[08/25/06 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: August 21-25 (Weekly Round-Up)
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

Looking to keep track of all the various projects in development? Click here to visit our newly branded "Devwatch" section. There visitors can view our listings by network, genre, studio and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

24 (FOX) - Kal Penn ("Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle"), Harry Lennix ("Commander-in-Chief"), Adoni Maropis ("Troy") and Steven Schub ("E-Ring") have all scored roles on the show's upcoming sixth season. Penn will play a young man involved with a local mosque that may be the key to a terrorist plot while details on Lennix, Maropis and Schub's characters weren't given.

THE ACADEMY (Fox Reality, New!) - Scott Sternberg ("My First Time") has reportedly booked a 10-episode order from the cable channel for a new docu-reality series which follows a class of 115 Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department recruits through their 18-week academy program. The hourlong project is set up at Sternberg's self-titled banner where he'll executive produce along with Scott Weinberger ("The Marshall"). Jerry Beck, who originally approached Sternberg with the idea, is also understood to be involved in a producing capacity. Production is set to begin later this year for a 2007 launch.

ART OF BETRAYAL (MYNETWORKTV) - Joan Severance ("The Love Boat: The Next Wave") and newcomer Kate French have both joined the cast of the netlet's latest telenovela. French will play Brooke Crawford while Severance's character wasn't specified. The pair join the previously cast David Smith, Jack Krizmanich, Jessica Ward and Tatum O'Neal in the project, which is set to launch in December once "Desire" wraps its run.

BAIT (FOX, New!) - Feature writer Jake Wade Wall ("When a Stranger Calls") has scored a put pilot commitment from the network for a new drama about privately contracted undercover agents tapped to entrap criminals. Warner Bros. Television-based Jerry Bruckheimer Television is behind the hour, which Wall will write and serve as co-executive producer. Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman then will executive produce with KristieAnne Reed ("Bad Boys II") attached as a consultant.

BROKEN HOME (NBC, New!) - "Arrested Development" writer Abraham Higginbotham has landed a put pilot order from the Peacock for a new sitcom about a boozy ex-beauty queen mother moving to Los Angeles to reconnect with her gay son and help remodel his house. The half-hour project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television where Higginbotham has an overall deal.

BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE (HBO) - Aidan Quinn ("The Book of Daniel") and August Schellenberg ("Eight Below") have both been cast in the pay channel's original movie, about how American Indians were displaced as the U.S. expanded west during the latter half of the 19th century. Quinn will play Henry Dawes, the Massachusetts representative and senator behind the Dawes Act, which granted land allotments to each American Indian family as well as citizenship and full political rights. Schellenberg's character wasn't mentioned in the project, which is based on Dee Brown's best-selling novel of the same name, subtitled, "An Indian History of the American West." Yves Simoneau is directing from a script by Daniel Giat with Dick Wolf and Tom Thayer serving as executive producers.

CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of August 14-20) - The Lifetime original "Life Is Not a Fairy Tale: The Fantasia Barrino Story" drew a stellar 6.7 million viewers (#1) for its premiere on Saturday, with an encore broadcast on Sunday pulling in another 5.0 million viewers. Said numbers bumped the usually dominant "The Closer" on TNT to second place for the week (6.56 million) with lead-out "Saved" (3.2 million, #14) also finishing in the top 15. Also making the cut: new episodes of "Monk" (5.2 million, #5) and "Psych" (4.9 million, #6) on USA and the Comedy Central roast of William Shatner (3.6 million, #11). The latter entry was the third most-watched roast in the cable channel's history, behind only Jeff Foxworthy (6.2 million) and Pamela Anderson (4.3 million). Meanwhile, the second season launch of Showtime's "Weeds" drew (578,000 viewers), up a solid 18% from its launch last summer (its encore at 10:30/9:30c posted 307,000 viewers) while the season finales of MTV's "The Real World" (1.8 million) and FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (960,000) went out on sub-par notes. Rounding out the week was the third season premiere of "Laguna Beach" (2.0 million), a fraction of its second season launch (3.6 million), while week four of Bravo's "Tabloid Wars" literally notched an audience too small to measure.

CLASS 11 (ABC, New!) - T.J. Waters's book of the same name, subtitled "Inside the CIA's First Post-9/11 Spy Class," is set to be the focus of a potential new drama series at the Alphabet. The network has given a script commitment to the hour, which would revolve around Waters's experiences in the program, which is considered the largest and most diverse class in the agency's history. Jeffrey Nachmanoff is on board to write the script and executive produce alongside Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo of 20th Century Fox Television-based Roundtable Ink.

CLOSE TO HOME (CBS) - Assistant district attorney-turned-writer/producer Lukas Reiter has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with NBC Universal Television. Like most pacts of its type, the deal calls for Reiter to develop new projects for the studio. This past season, Reiter served as a consulting producer on CBS's "Close to Home."

E-RING (NBC) - Ken Biller, the showrunner of the short-lived NBC drama, has signed a two-script deal at Touchstone Television. Details on the projects weren't specified however. It's understood though that he could potentially team with Peter Horton, also based at Touchstone, for one of the scripts.

ER (NBC) - Forest Whitaker ("The Shield") and Busy Philipps ("Love, Inc.") have both booked arcs on the show's upcoming 13th season. Whitaker will play a carpenter who comes to the emergency room with a seemingly simple cough who suffers a stroke that leads to paralysis while waiting to be treated, a role which was originally to be played by Andre Braugher. Said arc, set to begin airing on October 19 will last five episodes. Meanwhile, Philipps will play a devout Christian who is a medical intern struggling to become a doctor in at least four episodes this season.

FAULT LINE (FOX, New!) - Becky Hartman-Edwards ("Invasion") has landed a put pilot commitment from FOX for a new drama about a top orthopedic surgeon and mother who faces the challenges of re-entering the dating scene and co-parenting after a separation. Warner Bros. Television is behind the hour, which Hartman-Edwards will write and executive produce.

FREE RIDE (FOX) - Josh Dean, star of the short-lived FOX comedy, has inked a talent holding deal with the network. The pact calls for FOX to cast the actor one of its half-hour projects in development or develop one around him.

GOSSIP GIRL (The CW, New!) - A small screen version of Alloy Entertainment's popular book series, about the world of privileged teenagers attending elite private schools in New York City, is being developed by "The O.C." creator Josh Schwartz and Warner Bros. Television. Schwartz and fellow "O.C." executive producer Stephanie Savage are in negotiations to write and executive produce the hour, which has a put pilot commitment from the netlet. Alloy's Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy then would also serve as executive producers of the project, which had at one point been set up as a feature at Warner Bros. Pictures with "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino on board to write the script and Lindsay Lohan attached to star. Also in the works at the CW from Alloy: a redeveloped version of "Pretty Little Liars," about four teen girls haunted by messages connected to the disappearance of their friend. Said project, which is co-produced by the Tannenbaum Co., had been set up at the WB prior to the CW merger. The company also hopes to redevelop "Midnighters," a drama about teens who have access to a 25th hour of the day, which was also set up at the WB pre-CW.

ISLAND FEVER/LIVING LAHAINA (MTV, New!) - The cable channel has issued a pair of eight-episode orders to two new reality series set in Hawaii. The first, "Island Fever," explores the lives and loves of a group of friends and lovers as they struggle to stay loyal in their relationships and find the answers to life's bigger questions while dealing with the excitement of the revolving door of tourists who are looking for a good time. The other project, "Living Lahaina" features a group of friends who work as surf instructors at the Royal Hawaiian Surf Academy in Lahaina, Maui. Both entires are set to complete production in time for a first quarter premiere. Asylum Entertainment's Steve Michaels, Jonathan Koch, Morgan J. Freeman and Russell Heldt as well as Tony DiSanto, Liz Gateley and Mike Powers are the executive producers of the former while Jesse Ignjatovic, Jeff Altrock, Dustin Nichols and Nick Tromontano are behind the latter.

HELP ME HELP YOU (ABC) - "Everybody Loves Raymond" creator Phil Rosenthal, Jonathan Katz and Jane Lynch ("Talladega Nights") have all landed recurring roles on the upcoming ABC comedy. The trio will play members of a group of therapists Danson's character sees when he needs psychological help. Also signing on: Michael McKean, Tim Meadows and Dave Higgins as members of Danson's character's garage band Pink Freud. It's not clear when either group's first appearance will air.

HEROES (NBC) - Nora Zehetner ("Everwood") has booked a recurring role on the Peacock's freshman drama as a hip, Bohemian struggling actress in New York. No other specifics about her character were given.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) - Emmy-winner Rob Greenberg ("Frasier") has signed a high-six figure blind-script deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. The writer/producer most recently served as showrunner on the pilot to CBS's "How I Met Your Mother."

JOHN ADAMS (HBO) - Paul Giamatti ("The Illusionist") is set to topline the long-in-the-works mini-series, based on David McCullough's book about the early life of the second President of the United States. The seven-hour project comes from Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman with Kirk Ellis writing the script and serving as a co-executive producer. Production is set to begin in January for a March 2008 air date. Additional casting news is expected to be announced shortly.

MASTERS OF HORROR (Showtime) - Jason Priestley, Elliott Gould, Tyron Leitso and Christopher Lloyd are among the guest stars set to appear during the show's upcoming second season, which launches October 27. Priestly will appear in Joe Dante's installment (based on Raccoona Sheldon's short story), "The Screwfly Solution," "about a nightmare virus infecting our nation, transforming men into psychotic killers who attack every woman who crosses their paths." Lloyd and Leitso are on board Mick Garris's entry (from an original Clive Barker script), "Valerie On The Stairs," about "a novelist who discovers there are fates worse than literary anonymity in this sexually-charged tale of terror." Gould's episode wasn't specified. Meanwhile, Peter Medak, Rob Schmidt and Norio Tsuruta have rounded out the list of directors for the show's sophomore effort. The trio joins the previously announced Dante, Garris, John Landis ("Family"), Dario Argento ("Pelts"), Tobe Hooper ("The Damned Thing"), John Carpenter ("Pro-Life"), Ernest Dickerson ("The V Word"), Brad Anderson ("Sounds Like"), Tom Holland ("We Scream For Ice Cream") and Stuart Gordon ("The Black Cat").

NUMB3RS (CBS, New!) - Executive producer Barry Schindel has inked a new two-year overall deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. The pact will cover his duties on the popular Friday drama as well as call for him to develop new projects for the studio. Currently in the works: a redeveloped version of "Law Dogs," a legal drama previously set up at NBC. Said project is based on Schindel's time as a public defender.

PUMPED!/UNTITLED MARCIA CLARK/CATHY LEPARD PROJECT (VH1, New!) - The cable channel is developing a pair of scripted projects, including a dramedy set in a music law firm. Said project comes from former assistant district attorney Marcia Clark and writer/producer Cathy LePard ("7th Heaven"). The duo are writing and executive producing the hour alongside Code Entertainment's Larry Kennar ("Spring Breakdown") and Joanne Schwartz. Also in the works is the previously announced "Pumped!," which is described as a 21st-century version of 1975 adult comedy "Shampoo" set at a celeb-filled, Crunch-style gym. Writer John Kim ("Velvet") has been tapped to pen the pilot script to the project, which is set up at Lawrence Bender and Kevin Brown's Bender-Brown Productions.

SIX DEGREES (ABC) - "Grey's Anatomy" executive producer Peter Horton has come aboard the freshman drama, where he'll help fill the void left by existing co-executive producer Jace Alexander. He's expected to serve as a consulting producer for at least a month to help get the show off the ground before returning to work on "Grey's" and Shonda Rhimes's untitled drama pilot. No other details about his involvement or Alexander's exit were given.

SMITH (CBS) - Lisa Vidal ("Odd Girl Out") has landed a multi-episode arc on the freshman drama. She'll play a hard-nosed FBI agent on the series, which launches next month. It's not clear when her first episode will air.

STATE OF MIND (Lifetime, New!) - Lili Taylor ("Six Feet Under") is set to topline the drama pilot, about a therapist with more troubles than her patients including a husband who is sleeping with their marriage counselor. Production on the Warner Horizon-based hour is set to begin next month with Greer Shephard and Michael M. Robin executive producing. Novelist Amy Bloom penned the pilot script.

UNTITLED JON HARMON FELDMAN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - "Reunion" co-creator Jon Feldman has scored a put pilot commitment from the Alphabet for a new drama set against the world of corporate CEOs gone wild. The untitled hour, which Feldman will write and executive produce, is set up at Warner Bros. Television. No other specifics were released.

UNTITLED KEVIN FALLS PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Emmy winner Kevin Falls ("The West Wing") has landed a put pilot order from the Peacock for a new drama about a man who travels back in time to correct wrongs. The untitled hour, which is said to have an epic romance at its core, is based at 20th Century Fox Television where Falls has an overall deal. Currently, Falls is serving as a consulting producer on CBS's upcoming drama "Shark."

WORK WIFE (FOX, New!) - "Arrested Development" alums Brad Copeland and Barbie Feldman Adler are developing a new sitcom at FOX about two newspaper columnists who work so closely together that they start interacting like spouses, affecting their home lives. The semi-autobiographical project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television, where each has an overall deal, and has a put pilot commitment from the network. As for specifics, the male character is understood to be married, while the female character will be dating however Copeland and Adler emphasize there won't be any romantic tension in the relationship, which will remain strictly platonic.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [august 2006]  

· 24 (FOX)
· CLASS 11 (ABC)
· ER (NBC)

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