[12/01/05 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 30-December 1
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

Looking to keep track of all the various projects in development? Click here to visit our newly revamped "Series in Development" charts. Visitors can now filter our listings by network, genre and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

BONES/THE LOOP (FOX) - While not mentioned in its press release yesterday (read the story), FOX entertainment president Peter Liguori told The Hollywood Reporter that the network's Wednesday schedule will likely shift to "Bones" at 8:00/7:00c, the half-hour "American Idol" results show at 9:00/8:00c and the freshman comedy "The Loop" at 9:30/8:30c once audience voting begins on "Idol" the first week of March.

CAVED IN: PREHISTORIC TERROR/MAGMA: VOLCANIC DISASTER (Sci Fi) - Sci Fi has confirmed its original movies "Caved In: Prehistoric Terror" and "Magma: Volcanic Disaster" will both premiere in January. The former, which airs Saturday, January 7 at 9:00/8:00c, is described as follows: "A family of extreme adventurers, working in Romania as cave guides, is lured into an underground trap by thieves who plan to rob the local caverns of precious gems. A sudden cave-in traps the family members in different areas � and also unleashes a nest of deadly, prehistoric rhinoceros beetles. Christopher Atkins (TV's Dark Realm, The Blue Lagoon) and Colm Meaney (Miles O'Brien on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) star in this subterranean thrill-ride."

The latter then airs on Saturday, January 21 at 9:00/8:00c and is detailed as: "Volcano expert John Shepard (Xander Berkeley, 24, Gattaca, A Few Good Men) and a team of graduate students discover that a series of recent eruptions around the world are a warning of a doomsday scenario, which Shepard himself predicted and was ridiculed for. Now he and his team must convince the world that it is in peril before it becomes too late to escape the biggest volcanic catastrophe in human history. Amy Jo Johnson (TV's Felicity, the Pink Ranger of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie), Michael Durrell (Alien Nation: Dark Horizon, the V miniseries) and Reiko Aylesworth (24, the daytime drama One Life to Live) also star."

COMEDY CENTRAL ORIGINAL SERIES (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has confirmed a handful of premiere dates for the first quarter of 2006. First up on Tuesday, January 10 at 10:00/9:00c is the second season launch of "Distraction," while the animated comedy "Drawn Together" returns for the second half of its sophomore season on Wednesday, January 25 at 10:30/9:30c. Then on Wednesday, March 22 look for the 10th season premiere of "South Park" at 10:00/9:00c, followed by the second season launch of "Mind of Mencia" at 10:30/9:30c. Plus as a build-up to "Mencia's" new season, Comedy Central will premiere a new one-hour stand-up special featuring Carlos Mencia on Sunday, March 12 (time TBA).

THE CONTENDER (ESPN) - The second season of the NBC cast-off will reportedly premiere on Tuesday, July 18 at 10:00/9:00c. Episodes will run for 11 weeks, with the finale set for September 26. As a build-up to the show's premiere, the network will also air two related specials. The first bows on Sunday, February 12 at 9:30/8:30c while the second launches on Wednesday, July 12 at 9:00/8:00c.

DALLAS S.W.A.T. (A&E) - The docu-reality series, about the day-to-day operations of the Dallas police department's high-stakes tactical unit, is set to premiere Thursday, January 5 at 10:00/9:00c.

DRIVING FORCE (A&E, New!) - The cable channel has given a 10-episode order to a new docu-reality series about the famed drag-racing Force family. Said project, set to bow in the second quarter of 2006, will track the lives of 13-time NHRA Funny Car National Champion John Force and his daughters (and fellow drag-racers) Brittany (19), Courtney (17) and Ashley (22), the latter of which - a former cheerleader - already has her own Ashley Force drag-racing Barbie.

FLAVOR OF LOVE (VH1, New!) - "The Surreal Life" creators Mark Cronin and Cris Abrego are set to reteam with Flavor Flav for a new dating series featuring the former Run-DMC member. Production is currently underway on 10 episodes of the series, which is a result of a massive production deal the duo signed with VH1 back in July (read the story). Each will executive produce through their respective companies Mindless Entertainment and 51 Pictures. No premiere date was given.

FLIGHT 93 (A&E) - The original movie, about the fatal crash of United Airlines Flight 93 on September 11, 2001 in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, has been slated to air Monday, January 30 at 9:00/8:00c. Peter Markle ("Faith of My Fathers") directed the project from a script by Nevin Schreiner with Fox Television Studios and David Gerber's the Gerber Co. producing.

HALLMARK CHANNEL ORIGINAL MOVIES (Hallmark) - The cable channel has confirmed its original movie schedule for January. Kicking things off on Saturday, January 7 at 9:00/8:00c is the Dick Van Dyke-led original "Murder 101." (In addition, look for Van Dyke's "Diagnosis Murder" to join Hallmark's weekday lineup on Tuesday, January 3 at 12:00 p.m. eastern time.) The following week on Saturday, January 14 at 9:00/8:00c sees a new installment of "Jane Doe" ("I Remember It Well") with a new "Mystery Woman" ("Redemption") on Saturday, January 21 at 9:00/8:00c. Rounding out the month then is the Shirley Jones-led "Hidden Places" on Saturday, January 28 on 9:00/8:00c.

HOUSE (FOX) - Sister cable networks USA and Bravo have purchased the off-network rights to FOX's Tuesday hit "House" from NBC Universal Television. The deal, valued at $1.4 million per episode, gives the pair the exclusive weekday repeat rights to the series beginning in the fall of 2008. The duo last teamed to buy the off-network rights to fellow NBC Universal Television series "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" for a whopping $1.92 million per episode in 2004. As for "House," it's not clear how the episodes will be split between the networks, although USA will likely get the bulk of the runs much like the "Intent" deal. In addition, NBC Universal also plans to sell the weekend rights to local stations across the country, likewise beginning in the fall of 2008.

IF ONLY (ABC Family) - The original movie, which stars Jennifer Love Hewitt and Paul Nicholls, will bow Sunday, January 15 at 7:00/6:00c with an encore at 9:00/8:00c. Nicholls plays a British businessman who gets to relive the day his impetuous girlfriend (Hewitt) died and try to right events.

KING OF CARS (A&E, New!) - 29-year-old auto dealer Josh Towbin is set to be the focus of a new docu-reality series at A&E and Hybrid Films. Towbin, the owner of Towbin Dodge in Henderson, Nevada, is best known for his over-the-top "Chopper Show" infomercials in which he (and his fellow salesman) dress in goofy costumes act like rap artists as well as the flashy Vegas feel of his dealership. Towbin himself was profiled previously on A&E's "It's a Living" and made an appearance on TLC's "Faking It." The series, which is targeting a March premiere, will then track Towbin and his staff as they go about their duties at the dealership.

KNIGHT SCHOOL (ESPN) - The six-week series, in which 16 basketball players attempt to earn a walk-on spot on Bobby Knight's Texas Tech team, is set to premiere on Sunday, February 19 at 10:00/9:00c.

PASSIONS (NBC) - Cable sibling Sci Fi Channel reportedly has acquired the repeat rights to the daytime soap, about the deceptively picturesque New England town of Harmony. Episodes are expected to run Monday-Friday at 9:00 a.m. eastern time beginning February 6.

THE REAL WORLD (MTV) - A solid 3.8 million viewers tuned into the show's Austin swan song last Tuesday, while another 3.89 million watched the reunion special earlier this week. The latter broadcast also drew a 2.2 rating/6 share among adults 18-49 and a whopping 11 share in persons 12-34. Both numbers beat out an original "Nip/Tuck" on FX, which drew 3.48 million viewers and a 1.8 rating/5 share among adults 18-49.

THREE WISE GUYS (USA) - USA has quietly moved up the premiere of the original movie to Thursday, December 8 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Bethlehem was never like this. The three wise men of Christmas past will be replaced this holiday season by gun-toting gangsters Vincent, Joey and George chasing a mother-to-be across the desert in THREE WISE GUYS, a two-hour USA Network original movie. Three mobsters are summoned to Las Vegas and along the way end up helping a pregnant woman who is stuck in the desert deliver her baby. The guys later find out that they have been called to Vegas to find the woman (who they have grown fond of) and turn her over to the mob boss. Tom Arnold (�Best Damned Sports Show Period,� �Austin Powers�), Judd Nelson (�Suddenly Susan,� �The Breakfast Club�), Katey Sagal (�8 Simple Rules,� �Married�With Children�) and Nick Turturro (�NYPD Blue,� �The Longest Yard�) head an all-star cast of television veterans in this genre-bending takeoff on the traditional Christmas story."

UNTITLED FRANCESCA GREGORINI/TATIANA VON FURSTENBERG PROJECT (New!) - Francesca Gregorini (HBO's "Motel Novella"), the daughter of Barbara Bach and stepdaughter of Ringo Starr, and Tatiana von Furstenberg ("Dracula"), the daughter of famed designer Diane von Furstenberg, have scored a script order from Paramount Network Television for a new semi-autobiographical drama about their experiences growing up at an all-girls boarding school. The project, which would revolve around four female teens with very different personalities, is set up at Perry Simon's Paramount-based banner. No other details were given.

UNTITLED NICOLE RICHIE PROJECT (New!) - "The Simple Life" star Nicole Richie has inked a talent holding deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for the studio to develop a show around Richie or cast her in a pre-existing project. No other details were specificed, other than Richie would reportedly like to play a character loosely based on herself (a la Will Smith in "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air").

UNTITLED TINA FEY PROJECT (NBC) - Former "Saturday Night Live" regular Tracy Morgan is the first be cast in Tina Fey's single-camera comedy pilot for the Peacock, a workplace comedy set behind the scenes of "Friday Night Bits," an "SNL"-type show. He'll play a self-confident comedy star in the project, which comes from Lorne Michaels' NBC Universal Television-based Broadway Video Television with Fey, Michaels, JoAnn Alfano and 3 Arts Entertainment's David Miner serving as executive producers.

WORLD'S MOST AMAZING VIDEOS (Spike TV) - The cable channel has greenlighted production of 26 new one-hour episodes of the short-lived NBC series. "Videos," which features clips of rescues, shootouts, explosions and various absurdities, originally ran for 26 episodes on the Peacock from 1999-2001. The fresh installments, which will see Stacey Keach return as narrator, are set to bow sometime next spring. Bruce Nash, Robyn Nash and Debra Weeks are the executive producers.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [december 2005]  

· 24 (FOX)
· 30 ROCK (NBC)

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