LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE DRESDEN FILES (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has greenlighted production on the two-hour backdoor pilot movie, based on Jim Butcher's series of bestselling novels of the same name. Hans Beimler ("The District") and Robert Wolfe ("The 4400") have come aboard to write and executive produce the Lions Gate Television-based project along with Nicolas Cage and Norm Golightly of Saturn Films and Morgan Gendel ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") and Anthony Peckham ("5 Days to Midnight"). Here's how Sci Fi's press materials describe the project: "Erik Dresden is a detective with extraordinary powers, the kind that could belong only to the descendant of a long line of wizards. Where others see the typical crimes of assault, kidnapping and serial killings, Erik sees otherworldly forces at work -- which only he knows how to combat. Whether consulting for the police on inexplicable crimes or following his own cases, Erik has a unique outlook on the world, and wields a wry sense of humor as one of his most potent weapons." Production on "Dresden" is set to begin in Toronto this fall for summer 2006 premiere.
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (UPN) - Veteran producer Howard Gewirtz has opted to exit the freshman comedy just a few weeks into its run. It's understood Gewirtz didn't intend to stay on board for long as he was simply brought in to help TV newcomer (and series co-creator) Ali LeRoi with production on the first couple of episodes. Two other younger, unspecified writers are also said to have left the series.
JUDGE JUDY (Syndication) - Paramount Domestic Television has cleared the top-rated syndicated court show through the 2009-10 season. The pact will keep the series, which has finished as the top draw among all court shows for more than 470 consecutive weeks, around through its 14th season. For the 2004-05 season, "Judy" averaged a healthy 4.8 household rating, down just 2% from its previous season. It's expected Paramount will continue to receive a cash license fee for the series from the participating stations as well as three 30-second spots per half-hour for national ad sales.
NIP/TUCK (FX) - 3.89 million viewers (including a 2.1 rating/5 share among adults 18-49) tuned into "Nip/Tuck's" October 4's installment. Said numbers were up in both weekly and year-to-year comparisons.
UNTITLED CRAIG DOYLE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer Craig Doyle ("The Andy Dick Show") has scored a put pilot commitment from ABC. The project, which is set up at Eric and Kim Tannenbaum's Warner Bros. Television-based banner, revolves around five fathers who become friends through their kids' playgroup. Doyle spent the past development season behind the failed NBC comedy pilot "Weekends."
UNTITLED DIANE WARREN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's Storyline Entertainment has snagged a script order from ABC for a new dramedy inspired by the music of songwriter Diane Warren. The project will track a fictional female songwriter who is just finding success in her career as a prolific writer of love songs but whose own love life is amiss. Not surprisingly, the potential series will feature music from Warren's own catalog - which includes LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live," Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me," Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart" and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" - as well as new pieces. Zadan and Meron previously worked with Warren on the 1999 Brandy/Diana Ross-led telefilm "Double Platinum," where she contributed the song "Love Is All That Matters." Abby Kohn and Marc Silverstein ("Never Been Kissed") are on board to write the pilot script and serve as executive producers along with the Touchstone Television-based Zadan and Meron. The pair recently renewed their overall deal at the studio for another two years. Warren herself and Michael Anthony will serve executive consultants through her Real Songs banner, which controls the publishing of her catalog.
UNTITLED RACHAEL RAY PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - King World Productions, Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions and Scripps Networks are set to team for a new syndicated talk show featuring Food Network personality Rachael Ray. It's understood the New York-based project will expand on Ray's background as the host of Food Network's "30-Minute Meals," "$40 a Day," "Inside Dish" and "Tasty," as she aims to make viewers' lives easier. No other details were given other than it is targeted for a fall 2006 launch. King World had been developing a syndicated offering from former "Trading Spaces" host Paige Davis and Chicago interior designer Nate Berkus however that project appears to be on hold for the time being.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters