[11/05/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 5
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

1000 YEARS FOR REVENGE (FX, New!) - FX is developing a new telefilm based Peter Lance's book of the same name, which features the subtitle "International Terrorism and the F.B.I. (The Untold Story)". Warner Bros. Television and The Wolper Organization ("Helter Skelter," "Stephen King's Salem Lot") and teaming to produce the project with Lance himself writing the script. The book traces 12 years of terrorist efforts masterminded by Ramzi Achmed Yousef, the man behind the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. On a more controversial note, the book also alleges Yousef was the architect behind the events of September 11, 2001 and that it could have been prevented by a more alert F.B.I.

ANGELS IN AMERICA (HBO) - The pay channel has announced it will air the six-hour mini-series in two three-hour parts: Sunday, December 7 and Sunday, December 14, both starting at 8:00/7:00c.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi) - The network's re-imaging of the cult classic series has been rescheduled for Monday, December 8 and Tuesday, December 9 at 9:00/8:00c each night.

JUDGE JUDY (Syndication) - John Nogawski, president of Paramount Domestic Television, told Daily Variety the company has renewed "Judge Judy" through 2006 in the top 30 markets, which cover 80% of the U.S. The stations reportedly wanted to lock in the series, which is currently airing its eighth season, for the foreseeable future as it is the highest-rated court show in first-run syndication. Among those signed on through 2006 are WNBC New York, KCBS Los Angeles, WBBM Chicago and a batch of Fox-owned stations led by WTXF Philadelphia, KDFW Dallas, WTTG Washington, WAGA Atlanta and WJBK Detroit.

KID NOTORIOUS (Comedy Central) - The U.S. State Department has reportedly asked creator/executive producer Robert Evans and several other producers on the series to tone down the cartoon's acerbic depiction of world leaders such as French President Jacques Chirac and North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. "They said relationships are sensitive with France, that it was not a good idea to depict Chirac as a homosexual who is in love with me," Evans told Daily Variety. Il was featured in an episode where Evans gets the idea to render the dictator benign by giving him a directing deal. Evans went on to tell the trade publication he has no plans to change the series and is being fully supported by Comedy Central.

LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet network has teamed with original "Little House" producer Ed Friendly to create a new six-hour miniseries based on the famed autobiography of Laura Ingalls Wilder for its "Wonderful World of Disney" banner. The project, budgeted at $15-20 million, is being targeted for the 2004-05 season and will serve as a backdoor pilot to a potential new "Little House" series. Friendly promises a much more faithful adaptation of the nine-book series than the 1974-83 NBC drama, which focused more on the father figure (played by Michael Landon) than the books did. Friendly exited the original "Little House" shortly after its first season due to creative differences with NBC and other producers who saw the show as a vehicle for Landon. David Cunningham ("To End All Wars") is on board to direct the mini-series from a script by Katie Ford. Hans Proppe ("Anne Frank") will executive produce the project, which is scheduled to begin shooting in Calgary early next year, along with Friendly.

PAT CROCE: MOVING IN (Syndication, New!) - Motivational speaker Pat Croce is set to be the centerpiece of a new half-hour weekday series targeted for fall 2004. Sony Pictures Television is behind the project which will find Croce, the former president and owner of the Philadelphia 76ers, helping families deal with life issues and problems in a dynamic and inspiring manner. Families desiring interventions from Croce will agree to have television cameras installed in their homes, with round-the-clock video surveillance intended to document behaviors that require attention. Croce will then move in with the family and help them work through obstacles and challenges, using his unique motivational strategies. The series will be shot entirely on location and will make use of a specially retrofitted luxury motor coach as a mobile studio for Croce and the production team. Barry Josephson ("The Ladykillers") and Arthur Smith ("Paradise Hotel") are the executive producers of the project.

PROJECT RUNWAY (Bravo, New!) - "Project Greenlight" executive producers Dan Cutforth, Jane Lipsitz and Miramax Television have received a 10 episode order from the cable channel for a fashion designer talent search along the lines of the HBO series. According to a network press release the series "will begin with the selection of ten amateur designers who will compete week-to-week on design challenges that might include the making of a star-caliber Oscar gown or a stylish update of the NYPD uniform. Contestants will be cut on a weekly basis based on their execution of the design challenges until only three remain to face-off with full lines on the catwalk at New York's Fall Fashion Week in September 2004. The winner will receive a full spread for their designs in a top fashion magazine and a chance for their work to be produced and sold in stores." Already on board the judging panel for the series, which is set to premiere next summer, is supermodel Heidi Klum. Cutforth and Lipsitz are the executive producers of the project with Klum's managers and fashion world experts Desiree Gruber and Jane Cha of NYC-based Full Picture also producing. Bravo plans to pair the series with breakthrough hit "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

SHE'S TOO YOUNG (Lifetime, New!) - Marcia Gay Harden, Alexis Dziena ("Imaginary Heroes") and Mike Erwin ("Everwood") are set to star in a new telefilm at the cable channel about a mother who learns her 14-year-old daughter has contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein of Jaffe/Braunstein Films and Lois Bonfiglio of Bleecker Street Films are on board to executive produce the project. Tom McLoughlin will direct the telefilm from a script by his "No Ordinary Baby" collaborator Richard Kletter.

SOMETHING THE LORD MADE (HBO, New!) - Alan Rickman ("Die Hard") and Mos Def ("The Italian Job") are set to topline a new telefilm at the pay channel about the true story of heart surgery pioneers Alfred Blalock and Vivien Thomas, a white surgeon and a black lab technician. Joseph Sargent ("Miss Rose White," "Out of the Ashes") has come on board to direct the film from a script by Peter Silverman ("We Were the Mulvaneys," "Harlan County War"). Julian Krainin ("Quiz Show") and the "Save the Last Dance" team Robert W. Cort and David Madden are on board to executive produce the project, which is still in the development stage. The telefilm will track Blalock and Thomas' partnership through their work on several breakthroughs that revolutionized cardiac surgery, including the wider use of plasma or whole-blood transfusions to prevent surgical shock, which saved millions of lives during World War II, and the Blalock-Taussig shunt.

STATE OF THE UNIONS (ABC, New!) - Feature writers Derek Guiley and David Schneiderman ("Chasing Liberty") have teamed with Touchstone TV-based producer Matt Gross to develop a new half-hour family comedy about a man named Max Union whose wife ends up governor of California after winning a recall election. The project had been in development since the beginning of California's recent real-life recall of its governor.

THE STRANGE DETECTIVE (New!) - Tribune Entertainment has completed production on a pilot presentation for a new cop series targeted for cable distribution.The project stars Daniel Baldwin ("Homcidie: Life on the Street") as a San Francisco detective who, during a car chase on the Golden Gate bridge, plunges into the ocean. He survives, but begins to experience "rips in time," having visions of events that have occurred in the places he visits, which are sometimes related to the cases he is working on. Tribune hopes to begin pitching the series to cable networks shortly.

THE TOUR (New!) - Tennis superstar Andy Roddick is being eyed as the focus of a new reality series from producer Craig H. Shepherd ("Queer Eye for the Straight Guy") that would track the popular athlete's exploits on the tennis tour next summer. Shepherd will start pitching the broadcast networks this week, offering them not only the premiere of the primetime series but the international-distribution rights and any video or DVD backend. It's expected to be pitched to NBC (which shares a contract with ESPN through 2006 for Wimbledon coverage) and CBS (which has a joint contract with USA network for the U.S. Open) first before moving on to the other networks. In addition to Roddick, the series would also track Brian Vahaly, the 77th-ranked tennis player, and the successful identical-twin doubles players Mike and Bob Bryan in order to show the dichotomy of life on the tennis tour. Norwood Avenue Entertainment will co-produce "The Tour" with the management company New York Office.

UNTITLED SCULLY/THACKER PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Mel Gibson's Icon Productions and Universal Network Television have landed a put pilot commitment at the Alphabet network for a new comedy about a single father of five. Julie Thacker and Mike Scully ("The Simpsons," "The Pitts") created and will executive produce the project along with Gibson and Icon president Bruce Davey. The comedy centers on a blue-collar dad raising five teenage boys, ages 11 to 17, much like Gibson who himself is the father of six boys. Icon spent the past development season on the pilots "Chi-Town" at CBS, "Three Card Monte" at UPN and "Family Curse" at the WB.

UNTITLED TYLER LABINE PROJECT (WB, New!) - Actor Tyler Labine ("Dead Last," "That Was Then") has signed a talent holding deal with the Frog to star in a series project at the network targeted for fall 2004. It's not clear if a project will be developed specifically for Labine or if he'll land in one of the WB's existing projects.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [november 2003]  


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