LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Co-star Carlos Bernard is set to return for the show's fifth season, however as always is the case with "24," it's not clear if he'll be a series regular or only make a few appearances. His character, Tony Almeida, was last seen helping Kiefer Sutherland's character fake his death in order to escape deportation to China and flee to Mexico. The producers have yet to provide details about "24's" season five storyline.
AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC) - Creator/executive producer Jonathan Prince has signed a multi-year development deal with Madison Road Entertainment, the company which was responsible for the show's various onscreen brandings this past season including Campbell's Soup, Kraft and Ford. The pact calls for Prince to supervise the development of similarly branding-friendly programs for the company.
THE CLOSER/INTO THE WEST (TNT) - The cable channel's six-part, 12-hour mini-series "Into the West" concluded this past Friday to the tune of 3.6 million viewers, making it its least-watched installment to date. Conversely, "The Closer" continued to impress with its July 18 airing with 4.9 million viewers tuning in, good enough to beat USA's "Monk" (4.5 million) among total viewers for all scripted programs on cable last week. "Monk" however fared better among adults 18-49 with 1.9 million viewers versus "The Closer's" 1.7 million.
HBO ORIGINAL SERIES (HBO) - Both "Six Feet Under" and "Entourage" hit season highs this past Sunday with 2.5 million and 2.1 million viewers respectively tuning in. Lead-out "The Comeback" however continued to struggle with just 995,000 viewers watching Sunday's episode.
THE LAW FIRM (NBC) - Like many of NBC's previous unscripted entries, newcomer "The Law Firm" will be rebroadcast on the Peacock's cable sibling Bravo. Last night's premiere will encore Sunday, July 31 at 6:00/5:00c and Tuesday, August 2 at 6:00/5:00c with additional airings late at night. Subsequent episodes will follow a similar pattern on Bravo.
LOVE MONKEY (CBS) - Feature and TV producer Mark Johnson ("The Guardian") has inked a multi-year overall deal with Paramount Network Television to set up his Gran Via Productions up at the studio through 2007. Johnson was previously set up at Sony Pictures Television, where he shepherded the Tom Cavanagh-led drama pilot "Love Monkey" this past development season as part of a co-production with Paramount. That pilot reportedly is still under consideration for a midseason order. Under the terms of the pact, Johnson and his company chief Bryan Seabury will develop new series projects for Paramount.
MAN WITH THE SCREAMING BRAIN (Sci Fi) - Bruce Campbell's latest effort for the cable channel has been slated to premiere on Saturday, September 10 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Wealthy industrialist William Cole (Bruce Campbell, the Evil Dead trilogy, Alien Apocalypse) winds up with part of his brain replaced with gray matter from a Bulgarian cab driver. The two couldn't be more different, but they share one thing: Both were killed by the same woman. Brought back to life by a mad scientist (Stacy Keach, TV's Mike Hammer, John Carpenter's Escape from L.A.), William and his new brain-mate form an unlikely partnership to track down their common nemesis. Bruce Campbell directed this SCI FI Pictures original movie, and he's been presenting it personally on its smash-hit nationwide tour, playing it to sold-out theaters in city after city. If you haven't seen it in a theater near you, don't miss its television premiere, only on SCI FI!"
MY KIND OF TOWN (ABC) - The Alphabet has quietly announced the improv/reality series will launch on Sunday, August 14 at 9:00/8:00c. Back-to-back new episodes of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" ("Nick Family, Parts 1 & 2") will serve as a lead in to the show's debut while repeats of "Desperate Housewives" will move to 10:00/9:00c during "Town's" six-week run. Here's how ABC's press materials describe "Town": "'My Kind of Town' is a relentlessly energetic primetime studio show in which real American people in all of their imperfect and awkward glory have the chance to become the stars of their own show for one memorable night. Each week, 200 people from one small town come to our New York City studio, where a lucky handful will participate in individualized comedic games and gags for prizes tailored to their own lives, interests and needs. One person from the group of 200 is chosen to play the big end game, where they will shoulder the burden of either winning or losing a huge prize for the other 199 audience members - all of whom they will see every day for the rest of their lives. No pressure!"
OVER THERE (FX) - 4.06 million viewers on average tuned into the much-hyped premiere of Steven Bochco's "Over There," 2.4 million of which fell into the key adults 18-49 demographic (1.8 rating/5 share). Said young adult score marks the fifth most-watched basic cable premiere in the key group, behind USA's "Dead Zone" (4.0 million), FX's "The Shield" (3.0 million), TNT's "The Closer" (2.6 million) and FX's "Rescue Me" (2.5 million). Overall, "Over There" was the most-watched program on cable Wednesday night and won its 10:00/9:00c time period among men 18-34 (2.0/7) across all networks, broadcast and cable. An encore at 11:00/10:00c pulled in 1.7 million viewers (1.0 million among adults 18-49).
PATH OF DESTRUCTION (A.K.A. STRATOSPHERE) (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has confirmed that in addition to "Man With the Screaming Brain" (see above), fellow Saturday night original "Path of Descruction" will also bow that month on September 24 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how Sci Fi describes the project: "All life on earth is threatened with extinction when an industrial accident releases an aggressive and destructive strain of self-replicating nanotech 'bots into the atmosphere. A reporter and a scientist must race to stop the "death storm" that is literally devouring everything in its path. Danica McKellar (Winnie on TV's The Wonder Years), David Keith (Sabretooth, Deep Shock, Epoch and Epoch: Evolution), and Chris Pratt (from the WB's Everwood) star."
THE PRINCES OF MALIBU (FOX) - The Fox Reality Channel has snagged the rights to the short-lived FOX series, which was pulled after just two episodes last week. It's understood the remaining four episodes will air on the cable sibling in the show's old Sunday, 8:30/7:30c slot beginning this weekend.
THAT '70S SHOW (FOX) - Actor Josh Meyers ("Mad TV") has inked as six-figure talent holding deal with FOX, in addition to joining the cast of the network's "That '70s Show" this fall (read the story). The pact calls for FOX to develop a new project around the actor with Meyers's reps at Principato-Young serving as executive producers. It's not clear however if the new project is targeted for the 2006-07 season or later. Meyers spent the past development season as part of Carsey-Werner's failed FOX pilot "Peep Show."
UNTITLED R.J. CUTLER PROJECT (FX) - The cable channel reportedly has wrapped production on a new "30 Days"-esque reality series which chronicles the lives of a white family and a black family as they live together under the same roof for six weeks. Originally announced more than a year ago (read the story), the R.J. Cutler-created project has since added Ice Cube's Cube Vision Productions as a co-producer. While FX and Cutler have yet to confirm details about the series, it won't feature a competitive aspect, choosing instead to be a fly-on-the-wall type of documentary, a la Cutler and Morgan Spurlock's "30 Days." The untitled project is being targeted for a 2006 premiere date with the exact number of episodes still to be determined.
UNTITLED 9/11 COMMISSION REPORT PROJECT (ABC) - Harvey Keitel ("Be Cool"), Patricia Heaton ("Everybody Loves Raymond"), Amy Madigan ("Carnivale"), Shaun Toub ("Crash") and Stephen Root ("NewsRadio") are all set to star in the Alphabet's six-hour, $30-$40 million mini-series, which will detail the events of the recent terror attacks against the United States, including those on 9/11, the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the U.S.S. Cole and the disrupted millennium attacks. Keitel will play F.B.I. agent (and Al-Qaeda expert) John O'Neill, who died when the first plane hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, with Heaton as Barbara Bodine, the U.S. ambassador to Yemen who clashed with O'Neill; Madigan as a top C.I.A. analyst; Toub as the F.B.I. informant who helped bring down the first WTC attack; and Root as famed White House terrorism guru Richard Clarke. Production recently began in Toronto on the project with David L. Cunningham ("To End All Wars") directing from a script by Cyrus Nowrasteh ("Into the West") with Marc Platt executive producing. Serving as advisers to the production are former New Jersey Gov. Tom Keane and former ABC News anchor John Miller. As for specifics about the project, it's understood part one will focus on the 1993 bombing of the WTC; part two on two U.S. embassy bombings, the attack on the U.S.S. Cole and a plot to disrupt millennium celebrations; and part three on the planning for the 9/11 attacks. Platt also has said he isn't aiming for Hollywood-style over dramatization but rather a factual account using the 9/11 Commission Report as the basis. He also confirmed they won't be casting actors for Osama bin Laden, President Clinton or President Bush, choosing rather to use news footage of the trio.
WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS) - Roselyn Sanchez ("Kojak") has booked a recurring role on the veteran procedural drama. She'll play a former cop who joins the show's F.B.I. missing-persons squad after Anthony LaPaglia's character decides his crisis-plagued team needs help, a role which could be upped to series regular. Her first appearance is set for the show's third installment this season.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters