CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
THE CHRIS ISAAK SHOW (Showtime) - The comedy will premiere its long-delayed third season on Thursday, December 11 at 10:00/9:00c. The move marks the end of the show's 18 month hiatus between seasons.
DEAD LAWYERS (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has greenlighted a pilot for the series, a co-production of the Zanuck Company in association with Sony Pictures Television. (Former series partner Dreamworks Television however is no longer attached.) Paris Barclay ("The West Wing," "N.Y.P.D. Blue") will direct the pilot, which is scheduled to begin production next month in Toronto. The drama revolves around attorneys who cheated their clients that wind up back on Earth forced to help innocent people under indictment. Christopher Murphey and Andy Lieberman created the series and the former will executive produce along with Lili Fini and Richard Zanuck.
DREAMKEEPER (ABC, New!) - ABC has scheduled the four-hour mini-series for Sunday, December 28 and Monday, December 29 at 9:00/8:00c.
FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (A.K.A. SIX DAYS 'TIL SUNDAY) (Sci Fi) - Michael Caton-Jones ("City by the Sea," "This Boy's Life") is set to direct the mini-series which now features the title "Five Days to Midnight." The project has also been trimmed to five hours instead of six and will air in the second quarter of 2004 as five one-hour installments. David Kirschner ("Earth: Final Conflict") is the executive producer of the mini-series which centers on a college professor who finds a mysterious briefcase foretelling his own gruesome murder, five days away. Casting is underway on the $12 million project with production set to begin next month in Vancouver. Lions Gate Television will produce "Midnight" in association with David Kirschner Productions and Hallmark Entertainment Distribution.
THE JOE SCHMO SHOW (Spike TV) - The show's "star," Matt Kennedy Gould, has signed a development deal with the network. His first duty: record "commentary" for the series' first season when it begins re-airing on November 11. Gould will record 15-90 second segments to air between each commercial break, letting viewers in on his state of mind as he was being duped. Also as part of the pact, he'll appear on the network's upcoming special "Spike 52: The Hottest Holiday Gifts" on November 23. Hosted by Aisha Tyler, the special will feature 52 gifts appropriate for men to buy for their girlfriends, relatives and pals. Gould will chime in and ask questions in the role of surrogate for the male viewer as well as do a few man-in-the-street interviews to solicit opinions about people's favorite gifts.
LESS THAN PERFECT (ABC) - Veteran director Ted Wass has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with ABC and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for Wass to direct several pilots for the network and studio during the next two development seasons as well as serve as the series director on various ABC or Touchstone comedies through spring 2006. Currently, Wass in the regular director on the sophomore season of ABC's "Less Than Perfect" and helmed the pilots of recent ABC entries "Married to the Kellys" and "I'm With Her."
LIAR (CBS, New!) - D.L. Hughley ("The Hughleys") is on board to host a U.S. version of the popular BBC game show of the same name. FremantleMedia North America, Reveille Production and 3 Arts Entertainment will jointly produce the project, which has a pilot commitment. Producers David Lyle, Ben Silverman and H.T. Owens ("The Restaurant") say its possible CBS could greenlight the pilot to series in time to make its midseason schedule. The series features a "To Tell the Truth"-style game in which six contestants all claim to have something in common, but only one is telling the truth. Audience members have to figure out who's lying, with comic help from Hughley.
LINE OF FIRE (ABC) - Former "Coupling" star Colin Ferguson has already found a new day job, as the actor will guest on an upcoming episode of ABC's midseason drama "Line of Fire." Ferguson is currently shooting the episode, in which he plays an assistant U.S. attorney who falls for Leslie Bibb's character, and could potentially join the cast as a recurring character.
NAPSTER DOWNLOADED (MTV) - Production is set to begin in December on the music channel's biopic of Napster founder Shawn Fanning. Actor/director Alex Winter ("Fever") will write and direct the project with Foglight Entertainment's William J. Macdonald ("Rome") and MTV's senior VP of original movies Maggie Malina executive producing.
THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY (VH1, New!) - Sony Pictures Television is developing both a reality and a scripted version of the popular 1970-74 ABC sitcom. The reality version would chronicle the casting of the new Partridges who would then go on to star in a scripted half-hour pilot for a new "Partridge" series. Ken Mok ("America's Next Top Model," "Tough Enough" and "Making the Band") is executive producing the series which will enter pre-production on its seven-episode order in the next few weeks. VH1 hopes to use the series as a tentpole for its 2004 schedule.
RICHIE RICH (WB) - First Move Television's Suzanne Daniels told Daily Variety that the half-hour series remains in development at the Frog.
THE SEX LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER (FOX, New!) - "7th Heaven" creator Brenda Hampton is set to team with 20th Century Fox TV-based producer Susanne Daniels to develop a new primetime drama for the network. FOX has given a premium script commitment to the project, which focuses on the sex lives of teenagers at a Midwestern high school. Daniels, the former entertainment head of the WB, sees the series as a potential companion piece for FOX's summer hit "The O.C." The pair also say despite its title, the ensemble hour is neither explicit nor a heavy-handed morality tale. Among the characters for the series mentioned to Daily Variety: "a devout Christian cheerleader and her boyfriend, the captain of the football team who is struggling with his own sexuality, as well as the sexually active majorette whose drummer boyfriend is also sleeping with the 15-year-old who isn't quite sure if what she's done is sex." Also much like "The O.C.," the kids' stories will be balanced with storylines for the parents as well as "a school counselor who arrives baring collegiate advice and winds up fending off students from the free condom jar."
UNTITLED HILARY DUFF PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Hilary Duff has signed a talent deal with the Eye network to develop a comedy vehicle for the 16-year-old "Lizzie McGuire" star. CBS is targeting the 2004-05 season for the project, which is expected to be a domestic comedy along the lines of "Family Ties." Duff's mother, Susan, will executive produce the project which includes a substantial penalty should a pilot not be produced. Duff had reportedly been the focus of a major bidding war between several networks, including NBC and FOX.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters