LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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13 GRAVES (FOX) - Robert Forster (Ben Huffstodt on "Huff") and Anthony "Treach" Criss (Malcolm "Snake" Coyle on "Oz") have both been cast in the drama pilot, about an ex-treasure hunter's (Matthew Lillard) search for his missing brother. They'll play Reverend Tom and Inglewood Jake respectively in the project, which comes from creator Joel Wyman and 20th Century Fox Television. Reverend Tom is detailed in the casting notice as: "Late 40s-late 50s, any ethnicity. We see the Reverend at the hotel with the other treasure hunters. He is a man in deep, deep pain. He is having crisis of conscience. Not your typical gentile man of the cloth, he is a little rougher around the edges. Karen (Norman's girlfriend) reaches out to him." Criss's character then is detailed as: "Late 30s, African-American. Jake runs a nice portion of the L.A. drug trade. Money and women are his pastimes. Not a thug - real smooth - sees himself as the life of the party but carries around a shotgun. Think a 70s vibe a la LeRoy Brown." Luke Goss, Norman Reedus, Eric Stonestreet and Katheryn Winnick also star. Dominic Sena directs.
A&E ORIGINAL SERIES (A&E) - A&E has greenlit production on three new reality projects, including an untitled entry in which showbiz kids Randy Spelling, Sean Stewart and Dave Weintraub move out of their parents' homes and try life as roomies. I Candy Television is behind the one-hour project, which J.T. Taylor ("The Osbournes") is executive producing. Also in the works is "Out There," from Go Go Luckey Productions, about an officially sanctioned Paranormal Research Society at Penn State in which students are required to investigate poltergeists, hauntings and other forms of paranormal activity; and "I Never Said That," from Borderline Television, which features comedians in front of a live audience improvising the voices of ordinary folks over B-roll footage taken on the street.
ANDY BARKER, P.I. (NBC) - Tony Hale (Byron "Buster" Bluth on "Arrested Development") has joined the cast of the Andy Richter-led comedy pilot, about an accountant-turned-private eye. He'll play Simon in the NBC Universal Television-based half-hour, which comes from executive producers Jonathan Groff, David Kissinger, A.J. Morewitz, Conan O'Brien and Jeff Ross. Hale's involvement is in second position to any potential fourth season of the FOX series. Amy Farrington also stars in the project, which Jason Ensler is directing.
THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) - Jim Parsons (Rob Holbrook on "Judging Amy") and Iris Bahr (Rachel Heineman on "Curb Your Enthusiasm") are the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about two brilliant physicists who meet a woman who shows them how little they know about real life. Parsons will play one of said physicists while Bahr is set as a female friend of the two guys. Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady are behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television.
CALL TO GREATNESS/PUNK'D (MTV) - The network's one-time Sunday mainstay "Punk'd" will move to Mondays at 10:00/9:00c for its seventh season, which launches on April 3. Said premiere - the last of its three-season, 24-episode renewal announced back in September of 2004 (read the story) - will lead into the launch of "Call to Greatness," a new series in which a group of everyday Joes attempt to break offbeat world records, that same night. Both series had been set to bow back in October, but were delayed for unspecified reasons.
DALLAS S.W.A.T./ROLLERGIRLS (A&E) - The cable channel has renewed the docu-reality series "Dallas S.W.A.T." for a second season of 13 episodes. It's understood the new season, which will launch later this year, will take place in other cities in addition to Dallas. Conversely, A&E has pulled the plug on fellow newcomer "Rollergirls" following poor ratings in the Monday, 10:00/9:00c hour. The network quietly pulled the series after its March 6 airing with three installments still yet to air.
A DAY IN THE LIFE (ABC) - Josh Cooke (Ben on "Four Kings") and Steve Rannazzisi ("Punk'd") have both joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a young couple's wedding day as told from the points of view of the various participants. No details about their respective characters were given. As expected, Cooke's involvement is in second position to his duties on the NBC sitcom. Wendie Malick also stars in the Sony Pictures Television-based half-hour, which comes from creators Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa. Michael Spiller is directing.
DIRT (FX) - Shannyn Sossamon ("Undiscovered"), Laura Allen (Lily Moore Tyler on "The 4,400"), Kathleen Chalfant (Catherine Webster on "The Book of Daniel"), Jeffrey Nordling (A&E's "Flight 93") and Josh Stewart (Brendan Finney on "Third Watch") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a tabloid editor (Courtney Cox) and her right-hand photographer (Ian Hart) as they navigate the murky world of celebrity journalism. No character details however were given. Will McCormack also stars in the Touchstone Television/Coquette Productions-based hour, which comes from creator Matthew Carnahan and fellow executive producers Cox and David Arquette.
FACELESS (FOX) - Clifton Powell (A&E's "Knights of the South Bronx") has scored a role on the drama pilot, about a federal prosecutor (Sean Bean) who goes undercover as a criminal in order to take down a sprawling underworld organization. He joins the previously cast Reed Diamond and Stana Katic in the 20th Century Fox Television/Flame Television-based project, which Joe Carnahan is directing from a script by creator Dario Scardapane. Tony Krantz, Evelyn O'Neill and Daniel Rappaport also serve as executive producers.
HAPPY HOUR (FOX) - Brooke D'Orsay ("King's Ransom"), Beth Lacke (a recent guest star on "How I Met Your Mother") and Lex Medlin (Kevin McBronkelman on "Rock Me Baby") are the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about a pair of thirtysomething roommates - one who's been damaged by love, and another who's been blinded by love. D'Orsay will play Heather Hanson, who's described in the casting notice as: "Mid 20s-early 30s, a knock-out. Heather is Henry's girlfriend of three years. She unceremoniously dumps Henry after making him move to Chicago with her. Eager to live the life of a carefree, single gal again, she tells him that he'll have to find somewhere else to live. She suspected there was more to life than she was experiencing in her small hometown and now that she's in Chicago, she knows she was right."
Lacke then is believed to be playing Amanda Pennington - "Mid 30s. Great-looking, though she would never believe it if you told her, she is a manger in the human resources department of a company. Dressed all corporate when we first meet her, Amanda is a friend of Larry's, and prefers to dress down when hanging out with the guys at the bar. An super-honest sort who speaks her mind, Amanda doesn't shy away from telling people what she thinks. And she thinks Heather has found another guy." - while Medlin has booked the role of Larry Cone - "Mid 30s. He is a suave, handsome rogue. A bona fide bachelor, charismatic, a realist with a devilish streak, Larry is an entrepreneur, with a homebased internet t-shirt business. His conversations are head-spinningly diverting, and he quickly sizes up the situation after learning that Henry needs a place to stay. Immediately approving of Henry, he sets him up with a job so that will be able to afford his half of the rent. He's also pretty sure this thing between Henry and his ex is not going to work out." Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo are behind the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, which has also added Andy Ackerman as director. Eric Gold, Jimmy Miller and Tom Werner also serve as executive producers. (Note: An earlier version of this report incorrectly identified Medlin's character as Henry Beckman.)
IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAW (CBS) - Kevin Pollak ("Hostage") is the latest addition to the legal drama pilot, where he'll play a partner at the law firm that's at the center of the series. Joshua Jackson, Jacob Pitts and Alan Tudyk also star in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which comes from creator Carol Mendelsohn. Danny Cannon directs.
INSEPARABLE (CBS) - Ed O'Neill (Governor Eric Baker on "The West Wing") and Christine Baranski (Faith Clancy on "Ghost Whisperer") are set to play parents to Rachel Boston's character in the comedy pilot, about a young couple who moves to the woman's hometown and has to deal with her complicated extended family. Coby McLaughlin and Krysten Ritter also star in the NBC Universal Television-based half-hour, which comes from creators Joe Port and Joe Wiseman. Pamela Fryman is directing while Moses Port and David Guarascio also serve as executive producers.
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (NBC) - The Peacock has opted to postpone production on the drama pilot following co-writer/executive producer Robin Schiff's exit from the project. No reason for Schiff's departure was given. Shooting is now expected to begin this summer for a potential midseason 2007 bow. Candace Bushnell is behind the NBC Universal Television-based hour, about three successful women who will do anything to stay on top. Scott Cohen, Gina Gershon and Matthew Morrison star while Nigel Cole is directing.
MEN IN TREES (ABC) - Seana Kofoed ("It's About Time"), John Amos (Percy Fitzwallace on "The West Wing") and Suleka Mathew (Dr. Janet Gibson on "The Dead Zone") have all landed roles in the drama pilot, about a relationship expert (Anne Heche) who moves to Alaska after her husband cheats on her. Kofoed will play Heche's editor while Amos and Mathew's characters weren't specified. Abraham Benrubi, Emily Bergl, Derek Richardson and James Tupper also star in the Warner Bros. Television-based hour, which comes from creator Jenny Bicks, executive producer Cathy Konrad and director James Mangold.
OCTOBER ROAD (ABC) - Bryan Greenberg (Jake Jagielski on "One Tree Hill"), Tom Berenger (TNT's "Into the West") and Odette Yustman (Arielle Casta on "South Beach") are the latest additions to the drama pilot, about a screenwriter who returns to his hometown to teach at a local university. Greenberg will play the lead role in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from executive producers Josh Appelbaum, Gary Fleder, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg. Details on Berenger's and Yustman's character weren't given. Yustman's casting is likely in second position to her duties on "South Beach," should it return as part of the CW next season. Warren Christie, Brad William Henke, Evan Jones, Jay Paulsen, Laura Prepon and Geoff Stults also star in the project, which Fleder is directing.
ORPHEUS (CBS) - Fairuza Balk (a recent guest star on "Masters of Horror") is set as Karen in the drama pilot, about a young man (Nick D'Agosto) whose girlfriend (Mena Suvari) is involved in a sophisticated, modern-day cult and draws him to it. Eion Bailey also stars in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which comes from creator Nicholas Meyer and director Bruce Beresford. Ridley Scott, Tony Scott and David W. Zucker of Scott Free Productions also serve as executive producers.
PRIMARY (FOX) - Gina Torres (Anna Espinosa on "Alias") and Michael Cudlitz (Bob Hudson on "Prison Break") have both been cast in the drama pilot, about male (Ron Livingston) and female (Rosemarie DeWitt) hostage negotiators who balance their budding relationship and their job. Torres is set as the head of the Los Angeles Crisis Negotiation Unit while Cudlitz will play the head of the S.W.A.T. team. Raquel Alessi also stars in the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour, which Tim Story is directing from a scipt by creator Craig Silverstein.
SOUTH PARK (Comedy Central) - Isaac Hayes, who voices Chef on the long-running animated series, is requesting to be released from his contract over creative differences with the show's producers. In a statement to the press, Hayes said: "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. I cannot support a show that disrespects those beliefs and practices." In response, co-creator Matt Stone released his own statement: "This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist. In 10 years and over 150 episodes of 'South Park,' Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews. He got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show." "South Park" launches its landmark 10th season next Wednesday at 10:00/9:00c.
SOUTHERN COMFORT (FOX) - Lee Tergesen (Eddie Drake on "Wanted") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the wife (Madeleine Stowe) of a mob boss (Eric Roberts) who's thrust into running their Biloxi, Mississippi-based organized crime operation when he's sent to jail. No details on his character were given. Travis Fimmel, Reiley McClendon and Jessica Stroup also star in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and creators Joe Gayton and Tony Gayton. Greg Yaitanes is directing.
ULTRA (CBS) - Aimee Garcia (Veronica Palmero on "The George Lopez Show") and Majandra Delfino (Maria DeLuca on "Roswell") have both booked roles in the drama pilot, about a single, city-girl superhero (Lena Headey). They'll play Kyra and Suzette respectively in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which Helen Shaver is directing from a script by Barbara Hall. Richard Coyle and Peter Dinklage also star while David Alpert and David Engel also serve as co-executive producers.
UNTITLED PAUL REISER PROJECT (CBS) - Hector Elizondo (Martin Constable on "Century City") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about an ambitious guy (Bobby Cannavale) who takes over the family car dealership in Queens, N.Y. He'll play Eddie in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based half-hour, who's described in the casting notice as: "Late 60's, male. The old-school neighborhood barber who's known Danny his whole life. Good listener, sometimes good advice-giver. A trusted father figure and confidant." Paul Reiser is behind the project with his Nuance Productions partner Craig Knizek also serving as a producer.
UNTITLED TOM HERTZ PROJECT (CBS) - Patrick Warburton (Jeb Denton on "Less Than Perfect") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, which has also added Andy Ackerman as director and executive producer. The Sony Pictures Television-based project revolves around a married couple, an engaged duo and a single guy. No details on Warburton's character were given. His involvement is in second position to the still yet-to-debut ABC comedy. Tom Hertz penned the pilot script and is executive producing along with Happy Madison's Jack Giarraputo, Doug Robinson and Adam Sandler.
THE WAY (CBS) - Jason Behr (Max Evans on "Roswell") and Peter Strauss ("xXx: State of the Union") are the latest to sign on to the drama pilot, about a powerful New England family that uses witchcraft to further its business enterprises. Behr will play the show's male lead, one of the family's children who is at the center of a sibling power rivalry, while Strauss is set as a longtime close family friend. They join the previously cast Julia Ormond, Will Patton and Riley Smith in the Sony Pictures Television-based hour, which Rod Holcomb is directing from a script by creator Adam Kulakow. Michael De Luca also serves as an executive producer.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters