LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE APPRENTICE (NBC) - Creator/executive producer Donald Trump has opened a new L.A.-based production company which will develop new TV series projects. "Apprentice" alum Andy Litinsky has been tapped to head the yet-to-be-titled company. Among the first projects set up at the firm: a TV take on the classic board game Monopoly executive produced by R.J. Cutler ("Black. White."). Details on said project have yet to be confirmed but it's believed - like the board game - to involve contestants trying to gather and improve properties in order to increase their ultimate net worth.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND UP (Week of June 26-July 2) - The conclusion to AMC's "Broken Trail" was the top cable draw last week, with a stellar 9.77 million viewers tuning in. Taking second place then was the annual "The BET Awards" (6.64 million, #2), while TNT's "The Closer" (5.6 million, #4) fell to fourth. Also making the cut into the top 15 for the week: TNT's "Saved" (3.5 million, #6), MTV's "The Real World/Rules Rules Challenge" (2.9 million, #T10) and FX's "Rescue Me" (2.9 million, #T10). Outside the top 15 were the solid starts for ABC Family's "Kyle XY" (2.6 million), Spike TV's "Blade: The Series" (2.5 million) while HBO's Sunday lineup of "Deadwood" (1.7 million, a series low), "Entourage" (2.0 million) and "Lucky Louie" (1.1 million) saw noticeable dips. Meanwhile, FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" returned for its second season to the tune of 1.6 million viewers (980,000 among adult 18-49, 512,000 among adults 18-34), up 16%, 6% and 31%, respectively, from its launch last summer and 45%, 31% and 22%, respectively, from its overall first season average. A second half-hour followed, drawing 1.5 million total viewers (945,000 among adults 18-49, 517,000 among adults 18-34).
EYE FOR AN EYE (Syndication) - Atlas Worldwide cleared the syndicated series for a fourth season, set to begin on September 11. The half-hour series is currently cleared in 80% of the U.S., including 14 of the top 15 markets.
LIPSHITZ SAVES THE WORLD (NBC, New!) - Feature writer Dan Fogelman ("Cars") has booked a pilot order from the Peacock and NBC Universal Television for a new comedy about Adam Lipshitz, a 17-year-old social outcast who finds out in the most bizarre way that he might be "the one" to save the world. Chris Koch is on board to direct the half-hour, which Fogelman wrote on spec. During the past development season, Fogelman penned the FOX comedy pilot "The 12th Man," which still remains under consideration for a midseason order by the network.
MI-5 (A&E) - The long delayed fourth season of the U.K. drama "Spooks" reportedly will premiere in the States on Friday, September 15 (presumably at 10:00/9:00c). A&E concluded airing the third season of the series in March of 2005, nearly 16 months ago.
RYAN'S LIFE (LOGO, New!) - Emmy-winner Rue McClanahan ("The Golden Girls") is set to topline a new comedy series for the cable channel, about a gay teenager coming of age and coming out. McClanahan will play Connie Harris, the boy's grandmother and most trusted confidante. Filmmaker Nick Wauters is behind the project, which has a six-episode commitment from the network.
SECRET OBSESSIONS: FASHION HOUSE (MyNetworkTV) - Morgan Fairchild has joined the cast of the upcoming telenovela, about the glamorous yet unscrupulous world of the fashion industry. She'll play Sophia Blakely, a long-standing enemy ready to exact revenge on fashion mogul Maria Gianni (Bo Derek) as a result of the two power-hungry women's tumultuous past. The Twentieth Television-based series launches Tuesday, September 5 and will air Monday-Saturdays at 9:00/8:00c on the netlet.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Co-stars Tony Sirico and Steven Van Zandt are understood to have signed on to appear in the show's final eight episodes, ending their lengthy negotiations with HBO to return. Each reportedly will earn $150,000 per installment, more than double their current per-episode fees. The news means that all of the show's principal cast members will return for its swan song next year.
UNTITLED BEN STILLER/CHRISTINE TAYLOR PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Actor/director Ben Stiller and his wife, actress Christine Taylor are set to team for a potential new comedy project for the Eye and CBS Paramount Network Television. Ajay Sahgal ("The Angriest Man in Suburbia") is behind the half-hour, which has received a put pilot commitment from the network. It's understood the untitled single-camera, semi-autobiographical project will revolves around an actress married to a movie star who contends with her family members and their involvement in her life. Stiller, who plans to recur as the husband of Taylor's character, will direct the pilot from a script by Sahgal with each also serving as executive producers. Taylor spent the past development season toplining the failed ABC comedy pilot "52 Fights."
WHAT ABOUT BRIAN (ABC) - Writer/producer Kate Angelo has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for her to continue with her duties on the dramedy, where she'll be upped from producer to supervising producer. It's not clear if there's a development component to the deal.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters