LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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AMERICAN IDOL (FOX) - "American Idol" producer FremantleMedia is said to be considering importing a version of its U.K. aftershow, "Pop Idol Extra," to go along with the show's upcoming fifth season. FremantleMedia topper Cecile Frot-Coutaz however was quick to note that they remain very careful in terms of what is done with the franchise and won't rush anything to the airwaves.
THE COLBERT REPORT (Comedy Central) - Comedy Central has given "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" spin-off a full season order of 168 episodes (or 42 weeks), the same annual output as its parent series. "Colbert" originally began with an eight-week commitment, with its stellar 1.2 million viewer average (and 86% retention rate of "The Daily Show") not surprisingly fueling the early renewal. Busboy Productions produces "Colbert" in association with Spartina Productions with Jon Stewart, Ben Karlin and Stephen Colbert serving as executive producers.
THE COMPANY (TNT, New!) - Robert Littell's book "The Company: A Novel of the CIA" is being developed as a potential six-hour limited series for the cable channel. Ridley and Tony Scott, John Calley and Cary Brokaw are all behind the project, which will trace the activities of the C.I.A. during a 40-year span, beginning with the Cold War through the demise of the Soviet Union, mixing in real-life and fictional characters. Ken Nolan ("Black Hawk Down") is on board to write the script to the project, which was originally developed as a feature film at Columbia Pictures. The Scotts and Calley will executive produce through their respective companies Scott Free Productions and John Calley Productions with Brokaw also serving as an executive producer and Scott Free's David Zucker as a co-executive producer.
KIDNAPPED (NBC) - Jason Smilovic and Michael Dinner's serialized drama project has received the green light from NBC to produce a pilot. Said project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television-based 25C Productions and NBC Universal Television, previously had a put pilot commitment, virtually assuring its production. As for plot specifics, the series follows the kidnapping of the son of well-to-do New York City parents with each episode depicting one day in the investigation of the child's disappearance. Dinner will direct the pilot from a script by Smilovic with the pair executive producing along with 25C's Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly. Shooting in expected to begin in New York in December.
KILLER INSTINCT (FOX) - FOX has asked for three additional scripts of the freshman drama, which currently ranks as the second most-watched series in its time period among men 18-34. Overall "Instinct" has been averaging a modest 4.63 million viewers to date this season, ahead of lead-ins "The Bernie Mac Show" (3.76 million on average) and "Malcolm in the Middle" (3.52 million). Josh Berman, Charles Grant Craig, Reed Steiner and Ed Zuckerman are the executive producers for Regency Television.
THE LOOP (FOX) - Co-creators Will Gluck and Pam Brady have each signed overall deals with Paramount Network Television and 20th Century Fox Television respectively. The Gluck pact - a two-year, seven-figure deal which begins in June - calls for the writer/producer to develop half-hour projects for the studio while Brady's deal - a two-year pact with an option for a third year - covers her duties on the freshman comedy as well as calls for her to develop new series projects for 20th.
LOST (ABC) - ABC sister company Hyperion Books has commissioned a novel by an "well-known" mystery writer that will tie into the network's smash Wednesday drama. It's understood an upcoming subplot will involve the discovery of a manuscript written by a character who didn't survive the crash, Gary Troup. Hyperion then will publish the "found" manuscript, entitled "Bad Twin," about a wealthy heir's search for his nefarious brother. How or if the book's contents will actually relate to events on the actual show isn't clear, other than the Troup character delivered the manuscript just days before boarding the doomed Oceanic Flight.
MASTERS OF HORROR (Showtime) - The pay channel's latest original series entry opened to just 167,000 viewers on Friday. Said number was well behind the recent premieres of such series as "Weeds" (540,000) and "Barbershop" (515,000).
MOMMY (FOX, New!) - Comedienne Margaret Cho and writer Susan Dickes ("Just Shoot Me") are developing a new multigenerational family comedy at the network and Regency Television. Said project, which is being developed as part of a talent holding deal with Cho, will revolve around Cho's frequently impersonated mother from her stand-up routine. No plot specifics however were mentioned.
UNTITLED CRISTINA PEREZ/LYNN TOLER PROJECTS (Syndication, New!) - Twentieth Television is understood to be developing two new syndicated court series for the 2006-07 season. The first will feature Cristina Perez from Telemundo's "La Corte de Familia" while the second will spotlight Lynn Toler, a former Cleveland Heights Municipal Court judge and litigation attorney specializing in civil matters. Both projects are on track to shoot pilots this month. Peter Brennan ("Judge Judy") is executive producing the Perez pilot while no producing information was given about the Toler pilot.
UNTITLED KEVIN WILLIAMSON PROJECT (UPN, New!) - "Dawson's Creek" creator Kevin Williamson has booked a pilot order at the netlet for a new coming-of-age drama about a troubled teen who moves to a gated community in Palm Springs where he uncovers some dark secrets. Unlike "Scream" or much of his other feature work however the "secrets" won't be spooky or supernatural. Williamson wrote the pilot, which is set up outside of his two-script deal at 20th Century Fox Television, on spec. (No studio is currently attached.) Said development means that the writer/producer's commitment to the UPN project will be in second position to his duties on the 20th projects (one of which, an untitled thriller, is already set up at the Fox Broadcasting Co.). In addition, Williamson is executive producing the ABC project "The Stanton," written by Jake Coburn, however no details were given.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters