LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE CLOSER (TNT) - 6.13 million viewers tuned into the show's August 1 installment, marking its largest overall audience since its commercial-free debut (7.027 million on 6/13/05). Among adults 18-49, the episode drew a 1.8 rating/5 share. Both numbers placed the episode ahead of its broadcast competition on NBC, UPN and the WB in the Monday, 9:00/8:00c hour, not to mention made it the top overall draw among all cable series for the week of August 1-7.
THE COMEBACK/ENTOURAGE (HBO) - "Entourage's" second season continued to climb in the ratings as Sunday's installment drew a season-best 2.2 million viewers, up 38.36% from its season premiere (1.59 million on 6/5/05). Conversely, lead-out "The Comeback's" struggles continued as 937,000 viewers tuned into its most-recent episode. (Numbers for "Six Feet Under" were not available.)
DARKSIDE (FOX) - The drama, about a group of astronauts who go missing after tracing an S.O.S. signal to the dark side of the moon where they discover a mysterious compound, reportedly remains in the works at FOX as its development has been rolled over to the 2006-07 season. Richard Hatem ("Miracles") has been tapped to write the script to the project, which was created by Brandon Beckner and Scott Sampila and is set up at Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo's Roundtable Entertainment (ABC's "Laws of Chance") and 20th Century Fox Television. Matthews and Scharbo recently signed a two-year, first-look deal with 20th which gives the studio first crack at all of Roundtable's projects. As for "Darkside," director/producer Michael Dinner had previously been attached as an executive producer (through his Rooney McP banner, with an eye to direct) however it's not clear how his recent deal with Sony Pictures Television (read the story) will affect his role on the project. Overall, FOX has only given a script commitment to "Darkside."
E-RING (NBC) - Kelsey Oldershaw ("ER") has booked a recurring role on the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced newcomer. She'll play Angie, a potential love interest for Benjamin Bratt's character. No other details were given about Oldershaw's role.
EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT MEN (CBS) - Creator/executive producer Fred Barron has exited his role as showrunner on the Jenna Elfman-led midseason comedy, which is based on his U.K. series "According to Bex." Fellow executive producer Rob Hanning ("Malcolm in the Middle") is expected to take over for Barron, who reportedly is returning to his native London to continue his career there. Production on "Men" is set to begin in a few weeks.
FASTLANE (FOX) - Videogame channel G4 has snagged the rights to all 22 episodes of the short-lived FOX series, which will begin airing this Sunday at 8:00/7:00c on the network as part of its automotive-themed programming block "Whip Set." The news marks Warner Bros. Domestic Cable Distribution's second off-network sale this year of the series, the other being Court TV (which airs the series on Saturday nights). No financial details were released about the deal. In total, "Fastlane" will now have run on four networks: FOX, Court TV, G4 and MTV, which repurposed the show's original 2002-03 run.
FILTHY RICH: CATTLE DRIVE/GIRLS NEXT DOOR (E!) - "Girls Next Door," the network's behind-the-scenes look at Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's current trio of girlfriends, opened to 990,000 viewers on Sunday, including a 0.5 rating/1 share among adults 18-49. Said numbers more than doubled E!'s time period average (up 143%) from the previous four-week period. Meanwhile, lead-out "Filthy Rich" fared just as well, averaging 816,000 viewers.
KATHY GRIFFIN: MY LIFE ON THE D-LIST (Bravo) - 850,000 viewers tuned into the launch of Kathy Griffin's new reality series, where it built off lead-ins "Kathy Griffin Is Not Nicole Kidman" (826,000) and the "Blow Out" reunion (550,000). Said viewership outperformed the recent debuts of "Situation: Comedy" (217,000) and "Project Greenlight" (311,000) but fell short of "Being Bobby Brown's" 1.1 million viewer launch.
LAGUNA BEACH: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY/THE REAL WORLD (MTV) - "The Real World's" August 2 installment drew a whopping 5.68 million viewers, including a stellar 2.5 rating/7 share among adults 18-49 and a 15 share among viewers 12-34. Overall, "The Real World" was the top adults 18-49 draw for the week of August 1-7 on cable. Meanwhile, "Laguna Beach" drew 3.1 million viewers in its second week this season, down 13.89% from its July 25 premiere (3.6 million). Nevertheless, "Beach" finished the week of August 1-7 among the top 10 of all cable series.
MR. AND MRS. DOE (ABC) - The dramedy, about two single F.B.I. agents who go undercover as a married couple, is understood to still be in development at ABC and Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo's Roundtable Entertainment. Ron Hanning ("Frasier") and Amy Welsh created the project, which has been rolled over to the 2006-07 season. Roundtable recently signed a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox Television, however "Doe" is set up at Touchstone Television.
REUNION (FOX) - Gregory Harrison ("Safe Harbor") has scored a recurring role on the freshman drama. He'll continue in his role from the pilot as Russell Bennett, the wealthy real estate developer and father of Sean Faris's character.
THE SHIELD (FX) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared the veteran cable drama on the WB 100+ Station Group starting in the fall of 2006. The two-year deal offers weekend only repeats to the participating stations for no cash license fees, but rather half of the 14 minutes of ad space in each episode for national sales. The news comes on the heels of Sony's clearance of "The Shield" on the 26 Tribune Broadcasting-owned local stations last month (read the story) as well as its weekday sale to Spike TV (read the story) beginning in March.
TOO LATE WITH ADAM CAROLLA (Comedy Central) - The cable channel latest late-night entry opened to a modest 652,000 viewers on Monday, where it held just 45% of lead-in "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart's" audience (1.45 million). Repeats of "The Daily Show" at 11:30/10:30c in the weeks prior to "Too Late's" debut had been averaging a 65%-70% retention of its first-run "Daily Show" lead-in.
ULTIMATE FIGHT NIGHT (Spike TV) - The first live telecast of "Ultimate Fight Night" drew 2.0 million viewers on Saturday, where it topped all cable networks among adults 18-49, adults 18-34, men 18-49 and men 18-34.
THE WAR AT HOME (FOX) - Rami Malek ("Over There") has been upped to regular on the FOX newcomer. He'll continue in his role as Larry from the pilot, the best friend of Kyle Sullivan's character.
WEEDS (Showtime) - 540,000 viewers caught the show's debut on Sunday following the series finale of "Queer as Folk" (547,000), while another 488,000 tuned into its time period debut on Monday at 10:00/9:00c (plus another 367,000 for its 10:30/9:30c encore). Overall, "Weeds" topped the November launch of "Huff" (456,000) but fell short of "Fat Actress's" debut earlier this year (924,000). The latter bow however was available as part of a free preview on the pay channel.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters