LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BLACK. WHITE. (FX) - Promos currently running on the cable channel indicate the series will premiere Wednesday, March 8 at 10:00/9:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Black. White. examines race with an extraordinary approach by putting new faces on an African-American family, the Sparks, and Caucasian family, the Wurgels. Through the transformative power of make-up by Academy Award� nominated make-up effects artist Keith VanderLaan (The Passion of the Christ), the Wurgels become black and the Sparks become white, which challenges their beliefs and core values in ways they could have never imagined. The make-up process for each family member took 3 to 5 hours for every day of transformation."
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) - The Peacock is moving forward with its small-screen adaptation of the 2004 Universal/Imagine feature, about the tumultuous 1988 season of the famed Odessa, Texas high school football team. The network has officially lifted the cast-contingency off the project's production, despite no casting announcements. Peter Berg, the director/co-writer of the original film, is on board to pen the pilot script, which will move the focus to present day. Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron, Brian Grazer and David Nevins will also executive produce the NBC Universal Television/Imagine Television-based hour.
SIMPLY SKETCH (LOGO, New!) - Former talk show host Rosie O'Donnell reportedly is developing a sketch comedy series for the fledgling cable channel. The project, which will feature a cast of up-and-comers, will be filmed in front of a live studio audience as well as include taped segments, musical numbers and commercial/movie parodies incorporating political satire. Oh Really! Productions, headed by former Disney executives Dan MacDonald and Joe Del Hierro, is on board to executive produce along with O'Donnell. It's not clear however if O'Donnell herself will appear on camera.
THE WEST WING (NBC) - Actor/singer Jon Bon Jovi has signed on to appear in an upcoming episode of the series, set to air on Sunday, March 26. He'll play himself in the installment, where he'll perform his song "Welcome to Wherever You Are" during a rally to support the fictional campaign of Sen. Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits). No other details were given.
UNTITLED DAN MCDERMOTT PROJECT (A.K.A. SURVEILLANCE) (Lifetime) - Dan McDermott's drama project, about a tough-as-nails F.B.I. agent in her mid-20s with the ability to sniff out liars, has found a third home - this time at Lifetime where it's expected to receive an eight-episode order. Previously set up at FOX then USA (where it's since deviated from it's original premise - about the son of a fallen F.B.I. agent who ends up running the agency's elite surveillance unit), the procedural would track said agent, whose parents were C.I.A. operatives now serving time for treason, as she rights her parents' wrongs. It's understood Lifetime is targeting a summer premiere for the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television and Tom Nunan's Bull's Eye Entertainment. McDermott will pen the pilot script and executive produce along with Nunan and fellow Bull's Eye principal Cathy Schulman.
UNTITLED PAUL REISER PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Former "Mad About You" star Paul Reiser has booked a pilot order at the Eye for a new comedy about an ambitious young man who takes over the family car dealership in Queens, New York. Reiser will write and executive produce the Paramount Network Television-based half-hour, which is the result of a first-look deal the actor/writer signed with the studio.
UNTITLED RODRIGUEZES PROJECT (UPN, New!) - Comedian Paul Rodriguez and his skateboarding champ son, Paul Rodriguez, Jr., are developing a new comedy at the netlet about the relationship between a father and son, who reunite after a lengthy estrangement. David Goetsch ("Game Over") is behind the project, which is set up at Joe Roth's Paramount Network Television-based banner with both Rodriguezes attached to play the lead roles.
UNTITLED SONNY GROSSO PROJECT (AMC, New!) - Former New York police detective-turned-producer Sonny Grosso, the focus of William Friedkin's Oscar-winning 1971 feature "The French Connection," has inked a development deal with the cable channel to develop a limited series about the infamous 1961 drug bust. The news marks Grosso's second attempt in recent memory to bring the French Connection case to the small screen, the first being last season's failed NBC drama pilot "NY-70," featuring Bobby Cannavale and Donnie Wahlberg. As for the AMC version, Grosso and his producing partner Larry Jacobson will executive produce the project through their Grosso Jacobson Communications Corp. banner. A search is currently underway for a writer.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters