CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
THE BERNIE MAC SHOW (FOX) - As expected, Peter Aronson has offically been named showrunner of the comedy series. He'll step down as head of Regency Television to take over the post from Michael Borkow. As for Borkow, he's exiting the series completely but will continue with his overall development deal at "Mac's" distributor 20th Century Fox Television. Aronson, meanwhile will be replaced temporarily at Regency by Fox TV Studios chief David Grant while the company looks for a permanent replacement. Grant manages News Corp.'s interest in the studio. Aronson's pact is for two years, the first of which will see him exclusively working on "Mac." The following year, all parties involved will decide whether Aronson stays on the show or develops new programming.
CANAL STREET BROTHEL (CBS, New!) - The Eye is developing an original movie based on the true story of Jeanette Maier, a woman who ran a brothel with her mother and daughter in a quiet residential neighborhood in New Orleans. The venture raked in between $5,000-$10,000 a week and boasted a client roster that included members in Southern business, politics and law enforcement for several years. A four-month F.B.I. sting brought down the operation in September of 2001, shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Vincent Patrick ("Gotti") will write the script for the project based in part on Maier's diary. Maier's story was originally told to TV audiences on the network's "48 Hours" newsmagazine earlier this year.
THE FLASH (WB, New!) - The Frog is hoping to add another DC Comics superhero to its lineup as the network has made a put pilot commitment for a new drama series featuring the fastest man alive. Writer/producer Todd Komarnicki ("Resistance," "Elf") is set to write and executive produce the pilot for Warner Bros. Television via his Guy Walks Into a Bar banner. The pact includes a hefty penalty if the project isn't picked up to series. Unlike the previous early-1990s CBS incarnation of the character, the new "Flash" will follow the "no tights, no flights" philosophy of "Smallville," which means the character won't be clad in his classic red suit. The producers also plan to incorporate time travel into the character's mythology, as the series will star a recent college graduate who discovers he has the ability to move very fast -- so fast, in fact, that he can travel backward or forward in time. It's not clear however if the lead will feature one of the monikers of the various Flash comic counterparts. Nevertheless, Komarnicki plans to feature a mentor character who will train the lead as well as the concept that he's the latest in a line of Flashes.
K STREET (HBO) - The Senate Ethics Committee has shut down all filming on Capitol Hill of the HBO series, citing a 25-year precedent of restricting commercial filming in the area. "It is the position of the Select Committee on Ethics and the Committee on Rules and Administration that the use of the Senate and Capitol space for filming 'K Street' is strictly prohibited," they wrote in a statement to the media. Producer Mark Sennet says the news won't affect the overall production of the series, which airs its first episode on Sunday.
THE LYON'S DEN (NBC) - Steven Weber ("Wings") has signed on for a guest role on the new fall drama as a former litigator turned infamous serial killer with an ironic sense of "perfect retribution." The episode, "Trick or Treat," will be broadcast in October.
SEX AND THE CITY (HBO) - After several attempts, the pay channel has finally sold the series into off-cable distribution as 26 Tribune-owned TV stations have signed on to air repeats of the popular comedy beginning in fall 2005. Financial details were not released however it's believed when all of "Sex's" syndication deals are completed to be worth close to $100 million. HBO will hold back three 30-second spots within each half-hour run on the Tribune stations as part of a four-year license term. HBO has hired sister company Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution to start selling "Sex" to TV stations beyond the 26 Tribune markets, which reach 35% of the U.S. HBO also is talking to sister network TBS about a simultaneous cable play for the reruns of "Sex" during the four-year window. Not surprisingly all 94 episodes of "Sex" will be edited for content and use "clean" versions of certain scenes that were shot in tandem with the original versions.
UNTITLED 25C PRODUCTIONS PROJECT (CBS, New!) - CBS has made a three-for-one drama pilot production commitment to Sarah Timberman's Warner Bros. TV-based 25C Prods. The pact calls for CBS to greenlight a pilot from one of three scripts developed by Timberman's company. So far 25C has lined up projects from writers Cynthia Cidre ("Mambo Kings"), Theresa Rebeck ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent") and Willie Reale ("A Year With Frog and Toad"). Timberman will executive produce any project the comes from the deal along with her production partner Carl Beverly. Already, Thomas Carter ("Save the Last Dance") is in talks to direct the Cidre project, a suspense series about the LAPD's fugitive-apprehension team. Rebeck's project is a New York-set P.I. series about a reluctant hero while Reale is working on a father-son medical drama.
UNTITLED DEAN EDWARDS PROJECT (ABC, New!) - ABC and Touchstone Television have inked a one-year talent holding deal with the "Saturday Night Live" alum. The pact calls for the studio to develop a half-hour comedy for the actor/comedian or place him in one of its pilots targeted for the 2004-05 season. Edwards left "SNL" in May following two seasons as a featured player on the series.
UNTITLED JEANIE BUSS PROJECT (NBC) - NBC has gone ahead and ordered a pilot script for the drama project, which is loosely based on the life of Jeanie Buss, a celebrated sports executive of the Los Angeles Lakers. The series, from Gavin Polone's Pariah banner, offers an insider's look at the team's management. According to a network press release, "The project, which will be produced in conjunction with the National Basketball Association, will reveal the inner-workings of a high-level female executive who maintains a high profile in the hierarchy of the popular Los Angeles Lakers basketball team." Buss herself will executive produce with Polone, Linda Rambis and feature filmmaker Audrey Wells ("Under the Tuscan Sun"), who will also write the pilot script. Vivian Cannon will serve as a producer.
UNTITLED MIMI LEDER PROJECT (UPN, New!) - Director/producer Mimi Leder has signed a deal with the netlet to create, executive produce and likely direct her own projects at the network. She may also get involved with other, new or existing projects. The UPN deal is similar to one Leder signed with FOX in 2001 that led to the creation of last season's "John Doe," which she executive produced.
UNTITLED SUZANNE MARTIN PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Writer Suzanne Martin ("Maybe It's Me," "Frasier") is developing a new sitcom for the network based on her own life. The mother-daughter comedy, which comes from Warner Bros. Television, deals with a free-spirited, New York-based wedding planner who leads a wilder lifestyle than her kid. Martin will executive produce the project while Andy Ackerman ("Two and a Half Men") is on board to direct and executive produce. Weddings will serve as a backdrop to the series, as different permutations of engaged couples walk down the aisle in each episode.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters