CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
BECK AND CALL (UPN, New!) - "Nip/Tuck" producers Greer Shephard and Michael Robin and writer Dan Bucatinsky ("All Over the Guy") have landed a drama pilot at the netlet which revolves around the New York fashion world, as seen through the personal lives of the industry's executives and assistants. The ensemble series will focus specifically on three twentysomethings who have just landed their first job. Bucatinsky wrote the script to the pilot, which comes from Warner Bros. Television, while Shephard and Robin are on board to executive produce.
BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNAUTHORIZED STORY OF CHARLIE'S ANGELS (NBC) - The Peacock has outlined the complete cast of the second installment of its "Behind the Camera" franchise. The project stars Emmy winner Dan Castellaneta ("The Simpsons") as Aaron Spelling, Dan Lauria as Fred Silverman, Wallace Langham as Jay Bernstein, and relatively unknown actresses Tricia Helfer as Farah Fawcett-Majors, Christina Chambers as Jaclyn Smith and Lauren Stamile as Kate Jackson.
BETTY (New!) - Reveille's Ben Silverman is once again looking outside the U.S. for television series, pacting with Colombia's RCN Television for the rights to adapt "Betty La Fea," the phenomenally popular telenovela about an ugly duckling secretary who falls in love with her boss. NBC tried to import the series two years ago with the help of Sony and writer Alexa Junge, but the project never made it beyond the early stages. Silverman reportedly is looking for an unknown actress to play Betty.
CUTTING IT (ABC) - Touchstone Television and Granada Television are redeveloping a U.S. version of the British series, which was originally in contention at ABC during the last development season. The series, which revolves around a husband and wife who own a salon in Atlanta, will once again have its pilot written by Emmy-winner Mark Perry ("Party of Five").
DINNERLADIES (CBS, New!) - Touchstone Television is looking to import the British series of the same name at the Eye network. The series, should it go forward, will be based on the popular Victoria Wood-penned BBC1 comedy about a group of women who work in the cafeteria of a major corporation. Granada Television is managing the format under an old deal to export BBC formats to the U.S.
THE DIVISION (Lifetime) - Yancey Arias ("Kingpin") and Jon Tenney ("Brooklyn South") are set to join the cast of the cable drama, which returns for its fourth season in January. Arias replaces Jose Yenque as Gabe, the husband of Lisa Vidal's character while Tenney has been cast as police sketch artist Hank Riley.
THE FIRST FAMILY (ABC, New!) - ABC and Touchstone will try and succeed where CBS failed as the network and studio are looking to import the British comedy "The Royle Family." CBS' stab at a U.S. version of the series, "The Kennedys," was piloted in 2001 and starred Randy Quaid. Alan Zweibel ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") is behind the new take, which has a script commitment at ABC, as is Granada Television (the company also behind "The Kennedys").
GOING DOWN: THE RISE AND FALL OF HEIDI FLESS (USA) - Jamie-Lynn DiScala ("The Sopranos") will play former Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss in the cable channel's telefilm, which is set to premiere some time next year. The project will track Fleiss' story as she went from a well-adjusted teenager from a prosperous doctor's family to her entrance into the world of high priced escorts to her arrest and three-year prison sentence as Hollywood's most recognized madam.
HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (WB) - Executive producer Mike Fleiss confirmed to Daily Variety the WB has gone ahead and picked up the reality series for a third season. The Frog will bow the show's second installment at midseason with the third likely coming over the summer or next season.
MONSTER ISLAND (MTV) - Carmen Electra will play herself in the music channel's upcoming satire of classic monster movies. The telefilm has Electra as the celebrity host of a fictional MTV beach concert that goes awry when a giant creature crashes the party and flies away with her in its beak. Daniel Letterle, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chris Harrison, Chelan Simmons, Case Beddow and Joe MacLeod round out the cast of the project which also features Adam West as a mad scientist who helps the teens. The film will be directed by Jack Perez ("Wild Things 2") with James Shavick, Kirk Shaw and Ilan Briel executive producing. "Island" is scheduled to air in the first quarter of 2004.
THE OFFICE (NBC) - NBC has reached an agreement with Reveille and Universal Network Television to produce an American version of the British comedy according to a network press release. The Peacock has made a put pilot commitment to the project which is being spearheaded by Greg Daniels ("King of the Hill") and Reveille's Ben Silverman ("Coupling"). Ricky Gervais, who stars as the inept boss in the British show, and his series co-creator, co-writer and co-director Stephen Merchant will serve as consultants and be among the executive producers of the new show.
SCRUBS (NBC) - Writer/producer Bill Lawrence has signed a new four-year deal overall development deal with NBC Studios. The pact, valued as high as $12 million over the four years, takes effect in June and calls for Lawrence to create new series projects for NBC as well as shepherd other writers in developing shows for the network.
UNTITLED JASON BLAIR PROJECT (Showtime, New!) - Disgraced New York Times journalist Jayson Blair will be the subject of a new telefilm at the pay channel. Jon Maas ("The Last Debate") will write and executive produce the project of which Blair himself has no stake in. Mass plans to base the script in part on articles written by former Newsweek reporter Seth Mnookin about Blair. No production date or casting has been announced.
UNTITLED MIKE FLEISS PROJECT (ABC, New!) - "The Bachelor's" Mike Fleiss has set up a new reality project at the Alphabet network. Details are sketchy however the prolific producer told Daily Variety, "It's a reality show unlike any I've ever done." Adding, "It's not violent, but it's more in the 'Kill Bill' vein than a relationship show." Warner Bros.-based Telepictures is behind the project which is in the early stages of development.
UNTITLED MIKE FLIESS/DAVE SHERIDAN PROJECT (WB, New!) - Reality guru Mike Fleiss ("The Bachelor") and actor/producer Dave Sheridan ("Ghost World") have snagged a pilot commitment from the Frog for a half-hour comedy that will mix a few reality elements into an otherwise scripted series. Sheridan will write and star in the project as well as executive produce with Fleiss. "It's basically Dave living in a trailer trying to have a happy life in Los Angeles," Fleiss said about the series to Daily Variety.
UNTITLED OLLIVER JONES PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Newcomer Olliver Jones has signed a talent holding deal with the network despite having no professional acting experience. The pact is reportedly due to FOX casting topper Marcia Shulman being extremely high on the neophyte actor/musician. Shulman has sent Jones to acting class, and the budding actor has already gone out on several auditions.
UNTITLED STEVEN BOCHCO PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Steven Bochco is set to team with feature writers Jay Lavender and Jeremy Garelick ("The Man From Nantucket") on an hourlong dramedy at the Peacock, Bocho's first venture at NBC since "L.A. Law." The Paramount-based Bochco will executive produce the pilot, which has a premium script commitment at the network, with Lavender and Garelick writing and executive producing. The series, originally pitched as a half-hour but NBC executives felt it worked better as an hour show, will focus on rookie cops in a suburban college town who spend much of their time handling bizarre, generally non-life-threatening crimes.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters