LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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AMC AT THE TCA - AMC topper Charlie Collier confirmed that despite prolonged contract negotiations between creator/executive producer Matthew Weiner and Lionsgate Television, the Emmy-winning drama will indeed return for a third season this summer. "As long as we get the writers' room up and running over the next few months, we're fine," Collier told reporters, adding that he's optimistic a deal with Weiner will be reached. Meanwhile, "Breaking Bad" is set to roll out its second season on Sunday, March 8 at 10:00/9:00c while the mini-series "The Prisoner" will launch in November.
ER/POLICE (A.K.A. LAPD) (NBC) - After weeks of heated negotiations, NBC is set to order six episodes of John Wells's new drama "Police" as well as three additional installments for "ER's" final season. The Peacock had originally hoped to order 13 episodes of the newcomer, however producer Warner Bros. Television was hesitant to commit to deficit-financing such a large commitment with so few real estate options on the network next season due to Jay Leno taking over the 10:00/9:00c hour. As for "ER," the three extra episodes will push the previously announced March 12 finale of "ER" into April with "Police" potentially assuming the Thursday, 10:00/9:00c slot on the following week. The Peacock is expected to finalize the shows' respective end and start dates - as well as a new home for "Kings" (previously set for a March 19 launch) - during the TCA Winter Press Tour next week. Arija Bareikis, Benjamin McKenzie, Kevin Alejandro, Michael Cudlitz, Michael McGrady, Regina King, Shawn Hatosy and Tom Everett Scott all star in "Police," the pilot of which was directed by Christopher Chulack from a script by Ann Biderman.
THE MORNING SHOW WITH MIKE & JULIET (Syndication) - Citing economic concerns, Twentieth Television has decided not to renew the syndicated talk show for the 2009-10 season. "Over the past two years, we set out to produce a high-quality show that provided viewers with an engaging source of entertainment; we believe we accomplished this goal," Twentieth's Bob Cook said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the current serious economic conditions made it challenging to continue producing the type of unique program that we wanted to deliver." Despite the cancellation, the series will continue to air until September with first-run installments being produced through June. It's believed participating stations, mostly Fox owned-and-operated, will opt to expand their local news programming rather than program the time periods with other offerings.
MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) - Distributor Twentieth Television has cleared the show's off-network run in more than 25 markets, bringing its clearance to stations covering 47% of the country. "Earl," along with a syndicated take on "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, are both being offered for a fall 2009 start.
RONNA & BEVERLY (Showtime, New!) - "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan is set to team with Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo for a new comedy at the pay channel based on the latter pair's sketch of the same name. Said half-hour then would revolve around two middle-aged women in Boston (played by Chaffin and Denbo) who decide to self-publish and aggressively promote a dating guide for Jewish singles, "You'll Do a Little Better Next Time." Paul Feig ("The Office") is already attached to direct the project, which is on track to shoot a presentation reel in early February. In addition to reprising their roles, Chaffin and Denbo will co-write the script alongside Kohan for Lionsgate Television.
UNTITLED STEPHEN GAGHAN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Oscar-winner Stephen Gaghan ("Traffic") has inked a seven-figure put pilot commitment from the network, following a bidding war with FOX. The pact calls for Gaghan to write, executive produce and direct - should his schedule permit - a new drama pilot for the Alphabet. No other details about the hour were given, which has yet to be set up at a studio however Sony Pictures Television and ABC Studios are said to be in the running.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters