[11/09/07 - 06:04 PM]
Development Update: Week of November 5-9
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!

CELEBRITY GARAGE SALE (A&E, New!) - Illeana Douglas is set to host and executive produce a potential new reality series for the cable channel. Production has already been completed on a pilot for the project, which tracks Douglas as she helps famous friends get rid of their unwanted junk, personal items and dusty memorabilia by having their own garage sale to benefit their favorite charity. Tom Arnold was featured in said pilot, in which he raised $5,000 for Camp del Corazon, a summer camp for children with heart disease. Franzke Entertainment is behind the project with Douglas and David Franzke serving as executive producers. Robert Sharenow and Neil Cohen oversaw the pilot for A&E.

DANCE MACHINE (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet is teaming with RDF USA for a new dance competition series featuring real people competing for a cash prize. RDF's Greg Goldman created the project, which has a five-episode commitment, and will executive produce alongside company chief Chris Coelen and Metro Entertainment's Brian A. Veskosky. Casting is currently underway on the series, which is expected to begin production in January. As for specifics, a casting notice on ABC.com indicates: "You don't have to be a trained dancer to take home the cash. All you need is lots of energy and the willingness to leave it all out on the dance floor. We are looking for fun, outgoing, energetic contestants 18 and over to dance up a storm. Remember, dancing experience is not required--the only requirement is that you love to dance! If you are the life of the party, boogie down at bar mitzvahs, or get wild at weddings, then we want you!!!" Not surprisingly however exact format details have yet to be released.

HAPPY CAMPERS (ABC Family) - Alessandra Torresani, Beth Littleford, French Stewart, Kay Panabaker, Rebecca McFarland and Ryan Malgarini have all been cast in the single-camera comedy pilot, about the experiences of a family on a cross-country road trip that includes teenager Dylan (Panabaker), her father (Stewart), his new wife (McFarland) and her kids (Toressani, Malgarini) with Littleford as Dylan's mother. Production is set to begin this week on the project with Gil Junger is directing from a script by creator Carter Covington. As for specifics, Torresani is playing Joni Shiflet, who's detailed in the casting notice as follows: "17. She is Mimi's daughter, Dylan's new step-sister. Joni is a sexy, trashy, self-involved, not terribly bright girl who has no compunctions about stealing Dylan's new boyfriend. Always turned out in revealing attire, she initially assumes that Dylan is a lesbian - simply because she's a vegan and has never been kissed by a boy."

Stewart then is set as Joel Dixon - "40. Joel is Dylan's enthusiastic, well-meaning, but somewhat clueless father, now remarried. Seen in hiking shorts, pulled dangerously high, a short sleeve button down shirt and dark socks with sandals, Joel is excited about taking the family on cross-country bonding trip in his refurbished motorhome. Plus, as a Cultural Anthropology professor the trip will provide research for his new book about Roadside Americana. While often oblivious and eager to see things through rose-colored glasses, he is not immune to his daughter's discomfort and hopes that this trip will bring them closer." - with Panabaker as Dylan Dixon - "16, Female, in her "urban, activist uniform (a pro-choice T-shirt, faded jeans, and a pony tail). Dylan is a city girl, a New Yorker about to spend the summer camping with her dad, his new wife and her two step-siblings. A liberal and a vegan, with a dry sense of humor and a disdain for pretty much anything provincial, Dylan is less than delighted to learn of her dad's cross-country plans for the family. She's also having a tough time dealing with her effusive stepmom and her sociopathic offspring."

Next up is McFarland as Mimi Dixon-Shiflet - "37. Mimi is Joel's new wife, the mother of two teenage kids. "Everything about her screams Southern: her accent, her super-sweet smile, and the Aqua Net in her hair. Her jewelry jingles." Formerly a flight attendant, Mimi now sells Mary Kay cosmetics. Effusive and warm, with an upbeat attitude, she has, unfortunately, a complete lack of boundaries." - while Malgarini is set as Mitchell Shiflet - "13. Mimi's son, Dylan's new step-brother, Mitchell is "smack in the middle of an awkward stage." His face is all braces, which he shows off in an angelic smile. However, the sweet smile gives way to a dirty leer as soon as his mom is out of the room. He comes on to a creeped-out Dylan, later apologizing for his out-of-control hormones." Full details on Littleford's character however weren't released.

KATH & KIM (NBC) - Paul Feig ("Freaks and Geeks") has been tapped to direct the pilot to the comedy, based on the Australian series about a woman and her daughter. Molly Shannon stars in the Reveille/Universal Media Studios-based half-hour, which comes from writer Michelle Nader and fellow executive producers Gina Riley, Jane Turner, Michelle Nader and Rick McKenna.

KINGS (NBC, New!) - "Heroes" co-executive producer Michael Green has landed a pilot commitment for a new contemporary soap loosely based on the story of King David, the Biblical king of Israel. Francis Lawrence ("I Am Legend") is on board to direct the hour and executive produce alongside Green and Lawrence's manager, Erwin Stoff of 3 Arts Entertainment, for Universal Media Studios. The news marks the last pilot commitment given by the Peacock prior to the WGA strike. As for specifics, the project is set in a modern metropolis run by a wealthy entrepreneur/monarch who's benefited from the constant state of war in the kingdom. The series, which will feature magical elements, then would track a young solider as he catapults to fame via a heroic act that pits him against said entrepreneur and eventually becomes the new king.

SCRUBS (NBC) - Co-star Judy Reyes has inked a talent holding deal with producer ABC Studios. The pact calls for the studio to cast the actress in one of its upcoming projects, potentially either a comedy or drama.

STARTING UNDER (FOX, New!) - FOX has given a blind seven-episode series commitment to a new multi-camera comedy from comedian Bernie Mac ("The Bernie Mac Show") and "The Drew Carey Show" creator Bruce Helford. The project, which is set up at Helford's Warner Bros. Television-based Mohawk banner, centers on a larger-than-life and opinionated man (Mac), who, after a divorce, finds himself living with and working for his introverted twentysomething son. Sitcom veteran Andy Ackerman is already on board to direct the half-hour, production of which is obviously contingent on the end of the WGA strike. Helford and Deborah Oppenheimer, who inked a new two-year overall deal with the studio back in June, will then executive produce alongside Ackerman with Mac and his manager Steven Greener both receiving producer credits.

THE VERDICT (Lifetime) - Madchen Amick, Robin Givens and Emma Lung as the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about the "crime of the century" trial of a beloved pop star who has been accused of having her lover murdered. Givens will play Ayira, the pop singer/supermodel-turned-mogul on trial for allegedly having her lover/personal trainer killed by her bodyguard. Amick then will play Christine, a talented assistant D.A. assigned to the case who's marred to a media dynasty heir, with Lung will play Fiona, a British news reporter covering the case. Jon Maas is behind the Lionsgate-based presentation, which Mark Piznarski is directing. Production is slated to begin this month in Philadelphia with Maas, Jonathan Prince and Howard Klein serving as executive producers.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [november 2007]  


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