LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Evan Katz has inked a massive two-year, seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which has an option for a third year, replaces his previous deal with the studio, which was due to expire next year. In any case, he'll continue in his role as executive producer - alongside Joel Surnow, Bob Cochran, Howard Gordon, Kiefer Sutherland, John Cassar and Brian Grazer - as well as develop new projects for the studio.
BONES (FOX) - Stephen Nathan is sticking with 20th Century Fox Television, inking a new two-year overall deal with the studio. The pact, which likewise has an option for an additional year, calls for the writer/producer to continue in his role as second-in-command to showrunner Hart Hanson on "Bones." In addition, he'll develop new series projects for the studio.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - Former "What About Brian" showrunner Mark Perry has been tapped as the drama's new showrunner. He'll serve as an executive producer, taking over the day-to-day duties from Greg Berlanti. In addition, Jennifer Cecil ("One Tree Hill") and fellow "Brian" alum Liz Tigelaar have joined the writing staff.
THE CAPTAIN (CBS) - The Eye has quietly ordered six episodes of the comedy pilot, about a young writer (Fran Kranz) who moves into an old-school Hollywood apartment complex. The news marks the network's first series order for a single-camera comedy since 2001's "Danny." Jeffrey Tambor, Raquel Welch, Chris Klein, Joanna Garcia, Al Madrigal and Valerie Azlynn also star in the half-hour, which comes from CBS Paramount Network Television and creator John Hamburg ("Meet the Parents"). In addition, Andrew Reich and Ted Cohen ("Friends") have come aboard to executive produce the project alongside Hamburg.
DAMAGES (FX) - Peter Facinelli ("Fastlane") has landed a recurring role on the upcoming drama series, about one of America's foremost litigators (Glenn Close) who uses all means necessary to bring down corporate titan Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson). He'll play Gregory Malina, a man who has an affair with a key witness and becomes entangled in Hewes' case against Frobisher. The series launches next month on Tuesday, July 24 at 10:00/9:00c.
GENE SIMMONS' FAMILY JEWELS (A&E) - The cable channel has renewed its Sunday reality series for a third season of 24 episodes, four more than its current sophomore effort. To date this season, "Jewels" is up 15% in total viewers (1.5 million viewers), 11% in adults 18-49 and by 8% in 25-54. More importantly, the series ranks as the network's second most-watched ever in the latter two demographics, second only "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - The show's producers have opted not to renew co-star Isaiah Washington's contract, the network and ABC Studios both confirmed this week. The news spells the end of a nearly eight month behind-the-scenes drama, which was sparked by Washington's alleged use of a slur on the set of "Grey's" in October. "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore," the actor said in a statement released through his publicist. Neither ABC, producers or the studio provided any further comment. Meanwhile in other "Grey's" news, writer/producer Jill Soloway ("Six Feet under") has signed on as a consulting producer for the show's first 13 episodes next season. Separately, she's also inked a deal with Warner Bros. Television and J.J. Abrams' Bad Robot banner to develop new series projects for the duo. Should none of said projects move forward, she'll continue on as a co-executive producer on "Grey's" for the rest of next season and the following season.
HACKETT (FOX) - Sarah Timberman's 25C Productions has inked a new two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television, the studio where she developed NBC's short-lived drama "Kidnapped." In addition, Carl Beverly, who has been with the company since its inception in 2003, has been named a full partner. The pair then will continue to develop new series projects for the studio, including its midseason comedy pilot "Hackett" which is due to film this summer. Denise Moss created the half-hour, which centers on a bad-boy luminary who escapes his disgraced career teaching at Yale only to find himself among the ultra-politically correct ranks of teachers at an Ohio public high school, which Barry Sonnenfeld is attached to direct.
HEROES (NBC) - Creator/executive producer Tim Kring has landed a new two-year overall deal with NBC Universal Television Studio. The pact, said to be one of the biggest in television, calls for the prolific writer/producer to continue with his duties on the series as well as its spin-off "Heroes: Origins" and its offshoots in print and digital media. In addition, he'll develop new series projects for the studio.
HOUSE (FOX) - Prolific director Deran Sarafian is set to join the popular medical drama as a co-executive producer. As part of the pact with NBC Universal Television, he'll direct every third episode of the drama, which shoots 24 installments each season. Sarafian is no stranger to "House," having directed 11 episodes of the series to date. This past development season, he helmed the FOX drama pilot "K-Ville," which is set to air on Monday nights this fall.
HUSBAND FOR HIRE (Oxygen, New!) - Mark Consuelos ("Age of Love") and Nadine Velazquez ("My Name Is Earl") are set to topline a new original movie for the cable channel about a Latina businesswoman (Velazquez) who has to get married or she will lose her share of the family fortune. Consuelos then plays the husband she hires to marry her. Also cast in the project are Mario Lopez as the ex-fiance of Velazquez's character, Erik Estrada as her traditional father and Tempestt Bledsoe as her no-nonsense best friend. Kris Isacsson will write and direct the film with Process Media's Tim Perell executive producing and Howard Gertler serving as a co-executive producer. The news marks Perell and Process Media's fourth movie for the channel, the others being "My Sexiest Mistake," "Tempting Adam" and "Romancing the Bride" (the latter two with Isacsson). Production on "Husband" is set to begin this week in New Mexico for an air date later this year.
LAW & ORDER (NBC) - As expected, Jack McCoy, Sam Waterston's character, has been promoted to New York district attorney for the show's 18th season. The move is designed to fill the void left by outgoing D.A. Arthur Branch, played by the exiting Fred Thompson. McCoy previously served as the lead district attorney for the past 14 seasons, not surprisingly making him the longest to hold that role.
RECLAIMING HISTORY: THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY (HBO, New!) - Vincent Bugliosi's 1,632-page tome is being developed as a ten-hour mini-series by the pay channel and Playtone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. The project, like the book, will debunk long-held conspiracy theories and establish that assassin Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in his assassination of President Kennedy. "Big Love" co-star Bill Paxton is also attached to executive produce the effort alongside his Playtone bosses Hanks and Goetzman. It's understood HBO will also make a companion documentary special, in which the author (who also penned the famed Charles Manson book "Helter Skelter"), addresses the myriad conspiracy theories, including those involving the Mafia, the KGB or Fidel Castro in JFK's assassination. Playtone is a frequent collaborator with HBO, most recently for the seven-part miniseries "John Adams" as well as the upcoming 10-part World War II effort "The Pacific."
THE RULES FOR STARTING OVER (FOX) - Mike Sikowitz ("The Class") has been tapped as the midseason comedy's showrunner. There he'll supervise co-creators Chris Pappas and Mike Bernier as well as serve as an executive producer alongside Bobby Farrelly, Peter Farrelly, Brad Johnson and Bradley Thomas. Separately, Sikowitz will continue to develop new series projects for Sony Pictures Television via his overall deal. The 20th Century Fox Television-based "Rules" stars Craig Bierko as a recently divorced man who enters the dating world and discovers that things have changed since he got married.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) - "Seinfeld" alum Carol Leifer is set to come aboard the returning comedy as a co-executive producer. Said development is a result of a new two-year overall deal with the show's producer Sony Pictures Television. There she'll serve alongside executive producers Tom Hertz, Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo and Doug Robinson. In addition, she's develop new series projects for the studio during the second year of the pact. Meanwhile, Sivert Glarum and Michael Jamin ("Just Shoot Me") are also set to join the series as co-executive producers next season. The duo inked an overall deal with the studio last year.
SCRUBS (NBC) - Creator/executive producer Bill Lawrence has booked a massive four-year, eight-figure overall deal with ABC Studios. The pact includes a buyout of the writer/producer's current contract with NBC Universal Television, where he had been based for the past six years (even though "Scrubs" was an ABC Studios production). In addition to shepherding the show's seventh and final season, he'll develop new series projects for the studio.
THEM (FOX)/THE THICK OF IT (ABC) - Both pilots, which didn't make the initial cut for their respective network's 2007-2008 schedules, may turn up at midseason. And in the case of the Mitch Hurwitz-created comedy "Thick," it may be on a new network. Showtime, HBO and NBC are among those said to have expressed interest in the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and BBC Worldwide Productions. Talks nevertheless are still in the exploratory stage. As for "Them," the David Eick co-created/executive produced hour, from CBS Paramount Network Television and Circle of Confusion Productions, remains in active development at FOX.
UNTITLED VICTORIA BECKHAM PROJECT (NBC) - The Peacock reportedly plans to roll back its commitment to the Victoria Beckham-focused reality series. It's understood the network plans to air the project as a one-hour special then if ratings merit, turn it into a full blown series or subsequent specials. No official reason is known for the expected decision other than speculation in the British media about problems related to her husband, soccer star David Beckham, being recalled to play with the English national team late last month.
WANNA BET? (ABC) - The Gurin Company's game show pilot has scored a six-episode order from the Alphabet, its third series order in the past three weeks (the other's being for CBS's "Do You Trust Me?" and NBC's "The Singing Bee"). British TV personalities Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly host the project, which features contestants gambling on whether they can perform certain stunts. Production is set to begin in the next few weeks for an air date sometime during the 2007-2008 season. Phil Gurin ("The Weakest Link") and Marc Jansen are the executive producers.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters