LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE ANATOMY OF HOPE (A.K.A. UNTITLED TOM SCHULMAN/RAFAEL YGLESIAS PROJECT) (HBO) - Chris Messina, John Ortiz, Simon Callow, Valerie Pettiford, Matt Craven, Deepti Daryanani, Daryl Edwards, Diego Klattenhoff, Kerry Condon and Sarah Knowlton have all been cast in the pilot, a hospital drama that explores cancer battles from the patients' point of view. In addition, executive producer J.J. Abrams has confirmed he'll direct the hour from a script by Tom Schulman and Rafael Yglesias. As for specifics, Messina will play an oncologist who goes between being overly friendly and aloof; Ortiz will play a recent cancer survivor; Callow is set as one of the top oncologists in the U.S.; Pettiford is playing a terminally ill cancer patient; Craven will play a hyper guy who may have prostate cancer; Edwards will play a patient with advanced cancer; Klattenhoff is playing a recently engaged young man with bone cancer in his leg with Condon as his fiancee; Daryanani is set as a beautiful young doctor; and Knowlton will play a nurse who runs the chemo ward. Abrams, Schulman and Yglesias then are executive producing alongside Bad Robot's Bryan Burk via the company's overall deal with Warner Bros. Television.
BIG LOVE (HBO) - The pay channel has commissioned a trio of three-to-five minute mini-episodes of the series collectively dubbed "Big Love: In the Beginning." All three installments will feature the regular cast and crew as well as fill in various elements of the backstory of the Henricksons. The first, "Post-Partum," is set five years ago when Bill's wife Nicki (Chloe Sevigny) suffers a breakdown after her child is born; the second "Meet the Babysitter," takes place three years ago when youngest wife Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) comes into the picture; and the last, "Moving Day," focuses on an incident set a little over a year ago when the family considers a move to the suburbs. HBO on Demand subscribers will have access to the episodes starting Monday, June 4 before they're actually broadcast on the channel itself on Sunday, June 24 at 7:45/6:45c.
FAMILY MAN (TNT, New!) - William H. Macy ("The Wool Cap") has been tapped to star in a potential new drama series for the cable channel, about a man who organizes charity drives by day and cracks the safes of major corporations by night. Macy himself will co-write the script with longtime collaborator Steven Schachter (who will also direct) as well as executive produce alongside Craig Zadan and Neil Meron via their Sony Pictures Television-based Storyline Entertainment. As for specifics, it's understood the story will be told with the use of flash forwards, with Macy's character seen in prison in the future.
JOURNEYMAN (NBC) - Alex Graves, who helmed the drama pilot to the series, has inked a one-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for Graves to continue on as an executive producer for the first 13 episodes of the project as well as develop new series projects for the studio.
JUDGMENT DAY (Lifetime) - Graham Norton ("The Graham Norton Show") has been tapped to host the pilot, which is described as an in-studio popularity contest where seven women are voted off one by one by a female audience based on how they handle a series of questions and challenges, demonstrating how people all too often judge a book by its cover. Production on the hourlong project, from Simon Andreae ("Ebaum's World") and Fox Television Studios, is set to begin next month in Los Angeles.
MR. & MRS. SMITH (ABC) - Regency Television reportedly is set to begin shopping the pilot to other networks as early as next week. The project, which was co-produced by Doug Liman's Dutch Oven banner, didn't make the cut for ABC's 2007-2008 schedule this week. It's understood creator Simon Kinberg and co-stars Jordana Brewster and Martin Henderson are all still attached to the pilot, however no option length was given.
UGLY BETTY (ABC) - Executive producers Salma Hayek and Jose Tamez have signed a new two-year overall deal with the show's producer ABC Studios. The pact sets up their Ventanarosa Productions at the studio where they'll develop new series projects as well as continue with their duties on "Betty."
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters