LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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25 TO LIFE (CBS, New!)/THE FOUR NEXT DOOR (NBC, New!) - Eriq La Salle's Humble Journey Films has set up a pair of series projects, one of which he's attached to star. Said project, CBS's "25 to Life," follows F.B.I. agents as they partner with convicted criminals to solve crimes. La Salle would play F.B.I. agent Gabriel Santana in the hour, which comes from feature writer Marc Moss ("Along Comes a Spider"). The other effort, NBC's "The Four Next Door," is a half-hour comedy from Mark Legan ("Thanks") about the exploits of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who are forced to blend in and live among humans after arriving 10 years too early for the end of the world. Both "25 to Life" and "Four," which have script commitments from their respective networks, are set up at CBS Paramount Network Television where La Salle has a talent and production deal. La Salle and his producing partner Terri Lubaroff will also executive produce each project along with their respective creators.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - "Everwood" creator Greg Berlanti is lending a hand on the freshman drama following the departure of executive producer/showrunner Marti Noxon last week. The writer/producer, who has an overall deal at "Brothers" producer Touchstone Television, will work alongside creator Jon Robin Baitz and fellow executive producer Ken Olin.
BURN NOTICE (USA) - Matt Nix's ("Cock & Bull") drama project for the cable channel has been given a cast-contingent pilot order. The Fox TV Studios-based hour revolves around Michael Weston, a blacklisted special ops agent who uses his elite training to find the reason for the "burn notice" that ended his spy career and to help those who can't go to the police. Nix penned the pilot script and will serve as a co-executive producer along with Mikkel Bondesen, who is executive producing via his Fuse Entertainment banner.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of August 7-13) - TNT's original movie "The Ron Clark Story" posted a stellar 6.81 million viewers (#1) on Sunday, including a 2.2 rating/6 share among adults 18-49. Said numbers in the latter category marked the most-watched original movie of the year, beating out Lifetime's "A Girl Like Me" (1.9/5) and AMC's "Broken Trail" (1.7/5), both from June. (A rebroadcast at 10:00/9:00c that same night drew another 3.46 million.) Coming in a close second place for the week was fellow TNT entry "The Closer," with 6.4 million viewers (#2) and a 1.6/4 in adults 18-49. Rounding out the top 10 were USA's "Monk" (5.6 million, #4; 1.5/4 in 18-49) and "Psych" (4.8 million, #6; 1.5/4 in 18-49) as well as two one-hour "Dog the Bounty Hunter" specials on A&E (4.5 million, #7; 3.5 million, #T10). Also getting positive marks last week on cable: the premiere of A&E's "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels" (1.9 million) and the season finale of E!'s "The Simple Life: 'Til Death Do Us Part" (1.76 million, including a 0.9/3 in 18-49 and a 1.6/5 in women 18-34). Not so lucky: week two of ABC Family's "Three Moons Over Milford" which fell to 806,000 viewers, barely half its premiere audience (1.6 million). As for the current week, Showtime's "Weeds" averaged 578,000 viewers for its second season premiere (up 7% from last year's series debut) with another 307,000 tuning in for its 10:30/9:30 encore.
DRAWN TOGETHER/THE NAKED TRUCKER & T-BONES SHOW (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has quietly bumped the premiere of its newcomer "The Naked Trucker & T-Bones Show" until the first quarter of 2007. Said project had been set to bow in October. In its place, Comedy Central will instead debut the third season of "Drawn Together." The animated comedy will air Thursdays at 10:30/9:30c starting October 5.
CRIME PREVENTION UNIT (ABC, New!) - "Clubhouse" creator Daniel Cerone has scored a put pilot commitment from the Alphabet for a new drama about a police division that tracks and apprehends criminals before they are able to commit a crime. The project, which is based on Declan Croghan's U.K. series "Murder Prevention," is set up at Warner Bros. Television and David Heyman's Heyday Productions. Cerone will pen the pilot script and executive produce along with Heyman.
DAY BREAK (ABC) - Executive producer Matthew Gross has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact covers his services on the upcoming drama as well as any future development during the period via his Gross Entertainment banner. "Day Break" was one of two pilots shepherded by Gross during the past development season, the other being "20 Questions," which reportedly is still being considered for a midseason order.
DIRT (FX) - Former pro basketball player Rick Fox has booked a multi-episode arc on the upcoming FX original, which stars Courtney Cox as the editor of a tabloid magazine. Fox will play a high-profile basketball player who has marital problems in the project, which is set to begin production next month for an early 2007 launch.
ECHO PARK (FX, New!) - Jennifer Lopez and Simon Fields ("South Beach") are developing a new half-hour comedy at the cable channel about the world of yuppie, Latino and hipster cultures within Los Angeles' Echo Park neighborhood. Ian Edelman is behind the project, which has a script commitment from the network. Lopez and Fields then will executive produce via their Nuyorican Productions banner.
HEROES (NBC)/SHARK (CBS) - Matt Lanter ("Commander-In-Chief") has inked a talent holding deal with ABC and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the network and studio to cast the actor in one of its projects in development for next season. In addition, he's landed a recurring role on the freshman drama "Heroes" as an unspecified character as well as a guest spot (and another potentially recurring role) on CBS's newcomer "Shark."
LAGUNA BEACH: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY (MTV) - CBS Paramount Network Television has signed Gary and Julie Auerbach's Go Go Luckey Productions to a one-year, first-look deal. The pact gives the studio first crack at any of the company's projects in development.
MISS/GUIDED (ABC, New!) - Newcomer Caroline Williams has sold a new single-camera comedy pilot to ABC. The project, which is set up at Ashton Kutcher's 20th Century Fox Television-based Katalyst Films, centers on a woman who returns to her alma mater high school to become a guidance counselor. Gabrielle Allan ("Scrubs") is on board to shepherd the "Office"-esque mockumentary style half-hour while Todd Holland is attached to direct. Allan, Holland and Katalyst's Kutcher, Jason Goldberg and Karey Burke will then serve as executive producers with Williams co-executive producing. Casting is currently underway with production set to begin next month.
PIMP MY RIDE/RUN'S HOUSE (MTV) - The cable channel has extended both series, ordering an eight-episode third season of "Run's House" and a 16-episode fifth season of "Pimp My Ride." The former's most recent episode on August 10 averaged a solid 2.4 million total viewers and topped its time period among MTV's prized 12-34 demo. Production is set to begin next month on the show's third go around for an unspecified air date. Tony DiSanto, Liz Gateley and Mike Powers will return as executive producers as will Russell Simmons, Stan Lathan, Will Griffin, John Davies, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Jason Carbone. As for "Pimp," the series likewise tops its time slot among viewers 12-34 with its most-recent August 10 broadcast averaging 1.96 million total viewers. Rick Hurvitz, Bruce Beresford-Redman and Larry Hochberg are the executive producers of "Pimp."
THE PRODUCT (FX, New!) - Rock journalist Neil Strauss ("The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists"), guitarist Dave Navarro ("Rock Star") and "Entourage" writer Cliff Dorfman are developing a new drama at the cable channel about a fictional dysfunctional rock band. Dorfman penned the script to the hour, which tracks international rock icon Load as it embarks on recording its next album after a falling out three years ago. Said event will be told through the eyes of a young Rolling Stone journalist with flashbacks fleshing out the group's history and the events that lead to their hiatus. And despite the involvement of Navarro, it's understood the series won't feature any original music.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) - Oliver Hudson has joined the cast of the midseason comedy, about an engaged couple, a married couple (Patrick Warburton, Megyn Price) and a happily single guy (Greg Pitts). He'll take over for Paulo Costanzo as the engaged guy. Producers are also casting for his fiance, played by Kathleen Rose Perkins in the original pilot. No reason for the change was given. Tom Hertz is behind the Sony Pictures Television-based half-hour, which is executive produced by Hertz, Adam Sandler, Doug Robinson, Jack Giarraputo and director Andy Ackerman.
TABLOID WARS (Bravo) - The cable channel has opted to wrap the series early as its final two installments this season will run back-to-back this Monday starting at 7:00/6:00c. No reason for the change was given.
UNTITLED BARBARA HALL/JOE ROTH PROJECT (CBS, New!) - "Joan of Arcadia" creator Barbara Hall and producer Joe Roth are set to team for a new drama about exorcists and others who investigate supernatural phenomena. The untitled hour, which has a put pilot commitment from the network, also has Bob Larson ("Larson's Book of Spiritual Warfare"), an expert on cults, the occult and supernatural phenomena, attached as a consultant. Hall then will pen the pilot script and executive produce along with Roth and Nina Lederman (as a co-executive producer) via the pair's CBS Paramount Network Television-based Joe Roth Television.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters