LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE AMAZING RACE (CBS) - The Eye has confirmed the upcoming 11th edition of the Emmy-winning reality series will be an "all-star" installment. Not surprisingly, the network has yet to reveal which previous cast members have signed on. Industry insiders however suggest Rob and Amber (season seven), Joyce and Uchenna (also season seven) and David and Mary (season 10) are among the participants. Production on the new season began last week in Miami for an early 2007 air date.
ERASER (FOX, New!) - J. Israel Miller and M.A. Fortin are developing a new drama at the network about Frank Smith, a suburban dad whose job it is to help people drop out and vanish from their daily lives. The project is set up at Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews's 20th Century Fox Television-based Roundtable Ink with each serving as executive producers.
THE GIRLS NEXT DOOR (E!) - The cable channel has renewed the series for a third season of 10 episodes. The news comes as little surprise considering the series is up nearly 30% from last season among households and has improved across all key demos, including women 18-34, where it's up 60% to a 1.3 average rating. The show's July 30 season premiere also ranks as the network's highest-rated original program telecast since 2003 among households (1.5 rating, 1.63 million total viewers) and its best performance in four years in adults 18-34 (1.6). The 10 new installments are expected to roll out in the spring. "Girls" is a co-production of Prometheus Entertainment, Fox Television Studios and Alta Loma Entertainment.
THE HUMAN ZOO (Lifetime, New!) - Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews are developing a new "All About Eve"-esque drama at the cable channel about a New York-based newspaper. Emma Forrest ("Cherries in the Snow") is writing the hour, which she'll executive produce alongside Scharbo and Matthews via their 20th Century Fox Television-based Roundtable Ink banner.
IMPERFECT UNION (TBS) - Ashley Williams ("How I Met Your Mother") and Zachary Levi ("Less Than Perfect") are the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about a young woman (Williams) who just took over the job as shop steward from her retired father, and a young man (Levi) who just took over as head of the factory from his father. Said casting lifts the production contingency off the pilot, which comes from Eric McCormack and Michael Forman's Big Cattle Productions and fellow executive producers Don Woodard and Tom Maxwell.
THE L WORD (Showtime) - The pay channel has quietly bumped up the show's fourth season premiere to Sunday, January 7 at 10:00/9:00c.
MIKE BIRBIGLIA'S SECRET PUBLIC JOURNAL (Comedy Central) - NBC is redeveloping Mike Birbiglia's semi-autobiographical comedy project, which was previously in the works at Comedy Central. Andy Secunda ("Late Night With Conan O'Brien") is on board to pen the script to the NBC Universal Television-based half-hour, which Birbiglia is attached to star and produce via a talent holding deal with the network. As for specifics, the show will center around Birbiglia's conflict between his unconventional dream of being a standup comic and his family and girlfriend, who are always edging him toward a more safe direction. Secunda will also serve as an executive producer alongside Roundtable Ink's Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews.
NOBODY (ABC Family) - Dawn Stern has been tapped for the lead role in the drama pilot, about Jessica Drake (Stern), a mother who gives up her own identity to save the life of her daughter and ends up working for a covert ops branch of heaven dedicated to fighting the forces of darkness on Earth. Kevin Murphy ("Desperate Housewives") is behind the hour, which is based on the comic book created by Alex Amado, Sharon Cho and Charlie Adlard. Noreen Halpern, John Morayniss, Jason Netter and Ken Levin also serve as executive producers on the Blueprint Entertainment-based project, production on which begins this month in Vancouver.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - The network has confirmed it has extended the show's final eight-episode run by one episode. The extra installment was ordered after creator David Chase and his fellow producers decided that eight wasn't enough to tie up all the show's various plotlines. Production has already been completed on six of said episodes for a spring premiere.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (NBC, New!) - Rick Cleveland ("Six Feet Under") is developing a small screen version of the critically acclaimed feature about a superstar spin doctor named Nick Naylor (played by Aaron Eckhart in the film) that does PR for big tobacco. The TV version, which is being eyed as a single-camera comedy, reportedly will pick up after the events of the film with Naylor running his own firm, where he'll work with fast-food companies, environmental polluters or politicos caught with their pants down. Christopher Buckley, who wrote the book on which the movie was based, will serve as a consulting producer and David O. Sacks, who produced the film, will executive produce via Room 9 Entertainment and NBC Universal Television.
UNTITLED MATT MANFREDI/PHIL HAY PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Mark Pellington ("Arlington Road," "The Mothman Prophecies") is developing a new drama at the network about a noted psychiatric clinician and professor who, after suffering a nervous breakdown, becomes involved in consulting on high-profile cases. Feature writers Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay ("Crazy/Beautiful") are behind the hour, which Pellington will direct and executive produce if it moves forward to pilot alongside 20th Century Fox Television-based Roundtable Ink's Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews. Seth Howard, whose idea inspired the show, is also on board as a producer.
UNTITLED TERRI HUGHES/RON MILBAUER PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer ("Tucker") are developing a new dramedy at FOX about a covert team of NSA agents who apply their job skills to their personal lives. The pair are writing and executive producing the project, which is set up at Grant Scharbo and Gina Matthews's 20th Century Fox Television-based Roundtable Ink.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters