[10/13/06 - 07:05 PM]
Development Update: October 9-13 (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!

3 LBS. (CBS) - The Eye has quietly ordered four additional scripts of the series, which the network confirmed yesterday will launch on Tuesday, November 14 at 10:00/9:00c.

AMERICAN IDOL (FOX) - Randy Jackson has inked a multi-year overall deal with Warner Horizon Television. The pact, financial details of which weren't released, sets up his Dream Merchant 21 Entertainment banner at the Warner Bros. sibling, where he and manager Harriet Sternberg will develop new unscripted and scripted series projects.

BAD JUDGE (NBC, New!) - "Saturday Night Live" alum Jon Lovitz is set to topline a new unscripted series in which he'll act as judge on actual legal cases, meting out "justice" as he sees fit. Josh Lieb ("Big Stan") created the project, which is set up at Gavin Polone and Jamie Tarses's Pariah banner. The trio then will executive produce with Pariah's Kathy Landsberg and Lovitz also receiving producing credits.

THE BEAST (FOX, New!) - Emmy-winning writer/producer Tucker Cawley ("Everybody Loves Raymond") has scored a put pilot order from FOX for a new multi-camera comedy about a young hotshot veterinarian who is stuck running his late father's practice despite his hatred of animals. The project, which is based on Simon Nye's BBC1 series of the same name, is based at CBS Paramount Network Television - where Cawley has an overall deal - and FremantleMedia North America. Cawley then will write and executive produce the half-hour.

THE BIONIC WOMAN (NBC, New!) - David Eick ("Battlestar Galactica") and Laeta Kalogridis ("Birds of Prey") are teaming up to revive the 1970s spin-off of "The Six Million Dollar Man." Much like "Galactica," the new "Woman" will be a re-imagining of the show's concept as a commentary on the role of professional women in contemporary society and how they juggle their various roles. The Peacock has given a script commitment to the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television. The pair then will serve as executive producers with Kalogridis penning the actual script. The news marks the second time the studio has attempted a "Woman" remake in recent years. Feature producers Jennifer Todd and Suzanne Todd ("Zoom") were behind the previous effort at USA during the 2003-04 season with Jennifer Flackett & Mark Levin ("Wimbledon") and "Veronica Mars" creator Rob Thomas each turning in drafts.

THE BLOCK (G4, New!) - Professional snowboarder Marc Frank Montoya and Las Vegas hotelier Liko Smith's hotel chain of the same name is set to be the focus of a new reality series at the cable channel. The half-hour project, due in January, will track the snowboarder-themed hotel's staffers and clientele (as well as Montoya and Smith themselves) as they hit the slopes in Big Bear Lake and South Lake Tahoe. The chain is known for having everything from stripper poles to sit-down arcade stands in special suites and PS2 game consoles and boot/glove dryers in all rooms.

CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of October 2-8) - The second half of "South Park's" 10th season opened to a solid 3.4 million viewers (#13), 2.3 million of which fell into the key adults 18-49 demographic. Lead-out "Freak Show" didn't fare as well however with 1.5 million viewers tuning in, less than half of "South Park's" audience. Leading all cable series last week then was ESPN's "Monday Night Football" coverage with 12.90 million viewers (#1; 5.2/14 in 18-49). Also of note last week: a new "Flavor of Love" on VH1 (2.7 million) and the third season premiere of "Battlestar Galactica" (2.16 million; 1.0/3 in 18-49), which fell sharply from its season two launch back in July of 2005 (3.1 million). Nevertheless, the series was the top cable draw among viewers 18-49 on Friday.

CALL MY MARTY (FOX, New!) - "Mad About You" creator Danny Jacobson has booked a script commitment from FOX for a new comedy about a blue-collar butcher from Yonkers, N.Y., who winds up joining a snooty Westchester country club. DreamWorks Television and NBC Universal Television are behind the half-hour, which Jacobson will write and executive produce alongside DreamWorks' Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.

CAPITAL CITY (The CW) - Rod Lurie's ABC drama pilot "Capital City" is being redeveloped by the netlet. The project, which was originally targeted for the 2002-03 season, is an ensemble drama that follows a young woman's journey through the congressional landscape. Leslie Bibb toplined the original effort, which also featured Kyle Chandler, Jeffrey D. Sams, David Paymer, Tom Berenger, Peter Horton, Mary Steenburgen and Peter Fonda. Lurie will pen the new script and executive produce - via his Touchstone Touchstone-based Battle Plan Productions - as well as direct should it move forward to pilot. DreamWorks Television, which co-produced the ABC version, is also expected to sign on for the new edition. Separately, Lurie and producing partner Marc Frydman are reportedly on track to supervise a writer on another CW project in the works for next season. No specifics however were given about said project.

DAMNATION (FOX, New!)/THE WORD (CBS, New!) - "Without a Trace" star Anthony LaPaglia has set up a pair of series projects at CBS and FOX via his Warner Bros. Television-based Last Straw Productions banner. The Eye project, entitled "Damnation," is a comedy that revolves around a recently deceased young man who believes he's wrongly been sent to hell and makes a deal with the devil to recruit souls to the underworld. Canadian playwright Morris Panych penned the pilot script which Timothy Busfield ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") is on board to direct and executive produce. As for the CBS entry, "The Word" is an action drama about a renegade team of whistle-blowers who expose coverups and conspiracies. Lawrence Monoson and Alexander Cary are behind said hour, which they'll write and serve as supervising producers. LaPaglia and Last Straw chief J.J. Jamieson then will also serve as executive producers on each project.

THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA (FOX, New!) - Fox Television Studios is developing a small screen take on the book-turned-feature, about the relationship between a tough-as-nails fashion magazine editor and her novice assistant. Robin Schiff ("Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion") is on board to pen the pilot script, which is being targeted as a single-camera half-hour. It's also understood the TV "Prada" will vary somewhat from both the book and film however no specifics were given. In addition, neither "Prada" director David Frankel nor writer Lauren Weisberger will be involved in the TV version.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) - The Peacock has asked for two additional scripts of the high school football drama. Said scripts will be used should the network opt to order more episodes of the series, which premiered earlier this month.

GRACE (TNT) - Kenneth Johnson (Curtis Lemansky on "The Shield") and Bailey Chase (Jake Porter on "Las Vegas") are the latest additions to the drama pilot, about a jaded Oklahoma City detective (Holly Hunter) who communicates with an irascible angel (Leon Rippy). Johnson will play Det. Ham Tipton, who's described in the casting notice as: "40-45 years old, Caucasian, handsome, masculine, a Southern boy with a big heart, Ham is Grace's partner, on the Force and in bed. Unhappily married to Darleen, Ham is having a mind-blowing affair with Grace, but he's beating himself up over the fact that he's cheating on his wife. Finding himself caught in a bad country music song, Ham is caught between two women, doing his best to lose both of them at the same time, bouncing back and forth between the two of them." Chase then is set as Det. Butch Stillwater, who's detailed as: "35-40, Native American, handsome, fit. Bruce is another detective with the Oklahoma City PD. A man who has been sober for two long years, Butch had an affair with Grace for three months, and in his opinion, that gives him the right to talk frankly with Grace about her character flaws. Treated to a blast of attitude whenever he shows concern about Grace's personal life, Butch works along with her in trying to solve the kidnapping of 10 year old Maddie Drew. Butch tries to act as Grace's conscience, but she regards his well-meaning interventions as the actions of a busybody." Bokeem Woodbine and Laura San Giacomo also star in the hour, which comes from creator Nancy Miller and fellow executive producers Artie Mandelberg, E. Duke Vincent, Gary A. Randall and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, the latter of which is directing.

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (The WB) - TV Land is reviving the former WB mainstay, ordering a fourth season of the hourlong series. Six new episodes are set to be produced by Mike Fleiss's Next Entertainment ("The Bachelor") in assocation with Warner Horizon Television. Production on the new season begins early next year for a premiere in the third or fourth quarter. As for specifics, the show will focus on a reunion of alumni in their late 30s and early 40s, a change from the WB's previous target of people in their late 20s/early 30s. No other details however were given.

HOUSE OF HORRORS (The CW, New!) - "Xena: Warrior Princess" co-creator Rob Tapert and executive producer Sam Raimi are set to reteam for a new hybrid horror/reality series in which competitors try to stay "alive" in a mysterious house in which they must face their darkest fears. Said contestants are then eliminated via elaborately staged "deaths" that will mix elements of the reality and horror genres. Gunnar Witterberg ("Treasure Hunters") created the project and will serve as a co-executive producer with Tapert and Raimi executive producing via Renaissance Pictures. William Hamm will also serve as a co-executive producer.

IMPERFECT UNION (TBS, New!) - Eric McCormack and Michael Forman's Big Cattle Productions has landed a cast-contingent pilot order for a new single-camera comedy about a young woman, stepping in for her retiring father as shop steward in a switch plant, who butts heads with the young man taking over the factory from his retiring father. The pair created the project, which will be written and executive produced by Don Woodard and Tom Maxwell.

THE LINE-UP (TNT) - J.R. Cacia ("Hidden Palms") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, a procedural police drama where each episode begins with a lineup of suspects and works backward through the eyes of police detectives. He'll play a cop who needs to be reined in for his interrogation tactics in the project, which also stars Rocky Carroll, Tia Texada and John Heard. William Finkelstein is behind the Warner Horizon Television-based hour, which John Dahl is directing.

MISS/GUIDED (ABC) - Brooke Burns (Kathy Dinkle on "Pepper Dennis"), Earl Billings ("Something New"), Kristoffer Polaha (Jason Matthews on "North Shore") and Jonathan Sadowski ("She's the Man") have all joined the cast of the single-camera comedy pilot, about a woman (Judy Greer) who returns to her high school alma mater to become a guidance counselor. Billings is set as the school principal with the remaining trio playing teachers. Todd Holland is directing the 20th Century Fox Television/Katalyst Films-based half-hour, which comes from creator Caroline Williams and fellow executive producers Ashton Kutcher, Gabrielle Allan, Jason Goldberg and Karey Burke.

NAME THAT TUNE (CBS, New!) - Planet Grande Productions is reviving the classic game show, with Donny Osmond attached to host. The Eye has ordered a pilot for the project, which will incorporate the familiar song-guessing game with live musical performances from well-known artists and a bonus round in which players can win $1 million (if they can name 15 songs in 60 seconds). Production is expected to be completed in December with a series order decision coming shortly thereafter. Planet Grande's John Watkin and Eamon Harrington then will serve as executive producers, as will Panacea Entertainment's Eric Gardner. "Tune" originally bowed in the 1950s, spawning revivals nearly every decade thereafter on NBC, CBS, VH1 and syndication.

NUMB3RS (CBS) - Kathy Najimy ("King of the Hill") has signed on for a recurring role on the popular Friday drama. She'll play the division chair of the physics, math and astronomy departments at the university where David Krumholtz's works. The news marks the second cast addition this season, the other being Aya Sumika. She plays a former trainee of Rob Morrow's character beginning with the show's October 27 installment. As for Najimy, it's not clear when her first episode will air.

RAINES (NBC) - Malik Yoba ("Thief") and Madeleine Stowe ("Saving Milly") have both joined the cast of the midseason drama, about an eccentric, brilliant cop (Jeff Goldblum) who talks to dead victims who help him solve his crimes. Yoba is believed to be taking over for Luis Guzman as Charlie Lincoln, Raines' ex-partner and confidant, while Stowe is set as a shrink whom Raines is forced to go see. Dov Davidoff, Linda Park, Matt Craven and Nicole Sullivan also star in the NBC Universal Television-based hour, which comes from executive producers Frank Darabont and Graham Yost.

SLEEPER CELL (Showtime) - The pay channel has announced the show's eight-episode second "season," subtitled "American Terror," will bow on Sunday, December 10 at 9:00/8:00c. The series will then air nightly at 9:00/8:00c through Sunday, December 17. Michael Ealy and Oded Fehr are among the returning cast members on the series, the first "season" of which received Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for best mini-series. Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris created the series and continue to serve as executive producers.

STANDOFF (FOX) - FOX has asked producers of the freshman drama for three additional scripts. Said order will be used for future installments of the series should additional episodes be ordered. The news means that all three of FOX's drama newcomers - the others being "Vanished" and "Justice" - have received additional script orders. None however have had additional episodes greenlit.

TO LOVE AND DIE IN L.A. (USA) - Tim Matheson (John Hoynes on "The West Wing") has joined the cast of the 90-minute pilot, where he'll co-star opposite Shiri Appleby. The dramedy revolves around a fun-loving young woman (Appleby) with abandonment issues who decides that her dating problems will be resolved if she tracks down the father she never knew (Matheson), an assassin who makes her realize that she might have found her calling. Sara Goodman is behind the project, which comes from JoAnn Alfano and Lorne Michaels's NBC Universal Television-based Broadway Video Television.

TWO DREADFUL CHILDREN (A.K.A. UNTITLED DAVID HEMINGSON PROJECT) (FOX) - "Kitchen Confidential" creator/executive producer Dave Hemingson has booked a pilot presentation order for his animated comedy, about a family of rednecks who discover that their disobedient kids - fraternal twins who lack any moral compass - are actually geniuses. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the half-hour, the latest in FOX's efforts to develop a new animated comedy for its line-up.

THE UNIT (CBS) - Just days after extending the sophomore drama to a full season of 22 episodes, the Eye has reportedly upped the show's commitment to 23 episodes. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the hour, which comes from executive producers David Mamet and Shawn Ryan.

UNTITLED BONNIE SOMERVILLE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Bonnie Somerville ("Kitchen Confidential") has inked a talent holding deal with the network and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the actress to be cast in one of the pair's projects in development or to develop one around her. Somerville spent the past development season attached to Danny Comden's comedy pilot "Learning to Fly," also at the Alphabet.

UNTITLED CHRISTY HAUBEGGER PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Christy Haubegger, founder and former CEO and publisher of Latina magazine, is set to host a new syndicated talk show for Telepictures Productions. Former WB Network chairman Garth Ancier is behind the offering, which would feature Haubegger tackling a variety of issues. He'll executive produce the project via his Garth Ancier Co. alongside "Ricki Lake" alum Gail Steinber. In addition, Ancier is expected to sign a multi-year overall deal with the Warner Bros. Television Group, where he'll develop projects for both Telepictures and Warner Horizon Television.

UNTITLED DANNY COMDEN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Comedian Danny Comden is once again returning to ABC and Touchstone Television, inking a development deal with the network and the studio. The pact calls for Comden to develop a new comedy project for the duo alongside Brillstein-Grey Television and Bob Fisher. In addition, ABC and Touchstone have the option to cast him in an existing project.

UNTITLED DOUG ELLIN PROJECT (HBO, New!) - "Entourage" creator Doug Ellin has landed a script order from the pay channel for a new single-camera half-hour about a fortysomething Wall Street hedge fund trader and his circle of guy pals. The project, a result of Ellin's overall deal with the network, will also touch on issues such as marriage, getting older and working within the professional ranks. Ellin then will write and executive produce the project alongside fellow "Entourage" writer/producer Stephen Levinson.

UNTITLED JAN NASH/JENNIFER LEVIN PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith have scored a put pilot commitment from the Eye and CBS Paramount Network Television for a new drama about doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they fight the diseases and viruses that threaten people worldwide. Jan Nash and Jennifer Levin ("Without a Trace") are behind the hour, which they'll write and executive produce alongside the Smiths via their Overbrook Entertainment. Overbrook's Miguel Melendez then will also serve as a producer.

UNTITLED MATTHEW CIRULNICK PROJECTS (FOX/FX/Sci Fi, New!) - "South Beach" creator Matthew Cirulnick has lined up a trio of projects at FOX, FX and the Sci Fi Channel. The FOX hour revolves around a hotshot cop who's paired with an older partner with a secret agenda - he's actually investigating his younger, ethically challenged partner. The untitled project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television with Film 44's Peter Berg, John Cameron and Sarah Aubrey also on board to executive produce. Meanwhile the FX project follows a cult that sprouts up around a self-help guru. Said hour is also untitled. And finally at Sci Fi is a six-hour mini-series about a future in which humans face the certainty of extinction. David Eick is on board to executive produce the project, which Cirulnick is writing. All three have script commitments at their respective networks.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [october 2006]  

· 3 LBS. (CBS)

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