CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
AIRLINE (A&E) - The cable channel has ordered 10 half-hour episodes of a U.S. version of the British series, a "docu-soap" about the lives of the staff and crew of an airline. Southwest Airlines has partnered with Granada Television for the project, where it will give "unrestricted and unfettered access" to the show's producers according to A&E executives. Production is underway on the series at Los Angeles' LAX airport with filming moving to Chicago's Midway Airport next week. Joe Houlihan and Charles Tremayne (both of which worked on the U.K. version) are the co-executive producers on the project, which is slated to begin airing early next year. Nancy Dubuc is the executive producer for A&E.
AVERAGE JOE (NBC) - The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees has filed an unfair labor practices complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against NBC Studios over alleged misconduct during the Hawaii production of the Peacock's forthcoming reality series. The complaint alleges the producers required the crew to work without meals and breaks for as many as nine hours, with only a few hours to rest between shifts and at locations with no bathroom facilities. In addition, the IATSE also alleges some crew were not provided with accommodations and ended up in tents on the beach, that unskilled production assistants were assigned and that there were no medics on the set even when the crew worked in hazardous situations like hanging lights on the tops of palm trees. No comment has been issued by NBC.
COUPLING (NBC) - BBC America plans to take full advantage of the publicity brought on by the U.S. version of the series. The network plans to run encores of the original U.K. series Thursday nights at 10:00/9:00c this fall, literally right after the NBC show (Thursdays at 9:30/8:30c) ends.
GILMORE GIRLS (WB) - Series star Lauren Graham has created a new production company where she'll develop and executive produce new television products. The company, Good Game, has landed under the Warner Bros. Television umbrella where it will receive a modest development fund and and have its overhead covered. Sydnie Suskind ("Hell on Heels: The Mary Kay Story") will serve as vice president of Good Game, running the day-to-day operations. The development pact at Warner Bros. is set to run as long as the Warner Bros. distributed "Gilmore Girls" remains on the air. Currently Good Game has several projects in the works: "Sing," a musical drama from writer Kathy Ebel and an untitled project from Josh Stolberg and Peter Goldfinger that revolves around a Jack Black-like nanny. "Sing" is being developed at the WB while the Stolberg/Goldfinger project is still being shopped around.
L.A. DRAGNET (ABC) - Evan Dexter Parke ("Alias") and Eva Longoria ("The Young and the Restless") have signed on for recurring roles on the revamped series. The duo will play Detectives James Cooper and Vanessa Cruz respectively on the series, which now sees Lt. Joe Friday (Ed O'Neill) overseeing a group of young detectives. The pair join the recently cast Christina Chang as Assistant District Attorney Sandy Chang, Desmond Harrington as Detective Dexter McCarron and Roselyn Sanchez as Detective Lisa Macias on the series.
MANCHILD (CBS) - Despite a lull in its development, the Eye is still working on a U.S. version of the popular British series, described as the male answer to "Sex and the City."
MARTHA INC. (NBC) - Director Jason Ensler (also of "Behind the Camera: Three's Company") has inked an overall deal with the Peacock which will keep him quite busy for the entire one-year pact. He's set to helm at least one telefilm, two pilots and several episodes of existing series during the upcoming season.
THE O.C. (FOX) - Director Doug Liman has aligned his Hypnotic production company with Warner Bros. Television. Liman along with partner Dave Bartis have signed a first-look development deal with the studio, all of whom are behind the upcoming drama "The O.C." The one-year pact, which has an option for an additional season, calls for Warner Bros. to get first crack of any TV output by the company. Liman has attributed the great relationship established with Warner Bros. Television during the production of "The O.C." as the reason to sign with the studio. He's enjoyed things so much he also found time to direct not only "The O.C.'s" pilot, but also its second episode.
THE OFFICE - Universal Television has purchased the U.S. rights to the popular British series. Previously targeted for cable, the company hopes to sell the format to one of the broadcast networks for next season.
THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW (Syndication) - The King World series has been cleared in 75% of the U.S. for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. The news comes just a few months after Oprah announced she'd extend her stay until at least the end of the 2007-08 season. Among those clearing the series are WABC New York, KABC Los Angeles, WLS Chicago, WXYZ Detroit, WFLA Tampa, WEWS Cleveland, WTHR Indianapolis and WFSB Hartford-New Haven, Conn.
THE PRACTICE (ABC) - Chris O'Donnell ("Scent of a Woman") has signed on for a three-episode arc on the series' upcoming season. He'll play Brad Stanfield, a man who stands accused of murdering his pregnant wife. O'Donnell's run on the series is expected to overlap with fellow guest Sharon Stone's.
ROOMMATES (MTV) - The cable network has made an official production commitment of 20 episodes for the series in which young women and men choose a date from a pool of three members of the opposite sex based on the contents of their bedrooms. The contestants will have access to the prospective date's dresser drawers, music collections and even their Internet and Web-surfing history. Sara Nichols ("Total Access 24/7") is the producer of the series, which comes from Granada Television.
SINGLE IN THE CITY (WE) - The network's popular dating franchise from September Films has been picked up for three more editions. Production has been completed on "Single in the Hamptons 2" with shooting set to begin on "Single in Vegas" next week and "Single in South Beach" in December. Currently the cable channel is airing "Single in the City 2" Sundays at 10:00/9:00c.
SPLITSVILLE (FOX) - The failed pilot's director (who was also behind the recent feature "Bringing Down the House") Adam Shankman and his production company Offspring Entertainment have signed a one-year overall development deal with the show's distributor 20th Century Fox Television. Shankman along with production partner Jennifer Gibgot will develop and produce new projects for the studio. Shankman is also expected to direct at least one pilot.
SUMMERLAND (WB) - With its "Gilmore Girls" spin-off now history, the Frog is close to giving a series order to the drama pilot "Summerland." The series, which stars Lori Loughlin ("Full House") as a single career woman who along with her friends become a surrogate family to her sister's three kids after she and her husband are killed, is said to have an six-episode order on the table however Spelling Television has yet to officially accept the offer and apparently some financial sticking points remain. Stephen Tolkin, Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent and Brad Isaacs are the executive producers on the project with Loughlin also serving as a producer.
24 (FOX) - Wendy Crewson ("The Beast") is the latest actress to sign on to the series' third season. She's set to appear in at least eight episodes of the upcoming season starting with the season premiere. Specifics about her character remain under wraps however she's expected to be involved in the political side of the show and not a part of the CTU team.
THE WEST WING (NBC) - Actors Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and John Spencer have all asked to renegotiate their contracts with Warner Bros. Television. The foursome are asking for $150,000 per episode each for their respective services on the series, nearly double their current $80,000 per episode payday. The news marks the second time in two years the same actors have banded together for a pay raise. The group managed to double their salaries back in 2001 in exchange for being locked up through the show's seventh season. Unlike the previous negotiations, the four actors are said to have no ill-will toward the studio or its producers and have been showing up to work since production resumed earlier this month.
WILL & GRACE (NBC) - The Peacock is reportedly considering giving "Will & Grace" actor Harry Connick Jr. his own series for the 2004-05 season. The project, which will not be a spin-off of the popular Thursday series, will be a fresh concept designed specifically for the singer turned actor.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters