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[03/01/06 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 1
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!

AMERICAN CRIME (FOX) - Victor Garber (Jack Bristow on "Alias") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the world of high-powered Los Angeles lawyers and how they go about freeing their clients, most of whom are either very rich or involved in high-profile cases. No details about his character in the Warner Bros. Television-based project were given. Rebecca Mader also stars in the hour, which David McNally is directing from a script by creator Tyler Bensinger. Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman also serve as executive producers.

THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS, New!) - "Two and a Half Men" co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre has booked a pilot order from the Eye and Warner Bros. Television for a new comedy about two brilliant theoretical physicists who meet a woman that shows them how little they know about real life. Lorre, who has an overall deal with the studio, co-write the pilot script with Bill Prady ("Gilmore Girls"). Both then will serve as executive producers through the former's self-titled banner.

CELEBRITY FIT CLUB/FLAVOR OF LOVE (VH1) - The season finale of "Celebrity Fit Club" and a new episode of "Flavor of Love" this past Sunday powered the network to its most-watched night ever. A total of 3.51 million viewers (including a 1.7 rating/5 share in adults 18-49) on average watched said installment of "Love," making it the highest-rated regular program to date on VH1 and the sixth most-watched program on cable last week. Lead-in "Club" also fared well, drawing 2.62 million viewers and a 1.3 rating/3 share among adults 18-49.

THE CLASS (CBS) - Sean Maguire (Donovan Brink on "Eve") has joined the cast of the ensemble comedy, about a group of childhood classmates who reunite in their 20s. He'll play Kyle in the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, which James Burrows is directing from a script by Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane. Maguire's involvement however is in second position to his duties on the UPN sitcom, should it return as part of the CW. Jason Ritter, Lucy Punch, Heather Goldenhersh, Jon Bernthal, Andrea Anders and Jesse Ferguson also star.

DIRT (FX) - Courteney Cox (Monica Geller on "Friends") is set to topline the drama pilot, about a tabloid editor and her right-hand photographer as they navigate the murky world of celebrity journalism. She'll play Lucy Spiller, said editor, in the project, which she's already executive producing along with husband David Arquette and creator Matthew Carnahan. Also joining the cast are Ian Hart ("Breakfast on Pluto") and Will McCormack (Jason La Penna on "The Sopranos"). The former will play the previously mentioned schizophrenic photographer while the latter will play Leo, the brother of Cox's character. Carnahan is directing the Touchstone Television/Coquette Productions-based hour from his own script.

ENEMIES (ABC) - Amanda Righetti (Jenna Moretti on "Reunion") and Bess Wohl ("The Shaggy Dog") have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a pair of Chicago-based best friends who grow up to become mortal enemies - one's a top player at the F.B.I. (casting TBA) while the other's a mob boss (Jeffrey Donovan). Wohl is believed to be playing Susan Graham, the wife of the former and the sister of the latter character. She's described in the casting notice as: "30s. Graham's wife and the mother of his 5 year old son, she's a "beautiful but spare" woman who has also known Graham since they were kids. Currently enrolled in night school, Susan is intent on bettering herself, and she has no complaints about her husband's relatively low salary. What does bother Susan is the increasing friction between Graham and Mickey Callaway (Donovan's character), Susan's brother, with whom she is quite close. However, when Graham is offered a job with the city's organized crime division, Susan makes it clear that she will support her husband, even if his new job puts him in bloody conflict with her brother. She's just not looking forward to the struggle."

Righetti then is set as Kelly Callaway: "Mid 20s. Susan and Mickey's younger sister, she's a sizzlingly sexy young woman who can be generous and warm - when she's not wasted, that is. Unfortunately, Kelly spends much of her life in a cocaine-addled haze, trolling the local nightclub scene and picking up men indiscriminately. When Kelly gets too far out of hand, her brother sends his goons in to take her safely home - whether she wants to go or not." Bruce McGill also stars in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from executive producers Sean Bailey and Ken Olin. F. Gary Gray directs. (Note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified which characters Righetti and Wohl are playing.)

EVERWOOD (The WB) - Greg Berlanti, the show's creator and executive producer, has inked a massive three-year, mid-seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact, which begins today, calls for Berlanti and his producing partner, Mickey Liddell, to develop new projects for the studio. The deal however won't affect their duties on the Warner Bros. Television-based "Everwood" should it return next season as part of the CW. New episodes of the series resume on the WB on Monday, March 27.

FACELESS (FOX) - Stana Katic (Collete Stenger on "24") and Reed Diamond (a recent guest on "Stargate SG-1") have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a federal prosecutor (Sean Bean) who goes undercover as a criminal in order to take down a sprawling underworld organization. It's not clear which characters in the casting notice each are playing. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the hour, which Joe Carnahan is directing from a script by creator Dario Scardapane. Flame Television's Tony Krantz, Evelyn O'Neill and Daniel Rappaport also serve as executive producers.

HEIST (NBC) - Ted Danson ("Knights of the South Bronx") is set to appear in seven episodes of the upcoming drama series, about a group of professional thieves who are plotting to simultaneously rob three prominent Beverly Hills jewelry stores on Oscar week. He'll play a cop in the project, which premieres Wednesday, March 22 at 10:00/9:00c. It's not clear when Danson's first installment will air.

HELP ME HELP YOU (ABC) - Ted Danson (Dr. John Becker on "Becker") is in final negotiations to join the cast of the comedy pilot, about an unusual group of people who meet through group therapy. He'll play the lead role of Dr. Bill Hoffman, who's described in the casting notice as: "Mid 40s-early 50s, Caucasian, attractive, leading man. This comforting yet tough shrink in his "probably brings out daddy transference in all his patients." Highly respected in his field, Bill isn't so highly respected at home. In fact, Anne, his wife of 20 years, has gotten so fed up with his workaholism and "psycho-crap" that she has left him. When Bill learns that his daughter Sasha has taken up with a man twice her age, and that Anne is now having an affair with a Volvo dealer, he faces a mid-life crisis of unexpectedly crushing proportions. However, it's now time for Bill to practice what he preaches to his group therapy patients. He just has to let go of his inner anger and get on with his life - but that may not be easy."

Also joining the cast is Jim Rash (Fenton on "That '70s Show"), who's believed to be playing Josh: "30s. One of the patients in Bill's therapy group. Josh is a meticulously put together man 30s with "unresolved sexual issues". Recently, Josh's wife left him because she thinks he is gay and couldn't live the lie any longer. Still, Josh is still reluctant to come out of his closet. In fact, he gets downright indignant if anyone insinuates he's gay. Josh insists that he's merely "metrosexual"." Charlie Finn and Darlene Hunt also star in the single-camera, Regency Television-based half-hour, which comes from creators Jenni Konner and Ali Rushfield. Brian Dannelly directs.

LOW LIFE (FX) - Margo Martindale (CBS's "Silver Bells"), Shannon Woodward (a recent guest on "Cold Case"), newcomer Aidan Mitchell and Noel Fisher (Sam Johnson on "Huff") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a family of grifters (headed by Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver) who take the identity of an upper-middle-class suburban family in Louisiana. Woodward and Mitchell are set as two of the couple's kids while Martindale will play one of their neighbors. Fisher's character wasn't specified. Fox Television Studios, Maverick Television and FX Productions are behind the hour, which Carl Franklin is directing from a script by Dmitry Lipkin. Izzard, Mark Morgan, Guy Oseary and Michael Rosenberg also serve as executive producers.

MRS. HARRIS (HBO) - A modest 1.4 million viewers tuned into the premiere of the pay channel original on Saturday. Annette Bening and Ben Kingsley starred in the project, about the woman (Bening) who murdered Scarsdale diet doctor Herman Tarnower (Kingsley).

NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY (ABC) - Rachael Harris (Kevyn Shecket on "Fat Actress"), Michael Weaver (Dwayne Mullet on "The Mullets") and Melanie Paxon (Sara Brennan on "Happy Family") have all joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a married couple about to have a baby and their friends. They'll join the previously cast Jennifer Westfeldt in the Warner Bros. Television/Tannenbaum Co.-based half-hour, which comes from creator Stacy Traub. Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum also serve as executive producers.

PLAY NICE (CBS) - Tim McGowan (Joe on "The War at Home") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about a responsible sister (Sara Rue) and irresponsible brother (Timm Sharp) who run the family toy factory together. He'll play Bruce in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based project, which comes from executive producers Tucker Cawley, Lew Schneider and Phil Rosenthal. In addition, Gary Halvorson ("Everybody Loves Raymond") has signed on to direct the half-hour from a script by the former two. Fred Willard and Swoosie Kurtz also star.

SIX DEGREES (ABC) - Hope Davis ("The Matador") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of six post-college young adults whose lives intertwine in various ways. She'll join the previously cast Erika Christensen, Jay Hernandez and Dorian Missick in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from creators Raven Metzner and Stuart Zicherman. Bad Robot Productions's J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Thom Sherman also serve as executive producers on the project, which Rodrigo Garcia is directing.

SKY (NBC) - RonReaco Lee (Todd on "Committed") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a politician (Cary Elwes) 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. He's understood to be playing Aaron Pottle, who's described in the casting notice as: "35-60, any ethnicities except Caucasian. A real character, he's a heavenly functionary who meets with Mark after his sudden death. A kind of middle manager in the after life, Aaron is a pragmatic, no-nonsense angel in heaven. When Mark elects to return to earth, inhabit a recently vacated body, and investigate the mystery of his own murder, Aaron goes right along with him, appearing to Chris/Mark at regular intervals. He constantly kibbitzes in Chris/Mark's increasingly complicated mission, offering his own distinctively sardonic comments all along." Cress Williams and Missi Pyle also star in the NBC Universal Television Studio-based hour, which comes from executive producers David Kissinger, A.J. Morewitz, Conan O'Brien and Jeff Ross of Conaco Productions. Tim Blake Nelson is directing from a script by creator Willie Reale.

SMITH (CBS) - Michelle Hurd (Det. Kimberly Banks on "Skin") and Chris Bauer (Frank Sobotka on "The Wire") have joined the cast of the project, a drama about the inner workings of a team of criminals. They'll both play F.B.I. agents, Lowry and Dodd respectively, in the Warner Bros. Television-based hour. Christopher Chulak is directing from a script by John Wells. Ray Liotta, Virginia Madsen, Frankie G., Jonny Lee Miller and Amy Smart also star.

UNTITLED BONNIE HUNT PROJECT (ABC) - Michael Landes (Det. Nicholas O'Malley on "Special Unit 2") and Malcolm Barrett (T.K. on "Luis") have both joined the cast of Bonnie Hunt's comedy pilot for the Alphabet, about a divorced woman (Hunt) who works at a detective agency. No details were given about their characters in the Touchstone Television-based half-hour, which Hunt herself is directing from a script she co-write with Don Lake. Landes's casting stems from a talent holding deal the actor signed with the network and studio earlier this season.

UNTITLED PETER OCKO PROJECT (CBS) - Tamara Taylor (Susan Lloyd on "Lost") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a rising-star brain surgeon (Mark Feuerstein) who is doing a fellowship under the guidance of a brilliant but unpredictable surgeon. Her character wasn't specified in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which comes from creator Peter Ocko and fellow executive producers Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson. In addition, Davis Guggenheim ("The Unit") has been tapped to direct the pilot from a script by Ocko.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· 24 (FOX)
· 3 LBS. (CBS)
· ALIAS (ABC)
· BECKER (CBS)
· BIG BANG THEORY, THE (CBS)
· CELEBRITY FIT CLUB (VH1)
· CLASS, THE (CBS)
· COLD CASE (CBS)
· COMMITTED (NBC)
· DIRT (FX)
· ENEMIES (ABC)
· EVE (UPN)
· EVERWOOD (WB)
· EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS)
· FACELESS (FOX)
· FAT ACTRESS (SHOWTIME)
· FLAVOR OF LOVE (VH1)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· GILMORE GIRLS (CW)
· HAPPY FAMILY (NBC)
· HASKETT'S CHANCE (NBC)
· HEIST (NBC)
· HELP ME HELP YOU (ABC)
· HUFF (SHOWTIME)
· JUSTICE (FOX)
· KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX (A AND E)
· LET GO (ABC)
· LOST (ABC)
· LUIS (FOX)
· MRS. HARRIS (HBO)
· MULLETS, THE (UPN)
· NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY (ABC)
· PLAY NICE (CBS)
· REUNION (FOX)
· RICHES, THE (FX)
· SILVER BELLS (CBS)
· SIX DEGREES (ABC)
· SKIN (FOX)
· SMITH (CBS)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· SPECIAL UNIT 2 (UPN)
· STARGATE: SG-1 (SYFY)
· THAT '70S SHOW (FOX)
· TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS)
· UNIT, THE (CBS)
· WAR AT HOME, THE (FOX)
· WIRE, THE (HBO)





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