LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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13 GRAVES (FOX) - Matthew Lillard ("Scooby Doo") and Dominic Sena ("Swordfish") have both signed onto the drama pilot, about an ex-treasure hunter whose search for his missing brother puts him in the hunt for Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizzaro's fabled Incan gold. Lillard will play the lead role of Matthew McQueen in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and creator J.H. Wyman. Sena then is on board to direct the hour from a script by Wyman.
A DAY IN THE LIFE (ABC) - Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa's ("The King of Queens") comedy project for the Alphabet has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The half-hour project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television, is described as a "real-time" comedy about a young couple's wedding day. Goldsmith and Yuspa will write and executive produce the half-hour, which previously received a put pilot commitment.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) - Kyle Chandler ("Early Edition") is the first to be cast in the drama pilot, a small screen take on the 2004 movie of the same name. No specific details however were given about his character. Sarah Aubrey, Peter Berg, John Cameron, Brian Grazer and David Nevins are behind the hour, a co-production of NBC Universal Television, Imagine Television and Film 44.
THE HASKETT CHRONICLES (NBC, New!) - Tony Award nominated playwright Willie Reale ("A Year With Frog and Toad") has booked a pilot order from NBC and Conan O'Brien's NBC Universal Television-based Conaco Productions for a new drama about a politician who is murdered but given a chance to come back to the physical world (albeit, this time as a drug addict who lives in a halfway house) in order to save his soul. Reale will write and executive produce the hour along with O'Brien and Conaco's Jeff Ross, A.J. Morewitz and David Kissinger.
HELP ME HELP YOU (ABC, New!) - Jenni Konner and Alexandra Rushfield ("The Nanny Diaries") have landed a pilot order from ABC and Regency Television for a new single-camera comedy about an unusual group of people who meet through group therapy. The pair will write and executive produce the half-hour, additional details of which weren't given.
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (ABC, New!) - "According to Jim" executive producer Howard J. Morris has snagged a blind six-episode commitment from ABC and Touchstone Television for a new comedy about four thirty-something friends in Los Angeles who are reunited after one of them goes through a crisis and realize that their lives have not gone according to plan. Said development comes as the result of a bidding war between the Alphabet and NBC for the half-hour project, which has also received an order of 12 additional scripts. Morris will write the pilot script and executive produce along with Emile Levisetti (via his Bushwacker Productions).
NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has given a pilot order to a new comedy based on Risa Green's novel of the same name. Stacy Traub ("Kitchen Confidential") is behind the half-hour project, about a married couple about to have a baby and their friends. Traub will write and executive produce the pilot along with Warner Bros. Television-based producers Eric and Kim Tannenbaum ("Two and a Half Men").
SEX, POWER, LOVE & POLITICS (CBS) - Current "Desperate Housewives" guest star Jay Harrington has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about four underachieving staffers in their mid-30s who work on Capitol Hill and live next to each other. No details were given about Harrigton's character in the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television. Pamela Fryman is directing the pilot from a script by creator Greg Malins.
UGLY BETTY (A.K.A. BETTY LA FEA) (ABC) - America Ferrera ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") has been tapped for the lead role in the drama pilot, about an unattractive girl who's hired by a Vogue-esque fashion magazine to stop her new boss's habit of sleeping with his attractive assistants. She'll play the title role of Betty Suarez, who's described in the casting notice as: "24, Latina, with a busy unibrow, coke-bottle glasses and hairspray caked bangs, Betty is a bright, spirited, optimistic, good-natured, patient young college graduate with a passion for the publishing world, particularly magazines. Determined to one day own her own glossy publication, she inadvertently lands a cushy job as assistant to the Editor-in-Chief at a fashion magazine. Clearly, an outsider, made to feel very unwelcome, and even manipulated into quitting at one point, Betty is a good-hearted, no-nonsense and very creative gal who's willing to do what it takes to realize her dreams." Ferrera's involvement lifts the cast-contingency off the pilot's production. Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, Ben Silverman and Jose Tamez are the executive producers of the project, which comes from Touchstone Television, Reveille and Ventanarosa.
UNDER PRESSURE (CBS, New!) - Feature writers J.P. Donahue and Kevin Polay ("Torque") have scored a pilot order from the Eye and CBS Paramount Network Television for a new drama loosely based on Robert Kurson's book "Shadow Divers." Said project centers on a modern-day "Indiana Jones"-esque character who takes on mysteries from the past and the present. John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, the deep wreck divers on which "Shadow Divers" is based, are also understood to be attached as consultants to the hour.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters