CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
2003 REALITY AWARDS (ABC) - The Alphabet network has canceled its planned reality awards ceremony which was scheduled to tape on the Sony lot on November 23 (to air at a later date). The reason: competing networks refused to give producer Don Mischer permission to use clips from their shows, many of which are co-produced or owned outright by the networks themselves. Nominating ballots had already been mailed to a blue ribbon panel of voters for the ceremony however viewers would have determined winners in a range of categories.
BACK WHEN WE WERE GROWNUPS (CBS, New!) - Faye Dunaway, Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Jack Palance, Peter Riegert, Ione Skye, Betsy Brandt, Stacy Edwards and Blake Lindsley have all signed on as the ensemble cast of a new Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation based on the novel of the same name by Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Tyler. Ron Underwood ("Monk") has been tapped to direct the film, which centers on 53-year-old Rebecca Davitch (Danner), a "single mother, grandmother and proprietor of the family business who begins questioning what her life might have been if she hadn't left college and abandoned her high school sweetheart at 20 to marry a divorcee who already had a large family to support and who, after a fatal auto accident, left her a widow six years later with four daughters and an aging uncle-in-law (Palance) to take care of," according to The Hollywood Reporter.
BOY MEETS BOY (Bravo) - Executives at the cable network have confirmed that no decision has been made yet about a second season of its gay dating series.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC, New!) - Chuck Pratt ("Melrose Place") and Marc Cherry ("Some of My Best Friends") have landed a premium script commitment from ABC and Touchstone Television for a new primetime soap at the network. The duo liken the series to "Knot's Landing" meets "American Beauty" in which "the sexy, amoral, insidious, and incredibly secretive lives of the inhabitants of a neighborhood cul-de-sac," according to Daily Variety. The pilot opens as one of the female residents of the cul-de-sac commits suicide rather than face the repercussions of her own dark secret, but goes on to narrate the series posthumously.
GRACIE'S CHOICE (Lifetime, New!) - Anne Heche and Kristen Bell ("Deadwood") are set to topline a new telefilm at the cable channel from Lifetime regulars Frank von Zerneck and Robert Sertner ("We Were the Mulvaneys"). The duo will re-team with "Mulvaneys" writer Joyce Eliason and director Peter Werner on the project, the true story of 17-year-old girl (Bell), who adopts her four brothers and sister after her drug-addicted mother (Heche) is arrested and thrown in jail. Production on the telefilm, the genesis of which was a Reader's Digest article, is set to begin this month for a 2004 air date. Von Zerneck and Sertner will executive produce "Gracie" with Stephanie Germaine and Mike Robe.
HOUSEBUSTERS (Bravo, New!) - Bravo will look to the supernatural in its quest for a companion piece for its hit makeover series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." The project, based on the British series of the same name, puts a mystical spin on the makeover genre by dispatching a posse of experts to guide homeowners on subjects ranging from feng shui and psychics to electromagnetic fields and crystals. Each episode has a homeowner displeased about some aspect of his or her life select from as many as 12 experts who will attempt to diagnose the problem without being told what it is. The homeowner will then assemble a team of experts from that field to remedy whatever auras, chakras or vibes need realignment -- and maybe even banish a poltergeist or two. Fenton Bailey will executive produce the series, should it go forward, through his World of Wonder production company.
THE MYSTERY OF NATALIE WOOD (A.K.A. UNTITLED NATALIE WOOD PROJECT) (ABC) - Production has been completed on the three-hour telefilm, which stars British actress Justine Waddell as the late Hollywood star. Michael Weatherly ("Dark Angel") and Elizabeth Rice are also among the cast in the project, which was directed by feature helmer Peter Bogdanovich ("The Cat's Meow"). No air date has been set.
NASHVILLE STAR (USA) - As expected the cable channel will kick off the show's second season Saturday, March 6 at 10:00/9:00c. Nancy O'Dell ("Access Hollywood") will return as host of the series in which a group of would-be country singers compete for a recording contract with Sony Music Nashville.
ON AIR WITH RYAN SEACREAST (Syndication) - David Armour ("Classmates," "The Ricki Lake Show," "The Montel Williams Show") has signed on as co-executive producer of the series, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television. He'll join current executive producers Adam Freeman and Ryan Seacrest. The studio also confirmed that Rosanna Tavarez ("Popstars") will be the show's news anchor, reporting on the entertainment news of the day, and will also engage in occasional byplay with host Seacrest. Also on board are Martha Kell Brown ("The Arsenio Hall Show") as a consulting executive producer; Mary Jaras ("Classmates," "Access Hollywood") as the senior news producer; and Siobhan Schanda, Tricia Daniels and Kari Johnson as talent brokers.
THE TRACY MORGAN SHOW (NBC) - Bob Kushell ("3rd Rock From the Sun") has signed a two-year, low seven-figure overall development deal at NBC Studios. As part of the pact, which kicks in next June, Kushell will develop, write and executive produce comedy projects for studio in addition to continuing as executive producer on "The Tracey Morgan Show" should it return for a second season next fall.
TRADING UP (ABC) - Actress/writer Catherine Butterfield ("Party of Five") has come aboard to write and co-executive produce the project, a small screen take on Candace Bushnell's ("Sex and the City") bestselling novel of the same name. In addition, Industry Entertainment is in final talks to join Touchstone Television as a producer on the project, which is being targeted for summer or fall 2004. Should the Industry deal come through, Rosalie Swedlin ("Live From Baghdad") will come aboard as an executive producer. The series revolves around Janey Wilcox, a lingerie model whose recent success has gone to her head.
UNTITLED JEFF GOLDBLUM PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Jeff Goldblum ("War Stories") has inked a talent holding and development deal with the Peacock network. The pact calls for NBC to develop a series project for the actor or cast him in an existing project targeted for fall 2004.
UNTITLED PHIL HENDRIE PROJECT (FOX, New!) - FOX continues to ramp up its animation slate as the network is reportedly close to ordering a put pilot presentation and a script for a new animated project loosely based on the life of radio personality Phil Hendrie. Writer/producer Steve Levitan ("Just Shoot Me") will team with writers Phil Lord and Chris Miller ("Clone High, U.S.A.") on the project, which would come from 20th Century Fox Television. The comedy would track Hendrie, a recently-successful radio talkshow host who, after landing a gig in a major market, ends up marrying a woman with three children and moving into a gated suburban community. Hendrie, who spent the past development season on the failed NBC pilot "Gated World," will also serve as a co-executive producer on the series as well as supply all the voices in the show, save for his fictional family. The producers also hope to incorporate real audio from Hendrie's KFI show as well as feature some improv elements similar to those featured on his program. The news marks FOX's fourth animated project in the pipeline for next season, the others being Seth MacFarlane's "American Dad," a small screen version of the comic strip "The Boondocks" and an untitled comedy from Jonathan Katz.
WORKING WITH AVAILABLE LIGHT (Lifetime, New!) - Von Zerneck/Sertner Films is developing a small screen version of Jamie Kalven's eponymous memoir for the cable channel.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters