CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
A&E'S GHOST TALES (A&E) - The cable channel is looking to adapt several classic novels as original telefilms. Producer Robyn Rosenfeld of Three Muse Productions has inked a development deal with the network to head up the endeavor. Currently five projects are being considered for 2005 air dates however specific details have yet to be announced. Rosenfeld was one of the executive producers of "Creature Features," a collection of remakes of 1950s-era cult horror films that aired on Cinemax two years ago.
ALIAS (ABC) - Jennifer Garner is close to signing a deal with Touchstone Television to keep the actress with the series through its seventh season (should it run that long). The pact is expected to triple her current salary to about $150,000 per episode. Currently, Garner makes about $45,000 per episode and is locked in through the show's sixth season.
CELEBRITY (HBO) - Writers Arleen Sorkin and Paul Slansky ("Fired Up") have landed blind script commitments from both NBC Studios and DreamWorks Television in a pact valued in the low six figures. The duo recently wrote the script for the HBO pilot, which comes from Carsey-Werner-Mandabach and is executive produced by Steve Martin and Joan Stein.
PARADISE (Showtime) - Barbara Hershey ("Lantana") has joined the cast of the pay channel's drama pilot. She'll play Elizabeth Paradise, matriarch of a family-run multimillion-dollar religious ministry, and wife to David Strathairn's character.
TARANUS (ABC) - The Alphabet network is close to greenlighting eight episodes of the historical drama for the 2004-05 season. The project chronicles the power struggle following the murder of Julius Caesar in 44 B.C. The network had previously committed to six scripts of the project in lieu of a pilot back in January due to the series' expected hefty price tag. Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are the executive producers of the drama along with creator Thomas Wheeler and recently named showrunner Chip Johannessen. Much like NBC's "Kingpin," ABC plans to sell the project as a "limited series" but is open to additional seasons.
So far ABC executives have only okayed the hiring of Johannessen and some pre-production to secure soundstages in Rome. As for specifics, the series centers on Octavius, Julius Caesar's 17-year old nephew, and gladiator slave Taranus, both of whom find themselves on the run when Caesar's murderers target the former, who has been named Rome's next leader. Taranus' job is not only to protect the youth, but make a man and leader out of him. Creator Wheeler has written a bible for three seasons of the series that cover Caesar's succession all the way up to Marc Antony's steamy alliance with Cleopatra. An official decision on the Touchstone Television-distributed project is expected shortly.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters