LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE 9/11 PROJECT (NBC) - The Peacock has reportedly pulled the plug on its planned eight-hour mini-series, which would have chronicled the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The decision comes despite scripts being completed by writer/producer Graham Yost and pre-production already being underway on the project, a planned co-production of Imagine Television and NBC Universal Television. No formal reason was given by NBC or Imagine however industry insiders suggest financial worries over the planned $20 million budget not to mention competition from ABC's own 9/11 project for casting and other resources were the major issues. While ABC has yet to formally announce its 9/11 project, Marc Platt ("Legally Blonde") is attached to executive produce while offers are said to be out to such actors as Harvey Keitel ("Be Cool").
COLD CASE (CBS) - Creator/executive producer Meredith Stiehm has inked a three-year overall deal with Paramount Network Television. The pact calls for her to create, develop and executive produce new series projects for the studio. The deal won't be completely exclusive however as it's understood Stiehm is expected continue in her showrunning duties on "Cold Case" for at least one more season with Paramount loaning out her services to producer Warner Bros. Television. Stiehm had previously been set up at Warner Bros. Television for the past five years.
CRASH (FX, New!) - Writer/producer Paul Haggis ("Million Dollar Baby") is looking to bring his successful feature film "Crash," a gritty drama about race relations in Los Angeles, to the small screen. Haggis, who won an Emmy for his writing on ABC's "thirtysomething," has pacted with Lions Gate Television to develop the series for cable channel FX. In addition, talks are said to be underway with Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser and Ludacris (among others) to reprise their roles from the feature film as well as co-writer Bobby Moresco to write the show's pilot script. Haggis then would likely serve as an executive producer along with Moresco.
DALLAS S.W.A.T. (A&E, New!) - Production is underway on a "Dallas S.W.A.T.," a pseudo-spin-off of the network's popular reality series "The First 48." "Dallas," which comes from Granada Television, tracks the day-to-day operations of the Dallas police department's high-stakes tactical unit. A&E has committed to six hours of the project, which likely launch early next year.
MTV ORIGINAL SERIES (MTV, New!) - The cable channel has detailed its latest development slate, which includes nine new projects: "Yo Mamma," from Evolution Film & Tape, features Wilmer Valderama ("That '70s Show") as he searches for the country's most outrageous trash talkers; "Welcome to Crunkville" has contestants moving in with Atlanta-based hip-hop artists The Ying Yang Twins with the chance to win the deed to their mansion; the self-titled "Omarion" features the recording artist's attempt to becoming a corporate mogul a la Sean "P. Diddy" Combs; "Mr. Rooney's Barbershop," which comes from Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola, offers a look into the Queens, N.Y.-based barbershop where local cutters scout for hip-hop talent from the 'hood; "Homewrecker" has former "Jackass" star Ryan Dunn helping revenge-seeking viewers wreak havoc on someone's home; "There and Back" details the potential comeback of former O-Town singer Ashley Angel who is now broke, engaged and about to become a father; "Beyond Normal" tracks MTV News correspondent Gideon Yago as he helps young people whose lives have been turned upside down by crisis or conflict; "8th & Ocean" is a docu-soap about the lives of wannabe fashion models in Miami Beach; and "Ten Years Later" is a scripted comedy based on the real-life story of former public-access star Jake Fogelnest ("Squirt TV").
SCRUBS (NBC) - Buena Vista Television has cleared off-network repeats of the veteran NBC comedy on local stations covering more than 50% of the country, including 18 of the top 20 markets. Among the stations signing on for the "Scrubs" run, which starts in September 2006, are: WNYW/WWOR New York, KCAL Los Angeles, WFLD/WPWR Chicago, WPHL Philadelphia, WLVI Boston, KTVU/KICU San Francisco, KDFW/KDFI Dallas and WTTG/WDCA Washington. With 93 episodes already in the can, "Scrubs" would traditionally have begun its off-network run this fall however limited demand forced Buena Vista to delay the sale until 2006. Stations won't pay cash for the "Scrubs" episodes, but rather give three minutes of ad time per half-hour to Buena Vista for national ad sales.
UNTITLED GARY FLEDER/JAMES YOSHIMURA PROJECT (New!) - Director Gary Fleder ("Blind Justice," "The Evidence") and Peabody-winning writer James Yoshimura ("Homicide: Life on the Street") are set to team for a new drama project for Touchstone Television. The untitled project, no details of which were specified, is the result of a two-year deal Fleder recently signed with the studio and a blind script commitment Touchstone had made to Yoshimura. Said pact also sets up Fleder's Mojo Films (and his producing partner Eric Timm) at the studio.
WALKER, TEXAS RANGER (CBS) - The Eye has greenlit production on "Walker, Texas Ranger: Ring of Fire," a new two-hour revival of the 1993-2001 series. Chuck Norris, Sheree Wilson and Judson Mills will all reprise their roles for the project with Aaron Norris directing from a script by original series writers John Lansing and Bruce Cervi. As for plot specifics, "Ring of Fire" reportedly sees Walker (Norris) investigating whether one of his Ranger buddies is a serial killer - or just being framed - as well as trying to track down a teen on the run from a crime syndicate. Aaron Norris also told Daily Variety "Ring of Fire" shouldn't be considered a reunion as the action will pick up "as if we've been doing the show the whole time." He added: "Reunions are more about one-offs... I would like to do more of these." Nevertheless, there will be some changes to the "Walker" franchise, most notably a more urban feel thanks to shooting taking place in Dallas (instead of Vancouver or California) and more use of technology to assist the Rangers. Production is set to begin July 20 with Al Ruddy, Leslie Grief and the Norris brothers executive producing via Paramount Network Television.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters