LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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2006-07 SEASON PILOTS (Various) - Options on several actors from the various pilots not picked up by the broadcast networks last month have been extended. Among those options picked up: Cole Hauser and Sarah Shahi from FOX/20th Century Fox Television's "Damages"; several cast members from FOX/20th's "12th Man"; the four regulars on FOX/20th's "The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend"; and reportedly the full ensembles from ABC/Touchstone Television's "Secrets of a Small Town," FOX/20th's "Faceless," ABC/Touchstone's "October Road," FOX/20th's "Beyond" and ABC/Touchstone's "A House Divided." In the case of the 20th-based projects, said development will give FOX until the end of the year to potentially move forward with the pilots to series. As for the Touchstone entries, it's not clear how long the options have been extended.
10 ITEMS OR LESS/MY BOYS (TBS) - Advertising sales materials released by the network indicate the original series will bow during the last week of November. "10 Items or Less," which the cable channel describes as - "a half-hour scripted and improvised comedy series from the creators of the acclaimed mockumentary Memron. The series stars John Lehr (Memron) as a less-than-successful businessman from New York City who moves back home to take over the family supermarket after the death of his father. But the staff quickly realizes his management style is markedly different from that of his father, making for a comically chaotic workplace." - will launch on Monday, November 27 at 10:30/9:30c.
The latter series, "My Boys," then will debut on Tuesday, November 28 at 10:00/9:00c. TBS describes it as follows: "MY BOYS is a half-hour scripted comedy series starring Jordana Spiro (JAG, Must Love Dogs) as PJ, a twenty-something �guy�s girl� who tries to find romance within her world dominated by male friends. As a huge sports fan and professional sportswriter, she has a masculine, no-nonsense, sports-analogous approach to dating that often freaks out potential boyfriends. Her only female friend advises her to dress and act more feminine, but it�s hard for PJ to shake off her tomboy qualities." "10 Items" is believed to have a six-episode order while "Boys" is understood to have a 13-episode commitment.
20 GOOD YEARS (NBC) - "Will & Grace" alum Kirk Rudell is set to join the freshman comedy as a co-executive producer. Said development is a result of a new two-year overall deal the writer/producer has signed with Warner Bros. Television. In addition, he'll also develop new series projects for the studio.
30 ROCK (NBC) - Writer/producer Robert Carlock ("Joey") has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with NBC Universal Television. As part of the pact he'll join the studio's NBC comedy "30 Rock" as a co-executive producer. There he'll reunite with Tina Fey, whom he worked with on "Saturday Night Live" for four seasons. And as expected, Carlock will also develop new original projects for the studio.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi) - The show's third season is set to kick off on Friday, October 6 at 10:00/9:00c according to advertising sales materials recently released by the network. The series will run for 10 consecutive weeks (through December 8), after which it will return for an additional 10 installments in 2007.
BIANCA (Lifetime) - The cable channel's first telenovela is on track to launch on Saturday, October 14 at 10:00/9:00c. The series stars Virginia Williams as a woman "searching for a new life after being unfairly imprisoned and her forbidden love with a wealthy man trapped into an impending loveless marriage." Lifetime has committed to 20 hours of the project, which comes from Fremantlemedia North America.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Various) - 9.9 million viewers (7.6 household rating) tuned into part one of AMC's mini-series "Broken Trail" this past Sunday, making it cable's most-watched program for the week of June 19-25. Said numbers made it not only AMC's most-watched program ever but also the second most-watched original movie in basic cable history, behind only 2001's "Crossfire Trail" (12.5 million viewers, 9.6 household rating) on TNT. Nevertheless, "Trail" skewed older with a 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 and a 2.8 rating/8 share among adults 25-54. Taking second place for the week then was TNT's "The Closer" (6.1 million, #2) while "Saved" (3.5 million, #9) fell to ninth place. Also making the cut into the top 15 last week: Lifetime's original movie "A Girl Like Me" (5.1 million, #5) and USA's "The Dead Zone" (3.0 million, #T15). And finally outside the top 15 was the de facto series finale of "Huff," which drew a paltry 212,000 viewers.
CLOSE TO HOME (CBS) - David James Elliott ("J.A.G.") has been tapped to join the cast of the legal drama, which returns for its second season this fall. He'll play D.A. Conlon, a smart, ambitious and charming big-city prosecutor from Manhattan who works with Jennifer Finnigan and Kimberly Elise's character. Elliott's addition is designed to fill the void left by the departures of Christian Kane and John Carroll Lynch's characters, the former of which was killed off in the show's season finale last month. No reason was given for Lynch's exit. Elliott spent the past development season toplining the failed ABC/Touchstone Television drama pilot "60 Minute Man."
EXTREME MAKEOVER (ABC) - Style Network has quietly acquired the off-network rights to the one-time ABC staple from Buena Vista Television. The cable channel will begin airing repeats of all 55 episodes of the series weeknights at 7:00/6:00c starting Monday, July 10 with a special six-hour marathon planned for Tuesday, July 4 at noon eastern time. Financial details about the pact however weren't specified.
FALLEN (ABC Family) - Promos currently running on the cable channel indicate the original movie was been rescheduled for Sunday, July 23 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "On Sunday, July 23 (8:00-10:00 PM ET/PT), ABC Family presents a special two-hour movie event entitled FALLEN, based on the hit books by Tom Sniegoski, starring Paul Wesley and Tom Skerritt. FALLEN tells the story of a recently adopted teenage orphan, Aaron, and his search for his identity. On Aaron�s 18th birthday he begins to experience strange phenomena�animals talking to him, terrifyingly real nightmares�and begins to realize that he may have a destiny greater than he ever imagined. FALLEN is executive produced by Sara Cooper, Mikael Salomon, Jay Sanders and Peter Donaldson, and also stars Fernanda Andrade, Alex Ferris, Chelah Horsdal, Lisa Lackey, Russell Porter and Rick Worthy."
THE GREAT AMERICAN CHRISTMAS (USA) - The original movie, from "Laguna Beach" executive producers Gary Auerbach and Julie Auerbach, will reportedly premiere on Tuesday, November 28 at 8:00/7:00c. The two-hour project "takes a poignant, sometimes irreverent, look at holiday highs and lows through the eyes of six very different -- but equally dysfunctional -- families," according to the network's press materials.
THE GREG BEHRENDT SHOW (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Domestic Television's syndicated newcomer has booked Monday, September 12 as its launch date. The hour-long series features the best-selling author/comedian as he "dispenses practical advice in a humorous yet empowering and uplifting manner."
HOUSE (FOX) - Peter Blake, a consulting producer on the sophomore drama, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the show's producer NBC Universal Television. The pact will cover his duties on the drama next season as well as call for him to develop new series projects for the studio.
LAGUNA BEACH (MTV) - The popular docu-reality series is set to return for its third season on Wednesday, August 16. There it will take over the 10:00/9:00c half-hour from its spin-off "The Hills," which wraps its freshman run earlier that month.
THE LIBRARIAN 2: RETURN TO KING SOLOMON'S MINES (TNT) - The sequel to the popular 2004 original movie has been slated to bow on Sunday, December 3 at 8:00/7:00c. Noah Wyle, Bob Newhart, Olympia Dukakis and Jane Curtin will all reprise their roles from the initial telefilm with Gabrielle Anwar ("Scent of a Woman") the most notable addition.
MIXED UP (HBO, New!) - Writer/novelist Angela Nissel's two memoirs "The Broke Diaries" and "Mixed: My Life in Black and White" are being developed at the pay channel as an original comedy series tentatively titled "Mixed Up." Separately, she's signed a one-year overall deal with NBC Universal Television. In addition to the usual development component, the pact also covers her duties on the NBC/Touchstone Television comedy "Scrubs," where she currently serves as a consulting producer. As for the HBO half-hour, the single-camera project revolves around a biracial woman and her two friends as they tackle racial and financial issues post-college. Halle Berry and manager Vincent Cirrincione are also on board to executive produce the project, which has a script commitment from the network.
NOTES FROM THE UNDERBELLY (ABC) - Barry Sonnenfeld, the director of the freshman comedy's pilot, is set to stay onboard the series as an executive producer. There he'll serve alongside creator Stacy Traub and fellow executive producers Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum.
THE NAKED TRUCKER AND T-BONES SHOW (Comedy Central) - The Dave Koechner and Dave "Gruber" Allen-led original series has been slated to premiere on Thursday, October 12 at 10:30/9:30c. The half-hour series is described by Comedy Central as follows: "Dave Koechner and Dave "Gruber" Allen are hitting America's highways and collecting stories from the road. Developed at the COMEDY CENTRAL Stage in Los Angeles, "Naked Trucker" takes place at a truck stop featuring a naked trucker (Allen) and his ne'er-do-well sidekick, Gerald "T-Bones" Tibbons (Koechner), who are backed by a hell-raising band. Each week they will join viewers from a truck stop in middle America to re-fuel and tell their story of being on the road in pursuit of the American dream."
THE O.C. (FOX) - The network has opted to trim "The O.C.'s" initial fourth season order to 16 episodes. Should ratings merit however, additional installments will of course be ordered. To date, "The O.C." has yet to produce less than 24 episodes during any given season.
OFF THE LEASH (Lifetime) - The cable channel's look into "the tumultuous world of a real-life Hollywood pet talent agency" will reportedly debut on Monday, October 2 at 11:00/10:00c. The network has committed to six episodes of the series, which comes from "Blow Out" executive producers Kevin Dill and Mechelle Collins.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Co-stars Lorraine Bracco, Aida Turturro, Robert Iler and Jamie-Lynn Sigler are all said to be close to reupping for the show's eight-episode swan song. Said news leaves Tony Sirico, Steven Van Zandt and Steven Schirripa as the sole remaining regulars not inked for the final installments. HBO and the show's producers hope to have the trio locked up by the time of the first scheduled table read on July 6. As part of their deals, each of the actors reportedly has received a significant pay bump - Bracco (now $220,000-$230,000 per episode), Turturro ($130,000-$140,000), Iler and Sigler (each $110,000-$120,000). As for the holdouts, Sirico and Van Zandt are believed to be the furthest from reaching a deal with each demanding $200,000 an episode, more than double their most recent fee.
STATE OF MIND (Lifetime) - Lifetime has commissioned a pilot for the drama project, about the private and professional lives of therapists and an inquiry into whether psychiatrists are crazier than their patients. Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin ("Nip/Tuck") are behind the hour, which is now set up at the recently formed Warner Horizon Television. Said division of Warner Bros. Television is dedicated to developing lower-budget scripted and reality primetime series for cable and broadcast television.
THREE MOONS OVER MILFORD (ABC Family) - The cable channel has bumped the show's launch to Sunday, August 6 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how ABC Family's press materials describe the hour-long series: "Starring Elizabeth McGovern as Laura Davis, the quirky drama THREE MOONS OVER MILFORD premieres Sunday, August 6 (8:00 - 9:00 PM ET/PT). Set in a small town reflecting the world's reaction to a cosmic explosion threatening Earth's existence, the residents of Milford have taken their lives to the extreme: quitting jobs, indulging vices and basically living as if each day were their last. The Davis family is no exception. Carl Davis abandons his family to travel the world, their daughter Lydia has taken up Wicca, and their 16 year old son Alex is getting involved with the older neighbor next door. Eight one-hour episodes are being produced by Touchstone Television."
TO LOVE AND DIE IN L.A. (USA) - Sara Goodman's dramedy for the cable channel has been given a 90-minute cast-contingent pilot order. The "Grosse Pointe Blank"-esque project, which is set up at Lorne Michaels's NBC Universal Television-based Broadway Video Television, revolves around a fun-loving young woman with abandonment issues who decides to follow in her assassin father's footsteps after they're reunited following years of estrangement. Goodman penned the pilot script and will executive produce along with Michaels and Broadway Video's JoAnn Alfano.
TRAVELER (ABC) - Director David Nutter, whose legendary 12-for-12 track record of getting pilots picked up to series continued with "Traveler," has inked a massive three-year, seven-figure overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. The pact calls for Nutter to helm at least one pilot for the studio each development season. Said streak started with FOX's "Space: Above and Beyond" and continued through "Millennium," "Sleepers," "Roswell," "Dark Angel," "Smallville," "Without a Trace," "Tarzan," "Jack & Bobby," "Dr. Vegas" and "Supernatural."
THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER (Spike TV) - Spike TV's flagship series will return for its fourth season on Thursday, August 17 at 10:00/9:00c. The new season, subtitled "The Comeback," will feature 16 contestants that are all former UFC fighters looking to make a comeback.
THE WB'S FINALE (The WB) - The network formerly known as the Frog is set to sign off on Sunday, September 17 with a five-hour celebration of its signature series over the years. Encores of the pilots of "Felicity," "Angel," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (two hours) and "Dawson's Creek" are set to air that night beginning at 5:00/4:00c. In addition, the network plans to feature various classic promos and image campaigns from its 11-year history as well as a final tribute reel featuring over 100 actors. It's also understood promos for each show's off-network home and DVD release will also run as part of the licensing deal to air the pilots. As for UPN, which stops broadcasting on Friday, September 15, no plans have been announced by the netlet. The CW, the newly merged UPN/The WB network, then kicks off that Monday on September 18.
WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS) - David Amann, a writer and co-executive producer on the series, has inked a deal with Warner Bros. Television and CBS Paramount Network Television to remain with the veteran drama for the next three seasons. In addition, he'll be bumped to executive producer starting with the 2007-08 season.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters