim Finnerty also serve as executive producers on the HBO Independent Productions/Warner Bros. Television-based project, which also stars Milo Ventimiglia, Penn Badgley and Ernest Waddell.

WESTSIDE (ABC) - Judith Light ("Who's the Boss?) is the latest to sign onto the drama pilot, about an upscale real estate agency specializing in high-end homes in Los Angeles. She joins the previously cast Ashley Scott and Charlotte Ross in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Class IV Productions. Silvio Horta created the series and will executive produce alongside Class IV's Steve Pearlman and Andrew Plotkin.

WILDLIFE (UPN) - Lauren German ("A Walk to Remember") has joined the cast of the Denise Richards-led drama pilot, about a group of twentysomethings living in the hip Hollywood community of Silver Lake. Michael Gans and Richard Register created the Paramount Network Television-based project and will executive produce alongside Daniel Cerone, Jonathan Axelrod and Kelly Edwards. German will play Rose in the pilot, full details of which have yet to be released.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2005]  

· ER (NBC)

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