LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Jon Cassar, a frequent director on the series, will be promoted to executive producer next season as part of a new one-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which has an option for a second year, calls for Cassar to continue with his helming duties on the veteran drama as well as develop original projects for the studio. In addition, he's expected to direct at least one pilot for 20th next season.
THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) - The Eye has commissioned a new pilot for the comedy project, about two brilliant theoretical physicists who meet a woman who shows them how little they know about real life. It's understood the role of said woman, originally played by Amanda Walsh, is being recast. No reason for the change was given. Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki star in the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, which comes from creators Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre.
BONDS ON BONDS (ESPN) - The cable channel has confirmed the docu-reality series will head to hiatus following this week's broadcast. Production is also expected to halt shortly with only five to six of its planned 10 hours completed. It's understood the show may resume shooting after the All-Star break in July however no firm date has been set. No other details were available.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - Producers of the new family soap are currently recasting the roles of Bryan Walker and Iva Walker, played by Jonathan LaPaglia and Betty Buckley respectively in the original pilot. Iva is the matriarch of the Walker family while Jonathan is one of her children, a workaholic Assistant U.S. Attorney who's battling his ex-wife for custody of his son. Again, no reasons for the changes were given.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Various) - HBO's "The Sopranos" remained the top cable draw for the weeks of May 8-14 (8.1 million viewers) and May 15-21 (8.2 million). Lead-out "Big Love" also stayed in the top 15 as its May 14 installment posted 3.8 million viewers (#4) and another 4.1 million viewers (#13) tuned into its May 21 broadcast. Also of note: Lifetime's "Murder on Pleasant Drive" snagged 3.6 million viewers for its May 8 premiere on the network. Outside the top 15, MTV's "My Super Sweet 16" wrapped its third season last week to just 1.9 million viewers while "Jamie Kennedy's Blowin' Up" bowed to a disappointing 1.2 million on May 16. And finally on VH1, "Supergroup" premiered Sunday to a mere 619,000 viewers.
COMANCHE MOON (CBS) - Melanie Lynskey (Rose on "Two and a Half Men") and Ray McKinnon (Reverend H.W. Smith on "Deadwood") have both joined the cast of the upcoming mini-series, a prequel to "Lonesome Dove." McKinnon will play Ranger Long Bill Coleman with Lynskey set as his wife, Pearl. The pair join an ensemble cast that also includes Adam Beach, David Midthunder, Elizabeth Banks, Graham Greene, Jonathon Joss, Karl Urban, Keith Robinson, Linda Cardellini, Rachel Griffiths, Ryan Merriman, Steve Zahn and Val Kilmer. Simon Wincer is directing the six-hour project from a script by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Writer/producer Bob Daily ("Out of Practice") has signed on while Joe Keenan ("Out of Practice") and Jeff Greenstein ("Jake in Progress") are in talks to join the producing team on the series, which returns for its third season this fall. Daily will serve as a co-executive producer while Keenan and Greenstein's roles are still being hammered out. The developments are designed to fill the void left by exiting executive producer/co-showrunner Tom Spezialy. Meanwhile, MyNetworkTV has inked a deal with Buena Vista Television to carry weekend-only repeats of the series when it becomes available for syndication in the fall of 2008. The two-year pact is said to be a straight barter arrangement, with the MyNetworkTV stations handing over seven minutes of ad time during each hour to Buena Vista for national ad sales. Earlier this year, Lifetime snagged the weekday syndicated rights for an estimated $500,000 per episode.
THE GAME (The CW) - Jennifer Baxter, who played Kelly Pitts in the original backdoor pilot episode of "Girlfriends," is being replaced on the series, which premieres this fall on the CW. No reason was given for the recasting. The character is the wife of Jason Pitts (Coby Bell), a notoriously cheap football player.
LAS VEGAS (NBC) - Creator/executive producer Gary Scott Thompson and co-executive producer Kim Newton have both inked new two-year overall deals with the show's producer, NBC Universal Television. Thompson's pact, valued in the seven-figure range, will cover his duties on "Vegas's" fourth season as well as see him develop new series projects for the studio. As for Newton, she'll be upped to executive producer next season and likewise develop new projects for NBC Universal. In addition, Rob and Mark Cullen ("Heist") are set to come aboard the veteran drama next season as consulting producers.
LIFE SUPPORT (HBO, New!) - Queen Latifah is set to topline a new telefilm for the cable channel about the HIV crisis in the black community and the true story of one survivor - a mother, former crack addict and current AIDS activist (played by Latifah). The project is being written and directed by Nelson George, whose real-life sister serves as the focus of the movie, with Latifah also executive producing alongside Jamie Foxx ("Ray"), Jaime King ("Ray"), Marcus King ("The Jamie Foxx Show"), Shakim Compere ("Beauty Shop") and Shelby Stone ("Lackawanna Blues").
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) - Kathleen Rose Perkins, who played Jennifer in the comedy pilot, is said to be exiting the midseason comedy. No reason was given for the change. Megyn Price, Patrick Warburton and Paulo Costanzo also star in the Sony Pictures Television-based half-hour, about two couples and a single guy as they navigate the jungles of dating, engagement and marriage. Tom Hertz created the project while Adam Sandler, Andy Ackerman, Doug Robinson and Jack Giarraputo also serve as executive producers.
THE SHIELD (FX) - Australian actor Alex O'Loughlin has joined the cast of veteran cable drama. He'll play Kevin Hiatt, a new member of Detective Vic Mackey's (Michael Chiklis) strike team, who's brought in to replace the departing Kenny Johnson, whose character, Detective Lemonhead Lemansky, died in the show's season finale.
THE SINGLES TABLE (NBC) - Producers are currently recasting the role of Georgia, played in the original pilot by Pascale Hutton. The 20th Century Fox Television-based project, from creators Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, revolves around five strangers who bond after sitting together at the singles table at a mutual friend's wedding. Conor Dubin, Jarrad Paul, John Cho and Rhea Seehorn also star.
SIX DEGREES (ABC) - Writer/producer Carol Flint ("ER," "The West Wing") has been tapped as the executive producer/showrunner of the freshman drama, about the intertwined stories of six strangers (Jay Hernandez, Bridget Moynahan, Hope Davis, Campbell Scott, Dorian Missick, Erika Christensen) in New York. Bryan Burk, J.J. Abrams, Raven Metzner, Stu Zicherman and Thom Sherman also serve as executive producers on the project, which is based at Touchstone Television.
SONS & DAUGHTERS (ABC) - Gillian Vigman, who played Liz Walker on the short-lived ABC comedy, has inked a talent holding deal with the network and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the pair to develop a new project around the actress or cast her in one of its existing projects targeted for the fall of 2007. Vigman had previously been attached to the CBS comedy pilot "My Ex-Life," but was recast in favor of Cynthia Watros.
TRAVELER (ABC) - Producers are reportedly looking to recast the role of Kimberly, the girlfriend of Matthew Bomer's character, in the upcoming Warner Bros. Television-based drama series. Gillian Jacobs played the role in the original pilot. No reason for the change was given. Aaron Stanford, Logan Marshall-Green, Steven Culp and Viola Davis also star in the hour, which comes from creator David DiGilio and fellow executive producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks.
THE WEDDING ALBUM (FOX) - Bruno Campos, who played the lead role in the drama pilot, is understood to no longer be involved with the midseason drama. Producers are currently casting for a replacement in the project, about the ups and downs of tying the knot through the eyes of the second-most important man in the room - the wedding photographer. Ashlie Atkinson, Eva Pigford, Jayce Bartok, Ptolemy Slocum, Tara Summers and Tony Lo Bianco also star in the Fox TV Studios-based hour, which comes from creators Andy Tennant and Wink Mordaunt.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters