LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Jean Smart ("Garden State"), Connie Britton ("Spin City") and newcomer Brady Corbet ("Mysterious Skin") have all been cast as regulars for the show's fifth season, which like last season is expected to launch as a two-night, four-hour event in January. While plot specifics for the new season remain a secret, industry insiders confirm Smart will play the wife of the returning President Logan (Gregory Itzen) while Britton will play the new love interest of Sutherland's character with Corbet playing her son. Beyond Sutherland, Itzen and the previously announced James Morrison, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Carlos Bernard however, no other casting deals have been revealed.
C.S.I.: MIAMI (CBS) - Eva La Rue ("All My Children") has booked a recurring role on the veteran "C.S.I." spin-off. She'll play Natalia Boa Vista, a lab specialist who focuses on unsolved cases on the series, which returns for its fourth season this fall. It's not clear however when her first episode will air.
CLOSE TO HOME (CBS) - Writer/producer Carol Barbee ("Judging Amy") has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Paramount Network Television. As is the case with these type of deals, Barbee will develop new series projects exclusively for the studio as well as potentially work on existing Paramount projects. The latter component won't kick in for at least a season as the studio has agreed to loan Barbee out to Warner Bros. Television, where she'll serve as a co-executive producer on the CBS newcomer "Close to Home."
THE COMEBACK/ENTOURAGE (HBO) - The network's recently released September schedule notes that both "Entourage" and "The Comeback" will wrap their respective seasons on Sunday, September 4 starting at 10:00/9:00c. In addition, the pay channel confirmed only 13 episodes, not 14 as originally announced (read the story), of "The Comeback" will have been produced this season. As for "Entourage," HBO will encore the show's entire 14-episode second season over two nights on Tuesday, September 13 and Wednesday, September 14 - with seven episodes airing each night starting at 8:00/7:00c on HBO2.
MADE IN THE U.S.A. (USA) - The reality series, in which "undiscovered inventors and entrepreneurs will compete for an unparalleled chance of a lifetime to sell their invention on HSN," is set to launch on Wednesday, September 14 at 10:00/9:00c according to the cable channel's recently released September schedule.
MISSING (Lifetime) - The cable channel has ordered six additional episodes of the Sunday series, bringing its third season total to 19 episodes. Currently the series is averaging 2.4 million viewers each week, up 20% from its season two average (2.0 million) when it aired on Saturday nights. Said growth undoubtedly helped lead to Lifetime's decision to order the additional episodes. "MISSING" is produced by Lions Gate Television and Maple Pictures in association with CHUM Television.
NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES: FROM THE STORIES OF STEPHEN KING (TNT) - The $15 million, eight-hour limited series is expected to begin production shortly at Melbourne's Central City Studios. Coot-Hayes Productions ("Salem's Lot") is behind the project, which is based on Stephen King's 1993 anthology of 20 short stories, whose subjects include murderous revenge, dead rock stars, zombies, an evil toy and a wicked stepfather. No casting details however have been released.
OPRAH WINFREY PRESENTS: PARADISE (ABC) - Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Films is reportedly close to setting up a four-hour mini-series adapation of the 1998 Toni Morrison novel at ABC. Winfrey has been developing the project - about a series of murders in the town of Ruby, Oklahoma, which was settled by nine African clans during the 1940s - for nearly four years. Darnell Martin ("Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God") is understood to be on board to direct and write the adaptation. Suzan-Lori Parks was previously attached to adapt the script when the project was originally announced by in March of 2002.
OUT OF PRACTICE (CBS) - Jennifer Tilly ("Seed of Chucky") has joined the cast of the upcoming comedy series, about a family of doctors. She'll play the young girlfriend of Henry Winkler's character. It's not clear if the pilot will be reshot to include her character or if she'll make her first appearance in a later episode.
THE TOM JOYNER SHOW (Syndication) - Litton Entertainment has cleared the popular radio host's weekly music/variety hour on both WABC-TV New York and KABC-TV Los Angeles. The pair join the previously cleared stations WCIU Chicago, WPHL Philadelphia, KBWB San Francisco, KTXA Dallas, WBDC Washington, WSB Atlanta, WDWB Detroit and KHWB Houston, bringing its national clearance rate to 75%. Meanwhile the weekend-targeted series (which is expected to launch in October) has firmed up its production team: Ehrich Van Lowe ("The Cosby Show") well serve as executive producer with Don Weiner ("Showtime at the Apollo") as director/producer and Jeffrey Kopp ("The Cut") as supervising producer. Meanwhile, the company also confirmed Joyner's regular contributors J. Anthony Brown, Myra J, Miss Dupree and Sybil Wilkes will be featured as sketch comedy players on the series as well as continue in their duties to his radio show.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters