CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from various wire reports each morning:
THE HELP (WB) - Camille Guaty ("What I Like About You") has signed on to the WB comedy pilot "The Help." She replaces Alexandra Barreto, who has departed the project.
THE O.C. (FOX) - FOX has given its drama pilot "The O.C." a series order of 13 episodes. The Warner Bros. produced project, from Josh Schwartz and McG ("Fastlane"), is described by its creators as a "show about this world of Newport Beach where everyone is supposed to be an informed member of the community, but we find everyone feels like an outsider." The O.C. in the title refers to the Orange County area of greater Los Angeles. FOX is hoping the series can be the next "Melrose Place" for the network as the soap will likely launch this summer to avoid being lost in the pack of the 30-odd series that usually debut in the fall. Headlined by Peter Gallagher ("While You Were Sleeping"), the cast includes Mischa Barton ("The Sixth Sense"), Tate Donovan ("Mister Sterling"), Adam Brody ("Gilmore Girls"), Kelly Rowan ("Boomtown") and Benjamin McKenzie. Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity") directed the pilot while Dave Bartis has signed on to the producing team of Schwartz, McG, Stephanie Savage and Joseph Dougherty. Previously FOX had commissioned additional scripts of the project, a sure sign it was a frontrunner to make its 2003-04 schedule.
SENOR WHITE (FOX) - Yvonne DeLaRosa has joined Ron White's comedy pilot which now runs under the title "Senor White."
UNTITLED FLETT-GIORDANO/RANBERG PROJECT (ABC) - Lenny Clarke ("The Job") has climbed on board the untitled comedy pilot from producers Anne Flett-Giordano and Chuck Ranberg for the Alphabet network.
WONDER FALLS (A.K.A. MAID OF THE MIST) (FOX) - Also getting a series order of 13 episodes (including its pilot) is "Wonder Falls," from 20th Century Fox TV and Regency Television. Todd Holland ("Malcolm in the Middle") and Bryan Fuller ("Star Trek: Voyager") are behind the series, which stars Caroline Dhavernas as a Niagara Falls souvenir shop worker whose life is forever changed when she has a nervous breakdown and finds that inanimate animal figures -- plush toys, ceramic figurines, cartoon characters, etc. -- are communicating with her. The cryptic messages she receives from her not-so-furry friends lead her to endeavor to help those in need. The creators of the light-hearted drama liken the series to "Amelie" meets "The Royal Tenenbaums." Also among the cast are Kate Finneran ("Noises Off on Broadway"), Diana Scarwid ("Mommie Dearest") and Tyron Leitso ("Dinotopia"). Like "The O.C.," "Falls" could wind up bowing late this summer to avoid the fall rush.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters