LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BEN-HUR (ABC) - Joseph Morgan, Emily VanCamp and Stephen Campbell Moore are the first to be cast in the upcoming mini-series, a remake of the Oscar-winning film of the same name. Also signing on are Ray Winstone, Kristen Kruek, Hugh Bonneville, Alex Kingston, Lucia Jimenez, Miguel Angel Munoz, Marc Warren, Art Malik and James Faulkner. Morgan will play the title role, "a wealthy Jewish youth in the time of Jesus Christ -- who is seeking revenge and reclaiming his identity after being betrayed by his friend, Messala (Moore)." VanCamp then is set as Esther, Ben-Hur's love interest, with Winstone as his adoptive father, Kruek as his sister and Bonneville as Pontius Pilate. Steven Shill ("Obsessed") is helming the four-hour, $22 million adaptation from a script by Alan Sharp ("Rob Roy"). Production began this week in Ouarzazate, Morocco with David Wyler, Manuel Corbi, Michael Prupas, Frank Konigsberg and Dirk Beinhold executive producing. Co-producing alongside the Alchemy Television Group are Spain's Drimtim Entertainment, Canada's Muse Entertainment, Morocco's Zak Productions and Germany's Akkord Films.
THE CLEVELAND SHOW (FOX) - The network has commissioned 13 additional episodes of the upcoming "Family Guy" spin-off, bringing its series total to 35 installments. The early pickup is designed to keep the show in production while the series rolls out this fall. "Cleveland" had been ready for a spring start however FOX opted to hold the series until this fall. Said delay nevertheless required for FOX to make the call on a second season using the original timetable or risk losing the associated talent. Seth MacFarlane, Rich Appel and Mike Henry are the executive producers.
UNTITLED JENNY MCCARTHY PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Jenny McCarthy has inked a multi-year overall deal with Oprah Winfrey's Harpo Productions. The pact calls for the actress/author ("Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism," "Mother Warriors: A Nation of Parents Healing Autism Against All Odds") to develop various projects for the company, including a potential syndicated talk show. First up however is McCarthy's blog on Oprah.com, which launched last week. No specifics however were given about the TV component.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters