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[08/04/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: August 4
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

HELTER SKELTER (CBS, New!) - The Eye has greenlighted a new three-hour take on the Manson Family murders from The Wolper Organization (TNT's "Salem's Lot"). The new project is based on former prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's book about the capture and trial of Charles Manson and three of his "family" members: women that he had persuaded to do the killings for him. John Gray ("Martin & Lewis") wrote the new script and is set to direct. His new take will be more about who Manson the man was versus the original 1976 telefilm, which also aired on CBS, that focused on how Manson was caught.

PHENOM (ABC Family, New!) - The cable channel has committed to a pilot presentation for a new reality series about the world of young athletes. KCW Productions and TWI have partnered with ABC Family on the project which would be based at IMG's Bradenton, Florida facilities. Hundreds of world-class athletes have been involved with IMG's programs including Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Anna Kournikova, Serena and Venus Williams, Derek Jeter, Nomar Garciaparra, Tim Couch, Chad Pennington, Kevin Garnett and Vince Carter. The cable channel is considering the series for its new teen block beginning in the fourth quarter of this year. Bob Horowitz, senior VP and director of U.S. television at TWI is one of the executive produers.

QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY (Bravo) - NBC will once again showcase the cable hit on Thursday, August 14 at 9:30/8:30c. The re-cut half-hour special will lead into a special episode of "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" later that night in which the show's "Fab Five" give host Jay Leno a makeover.

THE O.C. (FOX) - Bonnie Somerville ("In-Laws") has signed on for a recurring role in the forthcoming FOX drama. She's tapped to play a lawyer on the series however specifics beyond that were not available.

TRU CALLING (FOX) - Benjamin Benitez is set to join the cast of the upcoming drama. He'll play play a seasoned forensic attendant who works with Eliza Dushku's character, a college graduate working the night shift at a morgue who can go back in time to save lives.

UNTITLED JUSTIN BARTHA PROJECT (New!) - John Wells Productions has inked a talent holding deal with the actor, recently seen in "Gigli." The pact calls for the the Warner Bros. Television-based company to put the actor in a series project targeted for fall 2004. Bartha (who has guested on Wells' "Third Watch") will next be seen in Sidney Lumet's upcoming HBO movie "Strip Search."

UNTITLED LESLIE BOHEM/STEVEN SPIELBERG PROJECT (Sci Fi, New!) - While details are still under wraps, the prolific producer and "Taken" writer Leslie Bohem are close to re-teaming on a new 12-18 hour project for the channel. The project however is definitely not a sequel to "Taken."

THE WITCHING HOUR (NBC) - Warner Bros. Television and the Wolper Organization are still developing the mini-series despite it being originally announced over 14 months ago. The projected 12-hour project is an adaptation of Anne Rice's gothic trilogy ("The Witching Hour," "Lasher" and "Taltos") of the same name.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· ACADEMY, THE (MTV)
· HELTER SKELTER (CBS)
· IN-LAWS (NBC)
· MARTIN & LEWIS (CBS)
· NINE LIVES (NBC)
· OC, THE (FOX)
· QUEER EYE (BRAVO)
· SALEM'S LOT (TNT)
· STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS: TAKEN (SCI FI)
· STRIP SEARCH (HBO)
· THIRD WATCH (NBC)
· TRU CALLING (FOX)
· WITCHING HOUR, THE (NBC)





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