[11/24/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 24
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT (FOX) - Henry Winkler is set for a small screen reunion with Ron Howard as the actor/producer has signed on to guest star in two upcoming episodes of the freshman comedy. He'll play the Bluth family attorney in the show's sixth and 12th episodes this season, defending Jeffrey Tambor's character in court.

C.S.I./C.S.I.: MIAMI (CBS) - Distributor Alliance Atlantis has told shareholders it expects it generate over $767 million over the course of the lifecycle of its two hit series "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation" and "C.S.I.: Miami." Overall between both series the company is projecting a gross profit of about $383 million and a pretax cash flow of $249 million between the next fiscal year and fiscal 2008. From 2009 on, Alliance Atlantis is forecasting an additional $230 million in pretax cash flow for "C.S.I." All the figures listed are believed to be easily within range as 76% of said forecast revenue is already contracted. The company is also interested in producing a third "C.S.I." series however CBS and Alliance Atlantis executives are stressing the importance of not cutting into the success of the first two before going forward.

CLOAK (ABC, New!) - Kelsey Grammer's Paramount-based Grammnet Productions is developing a new spy drama at the Alphabet network based on the real-life experiences of co-creator and writer Jon Ward. The drama, described as a mix of "Spy vs. Spy" and "Catch Me If You Can," plans to follow the work of a physicist-turned-spy within the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, who must face off with various cunning rivals. Ward was a security engineering officer for the real-life bureau's security technology countermeasures division. Grammer and Grammnet partner Steve Stark will executive produce the project along with writer Carlos Coto.

THE COMPLETE ASSHOLE'S GUIDE TO HANDLING CHICKS (FOX, New!) - FOX is developing a half-hour comedy based on the bestselling book of the same name. Rob Cohen ("Just Shoot Me," "Jamie Kennedy Experiment") will write and executive produce the project, which is expected to be given a less explicit title should it go forward. The buddy comedy will feature a lead "asshole" character tutoring a younger man in the proper way to succeed in life, particularly with women, even though both work at a copy store. 20th Century Fox Television, Benderspink's Mason Novick and Renegade 83's David Garfinkle and Jay Renfroe are all also behind the project, as are the book's authors Dan Indante and Karl Marks, who will serve as consultants.

THE INTERROGATOR (ABC, New!) - ABC is developing a new procedural crime drama which plans to focuses more on the testimonial evidence in cases than the forensics side popularized by such series as "C.S.I." Mark Israel will write and executive produce the project, which comes from the Paramount-based Grammnet Productions. The drama revolves around a gritty female forensic psychologist/detective based in Atlanta who uses her skills as a "human lie detector" to help solve crimes. Artie Mandelberg, Kelsey Grammer and Steve Stark will also serve as executive producers.

MYSTERY GIRL (UPN, New!) - The netlet has greenlighted a pilot presentation for a new drama from writer/producer Howard Gordon ("24") and director Adam Shankman ("Bringing Down the House"). The project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television, revolves around a trendy society gal/magazine writer (newcomer Alex Breckenridge) who finds herself tackling mysteries surrounding the rich and infamous. Liz Heldens ("Boston Public") wrote and will executive produce the pilot along with Gordon and Rob Dwek while Shankman is on board to direct. While the project is being targeted for fall 2004 consideration, it could wind up on UPN's schedule as early as late April. "Mystery Girl" had previously been in development several years ago at FOX with Regency Television also involved. When former Regency executive Maggie Murphy moved on to UPN, she decided to redevelop the idea for the network. The project had reportedly been in development at UPN for several months, with a formal greenlight delayed by tough negotiations between 20th and the network over a license fee agreement. UPN ultimately agreed to up its standard license fee in order to land the 20th project.

PILLARS OF THE EARTH (FX, New!) - The cable network is looking to turn Ken Follett's epic best seller "Pillars of the Earth" and into a six-hour mini-series. "Gladiator" director Ridley Scott is attached to executive produce while John Pielmeier ("Hitler: The Rise of Evil") is on board to write the script for the project, which is reportedly close to a green light. Follett's book, originally published in 1989, follows the building of a cathedral in 12th century England over the course of several decades, the construction of which serves as a nexus for several characters who are embroiled in political intrigue, romance and war. Follett apparently had been looking to sell the rights to "Pillars" for years and was originally looking for an eight-hour mini-series commitment.

THE REAGANS (Showtime) - Former CNN Washington bureau chief and White House correspondent Frank Sesno will moderate a planned roundtable forum about the controversial telefilm. The special, titled "Controversy: The Reagans," will be broadcast live from Washington, D.C. on Monday, December 1, the day after the telefilm airs on the channel. Panelists participating include "The Reagans" producer Carl Sferrazza Anthony, author of "First Ladies," the book on which the telefilm is based; former Reagan chief domestic and economic policy adviser Martin Anderson; Linda Chavez, Fox News political analyst and president of the Center for Equal Opportunity; Reagan biographer Lou Cannon; and Marvin Kalb, senior fellow at the Joan Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics & Public Policy at Harvard U. Showtime will simultaneously stream the special on its Web site as well as offer it for replay on the site until December 10.

RELATED BY FAMILY (FOX, New!) - The network is reportedly close to greenlighting a pilot for a new half-hour comedy from "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" creator Victor Fresco. The project, which comes from Paramount Network Television, revolves around a pair of offbeat teen siblings with very different personalities who end up living with one another. Newcomer Zachary Knighton ("The Mudge Boy") has been cast in one of the lead roles. The pilot has apparently been in development since earlier this year under a cast-contingent basis.

THE RIPPLE EFFECT (Sci Fi, New!) - Writer Ken Johnson has landed a two-hour script commitment at the cable channel for a new project that takes a "Groundhog Day"-esque look at the same day and how small choices completely alter the way that day plays out. The ensemble drama, set in a small courthouse square in Pine Bluff, Oregon, takes place on the same day with the same people but with varied results. Johnson would executive produce the project along with Gramment Productions' Kelsey Grammer and Steve Stark should it go forward to series.

SHUT UP AND LISTEN (CBS) - Malcolm-Jamal Warner ("Jeremiah") and newcomer Daniella Monet have joined the cast of the Eye's comedy pilot based on the life of Washington Post sportswriter Tony Kornheiser. Jason Alexander ("Seinfeld") stars in the lead role, a newspaper columnist, TV sports co-anchor and father of two. Warner will play Tony's co-anchor on the TV show while Monet has been cast as Tony's daughter.

UNTITLED BOB GUINEY PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Current "Bachelor" Bob Guiney will reportedly be the focus of a potential new syndicated daytime series from producers Next Entertainment and Telepictures. An exact format has not been decided for project but it has been confirmed as one of three projects in the works from Telepictures targeted for a fall 2004 start date. Guiney has been a popular figure since his initial TV appearance on "The Bachelorette." A fan campaign is largely attributed to him being named the focus of the fourth installment of "The Bachelor."

UNTITLED JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT PROJECT (New!) - The former "Party of Five" star has signed with Touchstone Television to star and executive produce a new comedy for the studio from writer/producers Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah ("Freaks and Geeks"). Sachs and Judah will also executive produce the project along with Hewitt through her Love Spell Entertainment banner and Jeff Pollack of Handprint Entertainment. Details about the comedy have yet to be announced as the actress has just begun meeting with Sachs and Judah to consider concepts. At least two networks, including ABC, are said to have already expressed serious interest in the project. The news marks Sachs and Judah's third pilot currently under consideration. The untitled Hewitt comedy joins the drama "Doing It" and the comedy "Platonically Incorrect," both of which are at ABC.

UNTITLED JESSICA WEINER PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Motivational speaker Jessica Weiner is being eyed as the centerpiece of a new syndicated talk show from distributor Telepictures and producer Media-Savvy. The project, being targeted for a fall 2004 start, will feature her helping guests deal with social and emotional problems. Weiner has written several books, including "A Very Hungry Girl," and is the founder of the ACT Out Ensemble, a national touring theater company based in Indianapolis.

UNTITLED LARRY ELDER PROJECT (Syndication) - Former "Moral Court" host Larry Elder is still being targeted as the subject for a new syndicated talk show from Telepictures. A pilot has been completed for potential series, which is being eyed for a fall 2004 start date. In addition to "Moral Court," Elder continues to host a national syndicated radio show and has authored several books such as "The Ten Things You Can't Say in America."

UNTITLED LEWIS BLACK PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Comedian Lewis Black ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart") is attached to star as a high school principal in a new comedy at the network from writer/producer Victor Fresco ("Andy Richter Controls the Universe") and Paramount Network Television. Both Black and Fresco envision the project, which is being targeted for fall 2004, as a workplace comedy that "happens to be in a high school" with Black not surprisingly playing a "frustrated and angry" character.

UNTITLED PETER DINKLAGE PROJECT (New!) - "The Station Agent" star has signed a talent holding deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for Dinklage to work with producer Stu Bloomberg to develop a small-screen vehicle for the actor.

WHAT I LIKE ABOUT YOU (WB) - The sophomore comedy will move to its new Friday, 8:30/7:30c home a week earlier than expected. The series will now assume its new slot on November 28 instead of December 5.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [november 2003]  

· 24 (FOX)

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