LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BIG LOVE/THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Final Nielsen numbers released by HBO indicate 9.47 million viewers tuned into "The Sopranos's" return this past Sunday, including a 4.5 rating/10 share among adults 18-49. The latter number was off 27% from its season five launch back in March of 2004. Nevertheless, "The Sopranos" was last week's top draw among all cable series by a wide margin. Lead-out "Big Love" opened to 4.56 million viewers with a 2.2 rating/5 share among adults 18-49. Compared with other recent bows, "Big Love" topped "Rome's" launch last summer (3.8 million) but fell short of "Deadwood's" 5.8 million viewer debut (also back in March of 2004). Overall for the week, "Love" edged out "Monk" (4.5 million) as the sixth most-watched cable program.
CHEERLEADER NATION (Lifetime) - The reality newcomer bowed to the tune of 1.6 million viewers on Sunday, including a network record 0.9 rating/2 share among women 18-34 for a reality series. Numbers on lead-out "Face the Family" weren't released.
COMMUNITY SERVICE (NBC) - Brittany Daniel ("Dirty") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about an arrogant New Yorker (Jay Mohr) who goes to a small town to look up his ex-girlfriend (Daniel) and ends up doing community service there. She joins the previously cast Christopher Wiehl and Todd Stashwick in the NBC Universal Television-based half-hour, which comes from creators David Israel and Jim O'Doherty. Victor Nelli is directing.
THE CUTTING EDGE 2: GOING FOR THE GOLD (ABC Family) - The small screen sequel to the 1992 feature drew 3.4 million viewers for its premiere on Sunday. Among women 18-34, said broadcast pulled a 1.0 rating/2 share. Overall for the week of March 6-12, "Edge" finished 10th among all cable series - tied with the season finale of Bravos' "Project Runway" and just north of new episodes of "The Real World" and "The Real World/Road Rules Challenge" on MTV (3.2 million each).
A DAY IN THE LIFE (ABC) - Marla Sokoloff (Molly Clark on "Modern Men") is set to star opposite Josh Cooke in the comedy pilot, about a young couple's wedding day as told from the points of view of the various participants. She'll play one half of said couple in the Sony Pictures Television-based half-hour, which has also added Kurt Fuller (Detective Barton on "Desperate Housewives") and Miriam Shor (Julie Hermann on "Inside Schwartz"). Sokoloff's casting is likely in second position to her duties on the soon-to-launch WB comedy. Steve Rannazzisi and Wendie Malick also star in the project, which Michael Spiller is directing from a script by creators Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa.
HAPPY HOUR (FOX) - Jamie Denbo (Jamie Samuels on "My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a pair of thirtysomething roommates - one who's been damaged by love, and another who's been blinded by love. While not specified, she's believed to be playing Tina Difabio, who's described in the casting notice as: "30s. She is Brad's "ball busting better half." She's tough, but loving to those she embraces; Larry is not one of those people. She fought a five year battle with Larry for Brad's soul and won - she's not going to let Larry forget it." Brooke D'Orsay, Beth Lacke and Lex Medlin also star in the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, which comes from creators Jeff Filgo and Jackie Filgo as well as executive producers Tom Werner, Eric Gold and Jimmy Miller.
HEAD CASES (FOX) - Jeff Rake, a writer/producer on the short-lived FOX series, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The pact, which begins on March 30, spells the end of Rake's nearly five-year tenure at "Cases" producer 20th Century Fox Television. At Sony, Rake will develop new half-hour and one-hour projects for the studio.
HELLO SISTER, GOODBYE LIFE! (A.K.A. SAME AS IT EVER WAS) (ABC Family) - The cable channel has booked the premiere of the Lacey Chabert/Wendie Malick-led original for Sunday, April 2 at 7:00/6:00c. Here's how the network details the telefilm: "The only worries twenty-one-year-old Olivia Martin (Lacey Chabert) has to deal with are midterms, finals and what to wear to the next fraternity party. But when her father and stepmother are tragically killed in a car accident, Olivia suddenly finds herself responsible for her seven-year-old half-sister she barely knows. Olivia reluctantly accepts custody of Celia (Sammi Hanratty) and discovers becoming a family will be a lot harder than she ever imagined. With the help of her self-involved and capricious mom Barbara (Wendie Malick), Olivia and Celia begin to give each other a chance and learn to trust one another. But when caring for Celia takes a toll on Olivia�s social life and she begins to miss her freedom and carefree days, will she experience a change of heart?"
HELP ME HELP YOU (ABC) - Lolita Davidovich (Francesca Wolff on "The L Word") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about an unusual group of people who meet through group therapy. She's believed to be playing Anne, the wife of Ted Danson's character. Her character is detailed in the casting notice as: "Mid 40s, Caucasian. Bill's wife of some 20 years, she's an attractive woman in her 40s who has recently gotten so fed up with her workaholic hubby's neglect and "psycho crap" that she has left him. Anne has never committed to anything - she has four degrees and a failed muffin basket business under her belt, but she is committed to one thing: not reconciling with her narcissistic husband. Unbeknownst to Bill, who is still hoping for a reconciliation, Anne has started an affair with a Volvo dealer. There's still a lot of chemistry between Anne and Bill, but Anne is adamant about wanting out of the marriage - at least for now." Charlie Finn, Darlene Hunt, Jim Rash and Suzy Nakamura also star in the Regency Television-based project, which Brian Dannelly is directing from a script by creators Jenni Konner and Alexandra Rushfield.
LANDSLIDE (Hallmark) - The original movie, which has originally pulled out of respect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, has been rescheduled for Saturday, April 29 at 9:00/8:00c. Vincent Spano, Alexandra Paul and Robert Pine star in the project, which is described as follows: "On Diamondback Mountain, an excavation crew setting off explosive charges fails to notice the tremors and cracks racing across the ridge�s face. Suddenly the earth breaks open, swallowing everything and engulfing Diamondback Mountain in a rolling avalanche of soil, timber and rock. The dust settles, but the nightmare has just begun. The buried must get above ground before all hope is lost."
MAMMOTH/S.S. DOOMTROOPER (A.K.A. CITADEL) (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has confirmed its two Saturday originals for the month of April. First up on Saturday, April 1 at 9:00/8:00c is "S.S. Doomtrooper," which the network details as: "During the last days of World War II, a team of Allied soldiers is sent behind enemy lines to destroy a secret Nazi atomic-weapons program. But they soon find that the Nazis aren't making an A-bomb � they're making an army of monster super-soldiers! With time running out, the Allied troops must marshall their eclectic skills to prevent the Nazis from unleashing a horror that will change the outcome of the war. Corin Nemic (Stargate SG-1, Parker Lewis Can't Lose) and Ben Cross (Chariots of Fire, Exorcist: The Beginning) star." And on Saturday, April 22, at 9:00/8:00c, look for "Mammoth": "Ten thousand years ago, we hunted it into extinction. Now it's back, and it's hunting us. Vincent Ventresca (The Invisible Man, SCI FI Pictures' Larva), Summer Glau (Firefly, Serenity) and Tom Skerrit (Alien, Top Gun) star in this rampaging tale of interspecies revenge."
NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY (ABC) - Newcomer Peter Cambor has booked a role on the comedy pilot, about the lives of a group of friends from the point of view of an expectant father. He joins the previously cast Jennifer Westfeldt, Rachael Harris, Michael Weaver and Melanie Paxon in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and creator Stacy Traub. Barry Sonnenfeld is directing while Eric and Kim Tannenbaum also serve as executive producers.
PAST SINS (Lifetime, New!) - "The Young and the Restless" star Lauralee Bell is set to topline a new original movie for the cable channel, about a media-loving attorney (Bell) who defends a former suspected '60s radical who might or might not have been framed for murder by a big-business interest. David Winning is directing the telefilm from a script by Don Nelson with Michael D. Jacobs and Fernando Szew serving as executive producers and Cheryl-Lee Fast producing. Production is expected to be completed in time for a June 5 air date on the network.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Neal Moritz's rebranded Original Film banner has signed a two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The company, which was previously partnered with manager/producer Marty Adelstein on Original Television, will develop new television projects for the studio. In addition, former Pariah development executive Vivian Cannon has come aboard to head up Original Film's development efforts.
THE SINGLES TABLE (NBC) - John Cho (Teddy Wong on "Kitchen Confidential") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about five single people who meet at a wedding and develop bonds. He'll play Ivan in the 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour, which also stars Jarrad Paul, Rhea Seehorn, Conor Dubin and Pascale Hutton. Bill Martin and Mike Schiff are behind the project, which Adam Bernstein is directing.
SIX DEGREES (ABC) - Campbell Scott ("The Exorcism of Emily Rose") is in talks to join the cast of the drama pilot, about the intertwining lives of six New Yorkers. He'd join the previously cast Jay Hernandez, Dorian Missick, Erika Christensen and Hope Davis in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from creators Raven Metzner and Stu Zicherman. J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Thom Sherman also serve as executive producers on the project, to be directed by Rodrigo Garcia.
SOUTHERN COMFORT (ABC) - Gill Gayle (Huckster on "Deadwood") has scored a role on the comedy pilot, about a social misfit turned billionaire (Johnny Lewis) who moves back to his hometown in order to reconnect with his family yet still ends up battling his older jock brother (Shawn Hatosy). He'll play Booney in the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, which Roger Kumble is directing from a script by creator Brad Copeland.
THAT GUY (FOX) - Lauren Stamile (Kate Jackson on "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Charlie's Angels'") and Eric Matheny (a former guest star on "Without a Trace") have joined Josh Meyers in the comedy pilot, about a 35-year-old man who decides to embrace a "second puberty" and start living his life like a 21-year-old. They'll play Cassidy and Trent respectively in the Regency Television-based project, which comes from creators Josh Lobis and Darin Moiselle. Betty Thomas is directing while Ivan Reitman, Jackie Marcus and Matthew Carlson also serve as executive producers.
THOUGH NONE GO WITH ME (Hallmark) - The Cheryl Ladd-led original movie has been slated to premiere on Saturday, April 8 at 9:0/8:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Nineteen-year-old Lisa Bishop is itching to leave the small town she grew up in. But first Lisa stops to see the grandmother who raised her, Elizabeth Leroy Bishop, for money. She�s willing give Lisa the money, but first the young woman must listen her grandmother�s life story. Elizabeth also had plans of leaving town one day to pursue a more adventurous life. Young Elizabeth�s best friend is Frances, who gently prods Elizabeth into taking a greater interest in men, such as next-door neighbor Will Bishop. But Elizabeth hasn�t the slightest interest in the opposite sex, until she is sent on an errand to greet Ben, the new associate minister. Elizabeth shows Ben around town, and after some old-fashioned courting, they become an item. Marriage seems to be in the immediate future for Ben and Elizabeth, but those plans are put on hold when Ben commits to serving as a military chaplain in Korea. He promises Elizabeth they�ll marry as soon as he�s back. One tragedy after another soon befalls Elizabeth. Her father dies suddenly and she learns he is cash poor and their home is heavily mortgaged. And then comes the most difficult news of all: Ben has been killed in battle. Elizabeth carries on because of the continued kindness shown to her by Will, and she begins to see him in a different light."
UNTITLED AQUAMAN PROJECT (The CW) - Rick Peters (Dr. Tom Griffith on "Veronica Mars") is the latest to join the cast of the drama pilot, a small screen take on the DC Comics hero about Arthur Curry (Justin Hartley), the twentysomething owner of a dive shop who's actually the lost king of Atlantis. It's understood he'll be playing Admiral Brigman in the Warner Bros. Television-based project, full character details of whom weren't available. Ving Rhames and Denise Quinones also star in the project, which Greg Beeman is directing from a script by Miles Millar and Alfred Gough. (Note: The original report incorrectly suggested Peters was playing Tom Curry, the father of Justin Hartley's character.)
UNTITLED JACE RICHDALE PROJECT (NBC) - Geoff Pierson (President John Keeler on "24") is set to play father to Kevin Brennan and Nick Zano in the comedy pilot, about a New York guy (Brennan) whose younger brother (Zano) moves in with him while attending N.Y.U. David Ratray and Sarah Rafferty also star in the HBO Independent Productions-based project, which comes from executive producers Jace Richdale and Stu Smiley.
UNTITLED PETER OCKO PROJECT (CBS) - Stanley Tucci ("The Terminal") 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 (Tucci). He'll play Dr. Douglas Hanson, a role originated by Dylan McDermott during the pilot's original incarnation. Tamara Taylor, Armando Riesco and Indira Varma also star in the project, which comes from CBS Paramount Network Television and executive producers Peter Ocko, Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson. Davis Guggenheim is directing from a script by Ocko.
WASHINGTONIENNE (HBO, New!) - Novelist Jessica Cutler's book of the same name is being developed as a half-hour comedy at the pay channel by actress/producer Sarah Jessica Parker and writer/producer Vanessa Taylor ("Jack & Bobby"). "Washingtonienne" detailed Cutler's experiences as a staffer for Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Ohio) who was fired after the popular political blog Wonkette.com posted excerpts of her online sex diary, in which she talked of trysts with up to six different men. Taylor will pen the pilot script and executive produce with Parker via Parker's recently launched Pretty Matches Productions banner. Cutler herself will serve as a consultant.
THE WAY (CBS) - Andrew McCarthy (Aaron Gerrity on "E-Ring") is the latest to book a role in the drama pilot, about a powerful New England family that uses witchcraft to further its business enterprises. McCarthy will play one of the sons in the project, which also stars Riley Smith, Julia Ormond, Will Patton, Jason Behr and Peter Strauss. Rod Holcomb is directing the Sony Pictures Television-based hour from a script by creator Adam Kulakow with Michael de Luca serving as an executive producer.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters