LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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52 FIGHTS (ABC) - Chris Diamantopoulos (Robin Williams on "Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of 'Mork & Mindy'") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a couple's (Matt Letscher, Christine Taylor) transition from dating to marriage. No details on his character were given. Alex Taub and Peter Traugott are behind the Touchstone Television-based half-hour, which was created by Taub.
THE CLOSER/SAVED (TNT) - The Kyra Sedgwick-led drama "The Closer" is set to return for its second season on Monday, June 12 at 9:00/8:00c. Said premiere, which is expected to run commercial-free, will lead into the series debut of "Saved," about a medical-school dropout/compulsive gambler (Tom Everett Scott) who becomes a paramedic in Portland, that same night at 10:00/9:00c.
DIVORCE COURT/FAMILY FEUD (Syndication) - Both syndicated veterans are set to return with new hosts this fall for their respective eighth seasons. The former, which comes from Twentieth Television, will see Lynn Toler ("Power of Attorney") take over the bench from Mablean Ephriam while the latter, from FremantleMedia North America and Tribune Entertainment, has named John O'Hurley ("Dancing With the Stars") to replace Richard Karn. No specific reasons were given for the changes.
HALLMARK ORIGINAL MOVIES (Hallmark) - The cable channel has confirmed premiere dates for several of its upcoming original movies and mini-series. On Saturday, May 6 at 9:00/8:00c, look for "Where There's a Will" (previously "A Family of Strangers"), about an elderly woman (Marion Ross) and her shifty grandson (Frank Whaley) who learn to let down their guards and embrace life together. Later that month, "The Curse of King Tut's Tomb," a mini-series starring Casper Van Dien, is set to bow on Saturday, May 27 at 8:00/7:00c. On Saturday, June 17 at 8:00/7:00c, there's the two-part event "Blackbeard," featuring Angus MacFadyen, Mark Umbers, Jessica Chastain, Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Stacy Keach. And in July, there's "Desolation Canyon" (exact date TBA), a western starring Stacy Keach and Patrick Duffy, and "Wild Hearts" (Saturday, July 15 at 9:00/8:00c), about a Los Angeles policeman (Richard Thomas) and his teenage daughter (Hallee Hirsh) who find ranch life is more challenging than they had expected.
THE HILLS (MTV) - The "Laguna Beach" spin-off, featuring Lauren Conrad, will reportedly premiere on Wednesday, May 24. The series will take over the 10:00/9:00c half-hour from "My Super Sweet 16," which wraps its third season run the previous week.
LIFE ON MARS (ABC, New!) - BBC's 2006 sci-fi crime drama is being developed for the U.S. by uber-producer David E. Kelley. The Alphabet has given a put pilot commitment to the project, which is being targeted for the 2007-08 season. John Simm stars in the U.K. version as a 21st century detective who, following a car crash, mysteriously finds himself working as a cop in the 1970s. Kelley himself will pen the script and executive produce via his 20th Century Fox Television-based David E. Kelley Productions. Kudos Film & Television, the company behind the U.K. version, is also on board to produce as are original executive producers Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone.
MY EX-LIFE (CBS) - Gillian Vigman (Liz Walker on "Sons & Daughters") is set to star opposite Tom Cavanagh in the comedy pilot, about the lives of two divorced couples. She'll play Kate, the ex of Cavanagh's character, who's detailed in the casting notice as: "Mid 30s, attractive, bright, energetic, enthusiastic, a successful urban planner and a bit of an overachiever, Kate is Nick's ex-wife, mother of their two children. A good, caring, well-meaning woman, Kate has a tendency to over-analyze and over-extend herself - in everything. She, too, would like to start dating again, but learns very quickly that having children is a liability for a dating woman." Her involvement is in second position to her duties on the struggling ABC comedy. Richard Appel is behind the 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour, which Andy Cadiff is directing.
TABLOID WARS (Bravo) - The cable channel's latest reality entry is slated to bow on Tuesday, July 18 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network press materials describe the project: "A documentary series set inside the New York Daily News, "Tabloid Wars" is like visiting a tornado. Everyday is a deadline -- 365 days a year! Each episode of "Tabloid Wars" follows 4 - 5 characters, the journalists of the New York Daily News, as they track and pursue New York City's most exciting stories. Against the backdrop of a vicious war with the New York Post and the unrelenting deadlines that are a part of their world, we'll get to know each character as they battle for stories in areas of crime, disaster and celebrities. "Tabloid Wars" is produced for Bravo by Hearst Entertainment, Inc."
THE TONY DANZA SHOW (Syndication) - The Buena Vista Television-based talk show won't be returning for a third season, host Tony Danza informed viewers during Friday's broadcast. The news comes as little surprise as "Danza" has averaged a meager 1.1 household rating to date this season, making it the least-watched syndicated talk show. Overall, the series is down 15% in year-to-year comparisons and 25% among women 25-54 (0.6 rating).
UNION JACKASS (FOX) - Christina Chang (Rebecca Nevins on "C.S.I.: Miami") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about an outspoken British Archie Bunker-type (Al Murray) forced to live in Santa Monica to be near his son. She'll play Sonya Wang in the 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour, who's described in the casting notice as: "25-28, Asian. Gorgeous, sexy, sarcastic and fun. Sonya runs "The Fox and Rabbits" English pub where Julio and Al work. Sonya's ancestry is half Chinese and half Russian. She is an American army brat who has lived all over the globe. She thinks hiring Al will bring an air of authenticity to her otherwise dismal English pub." Colby Paul, Jenica Bergere and John Ducey also star in the project, which comes from executive producers Murray, Dan O'Keefe, David Martin, Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner.
UNTITLED SHANA GOLDBERG-MEEHAN PROJECT (ABC) - Jane Lynch (Joyce Wischnia on "The L Word") and Brad Raider (Todd on "The Bad Girl's Guide") have both scored roles on the comedy pilot, about two sisters (Kaley Cuoco, Marisa Coughlan) who live together despite growing up under different circumstances - one rich, the other poor. Raider will play the rival to Coughlan's character, a handsome but dim reporter at the news station where they work, while Lynch's character wasn't specified. Shana Goldberg-Meehan is behind the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, which Andy Ackerman is directing.
THE WEDDING ALBUM (FOX) - Connie Stevens (most recently a guest star on "Fat Actress") is set to play mother to Bruno Campos in the drama pilot, about a hotshot New York wedding photographer. Jayce Bartok, Eva Pigford, Ptolemy Slocum and Tara Summers also star in the Fox Television Studios-based hour, which comes from creators Wink Mordaunt and Andy Tennant.
THE WEEKEND (CBS) - Danielle Nicolet (Paula on "Second Time Around") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about the three best friends whose lives are focused on the weekend. She'll play Debbie, the girlfriend of Kevin Hart's character, in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based project. Her character is described in the casting notice as: "Early 30s. Miles's girlfriend, attractive old East Coast princess who changes designer clothes and styles every few hours, it seems. While she may at first appear to be touchy-feely and sensitive, those who really know her recognize her to be controlling and manipulative. After Miles moves to LA, she decides to follow him to pursue her life long dream of becoming an actress. After dating Miles for almost five years, Debbie issues an ultimatum. She's ready to go down the aisle, and if Miles doesn't accommodate her, their relationship is over." Chris O'Dowd and Oliver Hudson also star in the half-hour, which comes from creator Ed Roe.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters