LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Co-creator/executive producer Joel Surnow is departing the series after seven and a half seasons. "I did some soul-searching," Surnow told the trade publications. "I took it as an opportunity to write on my own and do other things." The news comes on the eve of his overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television expiring. Surnow's exit nevertheless won't derail the show's production as fellow executive producer Howard Gordon has served as the day-to-day showrunner in recent years alongside co-creator Robert Cochran.
CW NOW (The CW) - In a follow up to our February 8 report (read the story), The Hollywood Reporter has subsequently confirmed the series has indeed been canceled. "While you always wish the ratings were higher, we are proud of 'CW Now' and how it improved every week from a creative standpoint," CW COO John Maatta said in a statement. "The program was a highly collaborative endeavor, and you can't put a price tag on what we learned from this project." The show's final broadcast is set for February 24.
HOLE IN THE WALL (FOX, New!) - FremantleMedia North America is looking to import the Japanese game show in which contestants, dressed in spandex and hard hats, play a game of human Tetris versus a shape-changing moving barrier in order to avoid being knocked into a pool of water. YouTube.com and "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" have popularized the format domestically. Fuji Television originated the family-friendly show in July of 2006. As for specifics, teams gain or lose points depending on whether they manage to stay dry through each round. Stuart Krasnow is on board to executive produce the U.S. version alongside FremantleMedia chief Cecile Frot-Coutaz.
IFL BATTLEGROUND (MyNetworkTV) - The fledgling netlet has opted out of a second season of its formerly top-rated series. The show was widely reported as being part of the network's 2007-08 season plans over the summer. Its March 12 launch scored a then record 0.8 household rating but ultimately sagged by its final first-run airing on September 24. Repeats were featured briefly on Saturday nights during October and November. IFL coverage nevertheless will continue on previous partner Fox Sports Net as well as the newly added HDNet.
POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS/THE UNITED STATES OF TARA (Showtime) - The pay channel has confirmed both pilots are still a go following the strike's resolution. In addition, Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl") has signed on to direct the latter project, about a woman (Toni Collette) with multiple-personality disorder. "Juno" screenwriter Diablo Cody penned the half-hour, which comes from DreamWorks Television. Tim Robbins then is behind "Effects," a drama about a family that runs a pharmaceutical company and the political, scientific and bureaucratic machinery that makes up the pharmaceutical industry. Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas and Daniel Thomas also serve as executive producers.
THE RICHES (FX) - The cable channel has slated the show's second season to launch on Tuesday, March 18 at 10:00/9:00c. Like fellow sophomore entry "Dirt," only seven of the 13 episodes ordered were shot prior to the strike. The network has opted to bring back both series with truncated runs rather than wait until their original 13-episode order was completed. Izzard, Minnie Driver, Shannon Woodward, Noel Fisher, Aidan Mitchell, Margo Martindale, Gregg Henry, Todd Stashwick and Jared Harris all star. FX Productions and Fox Television Studios are co-producing.
UGLY BETTY (ABC) - Executive producers Marco Pennette and James Hayman have been let go from the series, the same week it was renewed for a third season. The news marks its latest behind-the-scenes shuffle, coming on the heels of letting five writers go after its freshman run. Silvio Horta, Salma Hayek and Jose Tamez will continue on as the remaining active executive producers.
UNTITLED DENISE RICHARDS PROJECT (E!, New!) - Denise Richards's long-rumored reality series has been officially announced by the cable channel. E! staple Ryan Seacrest ("Keeping Up With the Kardashians") is executive producing the project, which will focus on Richards's life as a single mom following her high-profile divorce from Charlie Sheen. The proposed series made headlines earlier this year after Sheen went to court over Richards's decision to allow their children in front of the cameras. Ryan Seacrest Productions's Eliot Goldberg will serve as a co-executive producer. No launch date was specified.
UNTITLED JUSTIN HARTLEY PROJECT (The CW) - Justin Hartley ("Smallville") has inked a talent holding deal with the network. The actor toplined two recent pilots for the network - "Aquaman" and "Spellbound" - and was brought in to replace Johnny Lewis on the midseason entry "Eight Days a Week." That project has been in limbo since the WGA strike as only the original pilot has been completed thus far. Said deal then calls for the CW to find a new project for the actor.
UNTITLED DAVID KOHAN/MAX MUTCHNICK PROJECT (ABC, New!) - "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick have landed the first major TV sale since the end of the WGA strike, pacting with ABC for a new multi-camera comedy at the network. The semi-autobiographical project, which was written on spec prior to the strike, revolves around two men - one straight, one gay - who are lifelong best friends/business partners that find their relationship threatened after each begin serious romantic relationships. Said half-hour, which is based at Warner Bros. Television and has a pilot commitment, is not to be confused with their CBS effort from last season, about a gay writer and a straight writer who are best friends and their hot young assistants.
WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB (ABC) - R. Scott Gemmill, Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain have all been let go from the freshman drama. Said development comes as the Alphabet mulls the fate of the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour, which will ultimately hinge on finding a replacement. Craft and Fain, who created the series, will remain under their overall deals with 20th, as will Gemmill.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters