[05/12/10 - 05:15 PM] Development Update: Wednesday, May 12 By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)
LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE BORGIAS (Showtime) - Derek Jacobi ("Gladiator") has joined the cast of the upcoming period drama, about the infamous Italian Renaissance family. He'll play Cardinal Orsini, a nemesis to Pope Alexander (Jeremy Irons). Colm Feore and Francois Arnaud also star in the hour, which comes from executive producers James Flynn, John Weber, Michael Hirst, Neil Jordan and Sheila Hockin.
CINEMA VERITE (HBO) - Tim Robbins and James Gandolfini have joined the cast of the original movie, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the groundbreaking 1973 PBS documentary series "An American Family." Robbins will play Bill Loud whose family was the subject of the series with Gandolfini as the documentary's producer, Craig Gilbert. The pair joins the previously cast Diane Lane as Bill's wife Pat. David Selzer penned the project, which is being helmed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Production is set to begin this summer in Los Angeles.
EPISODES (Showtime) - Richard Griffiths ("Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows") has landed a role on the upcoming comedy, about a British couple (Stephen Mangan, Tamsin Greig) whose hit UK show is turned into a dumbed-down American sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc (as himself). He'll likewise play a himself - a brilliant British actor - who's deemed "too sophisticated" by the American TV executives and is replaced by LeBlanc. Kathleen Rose Perkins and Mircea Monroe also star in the project, which comes from co-creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (DirecTV) - David Hudgins has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Universal Media Studios. The pact calls for the writer/producer to return as an executive producer on the show's fifth and final season as well as develop new series projects for the studio. Hudgins, who spent the past season on the short-lived "Past Life" at FOX, will serve as co-showrunner alongside Jason Katims. Following said run he'll join Katims's other studio-based series "Parenthood." Production is underway on "Lights's" fifth season with "Parenthood" set to resume this summer.
THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS (HBO, New!) - Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball are developing a small screen take on the life of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black woman who died of cervical cancer in 1951 and "without her consent, pieces of the tumor that killed her were removed and used for medical exploration and to build a billion-dollar research industry." Rebecca Skloot penned the novel upon which the project is based with Winfrey and Ball executive producing alongside Harpo Films's Kate Forte and Your Face Goes Here Entertainment's Peter Macdissi.
NO ORDINARY FAMILY (ABC) - The Greg Berlanti/Jon Harmon Feldman-penned drama has landed the Alphabet's first series commitment for the 2010-11 season. Said hour revolves around a typical American family whose members - mom Stephanie (Julie Benz), dad Jim (Michael Chiklis), daughter Daphne (Kay Panabaker), son JJ (Jimmy Bennett) - discover they have special abilities. Tate Donovan, Autumn Reeser, Christina Chang and Romany Malco also star in the ABC Studios-based project, which was directed by David Semel.
UNTITLED LEAH RACHEL/EMILY MONTAGUE PROJECT (HBO, New!) - Newcomers Leah Rachel and Emily Montague has booked a new comedy at the pay channel about "a group of female friends working and finding romance in Los Angeles." The untitled project, which is reportedly close to a script commitment, comes from "Entourage" executive producers Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson and their Closest to the Hole Productions and Leverage banners, respectively. No other specifics were given.
WILDE KINGDOM (FOX) - The Will Arnett-led comedy has received a series commitment from the network. The single-camera comedy revolves around a rich Beverly Hills jackass (Arnett) who falls in love with a charitable tree-hugging woman (Keri Russell) who can't stand his lifestyle or values. Arnett, Jim Vallely and Mitch Hurwitz are behind the Lionsgate Television-based half-hour, which also stars Jayne Houdyshell, Joe Nunez and Stefania Owen. Hurwitz is also executive producing with his Tantamount partners Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum as well as Principato-Young Entertainment's Paul Young and Peter Principato. "Wilde" joins "Traffic Light," "Keep Hope Alive," "Ride-Along" and "Lone Star," all of which were ordered earlier today.
WILFRED (FX) - David Zuckerman's import of the Austrailian series has received a pilot order from the cable channel. The single-camera comedy tracks a couple named Sarah and Adam and her dog, Wilfred. The twist of the show then is while Sarah sees Wilfred as a scruffy dog, Adam sees him as a real person dressed in a dog costume with whom he quickly develops a grudge. Jason Gann, the format's creator, will reprise the title role from the Aussie version and serve as a co-executive producer. Prospect Park's Rich Frank, Paul Frank and Jeff Kwatinetz will also serve as executive producers, as will Renegade's Joe Connor and Ken Connor.