LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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1985 (NBC, New!) - Amy Heckerling ("Clueless") is developing a new "The Wonder Years"/"Everybody Hates Chris"-esque series about a girl growing up in the 1980s. Like said comedies, the series will be a microcosm of high school and family life during the area, narrated from the present day. The Peacock has given a script order to the single-camera project, which is set up at sibling NBC Universal Television with Heckerling writing and executive producing. She'll also direct the pilot should it move forward.
BUCKHEAD BETTIES (HBO, New!) - The lives of the women in Atlanta's wealthy Buckhead community is set to be the focus of a potential new single-camera comedy at the pay channel. Pulitzer Prize winner and Tony nominee Beth Henley ("Crimes of the Heart") is behind the half-hour, which was inspired by an idea from Lisa Senters and Tenessa Singleton. As for specifics, "Betties" centers on four women who have been best friends since high school and are now raising their families in the Buckhead section. The project is set up at Gary A. Randall's Grand Productions with Randall and Henley serving as executive producers.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of September 25-October 1) - ESPN's "Monday Night Football" drew a record 15 million viewers for its Falcons/Saints coverage, making it the second most-watched cable telecast ever, behind only CNN's 1993 NAFTA debate between Ross Perot and Al Gore. Also finishing in the top 15 of all cable series last week: VH1's "Flavor of Love 2" (3.99 million, #6; 2.1/6 in adults 18-49), FX's "Nip/Tuck" (3.92 million, #7; 2.1/6 in adults 18-49) and Bravo's "Project Runway" (3.76 million, #8; 1.9/5 in adults 18-49). Outside the top 15 but still of note was the premiere of "Dexter" (603,000) on Showtime. Said numbers marked Showtime's best series premiere audience since the launch of "Fat Actress" in March of 2005, beating out "Weeds," "Brotherhood," "Sleeper Cell" and "Huff." An encore at 11:00/10:00c also drew 443,000 viewers. And finally, E!'s "House of Carters" drew 811,000 viewers for its special Sunday, 10:30/9:30c launch with its time slot premiere on Monday at 9:00/8:00c pulling in 835,000 viewers.
CAMPUS LADIES (Oxygen) - Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes, Jason Alexander, Penny Marshall, Beverly D'Angelo, Mo'Nique, Rob Corddry, Jeff Garlin and Rob Riggle are all set to make guest appearances on the show's upcoming second season. In addition, Alexander and "Campus Ladies" executive producer Cheryl Hines are also set to direct episodes of the show's new season, which is set to bow on Wednesday, December 6 at 11:00/10:00c.
CHURCH OF STEVE (FOX, New!) - Writer/producer Chris Henchy ("Entourage") has scored a put pilot order from FOX for a new comedy about a blue-collar New Jersey man who finds out he is a descendant of Jesus. The project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television and Will Ferrell and Adam McKay's Gary Sanchez Productions, has a hefty $1 million penalty attached if it doesn't go to pilot. Henchy, who also serves as head of production for the Gary Sanchez banner, will then write and executive produce the project alongside Ferrell and McKay. As for specifics, it's understood the guy at the center of the show won't have any religious superpowers, he'll simply be told he's a descendant of Jesus by a biblical scholar from Italy, a secret he'll keep from all but his closest relatives and friends.
DEADLINE (NBC, New!) - Feature writers Larry Malkin and Chad Thumann ("Five Fingers") have booked a script commitment from the Peacock for a new drama about a "24"-like conspiracy thriller, but with the story told in reverse (a la "Memento"). The project is set up at Peter Berg's NBC Universal Television-based Film 44 banner with Berg himself loosely attached to direct. Malkin and Thumann then will pen the pilot script and serve as co-executive producers with Berg and fellow Film 44 principals Sarah Aubrey and John Cameron executive producing.
IN TREATMENT (HBO) - Embeth Davidtz ("Junebug") has joined the cast of the upcoming drama series, about a therapist (Gabriel Byrne) who is calm, smooth, insightful and nonconfrontational with his patients but turns into a testy, self-doubting man full of barely concealed anger when he is a patient seeing his own shrink. She'll play one-half of a married couple who attends couple's counseling. Mia Wasikowska also stars in the half-hour, which comes from executive producers Mark Wahlberg, Steve Levinson and Hagai Levi.
JUSTICE (FOX) - FOX has quietly ordered three additional scripts of the legal drama, which will move to Mondays at 9:00/8:00c starting October 23. The news marks FOX's second commitment of its type this season, the other being for fellow newcomer "Vanished."
LIFE (NBC, New!) - Writer/producer Rand Ravich ("The Astronaut's Wife") is developing a new drama at the Peacock about a cop who's wrongly imprisoned and adopts a Zen-like approach to capture criminals after he's released. Ravich will write and executive produce the hour, which is set up at NBC Universal Television and has a pilot commitment from the network. Far Shariat ("Confessions of a Dangerous Mind") is also on board as an executive producer. Production on the pilot is targeted to begin later this year.
THE LINE-UP (TNT) - The cable channel has greenlit production on a new drama pilot from writer/producers William Finkelstein ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") and Thomas Hines ("Y2K"). Rocky Carroll ("Invasion"), Tia Texada ("Third Watch") and John Heard ("Prison Break") have already been cast in the project, a procedural police drama where each episode begins with a lineup of suspects and works backward through the eyes of police detectives. Carroll will play a police department head and rising star who oversees a team of headstrong cops, which includes Heard as an old-school detective and Texada as an unspecified detective. Warner Horizon Television is behind the hour, which John Dahl ("Rounders") will direct and executive produce. "Line-Up" was originally developed by FOX for the 2005-06 season with Warner Bros. Television, Bender-Brown Productions and John McNamara attached to produce. The project has since been moved to Warner Horizon where Finkelstein came aboard to revamp Hines's original script. It's understood Hines, Lawrence Bender and Kevin Brown are in talks to return. Production on the pilot is set to begin this month.
MISS/GUIDED (ABC) - Judy Greer ("Love Monkey") has been tapped for the lead role in the single-camera comedy pilot, about a woman (Greer) who returns to her high school alma mater to become a guidance counselor. Caroline Williams is behind the 20th Century Fox Television/Katalyst Films-based half-hour, which Todd Holland is directing. The pair also serve as executive producers alongside Gabrielle Allan and Katalyst's Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg and Karey Burke.
NOT ANOTHER HIGH SCHOOL SHOW (Comedy Central) - The cable channel is moving forward with the project, a spoof of teen TV dramas, greenlighting production on a pilot. Mike Bender and Joel Gallen ("Not Another Teen Movie") are behind the half-hour, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and executive producer Neal H. Moritz. Casting is currently underway on the project, which is looking for fresh-faced unknowns to fill the roles of the archetypal teen characters.
ORIGINAL FILM PROJECTS (Various, New!) - Neal H. Moritz's ("Prison Break") Sony Pictures Television-based Original Film has set up a half-dozen projects around town for the 2007-08 season. First up at FOX is "Think Tank," from writers Josh Stolberg and Bobby Florsheim ("Evan Almighty"), about a group of dysfunctional geniuses brought together by a lunatic billionaire to solve the world's problems. FOX has given a put pilot commitment to the single-camera half-hour, which Stolberg and Florsheim will write and executive produce. Also at FOX is "Macho Steve," from Josh Lobis and Darin Moiselle ("Special Unit 2"), about "the last real manly man" (a.k.a. the "retrosexual") as he moves to Los Angeles. The pair will likewise write and executive produce the project, which has a script commitment with a significant penalty attached if it doesn't get ordered to pilot. Also in the works at Original: The CW's "N.O.C.," from Jeff Eastin ("Hawaii"), a drama in which a civilian with a highly-specialized skill is recruited into a "Mission: Impossible"-style government agency, letting someone play James Bond for a day; an untitled hour at the CW from Robert Horn ("Good Advice"), about a newlywed couple who work together in a family law firm where divorce cases are key; FOX's "Dime," from Toni Graphia ("Battlestar Galactica"), about a female ex-con who's working in a DA's office; and "Dirty Birds," from Susan McMartin ("Son in Law"), a single-camera comedy at ABC about three women in their sexual prime. Moritz and Original's Vivian Cannon will serve as executive producers on each project alongside their respective creators.
PARENTAL GUIDANCE (ABC, New!) - Marc Abrams and Michael Benson ("Entourage") have landed a put pilot commitment for a new single-camera comedy about adult parents who live life not too differently from when they were 25 and explores how that affects their kids. Ben Silverman's Reveille ("Ugly Betty") is behind the hour, which Silverman will executive produce alongside creators Abrams and Benson. No studio is currently attached.
SHOW ME THE MONEY (ABC) - While not specified in the release, ABC has committed to seven, one-hour episodes of the project, which comes from Endemol USA and executive producer Mike Nichols. William Shatner hosts.
SIDE ORDER OF LIFE (Lifetime) - Marisa Coughlan ("Boston Legal") has been tapped for the lead role in the drama pilot, about a female magazine photographer (Coughlan) who re-evaluates her life and upcoming wedding after her best friend is diagnosed with cancer. Margaret Nagle is behind the hour, which is set up at Warner Horizon Television with Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks serving as executive producers. Nagle then will serve as a co-executive producer. James Frawley directs. "Life" was originally developed by ABC last season via Warner Bros. Television.
THE SINGING OFFICE (CBS) - Alan Thicke ("Celebrity Cooking Showdown") has signed on to host the reality competition pilot, which has producers surprising employees at two companies who are asked to do impromptu singing auditions. The project, which comes from Fox Television Studios and executive producer Laurie Girion, then has the best five singers from each office flown to Hollywood, where they are coached on singing and dancing toward the goal of performing a number in front of an audience for a cash prize with the winner determined by audience vote.
SUBURBAN SHOOTOUT (HBO, New!) - Michelle Ashford ("Boomtown") is developing a U.S. version of the British cult comedy, about a typical suburban town where middle-aged women who appear to be normal housewives are actually at war with each other, smuggling guns and drugs and sometimes killing each other. She'll write and executive produce the single-camera project alongside U.K.-based Laurence Bowen and Philip Clarke and their Feelgood banner. U.S. audiences were exposed to the original's inaugural season on Oxygen, which won't carry the currently-in-production second season. It's not clear if original creators Gary Beckett and Roger Martin will be involved in the U.S. version.
UNTITLED ADAM DE LA PENA PROJECT (G4, New!) - Writer/director/actor Adam de la Pena (Adult Swim's "Minoriteam") has scored a pilot order from the cable channel for a new animated comedy set in the world of 1980s video game programmers. The untitled half-hour focuses on two video game programmers whose lives are turned upside down when GameAvision, the freewheeling company at which they've spent their whole careers, is purchased by a crazed Texas businessman who knows nothing about video games except that they "sell good." He'll write and executive produce the project via his Los Angeles-based Monkey Wrangler Productions.
UNTITLED BILL ENGVALL PROJECT (TBS, New!) - TBS is developing its first multi-camera family comedy from "Blue Collar TV" veteran Bill Engvall and "The Cosby Show" co-creator Michael Leeson. Engvall will star in the half-hour, which the pair will write and executive produce alongside with Engvall's manager, J.P. Williams. No other details were available about the project, which has a script commitment from the cable channel.
UNTITLED DEBORAH JOY LEVINE PROJECT (MTV, New!) - Deborah Joy Levine ("The Division") is developing a new "Hannah Montana"-esque scripted drama series at the cable channel about an up-and-coming female singer dealing with the pressures of sudden fame. The network has greenlit production on a pilot for the project, which is set up at Tony Krantz's ("24") Flame Television. As for specifics, the untitled hour will track Kaya, a 22-year-old singer endeavoring to make the leap from overnight sensation to bona fide rock star. It's also understood flashbacks to the singer's teen years and gigs with her first band will be incorporated into the present day action where she faces similar challenges on a larger scale. And much like "Montana," MTV executives hope the series will spawn an album of original music.
UNTITLED KELLA RIPA/MARK CONSUELOS PROJECT (The CW, New!) - Husband-and-wife duo Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos are developing a new semi-autobiographical comedy at the netlet about two actors who navigate the behind-the-scenes insanity at the soap opera in which they star. The network has given a script commitment to the Warner Bros. Television/CBS Paramount Network Television-based half-hour, which has Jeff Hodes and Nastaran Dibai ("Hope & Faith") on board to pen the pilot script. They'll presumably executive produce the multi-camera project, while it's not clear if Ripa and Consuelos will receive a producing credit.
UNTITLED SCOTT SILVERI PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Writer/producer Scott Silveri ("Joey") has scored a put pilot order from the Eye for a new multi-camera comedy about a group of people who hang out at a bar from midnight-6 a.m. The project is based at Warner Bros. Television where Silveri has an overall deal. No other details were released.
UNTITLED TOM SIZEMORE PROJECT (VH1) - 3 Ball Productions alums Troy Searer and John Foy have signed a first-look deal with the cable channel. The pact then will give VH1 first crack at any of the pair's projects, which will be produced under the banner Tijuana Entertainment. Currently Searer and Foy are working on the network's upcoming Tom Sizemore project, which has an eight-episode order.
THE VINEYARD (FOX, New) - "Project Greenlight" winners Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan have landed a script commitment from the network for a new drama about an affluent group of high school seniors who fall prey to a mysterious killer in Martha's Vineyard. The project is based at 20th Century Fox Television with John Shestack attached to produce with Melton and Dunstan writing and executive producing.
WHO WANTS TO BE A SUPERHERO (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has ordered an expanded 10-episode second season of the series, due next summer. The show's six-episode inaugural run averaged a solid 1.5 million viewers with its adults 18-49 and adults 25-54 numbers building from year-ago averages by 74% and 44% respectively. POW! Entertainment and Bruce Nash Entertainment will continue to executive produce the series, which will also see Stan Lee return as host/judge.
THE WIRE (HBO) - BET is reportedly close to landing the show's repeat rights to begin airing in the first quarter next year. No other details about the potential pact were released other than the network would have access to all episodes produced to date with episodes running once a week with multiple runs for each installment.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters