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!
13 GRAVES (FOX, New!) - Writer/producer Joel Wyman ("The Mexican") has scored a pilot commitment from FOX and 20th Century Fox Television for a new drama about Matthew McQueen, a former fortune finder, whose search for his missing brother leads him on a treasure hunt for Incan gold believed buried by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro in 13 underground chambers throughout the present-day United States. Wyman is writing the pilot script and will executive produce.
7TH HEAVEN (The WB) - Money, not surprisingly, was the reason the veteran drama will end after 10 seasons, the network's entertainment topper David Janollari and chairman Garth Ancier told reporters at the WB's session at the TCA Winter Press Tour. "It is a real bittersweet situation," Janollari said. "We love the show. We want the show. We were in very detailed and substantial conversations with the Spelling Group. At the end of those conversations we both looked at each other and said we can't figure out how to make this economically feasible for either side." Ancier added: "I'll be more specific - the show will lose $16 million this season. This year the show will lose $16 million for The WB, and that's with a license fee reduction from last year. At least to us, that's a big number."
"'Smallville' costs about the same as '7th Heaven,'" Ancier continued. "'7th Heaven' really has, because of its life span and just how poorly it's been repeating, it's been down-trending for a number of years. As much as we all love the show, you do have to run a business. And the broadcasting business is very challenging for all networks today." Nevertheless, there's a prospect the show will continue in some form. "We are continuing our conversations with ["7th Heaven" creator] Brenda [Hampton] about trying to craft a spin-off of sorts," said Janollari. "I don't know what that's going to be yet. We're waiting for her to kind of figure out what she wants that to be. In the ideal world, we would rather that that show does not go away. It just became economically difficult."
BEAUTY THE THE GEEK (The WB) - The network is developing a reversed version of the hit reality series in which intellectually challenged hunks partner smart but less-attractive women. Said project, announced by WB entertainment president David Janollari at the TCA Winter Press Tour, would be targeted for the 2006-07 season.
CULT (The WB) - Matthew Bomer ("Flightplan") has been tapped for the lead role in the drama project, which has been given the green light to produce a pilot. Rockne S. O'Bannon ("Farscape") is behind the Warner Bros. Television-based hour, which had previously been given a put pilot commitment. Bomer will play Jeff Sefton, who's described in the casting notice as: "26. Jeff is a smart, great looking guy who dropped out of MIT to support his younger brother when their parents went missing 3 years ago. He presently works as a pool cleaner in LA so that his brother can attend college - a sacrifice that Jeff tries to mask with a smart, wry sense of ironic humor. When his brother, Nate, goes missing, Jeff discovers Nate's obsession with the tv series "CULT" and the unsettling subculture of the show's fans. He enlists Chloe who is a PA on "CULT" to help get clues about his brother's disappearance." Also on board is Yves Simoneau ("The 4,400"), who will direct the pilot from a script by O'Bannon.
DRIFT (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer John Glenn ("The Heaven Project") has booked a pilot order at ABC and Touchstone Television for a new drama about a New York detective who suffers a major emotional trauma, leaving him with insomnia and little long-term memory, as well as hallucinations that his deceased daughter is with him at the crime scenes he's investigating. Paul W.S. Anderson ("Alien vs. Predator") is on board to direct the project as well as executive produce along with Glenn, Chris Brancato and Bert Salke.
EMILY'S REASONS WHY NOT (ABC) - Various industry insiders have confirmed ABC and Sony Pictures Television have opted to halt production on the series following the taping of the sixth episode last week. The news all but spells the end for the freshman comedy, which opened to a fourth-place 2.8 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 last week. "It is a shame," executive producer Gavin Polone told Daily Variety. "A lot of people were working really hard and the show kept improving. Sony spent a huge amount of money and were very supportive. I can't fault ABC, though: they promoted it like crazy and when the audience stays away, in this super-competitive environment, quick decisions are made. That's the television business." The series returns to the schedule next Monday following a one-week break.
JUNIPER HALL (The WB, New!) - Craig Wright ("Six Feet Under") is the latest to land a pilot order from the WB, this time for a new drama about a New England boarding school as told through a new female student. Wright will pen the pilot script and executive produce the hour, which is set up at Touchstone Television.
ROCK STAR (CBS) - The Eye is moving forward with a second season of the talent search with Dave Navarro and Brooke Burke back as hosts. Executive producers Mark Burnett and David Goffin however are keeping details about the sophomore effort under wraps as it's not clear if a new season will track another new lead singer search for an existing band or create a completely new band. "At the end of the day, the show will always be about finding a rock star," Goffin told Daily Variety. The only specifics given were that it will likely stay at two nights per week when it returns this summer.
SOUTHERN COMFORT (A.K.A. UNTITLED GAYTONS PROJECT) (FOX) - Joe Gayton ("Bulletproof") and Tony Gayton's ("The Salton Sea") drama project has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The previously untitled hour is described as an ensemble crime drama about the wife of a mob boss who's thrust into running their Biloxi, Mississippi-based organized crime operation after he's sent to prison. The Gayton brothers will write the pilot script and executive produce for 20th Century Fox Television.
UNTITLED KEVIN WILLIAMSON PROJECT (UPN) - Kevin Williamson's drama project at the netlet, about a troubled teen who moves to a gated community in Palm Springs where he uncovers some dark secrets, has been given the thumbs up to produce a pilot. UPN had previously given a put pilot commitment to the hour, which is set up at Lionsgate Television and Outerbanks Entertainment.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters