CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
20 THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU'RE 30 (NBC, New!) - Conan O'Brien and Lester Lewis ("Happy Family, "NewsRadio") are looking create a new comedy series loosely based on the British sitcom of the same name. Lewis will create, write and executive produce the project for NBC Studios, which will focus on the 10-year frame in life in which "your main objective is having fun, but you have a decade to figure everything out before your life ends at 30," Lewis told Daily Variety. O'Brien and Jeff Ross (via their Conaco banner), along with Tiger Aspect Productions, are on board as executive producers with Conaco senior V.P. A.J. Morewitz serving as a co-executive producer. The deal marks Lewis' first output from his overall development deal with NBC Studios. Both Lewis and O'Brien are stressing that they aren't planning a carbon copy of the Channel Four series a la "Coupling," but rather are using it as a jumping off point. The plan is to have the series take place in the world of marketing, with most of the cast playing low-level researchers.
BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNAUTHORIZED STORY OF CHARLIE'S ANGELS (NBC) - Feature helmer Francine McDougall ("Sugar & Spice") has signed on to direct the second installment of NBC's "Behind the Camera" franchise, this time focusing on "Charlie's Angels." McDougall's involvement triggered a green light on the project. She'll direct from a script by Matt Dorff (NBC's "Growing Up Brady"). The first "Behind the Camera" movie, centering on "Three's Company," was one of the top-rated original movies of last season in the coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
DEMONOLOGIST (NBC, New!) - The Peacock has committed to a script from horrow guru Clive Barker and Teddy Tannenbaum ("The Dead Zone") for a new comic drama about a married couple who fight demons, but are more scared of their 15-year-old daughter. The project, which the duo liken to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" meets "Hart to Hart," is actually based on a real-life couple who claim to fight demons. NBC Studios will produce the pilot should it go forward.
DEN OF THIEVES (NBC, New!)/THE HOBBY (Showtime, New!) - Glen Morgan and James Wong ("Final Destination") have pacted with Neal Moritz and Marty Adelstein's Original Television for two new drama projects. The first, "The Hobby," is for Showtime and takes place in the world of high-end prostitution. The series will track the relationship between four johns or "hobbyists" and four hookers or "providers," with one madam at the center. The other, "Den of Thieves," is at NBC. "Den" follows one giant "Italian Job"-esque heist over the course of a season (a la "24") with various mini-heists taking place in every episode.
The story, which is based on a feature script by Christian Gudegast and Paul Scheuring, will be told from the point of view of the criminals with the show set in Los Angeles. "Den" has a premium script commitment at the Peacock including a mid-six-figure penalty should it not go to pilot. Both hours are being produced by 20th Century Television-based Original, with Benderspink and New Line on board as producers on the Peacock project. Morgan or Wong will write and executive produce both projects and will likely direct one or both if greenlit. In addition to Mortiz and Adelstein, Original president Dawn Parouse will also serve as executive producer of both shows with Benderspink's Chris Bander and J.C. Spink also executive producing "Den."
THE DISTRICT (CBS) - "Felicity" co-star Tangi Miller has signed on for a recurring role on the CBS drama. She'll play a district attorney and a potential love interest for Sean Patrick Thomas' charater.
DOG ROBBERS (NBC, New!) - Patrick Duncan ("Courage Under Fire") and David Kanter have landed a script commitment at the Peacock for a new dramedy that takes a "MASH"-like look at the wheeler-dealer personal assistants assigned to every general in the military. NBC Studios and Anonymous Productions are behind the project, which takes place (at least initially) in Afghanistan and tracks the right-hand men who find whatever it is their generals need, from a good steak to a top-secret tank.
DRAWN TOGETHER (Comedy Central, New!) - The cable channel has ordered eight episodes of what it calls the "first animated reality series." Created and written by Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser ("The Man Show," "Action," "Andy Richter Controls the Universe"), the project "captures the comedic and outrageous daily adventures of eight mismatched cartoon characters using the dramatic storytelling conventions of established reality television shows" according to the network's press release. Among the "Real World"-esque housemates are: "Captain Hero," a not so moral do-gooder reminiscent of the Saturday morning TV super heroes of the 70's; "Clara," a 20 year old sweet and naive fairy-tale princess; "Toot," a black and white pudgy heart throb from the 20�s; "Foxxy Love," a sexy mystery solving musician; "Spanky Ham," a foul-mouthed internet download pig; "Ling-Ling," an adorable Asian trading card cubby creature; "Wooldoor-Sockbat," a wacky Saturday morning whatchamacallit; and "Xandir," a strong young adventurer, similar to the great video game warriors. The duo, who created the characters along with Jordan Young ("The Simpsons"), will executive produce the series which is set to begin airing in October 2004. Zoe Friedman is the executive in charge of production for Comedy Central.
LINE OF FIRE (ABC) - Jazsmin Lewis ("Barbershop 2") has joined the cast of the midseason drama as a recurring character. She'll play a madam of a brothel and the wife of Brian Goodman's character.
OLIVER BEENE (FOX) - Maggie Grace ("Murder in Greenwich") has signed on to appear in at least six episodes the show's upcoming second season. She'll play a sexy Swedish exchange student who becomes the object of Oliver (Grant Rosenmeyer) and Ted Beene's (Andrew Lawrence) affections.
ONE TREE HILL (WB) - Barbara Alyn Woods ("Honey, I Shrunk the Kids") has landed a recurring role on the freshman drama. She's set to play the mother of James Lafferty's character, one of two teen half-brothers (the other played by Chad Michael Murray) who have the same father.
UNTITLED JULIA SWEENY PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Former "SNL" cast member Julia Sweeney is set to write a new dramedy for the Alphabet network about about a terminally ill mother who has to deal with her imminent death, her parents and her children. Pariah Productions is behind the project, which is described along the lines of the feature "Terms of Endearment." Vivian Cannon, who will executive produce for Pariah, approached Sweeney to write the project because of her real-life experience of beating cancer and losing her brother to the disease. ABC has committed to a pilot script.
UNTITLED PETER LEFCOURT PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet network is developing a pilot for a new drama series set at a Los Angeles talent agency. Peter Lefcourt ("Beggars and Choosers") is behind the project, which will be produced by Pariah Productions.
UNTITLED ROMAN POLANSKI PROJECT (Showtime, New!) - The pay channel is developing a new biopic about the life of controversial filmmaker Roman Polanski. "XXX" helmer Rob Cohen is reportedly in talks to direct and executive produce the project with Michael Halperin writing the script and Billy Gerber is producing. The film is expected to touch on all elements of Polanski's life: the tragic murder of his wife, actress Sharon Tate; his direction of "Chinatown"; his decision to flee L.A. for Europe to avoid a prison stretch for statutory rape; and his Oscar win for directing "The Pianist." "I've always felt that Roman has never gotten a fair shot," Cohen told Daily Variety, "and I wanted to be part of a movie that would clarify his situation in hopes that it might stimulate some help to get him cleared and able to work in Hollywood again."
UNTITLED TONY GAYTON PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Feature writer Tony Gayton ("Murder by Numbers") is set to team with Emmy-winning producer Paula Weinstein ("Truman") to develop a military drama project for the Peacock and NBC Studios. Gayton and his brother, writer-director Joe Gayton, will pen the script for the project, which centers on a U.S. Marine unit stationed in Iraq. The two will executive produce with Weinstein and Len Amato ("Iron Jawed Angels").
WANDA AT LARGE (FOX) - Karen Maruyama ("Suddenly Susan") has joined the sophomore comedy in a recurring role while Tammy Lauren ("The Drew Carey Show") has been upgraded to series regular. Maruyama will play an acerbic political analyst on Wanda Hawkins' (Wanda Sykes) local TV show. Lauren currently plays Hawkins' recently widowed sister-in-law.
THE WINNING SEASON (TNT) - Shawn Hatosy ("Soldier's Girl") has landed a starring role opposite Matthew Modine on the telefilm, which is based on Dan Gutman's novel of the same. The project tracks a young baseball fan (Hatosy) who travels back in time to the 1909 World Series to meet baseball great Honus Wagner (Modine).
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters