[03/20/07 - 01:37 AM]
Development Update: Tuesday, March 20
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 signature "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!

AREA 57 (A.K.A. AREA 52) (NBC) - The Peacock has quietly changed the title of the pilot, a workplace comedy about an office in the Nevada desert whose staff watches over an alien. No reason was given for the change.

Commitment: Ordered to pilot
Cast: Bruce McGill (General Keller), Jane Lynch (Irene Maloof), Kelvin Yu, Matthew Lillard (Colonel Steven Isaac), Paul Reubens (The Alien)
Writer: Mike Armstrong
Director: Dean Parisot
Executive Producers: David Latt, Dean Parisot, Mike Armstrong
Studio: NBC Universal Television Studio

DASH 4 CASH (The CW) - Kyle Bornheimer ("Blades of Glory"), Jonathan Chase ("Veronica Mars") and Rick Hall are the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about the behind the scenes of a racing reality competition series. Bornheimer will play Nick, who's detailed in the casting notice as follows: "Mid-Late 20s. This strangely creative, off-putting, odd duck (think Ricky Gervais) joined the Dash 4 Cash race after tracking down his sperm donor father and demanding a place in the family. In an attempt to form a bond with his newly discovered "kin," Nick partnered with Noelle, his half-sister, and is fiercely protective of her. A (bad) writer/singer, he is prone to random bouts of slam poetry and blurting out intensely personal revelations. At the end of the day, his heart's in the right place and he just wants to belong."

Chase then is set as Michael - "24-27, smart, funny, wry and unathletic, he is the polar opposite of his father Calvin and is highly aware that he was not Calvin's first choice for a partner. (In fact, he was about 20th down the line.) Kind and easy-going, Michael has a degree in psychology and is currently a fly-fishing instructor, neither of which has earned him his father's respect. Though he's not thrilled to be participating in Dash 4 Cash, he does want to form a better relationship with his dad and takes steps toward making that happen. Sparks fly between Michael and Noelle, another contestant." - with Hall as his father, Calvin - "Mid 40s. This no-nonsense, super-patriotic, blue-collar man's man has reluctantly partnered up with his son and polar opposite, Michael. He would much rather have his other son (a lumberjack) on his team and frequently lectures and berates Michael for his lack of cajones. Vaguely homophobic, proud and difficult to please, he just wants his son to man-up so they'll have a decent shot at winning. He's furious when Michael sprains his ankle, but secretly, he wouldn't mind having a closer relationship with his son. He's not about to say that in so many words, though."

Commitment: Ordered to pilot
Cast: Jonathan Chase (Michael), Kyle Bornheimer (Nick), Rick Hall (Calvin)
Writers: Boyce Bugliari, Jamie McLaughlin
Director: Betty Thomas
Executive Producers: Kelsey Grammer (Grammnet Productions), Steve Stark (Grammnet Productions)
Co-Executive Producers: Boyce Bugliari, Jamie McLaughlin
Studio: CBS Paramount Network Television

DRIVE (FOX) - Writer/producer Juan Carlos Coto has inked a two-year, low seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which has an option for a third year, covers his duties on the upcoming drama, where he currently serves as a co-executive producer. In addition, he'll develop new series projects for the studio.

EXTRAS (HBO) - Co-creators Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have confirmed the series will not return for its third season. The series nevertheless will be sent off with a special (a la "The Office") sometime in the future. No other specifics however were given.

FAST CARS & SUPERSTARS: THE GILLETTE YOUNG GUNS CELEBRITY RACE (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has added another new project to its summer slate, this time a reality competition series in which Nextel Cup drivers instruct celebrities on the finer points of stock-car driving. Radical Media is behind the half-hour project, which will air as a lead-in to the network's NBA Finals coverage starting Thursday, June 7 at 8:00/7:00c. Future installments will then follow on June 10, June 12, June 14, June 17 and June 19 (all at 8:00/7:00c) with a one-hour finale on Saturday, June 23 at 10:00/9:00c. Among the 12 celebrities set to appear - actors William Shatner ("Boston Legal") and Krista Allen ("What About Brian"), NFL alums John Elway and Bill Cowher, former NBA star John Salley, tennis phenom Serena Williams, singer Jewel, skateboarding pioneer Tony Hawk, rodeo legend Ty Murray, reigning WWE champ John Cena, surfer Laird Hamilton and volleyball queen Gabrielle Reece - while Kenny Mayne and Brad Daugherty are set to host. Schooling the group will be drivers Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and 2006 champion Jimmie Johnson. Production is currently underway at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. As for specifics, episodes reportedly will revolve around time trials in various driving skills, such as fastest speed, quickest driving from zero to 100 mph, braking and pit-crew skills. No other details about the format were released.

Commitment: Ordered to series (seven episodes)
Cast: Brad Daugherty (Host), Kenny Mayne (Host)
Writer: TBA
Director: TBA
Executive Producers: TBA
Studio: @radical.media

I'M PAIGE ARMSTRONG (The CW) - "Commander-In-Chief" alum Will Lyman has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a naive but bright twentysomething congressional aide (Jaime Ray Newman) who becomes so infuriated by her boss' political maneuvering that she decides to run against him. He'll play Congressman Noah Benjamin Foxworthy, who's further detailed in the casting notice as: "40s-50s, smooth, dignified and steeped in power. This Master of the Universe is an arch-conservative ideologue who is one of the most influential men on the Hill. Foxworthy has served for eight consecutive terms, and will take on anyone - even the President - to further his own political agenda. A master of backroom deals and shady maneuvers, Foxworthy initially welcomes Paige to his staff - but he later finds himself facing his upstart former assistant in the upcoming Congressional election."

Commitment: Ordered to pilot (14-20 minute presentation)
Cast: Jaime Ray Newman (Paige Armstrong), Neal Bledsoe (Michael "Birdy" McGinty), Will Lyman (Congressman Noah Benjamin Foxworthy)
Writer: Rod Lurie
Director: Rod Lurie
Executive Producers: Darryl Frank (DreamWorks Television), Justin Falvey (DreamWorks Television), Marc Frydman (Battle Plan Productions), Rod Lurie (Battle Plan Productions)
Studio: ABC Television Studio

THE MIDDLE (ABC) - Lex Medlin ("Happy Hour") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about the daily life of an extended lower middle-class family in the Midwest as told through the eyes of the harried but happy mom (Ricki Lake). He'll play the husband of Lake's character.

Commitment: Ordered to pilot
Cast: Atticus Shafer (Brick), Brenna O'Brien (Sue), Michael Mitchell (Elvis), Lex Medlin, Ricki Lake (Frankie)
Writers: DeAnn Heline, Eileen Heisler
Director: Chris Koch
Executive Producers: DeAnn Heline, Eileen Heisler
Studio: Warner Bros. Television

NICE GIRLS DON'T GET THE CORNER OFFICE (ABC) - Jane Curtin ("Crumbs") has scored a role on the comedy pilot, about the struggles of a "nice girl" (Jayma Mays) to make it in the corporate world. She'll play Joy, the woman's new assistant, a feared and respected secretary.

Commitment: Ordered to pilot
Cast: Caroline Chikezie (Rachel), Flex Alexander (Eric), Gregory Itzin (Gary Stone), Jane Curtin (Joy), Jayma Mays (Angela), Kathryn Hahn (Price), Matthew Morrison (Brody)
Writers: Jeff Ventimilia, Josh Sternin
Director: Gail Mancuso
Executive Producers: Brian Grazer (Imagine Television), David Nevins (Imagine Television), Jeff Ventimilia, Josh Sternin
Producers: Julie Richardson, Lois Frankel
Studio: 20th Century Fox Television

THE OFFICE (NBC) - Writer/producer Jennifer Celotta has signed an overall deal with NBC Universal Television. The two-year, seven-figure pact calls for Celotta to continue with her duties as co-executive producer of the Emmy-winning comedy as well as develop new projects for the studio.

THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES (FOX) - Dana Ivey ("Oz") has signed onto the comedy pilot, about two estranged sisters who reunite after one of them agrees to carry the other's baby. She's set as Molly, an unspecified character.

Commitment: Ordered to pilot
Cast: Dana Ivey (Molly), Lauren Ambrose (Sarah), Michael Arden (Buddy), Parker Posey (Coco), Ron McLarty (Donald), Scott Cohen (Marcus)
Writer: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Director: Amy Sherman-Palladino
Executive Producers: Amy Sherman-Palladino (Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions), Daniel Palladino (Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions)
Studio: Regency Television

THE RICH INNER LIFE OF PENELOPE CLOUD (CBS) - Angus Macfadyen ("Miracles") has been cast in the comedy pilot, about a brilliant and opinionated writer (Marisa Tomei). He'll play Claude in the project, who's described in the casting notice as follows: "Mid 40s, attractive, intelligent and European looking. He is Penelope's ex-lover and current editor. They broke up 10 years ago after he fooled around with her research assistant. They have since eased into a familiar, genuine camaraderie that only people who have seen each other through their best and worst can enjoy. Under stress to deliver Penelope's pages, he is appalled to learn she still has nothing to show. He suggests she put together a short reading to appease the publishers. Claude is married to a younger woman, Jill, who is also an author. The two are expecting their first child, a prospect that scares and delights him."

Commitment: Ordered to pilot
Cast: Angus Macfadyen (Claude), Cynthia Watros (Eva), Erick Avari (Dr. Hakim), Marisa Tomei (Penelope Cloud), Nick D'Agosto (Ivy)
Writer: Jeff Greenstein
Director: TBA
Executive Producers: Jeff Greenstein
Studios: ABC Television Studio, CBS Paramount Network Television

UNTITLED MAGGIE FRIEDMAN PROJECT (The CW) - Relative newcomer Lauren Bittner ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent") has been cast as the lead in the drama pilot, about a young life coach (Bittner) who also is a witch. Her character, Alex, is further detailed via the casting notice as: "Mid-Late 20s, Female, funny, smart, pretty, very New York and compassionate, she has her own unique stylish sensibility. Alex is a life coach, a woman who's admittedly a sucker for troubled, sad, lost human beings whom she tries her hardest to help. She's also a witch, having inherited the gene from a long line of women in her family, and she's reluctant to use her powers, but when stuck in a bind, she occasionally casts a spell to help a client with his problem - or to punish a cheating boyfriend of her own. Having just broken up with said boyfriend, Alex finds her perfect new apartment comes with an obnoxiously cocky (and attractive) roommate, Danny."

Commitment: Ordered to pilot (14-20 minute presentation)
Cast: Annie Potts (Bunny), Enuka Okuma (Joanna), Justin Hartley (Danny), Lauren Bittner (Alex)
Writer: Maggie Friedman
Director: James Frawley
Executive Producers: Becky Hartman-Edwards, Maggie Friedman
Studio: Warner Bros. Television

UNTITLED ROBERT JOHNSON PROJECT (HBO, New!) - HBO Films is developing a biopic of legendary blues musician Robert Johnson, who has been posthumously recognized as the grandfather of many musical genres, including rock 'n' roll. James L. White ("Ray") is on board to pen the script to the project, which could air on the network or be released theatrically. Anne-Marie Mackay ("Always Outnumbered") is producing. As for specifics, the film reportedly will be partly told from the point of view of his son Claud who was raised by his religious grandfather and taught that his father practiced the devil's music.

Commitment: Script
Cast: TBA
Writer: James L. White
Director: TBA
Executive Producers: TBA
Producer: Anne-Marie Mackay
Studio: HBO Films

UNTITLED STEVE BOCHCO/JOEL FIELDS PROJECT (FX, New!) - Steven Bochco and Joel Fields ("Over There") are set to re-team for a potential new drama at the cable channel, described as a supernatural thriller with family elements. No other specifics were given other than the duo will co-write the script and executive produce.

Commitment: Script
Cast: TBA
Writers: Joel Fields, Steven Bochco
Director: TBA
Executive Producers: Joel Fields, Steven Bochco (Steven Bochco Productions)
Studio: TBA

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2007]  

· AREA 57 (NBC)
· OZ (HBO)

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