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[03/03/05 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 3
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!

BLUE SKIES (NBC) - Missi Pyle ("Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a 27-year-old former golden child (Anna Faris) who finds herself becoming a reluctant enabler to her crazy family. Pyle will play Claire, the sister to Faris' character in the project, which comes from NBC Universal Television and creator Jhoni Marchinko.

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC) - Oscar-winner Geena Davis ("The Accidental Tourist") has been cast in the title role of the drama pilot, about Mackenzie Allen, the first female president of the United States. Her involvement finally lifts the cast-contingency on the two-hour pilot's production. She joins the previously cast Kyle Secor (Rod Allen, Mackenzie's husband), Caitlin Wachs (Helen Allen, the middle of their three children), Harry J. Lennix (the outgoing president's chief of staff) and Ever Carradine (Allen's press secretary) in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television and Rod Lurie and Marc Frydman's Battle Plan Productions. Davis had previously signed a development deal with CBS to topline a sitcom for the network in September (read the story). It's not clear what lead to the dissolution of that pact.

CRAZY LAWYERS (FOX) - Krista Allen ("Unscripted") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about a successful lawyer (Chris O'Donnell) who has a nervous breakdown and teams with a lawyer with an anger problem (Adam Goldberg) to help people with issues, legal and otherwise. Allen will play the estranged wife of O'Donnell's character in the project, which also stars Rachael Leigh Cook, Rockmond Dunbar and Aimee Garcia. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the project, which comes from executive producers Bill Chais, Jeff Rake and Barry Josephson.

HERCULES (NBC) - The Peacock reportedly plans to re-cut the four-hour mini-series as a three-hour presentation to air on Monday, May 23 at 8:00/7:00c. The network had previously planned to air the project over two nights - Sunday, May 22 and Monday, May 23 (both at 9:00/8:00c). The decision is likely tied to NBC's fears of going against May 22's expected season finale of ABC's "Desperate Housewives." It's not clear if the full version of the project will air at a later date.

INVASION (ABC) - William Fichtner ("MDs") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the bizarre occurrences in a small Florida town after it is ravaged by a hurricane. He'll play Sheriff Tom Underlay in the Warner Bros. Television-based project. The casting notice describes his character as: "Early 40s. Faux charming, ambitious, "the guy you might cast to play a small town sheriff if your sheriff was secretly smarter than most M.I.T. grads and had a clarity of purpose unbridled by conscience." Married to Mariel (Russell's ex-wife) and father of teenaged Kira, Tom is the lone survivor of a decadeold tragedy that claimed the life of his first wife. Though seemingly loving and protective toward his family, he is otherwise coolly detached and fearless. At times, people have underestimated him, but Underlay is the ultimate survivor." Eddie Cibrian also stars in the project, which comes from Shaun Cassidy and Thomas Schlamme.

JOINT CUSTODY (ABC) - The comedy pilot, about a recent college grad (Nick D'Agosto) who returns home to New Jersey to find his parents are separated, has been scheduled to tape on Wednesday, April 20 at the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles. Will McCormack and Marilu Henner also star.

NEW CAR SMELL (FOX) - Dave Attell ("Insomniac With Dave Attell") and Dana Daurey ("Unhappily Ever After") have both joined the cast of the pilot, a workplace comedy set at a car dealership. The pair join the previously cast Brooke Shields and Christopher MacDonald in the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, to be directed by David Schwimmer from a script by creators Robb & Mark Cullen. Attell's involvement is tied to a talent deal the comedian signed with the network and the studio in September (read the story).

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) - The comedy pilot, about the exploits of a single man (Josh Radnor), as told through his own eyes 20 years later, is set to tape Thursday, April 7 at the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles.

NASHVILLE STAR (USA) - 2.5 million viewers tuned into the third season launch of the series on Tuesday, including a 0.9 rating/2 share in adults 18-49 and a 1.0/2 in adults 25-54. Said numbers made "Star" the top draw in the 10:00/9:00c hour among all cable networks in the key demographics.

PEPPER DENNIS (The WB) - Rebecca Romijn ("X-Men," "The Punisher") has been cast in the lead role of the drama pilot, about an ambitious TV news reporter in Chicago who tries to balance work, romance and a crazy family. Romijn's involvement lifts the cast-contingency off the pilot, which will now be shot as a full-fledged pilot instead of just a presentation. Here's how the casting notice describes her character: "Pepper Dennis: Mid 20s. Ambitious, talented Chicago TV news reporter Pepper Dennis is an expert at juggling her loving but intrusive Midwestern family and her demanding career. Pepper is at the top of her game, but she believes that her success comes at a price: If she wants to achieve her goal of being her station's news anchor, she must put the concept of romance on hold. Therefore, when she has a one-night stand with new-in-town Charlie Bishop, she sees it as a no strings attached, bittersweet evening. However, when she learns that Charlie has actually just relocated from Boston to be the new anchor at WEYE, she must re-think her stand on a possible love relationship. Must Have Great Comedic Timing." Writer/producers Gretchen Berg & Aaron Harberts ("North Shore") and feature director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen") are behind the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.

STRONG MEDICINE (Lifetime) - "N.Y.P.D. Blue" alum Rick Schroder is set to join the cast of the veteran cable drama when it returns for its sixth season in June. He'll play a native California surfer-turned-doctor from San Diego who relocates to Philadelphia, where the series' is set. The casting of Schroder is understood to help fill the void left by the exit of Patricia Richardson at the end of last season. The series, from Sony Pictures Television, averaged a solid 2.3 million viewers for the cable channel last season.

SURVIVAL OF THE RICHEST (A.K.A. UNTITLED RDF MEDIA PROJECT) (The WB) - Some additional details have emerged about RDF Media's WB-based project, most notably its title - "Survival of the Richest." The six-episode series reportedly will feature eight contestants, all of whom have at least $10 million to their name and no regular employment, as they compete to prove themselves to their families as being more than just trust-fund babies. No other format details were released about the project, which began casting in December (read the story).

UNTITLED AISHA TYLER PROJECT (CBS) - Writer/producers Aron Abrams and Greg Thompson ("King of the Hill") have signed on to write and executive produce Aisha Tyler's comedy project at the Eye. The comedy, full details of which have yet to be released, will also be produced by Tyler and Will Ward should it get picked up to pilot. Currently, CBS has only made a script commitment to the project. In addition, Abrams and Thompson have inked a two-year, seven figure overall deal with Paramount Network Television. Under the terms of the pact, the duo will create, develop and executive produce new and existing series for the studio.

UNTITLED JEFFREY LIEBER PROJECT (FOX) - Leslie Bibb ("Line of Fire") is set to star opposite Mark-Paul Gosselaar in the drama pilot, about a sister and brother who run a wedding chapel in Las Vegas. Bibb and Gosselaar will play Emily and Michael, said siblings in the Spelling Television-based project. Jeffrey Lieber, Warren Littlefield, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent are the executive producers of the pilot, which will be directed by Thomas Carter ("Coach Carter") from a script by Lieber.

WESTSIDE (ABC) - Stark Sands ("Shall We Dance?") is the first male to be cast in the drama pilot, about an upscale real estate agency specializing in high-end homes in Los Angeles. He'll play Adam Whitman in the Warner Bros. Television/Class IV Productions-based project, full character details of whom weren't available. He joins the previously cast Ashley Scott, Charlotte Ross and Judith Light in the pilot, which comes from executive producers Silvio Horta, Andrew Plotkin and Steve Pearlman.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters and Audiences Unlimited





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· BLUE SKIES (NBC)
· COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC)
· DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
· HEAD CASES (FOX)
· HERCULES (NBC)
· HITCHED (FOX)
· HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS)
· INSOMNIAC WITH DAVID ATTELL (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· INVASION (ABC)
· JOINT CUSTODY (ABC)
· KING OF THE HILL (FOX)
· LINE OF FIRE (ABC)
· MDS (ABC)
· NASHVILLE STAR (NBC)
· NEW CAR SMELL (FOX)
· NORTH SHORE (FOX)
· NYPD BLUE (ABC)
· PEPPER DENNIS (WB)
· SOLD! (ABC)
· STRONG MEDICINE (LIFETIME)
· SURVIVAL OF THE RICHEST (WB)
· UNSCRIPTED (HBO)
· UNTITLED AISHA TYLER PROJECT (CBS)











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