LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BIG IN JAPAN (ABC, New!) - Arthur Smith ("Hell's Kitchen") is developing a new reality competition series at the Alphabet in which Americans go to a foreign country to compete in local challenges while trying to adapt to their culture. ABC has given a series commitment to the project, which Smith will executive produce via his A. Smith & Co. banner. It's understood said title is tentative as producers are considering several different countries, including Japan. No other format specifics were released.
ENTOURAGE (HBO) - Rob Weiss, an executive producer on the series, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the pay channel. The pact covers his duties on the upcoming fifth season of the comedy series, which resumes shooting at the end of April for a September premiere. In addition, Weiss, who's said to be one of the inspirations for the show's bombastic director Billy Walsh, will develop new projects for the network.
GOSSIP GIRL (The CW) - Michelle Trachtenberg ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") has landed a multi-episode arc on the freshman drama. She'll play Georgina Sparks, a troubled friend of Blake Lively's character who rolls back into Manhattan from rehab and shakes up her world. No other details were given.
HOW TO TEACH FILTHY RICH GIRLS (The CW) - Marsha Mason is the first to be cast on the drama pilot, about a Yale-educated young woman hired to be the live-in tutor/life coach to two rich heiresses in Palm Beach. She'll play the grandmother of said heiresses who becomes their guardian. Rina Mimoun is behind the project, which is set up at Alloy Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television.
UNITED STATES OF TARA (Showtime) - John Corbett ("Sex and the City") is set to star opposite Toni Collette in the comedy pilot, about a woman with a multiple personality disorder. He'll play her husband, Max Gregor, a ruggedly handsome contractor who lives a life of stress and tries to read as much as he can about his wife's condition. Craig Gillespie is directing the half-hour from a script by Oscar-winning Diablo Cody. Production is set to begin next month.
UNTITLED KIRSTIE ALLEY PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Kirstie Alley has inked a development deal with Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions. The pact includes the potential development of a daily talk show hosted by the actress, who made headlines after appearing in a bikini on Winfrey's show after a major weight loss achieved via Jenny Craig. Alley previously teamed with Buena Vista Productions and Fisher Entertainment to develop a talk show back in 2002 that never got off the ground.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters