LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX)/HEROES (NBC) - Rena Sofer (Christie Dunbar on "Blind Justice") has scored recurring roles on both series. On the former she'll play the wife of Paul McCrane's character while on "Heroes" she's set as the better half of Adrian Pasdar's Nathan Petrelli. It's not clear when her first appearance on either series will air.
4 OZ. (FX, New!) - "Nip/Tuck" creator Ryan Murphy and actor Brad Pitt are developing a new drama at the cable channel about a transsexual sportswriter. Murphy is writing and executive producing the pilot alongside Plan B's Pitt and Dede Gardner. As for specifics, it's understood the planned five-season arc will track the metamorphosis of the lead character from married man to woman, through his/her eyes and that of his/her two teenage sons. Said title is derived from the average weight of a penis. So far FX has only committed to a script for the project.
ANIMALS (FOX, New!) - "TV Funhouse" creator Robert Smigel has scored a pilot presentation order for a new animated comedy described as a parody of suburban life, with critters filling in for humans. The half-hour is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Adam Sandler's Happy Madison Productions. Smigel and Greg Cohen ("King of the Hill") then will co-write and executive produce the project alongside Happy Madison principals Sandler, Jack Giarraputo and Doug Robinson.
CONSPIRACY (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel is moving forward with a fourth drama pilot, a new entry about a young Washington, D.C.-based attorney who, after winning a highly publicized case for a large pharmaceutical company, learns she was given falsified documents and her client was guilty, placing her own life in danger when she discovers her prestigious law firm is to blame. Tim Bogart ("Touched") is behind the Fox TV Studios-based hour, which he'll write and executive produce alongside Gary Randall. Said pilot, whose production is cast-contingent, joins the previously announced "State of Mind" (starring Lili Taylor), "Army Wives," (starring Kim Delaney and Catherine Bell) and "Side Order of Life."
COPS (FOX) - Cable network G4 has licensed the repeat rights to the FOX Saturday mainstay from Twentieth Television in a deal valued at $16 million. Said pact gives the channel access to 160 half-hour episodes of the series, which it will begin airing six times a day (two in primetime, two latenight and two in daytime) beginning in December or January. The deal isn't exclusive as Court TV also carries the show's off-network run however the episodes won't overlap.
CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS) - Paget Brewster (Beth Huffstodt on "Huff") has joined the cast of the sophomore drama. She'll play a new profiler who joins the show's elite team headed by Mandy Patinkin's character. No other details were given about her character nor is it clear when her first episode will air.
GENIUS BAR (CBS, New!) - Writer/producers Josh Sternin and Jeff Ventimilia have landed a put pilot commitment from the Eye for a new sitcom about a "Romeo and Juliet"-type story set against warring employees at two mall stores in the vein of the Genius Bar at the Apple stores and Abercrombie & Fitch. The project, which is based on an idea by consumer marketing expert Krishnan Menon, is set up at 20th Century Fox Television, where Sternin and Ventimilia have an overall deal. The pair then will write the pilot script and executive produce along with Menon.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) - Kristin Newman, a co-executive producer on the series, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, like most deals of its kind, calls for the writer/producer to develop new projects for the studio as well as covers her duties on the sophomore comedy.
KILLING SAM CARTER (ABC, New!) - "The Days" creator John Scott Shepherd has booked a script commitment from the Alphabet for a new drama which revolves around time travel and a man who develops amnesia. Said hour, which also has a small penalty attached, is set up at Fox TV Studios and Fuse Entertainment with the latter's Mikkel Bondesen executive producing alongside Shepherd.
MI-5 (A&E) - A&E has covertly pulled the show's planned broadcast for tonight. It's understood the remaining eight episodes of the show's fourth season will instead be burned off on Saturday, October 21 starting at 11 a.m. EST. No reason was given for the decision.
MONARCH COVE (Lifetime) - The cable channel has quietly bumped the show's launch from October 14 to Saturday, November 4 at 9:00/8:00c. No reason was given for the change.
MURDER INCORPORATED (ABC, New!) - Frank Spotnitz, the man behind the short-lived "Night Stalker" revival, is developing a new drama at ABC about a man who discovers that he's from a wealthy family, but that the money comes from an unsavory business. The project, which has a script order from the Alphabet, is set up at Touchstone Television.
OFF THE LEASH (Lifetime) - Lifetime has confirmed its pet agency docu-reality series will now launch on Monday, October 9 at 8:00/7:00c as a lead-in to its Monday movie franchise.
REAPER (The CW, New!) - Writer/producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") and "Grey's Anatomy" executive producer Mark Gordon are set to team for a new drama at the netlet about a young man who essentially becomes Satan's bounty hunter, reclaiming souls that have somehow escaped from Hell. The project, which is finalizing a script commitment from the network, is set up at the Touchstone Television-based the Mark Gordon Co. Fazekas and Butters will write and executive produce alongside Gordon.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) - David Spade ("The Showbiz Show") has joined the oft-rotating cast of the midseason comedy, about the phases of relationships as seen through the eyes of five friends. It's understood he'll take over for Greg Pitts as the sole single character in the bunch. Oliver Hudson, Patrick Warburton, Bianca Kajlich and Megyn Price also star in the Sony Pictures Television-based half-hour, which comes from creator Tom Hertz.
TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS) - Charlie Sheen reportedly is close to finalizing a new salary pact with producer Warner Bros. Television after two months of negotiations. It's understood the new deal is valued at $350,000 per episode, a substantial increase from his previous low six-figure per episode salary. Said numbers don't include Sheen's profit-participation stake in the series, which was sold to FX and local stations across the country for $750,000 per episode.
UNTITLED ADI HASAK PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Feature writer Adi Hasak ("Shadow Conspiracy") has scored a script commitment from the Alphabet for a new drama about a single mom who also happens to be running an undercover operation for the government. The project is set up at Mark Gordon's Touchstone Television-based self-titled banner. Hasak then will write and executive produce along with Gordon.
UNTITLED DICK WOLF PROJECTS (NBC, New!) - "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf is developing a pair of comedies at the Peacock. The first, from Cheryl Holliday ("Still Standing"), revolves around a bumbling congressman and the staffers trying to handle him, while the latter, from Teri Schaffer Hicks ("The Bernie Mac Show"), tracks emergency medical technicians and paramedics. Both projects are understood to be single-camera efforts with Wolf (via his NBC Universal Television-based Wolf Films), Nena Rodrigue and Peter Jankowski executive producing alongside their respective creators.
UNTITLED KESSLERS/ZELMAN PROJECT (FX, New!) - Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler and Daniel Zelman are set to team for a new legal drama at the cable channel. FX has given a pilot commitment to the untitled hour, about a tough female attorney in New York City. No other specifics were released about the hour, which is set to begin production later this year. No studio is attached.
UNTITLED SHANA GOLDBERG-MEEHAN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Shana Goldberg-Meehan is returning to the Alphabet as the writer/producer has scored a pilot order for a new Washington, D.C.-based comedy about a man and woman who fall in love, despite working for rival Democrat and Republican congressmen who attempt to keep the lovebirds apart. The semi-autobiographical, multi-camera project is set up at Warner Bros. Television where Goldberg-Meehan has an overall deal. She'll pen the pilot script and executive produce.
UNTITLED BEN STILLER/CHRISTINE TAYLOR PROJECT (CBS) - Jane Lynch (Cindy Martin on "Lovespring International"), Fran Kranz ("The Village") and the singularly-named Modi have all joined the cast of the Christine Taylor-led comedy pilot, about a successful Hollywood actress who stays close to her small-town roots and has a lot of relatives from her hometown still very involved in her life. Lynch will play the mother of Taylor's character while Kranz is set as her brother with Modi as the house manager. Ben Stiller, who's also directing and executive producing, also will recur as Taylor's husband. Ajay Sahgal is behind the single-camera half-hour, which is based at CBS Paramount Network Television and Red Hour Films.
WE, THE JURY (FOX, New!) - Uber-producer David E. Kelley has received a put pilot order from FOX for a new legal-themed comedy about a group of jurors on a high-profile trial who are sequestered in a motel. The single-camera project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Kelley's studio-based banner with creators Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar ("The New Adventures of Old Christine") penning the pilot script and Kelley executive producing alongside his manager, Marty Adelstein.
WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB (ABC, New!) - James Patterson's book of the same name is being developed by director Brett Ratner ("Prison Break") for the small screen. Said hour, which has a script commitment (with a penalty attached) from the network, revolves around four women who track down serial killers in San Francisco. Ratner will direct and executive produce the project, while Patterson and Joe Simpson are on board to executive produce. No writer is currently attached.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters