CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
ABSOLUTELY AMERICAN (ABC, New!) - Dave Lipsky has landed a pilot script commitment for a drama series based on his bestselling novel of the same name. Marc Platt ("Legally Blonde") is attached to executive produce the project, which is set up at Touchstone Television. The series, like the book, chronicles a class of West Point cadets from enrollment to graduation. Many of the characters are expected to be inspired by the real life cadets profiled in the book.
BELLY OF THE BEAST/OUT FOR A KILL (USA, New!) - Following the success of the recent Steven Seagal movie "The Foreigner," the cable network has picked up two of the actor's other direct-to-video movies for an exclusive four-year broadcast window. USA will pay a license fee of about $2 million for each film, which cost distributor Nu Image about $14 million a piece to produce. "Kill" has Seagal playing a university professor caught up in a Mexican cocaine deal, who escapes from jail to take his revenge on the drug dealers while "Beast" deals with an ex-CIA agent, played by Seagal, whose daughter is kidnapped. The former hits home video/DVD next week and will air on USA in the second quarter of 2004 with the latter hitting stores in December with a 2005 air date on USA. "Foreigner" was the top rated movie on all the basic cable networks for the week ending August 3 and Nu Image has earned $11 million in DVD and video rentals since it landed in stores in January.
EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND (CBS) - Brad Garrett and Patricia Heaton once again did not show up for the series' first table read this season. The producers rescheduled the table read to yesterday after the pair were no-shows for the originally scheduled read on Monday. While Garrett's absence was expected due to his desire to renegotiate his contract, Heaton's was not. The actress called in sick for the second day in a row, citing migraine headaches, and saw a doctor on Tuesday. The new development has caused the producers to officially delay production, likely until next week. As for the Garrett situation, both parties have begun to officially comment on the actor's holdout. Garrett's reps at Raw Talent issued a statement saying:
"CBS elected to make a one-year deal with Ray Romano making him the highest-paid sitcom actor ever. Ray deserves every penny, plus the profits he will earn. At the same time, despite our repeated attempts to discuss Brad's salary over the past seven months, CBS has refused to talk to us. Brad earns less than 10% of Ray's salary and is the lowest paid member of a grossly underpaid supporting cast. All Brad wants is compensation commensurate with what other similarly situated actors have made in the past and are making today. Again, CBS will not talk to him. Instead, it is our understanding CBS simply instructed Phil Rosenthal to write Brad out of the series."
His reps also made it clear Garrett isn't backing down from his demands. CBS replied, also in a statement issued to the press, saying, "We have accommodated Brad's request to negotiate new contracts twice over the past four years. The most recent agreement calls for Brad's services through the eighth season of 'Everybody Loves Raymond.' It's unfortunate that he is not honoring his contract." The Eye also pointed out Garrett pulled a similar tactic in 2000, skipping a flight to Rome for the show's opener set in Italy that year. After his salary demands were met, he quickly rejoined the cast and crew in Rome. Various sources indicate that because of this situation any "Raymond" spin-off plans involving Garrett's character seem unlikely and co-creator Rosenthal is reportedly even more certain this will be the final year of the show.
THE GET (New!) - Writers Peter Steinfeld and DeShawn Schneider have sold the pilot to Warner Bros. Television. The one hour pilot, details of which were not available, will be executive produced by Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Haswell of the Tannenbaum Company, which is based at Warner Bros. No network has signed on to the project however.
LAS VEGAS (NBC) - Executive producer Scott Steindorff has aligned with Las Vegas entrepreneurs Andrew Molasky and Danny and Robin Greenspun to form Stone Village Entertainment, a venture that will provide financing for development projects in features and television. The group is currently looking for a distributor to team with to help finance its projects.
HOUSE RULES (TBS) - Mark L. Walberg ("Anything for Love," "Temptation Island") has been named host of the series which is scheduled to bow in October. The reality series tracks three teams remodeling three homes desperately in need of a makeover. According to the network's press release, "Each week, the teams must compete to win their share of a remodeling allowance to be used to pay for the renovations. Once a week, they will also have an opportunity to spy on each other�s progress as they each host weekly dinner parties for their opponents on a rotating basis. At the end of the 12-week competition, it will be up to viewers to select the winning couple by voting. The team with the most votes will actually win the deed to their newly remodeled home."
PRETTY FACES (USA, New!) - Writer John Ridley ("Platinum," "Third Watch") has signed a one-year overall development deal with Universal Network Television. The pact calls for Ridley to create, develop and executive produce new series for the studio under his International Famous Players Radio Picture Corporation banner. Ridley had recently landed a pilot script commitment at USA for "Faces," and the overall deal is believed to be the result of Universal working with the writer on said project. "Faces" is a drama that explores the people who work at an escort service. The cable network expects to decide on if the project will go forward to pilot later this year.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters