LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BEYOND (FOX) - Rachel Perry ("Pepsi Smash") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and their efforts to win the next space race, following an unspecified global crisis. She'll play Sunny, a young scientist at said lab, in the 20th Century Fox Television/Imagine Television-based hour, which also stars Seth Gabel, Adrian Lester, Jonah Lotan and Rachael Stirling. Breck Eisner is directing the project from a script by David Self with Brian Grazer and David Nevins also serving as executive producers.
DRIFT (ABC) - Jason O'Mara (Charles Conti on "In Justice") has booked the lead role in the drama pilot, about a New York City detective who suffers a major emotional trauma, leaving him with insomnia and little long-term memory. O'Mara's involvement is in second position to any potential second season of "In Justice." Chazz Palminteri, Naelee Rae and Vanessa Ferlito also star in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from director Paul W.S. Anderson and creator John Glenn. Chris Brancato, Jeremy Bolt and Bert Salke also serve as executive producers alongside Anderson and Glenn.
FACELESS (FOX) - Kevin Alejandro, a recent guest star on "Without a Trace," has 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. He joins the previously cast Reed Diamond, Stana Katic and Clifton Powell in the 20th Century Fox Television/Flame Television-based hour, which comes from creator Dario Scardapane and director Joe Carnahan. The pair also serve as executive producers alongside Flame's Tony Krantz, Evelyn O'Neill and Daniel Rappaport.
THE GUYS (ABC) - Bumper Robinson (Jackson on Hallmark's "Jane Doe" movies), Stephen Tobolowsky (A.S.A. Don Haffman on "C.S.I.: Miami") and David Anthony Higgins (Craig Feldspar on "Malcolm in the Middle") are the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about a group of dads who become friends through their kids' playgroup. Craig Doyle is behind the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, which Rob Schiller is directing with Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum also serving as executive producers.
MY EX LIFE (A.K.A. UNTITLED RICH APPEL PROJECT) (CBS) - Rich Appel's comedy project, about a divorced couple who remain best friends and share custody of their kids, is now running under the title "My Ex Life." The 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour was originally in the works for last season but has since been rolled to 2006-07 series consideration. Appel penned the pilot script and is executive producing, with Andy Cadiff attached to direct.
N.C.I.S. (CBS) - Paramount Domestic Television has sold the off-network rights to the CBS drama to USA for a whopping $750,000 per episode, the same amount the network paid for its parent series "J.A.G." back in 1998. The five-year pact gives the cable channel the exclusive weekday rights to the series beginning in 2008 as well as the option for additional runs on sibling channel Bravo. The deal however won't include once-a-week repurposing of current episodes that's becoming commonplace for most off-network runs. Outside of the USA pact, Paramount plans to sell weekend only repeats of the series to local stations also starting in 2008.
PINK COLLAR/UGLY BETTY (ABC) - Charlotte Ross has opted out of the drama pilot "Ugly Betty" in favor of another ABC pilot, the comedy "Pink Collar." She's believed to be playing Claire Shoop in the Alicia Silverstone-led half-hour, about the nature of female relationships within the workplace. Her character is detailed in the casting notice as: "About 30, married to Lawson. Claire is Hayden's best friend at AAI or closest enemy, the jury's still out. Claire is a needy, neurotic workaholic whose rise at AAI has been planned down to the month. Handed a Project Manager job (which Hayden wanted) that will chew up every minute of the next 15 months of her life, Claire is self-diagnosed as pregnant on the very same day. Claire panics, worried her pregnancy will affect her career. Through closed door maneuvering, she gets Hayden assigned to the project, telling herself that it's to help Hayden restart her career, unable to admit it's because she can't handle it without her."
Ryan Michelle Bathe also stars in the HBO Independent Productions-based project, which Alan Poul is directing from a script by creator Patricia Breen. As for "Betty," Vanessa L. Williams (Elizabeth Bauer on "South Beach") has reportedly been tapped to replace Ross. She'll join the previously cast Alan Dale, America Ferrera, Ashley Jensen, Eric Mabius, Becki Newton, Ana Ortiz and Tony Plana in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from executive producers Salma Hayek, Silvio Horta, Ben Silverman, Jose Tamez and Teri Weinberg. Richard Shepard is directing from a script by Horta.
SHARK (CBS) - Sarah Carter (Nadine Hodges on "Numb3rs") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a defense attorney-turned-prosecutor (James Woods). She'll play Madeline Poe, an assistant D.A. who works with Woods's character in the 20th Century Fox Television/Imagine Television-based hour, which Spike Lee is directing from a script by Ian Biederman. Imagine's Brian Grazer and David Nevins also serve as executive producers.
STEPHEN KING'S KINGDOM HOSPITAL (ABC) - Sci Fi Channel has quietly purchased the off-network rights to the short-lived ABC drama. The network's recently released April schedule indicates it plans to run the series in four-hour blocks on Tuesdays nights beginning April 11 at 7:00/6:00c.
UNTITLED CHRIS SHERIDAN PROJECT (NBC)/THE WEDDING ALBUM (FOX) - Bruno Campos has departed Chris Sheridan's comedy pilot for the Peacock in favor of the FOX drama pilot "The Wedding Album," about a wedding photographer and his assistant, who attempt to find romance in their own lives while shooting the marriages of New York hotshots. He'll play Tony in the Fox Television Studios-based hour, which comes from creators Andy Tennant and Wink Mordaunt. As for the Sheridan project, Jana Marie Hupp, Eddie McClintock and Virginia Williams still remain attached to the 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour, about two brothers - one's a life-long criminal while the other is an FBI agent - and their families who live next door to each other.
UNTITLED PUSSYCAT DOLLS PROJECT (The CW, New!) - The Burlesque-style dancing troupe is reportedly close to signing a development deal with the soon-to-launch network. It's understood the pact would call for the CW to develop a reality project featuring the group via Telepictures Productions and producer/director McG. No other details were given.
UNTITLED TOM HERTZ PROJECT (CBS) - Megyn Price (Claudia Finnerty on "Grounded for Life") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about couples in various stages of their relationships. No details about her character were mentioned. Patrick Warburton also stars in the Sony Pictures Television-based project, which Andy Ackerman is directing from a script by creator Tom Hertz. Jack Giarraputo, Doug Robinson and Adam Sandler of Happy Madison Productions also serve as executive producers.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters