CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
THE JANE PAULEY SHOW (Syndication, New!) - Former "Dateline NBC" anchor Jane Pauley will be the centerpiece to a new syndicated daytime talk show, set to launch in 2004. NBC Enterprises is behind the project, which will originate from NBC's headquarters in New York's Rockefeller Center. In a statement to the press, Pauley said, "While a daytime talk show is a dramatic departure for me, I'm thrilled that the second phase of my career begins at NBC, where the first one left off." She added, "I look forward to a long-running conversation with other women who share many of the same issues and have lots of ideas, too."
L.A. DRAGNET (ABC) - Josh and Jonas Pate ("Good vs. Evil") have signed on as head writers and co-executive producers of the Dick Wolf-produced drama next season. Their hiring is part of a major revamp for the series which will air Saturdays at 10:00/9:00c this fall. Veteran TV director Jeffrey Reiner has also come on board as a co-executive producer where he will handle the daily physical production of the series. The new producers join current executive producers Walon Green, Peter Jankowski and of course, Wolf himself. In addition, several new cast members are expected to be announced in the coming weeks as the series' scope will expand beyond the robbery homicide division.
LAW & ORDER (NBC) - Emmy-award winning TV director Matthew Penn has inked a two-year deal to serve as an executive producer next season on the original "Law & Order" series. As part of the pact, Penn will continue to direct episodes of the series as well as oversee its production in New York City. Current New York showrunner Jeffrey Hayes will continue as an executive producer of the drama, which starts its 14th season this fall, alongside creator Dick Wolf, Michael S. Chernuchin, Peter Jankowski and Penn.
A MATTER OF FAMILY (CBS, New!) - Kirstie Alley (recently of the Eye mini-series "Salem Witch Trials") has signed on to star in the telefilm from Sony Pictures TV. The project, based on a true story, centers on a typical churchgoing suburban family of a couple and their foster children whose picture-perfect facade is shattered when a newsman, aided by one of the children, reveals that all of the kids are secretly used for slave labor. Graeme Clifford ("Profoundly Normal") is set to direct the drama from a script by Donald Martin ("Never Too Late"). Ricka Fisher, Bettina Viviano and Susan Levitan will serve as executive producers on the project, which is scheduled to begin production in Calgary early next month.
THE OPPOSITE SEX (UPN) - Jason George ("Platinum," "Off Centre") is in final talks to join the cast of Eve-led comedy from Warner Bros. TV and the Greenblatt Janollari Studio. George recently teamed with the actress in the feature "Barbershop" last year. He's set to replace Bumper Robinson on the sitcom, who has been released for undisclosed reasons.
S.F.C. (Showtime) - Kathy Baker ("Picket Fences") and John Savage ("Dark Angel") are talks to star in the pay channel's two-hour movie/backdoor pilot directed and executive produced by Spike Lee. The drama, which stands for Sucker-Free City, revolves around the conflicts among white, black, Latino and Asian gangs in San Francisco. Baker and Savage would play the parents of a white gang member in the project, which is written and executive produced by Alex Tse. Sam Kitt is also executive producing.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters