[01/05/06 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: January 3-5
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 branded "Devwatch" section. There visitors can view our listings by network, genre, studio and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE (ABC Family) - The eight-episode second half of the show's inaugural run is set to bow on Monday, March 6 at 9:00/8:00c. (Thanks to TV Guide's "Ask Ausiello" column for the tip!)

THE BOOK OF DANIEL (NBC) - Two Nexstar Broadcasting Group-owned NBC affiliates - KARK-TV in Little Rock, Arkansas, and WTWO-TV in Terre Haute, Indiana - have opted not to air tomorrow's launch of the freshman drama. A posting on the former's web site states: "After careful consideration, watching the program and most importantly listening to our viewers and engaging them in dialogue, we have decided not to air the NBC program The book of Daniel this Friday night. We appreciate hearing from so many of our viewers who expressed their heartfelt opinions on both sides of the issue. You can watch the Book of Daniel on KWBF-TV, WB 42 right here in Central Arkansas. It will air Friday, January 6th at 8pm."

WTWO's web site also features a statement from the station's general manager Duane Lammers that reads: "Our relationship with NBC always provided for the right to reject programming. I am reaffirming that right to let them know I will not allow them to make unilateral decisions affecting our viewers. Second, I want to draw attention to the worst offenders of indecency on television ... the cable industry, which faces no decency regulations, nor a license renewal. If my action causes people in our community to pay more attention to what they watch on television, I have accomplished my mission." Said developments come as the Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Assocation continues to urge stations and advertisers to boycott the show.

DOUBLE OR NOTHING (Fox Reality, New!) - The FOX cable sibling has greenlighted production on a two-part special in which one player sells everything he owns in order to risk his net worth on one spin of a Las Vegas roulette wheel. Said project, which is set up at reality house LMNO, will air as a two-hour event over two weeks in April. LMNO's Eric Schotz and Bill Paolantonio ("Boot Camp") then will serve as executive producers of the special, casting of which is currently underway. As for specifics, the first hour will introduce viewers to the contestant and his or her friends and family as well as feature a psychologist who will confirm the player isn't clinically insane. The latter hour then will air live as the contestant takes the big spin from a Las Vegas casino. "Nothing" had previously been in the works at NBC, with the network giving the project a cast-contingent pilot order in July of 2004 (read the story).

FUTURAMA (FOX) - Matt Groening and David X. Cohen's Emmy-winning animated series may be the latest to receive a "Family Guy"-esque revival as talks are said to have begun at 20th Century Fox Television about resuming production on a limited number of episodes. Much like "Guy," "Futurama" has done strong numbers in DVD sales and late-night airings on Cartoon Network. Most recently, Comedy Central signed on to take over the show's off-network run beginning in 2008. As for the show's possible resurrection, 20th has yet to comment on any developments.

THE GREG BEHRENDT SHOW (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared the talk show in several additional markets, including WDIV in Detroit and KTVK in Phoenix as well as others in the Post-Newsweek, Belo, Hubbard, Sinclair, Weigel and Raycom station groups. Prior to the pick-ups, "Greg" had already been cleared on all 26 Tribune stations, which reach about 30% of the country.

IN PLAIN SIGHT (USA, New!) - Producer Paul Stupin ("Beautiful People"), writer David Maples ("Huff") and director Mark Piznarski ("Veronica Mars") are set to team for a new drama project at the cable channel about a no-nonsense female federal marshal who works in the witness protection branch of the government even though her friends and family are led to believe she is a glorified meter maid. USA has given a cast-contingent, 90-minute pilot order to the NBC Universal Television-based project, with Piznarski directing from a script by Maples. Stupin then will serve as an executive producer with Maples as a co-executive producer. As for plot specifics, "Sight" will track Mary Shannon, said federal marshal, as she balances her work life and the demands of her own dysfunctional family. "Sight" is one of three hours in the hopper for a potential series order at the network - the others being Steve Franks' "Psyche," about a fake psychic detective (James Roday) and David Breckman and Ross Abrash's "Underfunded," about a low-rent Canadian secret service outfit. Said hours are designed to fill the void left by "Kojak," which won't be returning for a second season.

MANCHILD (Showtime) - Feature writer Michael Traeger ("The Moguls") and "Sex and the City" creator Darren Star have come aboard the long-in-the-works U.S. version of the BBC hit of the same name - about a group of men in their late 40s, all of whom were enduring some sort of midlife crisis. Traeger will write the pilot script of the Sony Pictures Television-based half-hour as well as executive produce with Star. The pay channel however hasn't greenlighted production on the pilot.

MRS. HARRIS/REAL TIME WITH BILL MAHER (HBO) - The fourth season of "Real Time With Bill Maher" is set to kick off on Friday, February 17 at 11:00/10:00c, according to the network's recently released February schedule. Meanwhile, the pay channel has confirmed the Annette Bening/Ben Kingsley-led original movie "Mrs. Harris" will premiere Saturday, February 25 at 8:00/7:00c. A "making-of" special is also set to run on Wednesday, February 1 at 9:45/8:45c.

PARTY/PARTY (Bravo) - The cable channel has quietly banished the freshman series to the midnight/11:00c slot on Tuesday nights. Said change actually came just two weeks into its run (which began on December 6), where it originally aired at 9:00/8:00c as a lead-in to "Queer Eye."

RENO 911 (Comedy Central) - The popular Comedy Central series is making the transition to the big screen as production is set to begin on January 23 on "Reno 911!: Miami." The feature will track the Reno officers as they visit a national police convention in Miami Beach at the height of spring break. Co-creator Robert Ben Garant is directing the 20th Century Fox/Paramount-based film from a script co-written by himself and fellow co-creators Thomas Lennon and Kerri Kenney. Garant, Lennon and Kenney as well as Niecy Nash, Mary Birdsong, Cedric Yarbrough, Carlos Alazraqui and Wendi McLendon-Covey will all reprise their small screen roles. No release date target was mentioned.

THE RON CLARK STORY (TNT) - A spokesman for the cable channel has confirmed the Matthew Perry-led telefilm, originally slated for January 22, has been postponed until a date later in 2006.

STUDIO 7 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (NBC) - Steven Weber ("The D.A.") reportedly has been cast in the lead role of the Aaron Sorkin-led drama project, about the lives of those that work on a long-running "Saturday Night Live"-esque sketch-comedy show based in Los Angeles. Said development comes after both Matthew Perry ("Friends") and Bradley Whitford ("The West Wing") passed on the role. No other details were given. (Again, thanks to TV Guide's "Ask Ausiello" column for the tip!)

UNTITLED CHRIS PAPPAS/MIKE BERNIER PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Feature producer Kevin Misher ("The Interpreter") has inked a one-year, first-look deal with Touchstone Television. The pact gives the studio first crack at Misher's TV development, which already includes an untitled half-hour from writers Chris Pappas and Mike Bernier about two male best friends, one of whom is getting married and the other getting divorced. Misher will serve as a non-writing executive produce on the project, which has a script commitment from ABC.

UNTITLED DAVE CAPLAN PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Writer/producer Dave Caplan ("The George Lopez Show") is set to team with Doug Liman and David Bartis's NBC Universal Television-based Hypnotic banner for a new offbeat comedy about a pair of brothers who take up bounty hunting - using kung fu rather than firearms - to help take care of their mom and her restaurant. Caplan will pen the pilot script to the half-hour as well as executive produce with Liman and Bartis.

UNTITLED VIDAL SISTERS PROJECT (ABC) - Laura Kightlinger ("Will & Grace") has signed on to write the script to the half-hour comedy pilot, about an interracial family of three adult sisters (Lisa, Christina and Tanya Vidal) and their relatives. Don Reo had previously been attached to pen the script however the writer/producer has since moved on to an untitled half-hour at NBC from executive producer Dick Wolf (read the story). Kightlinger then will also serve as an executive producer along with George Lopez and his wife, Ann.

VANISHED (FOX) - Writer/producer Josh Berman, creator of the network's short-lived "Killer Instinct," has been given the green light to produce a pilot as well as two additional scripts for the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, which chronicles the disappearance of a senator's wife over the course of the season. FOX had previously given "Vanished" a put pilot commitment (read the story), making the pilot order not much of a surprise. Berman will pen the pilot script as well as executive produce the hour.

WIFE SWAP (ABC) - Executive producer Michael Davies ("Wife Swap") and his company Embassy Row have inked a three-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The pact calls for Davies to develop both unscripted and scripted programming for the studio. It's understood several new projects are already in the works, most of which are being targeted for GSN (which is co-owned by Sony and Liberty Media). Said network currently carries repeats of two Davies-produced shows: ABC's "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and Comedy Central's "Win Ben Stein's Money." Sony will also come aboard to co-produce Davies' previously announced projects in development, including a special for CBS starring magician Keith Barry and a game show for Comedy Central with "Jeopardy!" champion Ken Jennings. The deal also won't affect Davies' existing first-look pact with ABC, which gives the Alphabet first crack at any of his primetime development.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters and TV Guide

  [january 2006]  


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