CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
CODE NAME: ETERNITY (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has purchased all 26 episodes of the short-lived U.K. series which tells the story of an alien creature that takes on human form in order to catch a rogue alien. Warner Bros. Television and CanWest Global were behind the series which starred Cameron Bancroft, Ingrid Kavelaars and Olivier Gruner and featured Billy Dee Williams in a recurring role. Sci Fi plans to premiere "Eternity" in January along with the remainder of "Stargate SG-1's" seventh season. Jeff King created the series, which originally ran in 2000 in the U.K. Dimitri Logothetis, James Margellos and Peter Mohan were the executive producers.
CONFIDENCE (FOX, New!) - Lions Gate Television is developing a small screen version of the recent film starring Ed Burns, Rachel Weisz, Andy Garcia and Dustin Hoffman for FOX. The drama, which will also be produced by The Segan Company, will follow a group of hustlers who work together to pull off one heist over the course of an entire season.
EIGHT SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER (ABC) - Executive producer Flody Suarez has been fired from the ABC series over "different management opinions" according to a report in Daily Variety. His exit leaves Tom Shadyac, Michael Bostick and Tracy Gamble as the remaining showrunners of the series. Suarez reportedly butted heads with Shadyac over the direction of the series following star John Ritter's death. The move coincides with the end of Suarez's development deal at producer Touchstone Television however he's still working on some projects at the studio.
Meanwhile in other "Rules" news, actor David Space ("Just Shoot Me") has signed on to guest star in at least two upcoming episodes of the comedy, most likely playing a relative of the Hennessy clan. He's expected to shoot his episodes in mid-December for possible broadcast in February.
FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (Sci Fi) - Michael Watkins ("Las Vegas") has signed on to direct the cable channel's mini-series which is set to begin production next month in Vancouver. Watkins takes over for Michael Caton-Jones, who exited the project earlier this month due to personal reasons (read the story).
FLY GIRLS (A.K.A. UNTITLED J.F. LAWTON PROJECT) (UPN) - J.F. Lawton's untitled dramedy at the netlet now has a title: "Fly Girls." UPN has committed to a script for the project, which revolves around the stars of the fictitious low-budget, sci-fi series "Atomic Honeys" who discover their fake powers are in fact real. Lions Gate Television and Mandalay Television are behind the series, which is being executive produced by Lawton, Peter Guber and Elizabeth Stephen.
KING OF THE HILL (FOX) - Writer Etan Cohen has signed a seven-figure overall development deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for Cohen to remain as a writer and co-executive producer of "King of the Hill" for the next two seasons as well as develop new comedy projects for the studio. Cohen is also busy on 20th's feature front as his script "3001" is gearing up to begin production in 2004 with "King" co-creator Mike Judge at the helm. The comedy tracks a regular guy who wakes up 1,000 years in the future and finds the world so dumbed down that he is its smartest inhabitant.
THE POINT (UPN, New!) - Lions Gate Television is developing a new drama at the netlet from producer Paul Stupin ("Dawson's Creek") and writer David Maples ("Home Improvement"). The studio describes the project as a mix of "The Blair Witch Project" and "Dawson's Creek" set in an upper-class East Coast suburb.
RAINTREE (A.K.A. UNTITLED MICHAEL PILLER PROJECT) (WB) - Michael Piller's ("The Dead Zone") untitled horseracing drama has been branded with a title: "Raintree." The project is described as a contemporary take on "Seabiscuit" about a teenage girl who ends up working with a racehorse. Lions Gate Television is behind the series, which has a script commitment at the Frog.
ROCK ME BABY (UPN) - With the return of "America's Next Top Model" scheduled in "Rock Me Baby's" current Tuesday, 9:00/8:00c home, UPN executives have confirmed the freshman comedy will go on hiatus during "Top Model's" run. The news means "Baby" will be absent from UPN's schedule from January 13 until at least March 23.
SAVING JASON (WB) - The netlet is fast-tracking a new comedy pilot starring actor/rapper Bow Wow ("Like Mike") and Daniel Benzali ("The Agency," "Murder One") from Warner Bros. Television. The project had previously been in development as "Mr. Logan" at Paramount Network Television. Winifred Hervey ("The Steve Harvey Show") is writing and executive producing the new project which will tape early next month in time for a potential midseason start on the WB's schedule. Stan Lathan will direct the project, which has Bow Wow playing a gifted pianist who becomes a fish out of water when he enrolls at an elite conservatory/boarding school where Benzali serves as headmaster.
Note: "Saving Jason" was incorrectly identified as being a UPN project by Daily Variety and has since been corrected. This story now reflects the change.
SCARFACE (USA, New!) - The cable channel is developing a mini-series based of the 1983 Brian De Palma film which starred Al Pacino as gangster Tony Montana. While Universal has yet to officially announce the project, the studio reportedly has started to woo top-notch talent to come aboard the mini-series. Details about the storyline are sketchy as it's not clear if it will be a complete remake or simply use the Miami-based crime world as a backdrop for a new storyline. USA executives were no doubt influenced by the movie's October 12 four-hour broadcast on the channel, which drew 3.6 million total viewers, making it the highest-rated movie on basic cable that week. Universal also recently re-released the film in theatres as well as issued a new special edition DVD.
STARGATE ATLANTIS (Sci Fi) - MGM Television Entertainment has been given the green light to produce 20 episodes of the spin-off series. Sci Fi is targeting a summer 2004 launch date for the project in order to coincide with the start of the eighth season of its parent series. According to a network press release, "in the new series, a secret base left by the originators of the Stargate is discovered in the most unlikely of places � on Earth, buried among the ruins of the legendary city of Atlantis. The implications of this amazing discovery lead the Atlantis team to a distant galaxy where a primitive human civilization is threatened by a sinister new enemy." The channel plans to launch "Stargate Atlantis" as a two-hour movie event that will feature cross-over appearances by select members of the SG-1 team. Brad Wright and Robert Cooper will executive produce "Atlantis" as well as continue to oversee "SG-1."
UNTITLED BIG BOY PROJECT (FOX, New!) - The popular L.A.-based DJ is teaming with McG ("Fastlane") and writer Darryl Quarles ("Big Momma's House") to develop a new comedy at FOX which will feature Big Boy playing a hip-hop DJ who ends up buying a small radio station. FOX has given a script commitment to the project, which will feature an "Odd Couple" element in that Big Boy routinely clashes with his uptight former college roommate. Quarles will write and executive produce the pilot, with McG and production partner Stephanie Savage executive producing through their Warner Bros. Television-based Wonderland Sound and Vision Productions. Big Boy inked a one-year talent deal with Wonderland last season which lead to a recurring role on McG's "Fastlane."
UNTITLED RON WHITE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Blue-collar comic Ron White is set to be the centerpiece of a new family comedy at ABC from producers Bruce Helford and Rachel Sweet ("The George Lopez Show"). ABC has given a hefty put pilot commitment to the project which will be based at Warner Bros. Television. The comedy will feature White (who starred in the failed FOX pilot "Senor White" last development season) as a hard-drinking beach-bum kind of guy who suddenly finds himself raising two 12-year-old boys on his own. Helford and Sweet will write and executive produce the pilot, with White and Helford's production partner Deborah Oppenheimer also executive producing.
WANNABE (WB, New!) - The Frog is once again in business with Jamie Kennedy ("The Jamie Kennedy Experiemnt") as the network has placed an order for six episodes of a new half-hour comedy/reality series loosely based on the actor/producer's recent autobiography "Wannabe: A Hollywood Experiment." Ellen Rapoport (who also co-wrote the book) and Josh Etting will executive produce the series, which will revolve around a group of aspiring actresses who will live, work and ultimately compete against one another in a bid to get discovered, along with Kennedy. The WB is still looking for a studio to be home for the project, which is being targeted for a summer 2004 or midseason 2005 bow. The exact prize for the winner is still being worked out, although it's expected to be a talent holding deal with the WB or a guest appearance on one of the network's series. Kennedy will host the series, which like most aspiring actors, will have the contestants living together in crowded conditions.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters