CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
THE BIG HOUSE (ABC) - The Kevin Hart-led comedy pilot has officially been given a midseason order of 13 episodes. ABC had previously planned to pick up the series at its upfront presentation (even flying out the cast to New York) however backed out at the last minute for undisclosed reasons. The sitcom, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television, centers on a wealthy, pampered guy from Malibu (Hart) who moves to Philadelphia to live with his blue-collar relatives after his father loses all of his money. Stephen Engel, Brian Grazer and David Nevins are the executive producers on the project, ABC's only midseason comedy order thus far.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF POLAND, N.H. (CBS) - Actor Chris Penn ("Reservoir Dogs") is in final talks to join the cast of the David E. Kelley drama, where he would replace Brian Haley on the project. The series stars Randy Quaid and John Carroll Lynch as two of three brothers who face midlife challenges in the small town of Poland. Penn would then play the unemployed, youngest brother Waylon Shaw, a lovable optimist who is married and has a teen daughter. Ann Cusack and Angela Goethals play his wife and daughter, respectively.
GAME OVER (UPN) - The netlet has given the CGI-animated comedy pilot a midseason order of six episodes. The project, which comes from the Carsey-Werner-Mandabach studio, centers on the Smashenburns, an ordinary suburban family who live in an alternate video game universe inhabited by action heroes, monsters and cartoon characters. Marisa Tomei and Patrick Warburton voice the heads of the Smashenburn clan on the series, which is executive produced by David Sacks, David Goestch, Jason Venokur and Ross Venokur.
JOAN OF ARCADIA (CBS) - Hart Hanson ("Judging Amy") has been named a consulting producer on the series. The news comes as the producer has inked a new two-year, seven-figure overall development deal with 20th Century Fox Television. As part of the pact he'll develop new projects for the studio, one of which has been given a put pilot commitment from CBS, as well as work on its existing properties. As for "Joan," Hanson's services on the Sony Pictures Television series is for the initial batch of 13 episodes of the drama. 20th TV struck a deal with CBS to loan the producer out to the upcoming series, which airs Fridays at 8:00/7:00c this fall, to land the blind put pilot commitment from the network, which is being targeted for fall 2004.
LAW & ORDER (NBC) - Wolf Films and Universal Network Television have picked up actor Sam Waterston's option to stick with the long-running series through at least the 2004-05 season (the current length of NBC's deal for the show). Waterson is the third-longest-serving actor currently on the show (behind only Jerry Orbach and S. Epatha Merkerson) where he has earned three lead actor Emmy nominations (in 1997, 1999 and 2000).
NAVY N.C.I.S. (A.K.A. N.C.I.S.) (CBS) - The Eye network has changed the title for its upcoming "J.A.G." spin-off yet again. Originally "N.C.I.S.," the series has been retitled "Navy C.I.S.," then "Naval C.I.S.," then reverted back to "N.C.I.S." and now has apparently settled on "Navy N.C.I.S."
TWELVE DAYS OF TERROR (Discovery) - The cable channel has wrapped production on its first original movie in its 18-year history. Scheduled to air in early 2004, the telefilm chronicles the series of real-life shark attacks in 1916 that later inspired the Peter Benchley novel "Jaws." Shot in Cape Town, South Africa, "Terror" features John Ryhs-Davies ("The Lord of the Rings") and newcomers Colin Egglesfield and Jenna Harrison among the cast. Jack Sholder ("The Hidden") directed the project from a script by Jeffrey Reiner, J.T. Allen and Tommy Lee Wallace.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters