LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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A&E ORIGINAL SERIES (A&E) - The cable channel is understood to have renewed its docu-reality series "Criss Angel: Mindfreak," "Inked," "Intervention" and "Dog the Bounty Hunter," while "Growing Up Gotti" and "Airline" have been given pink slips. Said pick-up of "Dog," the network's most-watched series in the genre, includes a raise for star Duane "The Dog" Chapman, who will now clear about $100,000 per episode (or $2.6 million for its third season of 26 episodes). As for freshman entries "Inked" and "Angel," both rank among the network's youngest-skewing, making their renewal not much a surprise. Finally, "Intervention," currently airing its second season, is expected to return for a third cycle later in 2006. As for the exiting "Airline" and "Gotti" franchises, no official reason was given. "Gotti" wrapped its run earlier this month while "Airline's" finale is set for Monday.
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (FOX) - Both ABC and Showtime are reportedly in talks with "Arrested" producers 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television about picking up the struggling comedy, which will exit FOX's schedule in January. Industry insiders however indicate said talks are still exploratory as FOX has yet to officially cancel the series, preventing any other network from making a formal offer. Also complicating matters, at least in Showtime's case - "Arrested's" $1.6 million per episode license fee, which 20th already deficits at $400,000 per episode. Said number would be a record for a half-hour series at the pay channel and among all its series, behind only its drama "Huff" ($1.75 million per episode). Neither, ABC, Showtime, 20th nor Imagine however have commented on the news.
DAISY DOES AMERICA (TBS) - The reality newcomer posted a modest 1.2 million viewers for its premiere on Tuesday, December 6.
DESIRE (Syndication, New!) - Twentieth Television has cleared a new English-language telenovela franchise on the Fox owned-and-operated television stations group, representing almost 45% of the country, for a launch sometime next year. Said pact calls for Twentieth to air a minimum of three telenovelas per year with each running Monday-Friday for 13 weeks (or 65 episodes). Among the telenovela's in the works: adaptations of "Table for Three" from Columbia's Carolco and "Fashion House" from Miami's XYSTUS. No other details were specified.
HI-JINKS (Nick at Nite) - Nick at Nite has quietly renewed the half-hour series, in which parents play good-natured pranks on kids, for a second season of 13 episodes. Production is currently underway on the new season, which will launch sometime next year. 2.2 million viewers on average watched the show's initial six-week run, 532,000 of which fell into the key adults 18-49 demographic (0.5 rating).
IS OR ISN'T PRODUCTIONS PROJETS (New!) - Lisa Kudrow and Dan Bucatinsky's Warner Bros. Television-based banner has lineup up three projects for 2006-07 season consideration with Bucatinsky himself separately booking two other projects. Among the former trio: "Paths to Freedom," a comedy from Chris Downey ("The King of Queens") at FOX loosely based on the Irish sitcom of the same name about two criminals - one white collar, one blue collar - who are released from prison on the same day; an untitled half-hour at CBS from married novelists Rick Marin ("Cad") and Ilene Rosenzweig ("Swell") about their own lives as a couple-about-town in New York; and a drama at UPN from feature writer Daisy Mayer ("Party Girl") about a young woman who's thrown into high society when she takes a job at a New York auction house.
As for Bucatinsky's outside projects, there's "Mia and Everyone Else," a comedy described as a sophisticated, female-driven relationship show at CBS and Paramount Network Television with Joe Roth attached as an executive producer; and an untitled hour at FOX and 20th Century Fox Television with feature director Shawn Levy ("Cheaper by the Dozen") about a young, middle America single mom who gets in trouble with the law and must conduct community service with her court-appointed lawyer. Is or Isn't will co-produce both projects outside their deal with Warner Bros.
JOHN DOE (FOX) - Cable's Sci Fi Channel has quietly acquired the off-network rights to the short-lived FOX series. Repeats of all 21 episodes of the series will begin airing Fridays at 7:00/6:00c on the network starting January 20. "Doe" will take over the hour from "Firefly," which heads to hiatus following a 12-hour marathon on Friday, January 6.
JON TURTELTAUB PROJECTS (CBS, New!) - Feature helmer Jon Turteltaub ("National Treasure") has inked a three-for-one deal at CBS. The pact calls for Turteltaub (via his Junction Entertainment banner) to develop three scripts at Eye sibling Paramount Network Television - dramas "Suspect Behavior" (from Daniel Cerone) and "Jericho" (from Stephen Chbosky) as well as an untitled half-hour from Michael Glouberman ("Malcolm in the Middle") - one of which is guaranteed to be ordered to pilot. "Behavior" is described as a procedural in which the killer and the victim are described in the teaser however the crime is not. The show will then explore the motives of the criminal before ultimately revealing what occurred. "Jericho" then is detailed as a high-concept soap about a small town in Kansas that's dealing with life after a series of nuclear attacks destroys most of America's big cities. Finally, the Glouberman comedy is said to revolve around a cop and fireman who marry each other. Turteltaub then will executive produce and direct the winning pilot should his schedule permit.
LOVE AT THIRD SIGHT (NBC, New!) - The Peacock has pacted with BBC Worldwide for a potential new dating/reality series in which suitors get three chances to make first impressions on a date via the help of a hypnotist. A pilot presentation has already been shot for the project, which will be executive produced by Conrad Green and Richard Hopkins ("Dancing With the Stars"). As for specifics, it's understood one person will agree to go under hypnosis following the first date, erasing their memory of the event. The other person then will get two additional chances following the same process, using what went well or badly to change their actions. Following the three dates, the hypnotist will undo their work, giving the person the chance to recall all three events and ultimately let them decide if they'll continue to see the person.
MAKING THE BAND (MTV) - The show's eighth season finale drew a whopping 4.6 million viewers last week, its best numbers since it migrated from ABC. Overall, "Band" was the fourth most-watched program on cable for the week of December 5-11.
UNTITLED TELENOVELA PROJECTS (CBS, New!) - The Eye is developing five 13-week serials along the lines of the popular Spanish-language "telenovela" format, one of which is expected to receive a series order for the network's summer schedule and air multiple times a week. CBS wouldn't give pilot specifics about the quintet, just that each has received an order for a pilot script as well as a series outline. It's understood that like most telenovelas, each will likely open with a big explosive event and feature a large ensemble cast with an intense love story at the core. So far only three of the five projects have disclosed the talent attached, all of which come from Paramount Network Television: the first, a Hollywood and celebrity-themed soap, comes from "American Dreams" creator Jonathan Prince, writer Jackie Collins, screenwriter Rama Stagner ("Blue Sky") and Madison Road Productions; another, said to be a romance-themed project that might even incorporate some unscripted elements, comes from producer Denise Di Novi and writers Jim & Diane Stanley; while a third comes from "Guiding Light" head writer David Kreizman. As for the other two projects, both are believed to be adaptations of existing Latin American formats - one from Sony Pictures Television and another from Fremantle North America. Meanwhile, ABC is also said to be interested in developing its own telenovela however no specifics were given.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters