[02/03/06 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: February 3
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!

ALPHA MOMS (NBC, New!) - Writer/producer Kerry Ehrin ("Jake in Progress") has booked a pilot order at NBC for a new single-camera comedy about a corporate mom who tries to balance kids, a stay-at-home husband and a job. The half-hour project is set up at NBC Universal Television with Ehrin writing and executive producing. No other details were given.

AMERICAN IDOL REWIND/FAMILY FEUD (Syndication) - Tribune Entertainment has upped its clearance of "American Idol Rewind" to more than 80% of the country with a total of 96 stations signing on. The series, which comes from FremantleMedia North America and 19 Entertainment, is on track to premiere in September. Meanwhile, the distributor has confirmed "Family Feud" will return for an eighth season this fall with clearances in 48 of the top 50 markets, covering 85% of the U.S.

CREATURE COMFORTS (CBS, New!) - Aardman Animations, the company behind the Oscar-nominated animated feature "Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit," has landed a seven-episode order for CBS's first primetime animated series since 1993's "Family Dog." The project, which is being targeted for a January 2007 bow at the earliest, is a U.S. version of the ITV series of the same name. Here's how BBC America, which also aired the series last year, describes the project: "Creature Comforts, a hilarious collection of film shorts from the makers of Wallace & Gromit, puts interview responses from the British public into the mouths of over one hundred animal characters. In Creature Comforts, a shar-pei will do his best impression of Julia Roberts, hens will explain how feng shui should be incorporated into the work place, and sea lions will speak out against liposuction." Kit Boss ("King of the Hill") has been tapped to serve as showrunner of the new CBS version, which will also be executive produced by Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and Aardman's Nick Park, David Sproxton, Peter Lord and Miles Bullough. Richard Goleszowski, director of the U.K. "Creatures," is also on board as supervising director for U.S. edition.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY (ABC) - Actor-turned-director Jon Favreau ("Elf") has signed on to helm the pilot to the single-camera comedy project, about four thirtysomething 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. He'll also serve as an executive producer on the Touchstone Television-based half-hour along with creator Howard J. Morris and Emile Levisetti's Bushwacker Productions. ABC gave the project a blind six-episode commitment earlier this week.

IN PLAIN SIGHT (USA) - Mary McCormack ("The West Wing") has been tapped for the lead role in the drama pilot, about a federal marshal (McCormack) who works in the witness protection branch of the government while her friends and family think she is merely a meter maid. Her character, Mary Shannon, is described in the lengthy casting notice as: "Late 20s-late 30s, Sexy, acerbic, tough, unapproachable. At first glance these are her dominant qualities. However, once past her prickly exterior, Mary's funny, warm, loyal to a fault, even sensitive - in short, she's one of those people everyone wants in their life. Mary can be the best friend a person ever had or their worst nightmare. Always the difficult child - never willing to just go with the flow, accept the status quo - Mary has a tendency to make life unnecessarily difficult for herself and, of course, everyone around her. An underpaid, overworked Federal Marshall, Mary manages a gaggle of relocated Federal Witnesses in the greater Phoenix area. They are, for the most part, pain-in-the-ass career criminals - congenital liars, thieves and murderers. There are also the innocents in Mary's world - people who had the misfortune of witnessing a crime or falling victim to one - and testifying meant changing identities and relocating to the hottest city on the planet. All of these people have one thing in common - someone in the world wants them dead. Mary's job is to see that doesn't happen. And then there's Mary's family - even more difficult than the aforementioned witnesses. Mary must wear many hats in dealing with these disparate souls - Relationship counselor; Create false background and provide support for new identity; Surrogate mother, father, shrink, priest, teacher; Arrange Secret weddings; Funerals; Penile implants; Breast implants; Employment Agency; Liaison with outside world; Body guard; Both Hammer and velvet glove; Their advocate and harshest critic... Obviously, it takes a special kind of person to handle all those responsibilities - all those personalities running around in their head - a person who's talented, dedicated and a little bit crazy." McCormack's involvement lifts the cast contingency on the NBC Universal Television-based pilot's production, which is set to begin next month with Mark Piznarski directing from a script by creator David Maples.

NINE LIVES (ABC) - Scott Wolf ("Everwood") and Lourdes Benedicto ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") are both reportedly the latest additions to the drama pilot, about the lives of nine strangers who share a bond after experiencing a 52-hour hostage crisis that stems from a bank robbery that goes bad. No character specifics however were mentioned. Wolf's involvement is likely in second position to "Everwood" should it return next season as part of the new CW network. The pair joins the previously cast Chi McBride and Jessica Collins in the Warner Bros. Television-based hour, which comes from creators Hank Steinberg and K.J. Steinberg. Alex Graves is directing the pilot from a script by the Steinbergs.

ORGANIZED MEDICINE (USA) - The cable channel is redeveloping the long-in-the-works mini-series as a potential weekly drama series. The project, which is based on true events surrounding organized crime infiltrating the medical profession, has been given a script commitment with Michael Angeli ("Medium") on board to write and executive produce along with Ken Aguado ("The Salton Sea"). John Gray penned the original mini-series incarnation, which was announced in May of 2004 (read the story).

SEEING RED (NBC) - Oscar-nominee Frank Darabont ("The Shawshank Redemption") has signed on to direct the Graham Yost-created drama pilot, about an eccentric, brilliant cop with the ability to talk to dead victims, who help him solve his cases. Darabont will also serve as an executive producer on the NBC Universal Television-based hour, production of which still remains contingent on casting approval of the lead role.

STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (A.K.A. STUDIO 7 ON THE SUNSET STRIP) (NBC) - Amanda Peet ("Syriana"), Evan Handler ("Hot Properties"), Nathan Corddry ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart") and Carlos Jacott ("Fun With Dick and Jane") are the latest additions to Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme's upcoming drama series for NBC and Warner Bros. Television. Peet will play Jordan McDeere, the newly appointed president of UBS, the network that airs "Studio 60," the late-night sketch comedy series that's the focus of the show. Handler and Jacott are believed to be playing Ron Oswald and Ricky Beck (although who is whom is unclear), two senior writers on the show with Corddry as Tom Jeter, one of its stars. The quartet joins the previously cast Matthew Perry (as Matt Albie, a former writer/co-executive producer for the show who is asked back when its Lorne Michaels-esque producer quits), Steven Weber (as Jack Rudolph, the ambitious chairman of UBS), D.L. Hughley (as Simon Stiles, one of the sketch show's three stars), Michael Stuhlbarg (as Jerry, the network's by-the-book censor) and Timothy Busfield (as Cal, the show's director).

THAT '70S SHOW (FOX) - Gregg Mettler, a co-executive producer on the soon-to-depart series, has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with NBC Universal Television. The pact, which begins in June, calls for Mettler to create original comedy projects for the studio, most likely traditional four-camera blue-collar sitcoms.

UNTITLED JACE RICHDALE PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Comedian Kevin Brennan is set to star in a new sitcom project for the Peacock and HBO Independent Productions. The untitled half-hour, which comes from writer/producer Jace Richdale ("The Simpsons"), revolves around as a New York guy whose much younger brother moves in with him while attending N.Y.U. Richdale penned the pilot script and will executive produce along with Stu Smiley ("Everybody Loves Raymond").

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [february 2006]  


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