CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
ANGEL (WB) - Sarah Thompson ("Boston Public") and Mercedes McNab ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") have each signed on to appear in six episodes of the drama's upcoming fifth season. Thompson will play Eve, the new assistant to Angel (David Boreanaz) at the law firm Wolfram & Hart while McNab will reprise her role as Harmony, the ditsy vampire and former flame of Spike (the previously announced new regular James Marsters). The additions are designed to fill the void left by exiting regulars Charisma Carpenter and Vincent Kartheiser. Thompson's character is said be considered a possible love interested for Angel. The producers are also hoping to lure several "Buffy" alums to make appearances this season, however no firm commitments have been made.
EATER (FX) - The sci-fi mini-series, produced by Jan de Bont and based on Gregory Benford's novel, is still in the works according to Fox TV Studios movies/mini-series VP Eric Poticha. The project was originally announced in August 2001.
EMPIRE FALLS (HBO) - Helen Hunt, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ed Harris and Robin Wright Penn are all in final talks to join the cast of the Paul Newman-led telefilm. Director Fred Schepisi is also close to signing on to helm the project, an adaptation of Richard Russo's novel.
JUDGING AMY (CBS) - Adrian Pasdar ("Mysterious Ways") has signed on to appear in at least 10 episodes of the drama's fifth season beginning with its season premiere. He's set to play an assistant D.A. and potential love interest for the title character (Amy Brenneman).
K STREET (HBO) - Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney's production company, Section Eight, has signed a two-year development deal with Warner Bros. Television. The pact already had its first project: a telefilm about legendary newsman Edward R. Murrow directed by Clooney and written by Jon Robin Baitz ("People I Know"). Like Clooney's previous effort "Fail Safe," the telefilm would air live. The deal comes on the heels of Clooney and Soderbergh's first TV project "K Street," set to air this fall on HBO.
MURDER AT THE PLAYBOY MANSION (USA, New!) - The cable channel is set to go forward with a new telefilm which revolves around a murder that takes place at one of Hugh Hefner's parties. In a comedic twist several Playboy Playmates are enlisted to help solve the crime. Dan Petrie, Jr. wrote the script and will direct the project with Hefner himself and Alta Loma Entertainment's Dick Rosenzweig executive producing. The new project comes just two weeks after the pair sealed a deal with comic book legend Stan Lee to create a cartoon about superhero Playmates. Fox TV Studios is behind the telefilm, with movies/mini-series VP Eric Poticha ("44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout") spearheading the project.
NEXT ACTION STAR (NBC) - Distributor GRB Entertainment has licensed the Joel Silver-produced reality series to several networks across the globe, including Sky One in the U.K., TVNZ in New Zealand and Sony's AXN action channels. The 10-episode series, set to premiere at midseason on NBC, features a nationwide search for a pair of actors (one male and one female) who will star in a telefilm produced by Silver. In addition to Silver, GRB topper Gary R. Benz will executive produce the project along with Rick Telles and Cris Abrego of Brass Ring Entertainment and Gregory Noveck and Steve Richards of Silver Pictures Television.
SHOP & STYLE (Syndication) - NBC will launch a new weekly shopping series on select owned-and-operated stations (currently affiliates New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia have been lined up) beginning Monday, August 4. The project, hosted by standup comics Lynne Koplitz (Food Network's "How to Boil Water") and Kerry McNally, is a one-hour version of the company's 24-hour shopping network, ShopNBC. During the first week, ShopNBC itself will simulcast the series after which it will go exclusive to the local stations. NBC is using the show, in which viewers will be able to purchase various products, to highlight its 12-year-old ShopNBC channel in a similar way it used last week's airing of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" to showcase the Bravo series. Currently set to appear in the first week are Cheryl Tiegs, "Fear Factor" winner Olivia Jones and home and garden expert Rebecca Kolls. Diane Masciale ("Dateline NBC") will executive produce the series with John Gilmartin directing.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters