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[12/16/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: December 16
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

41 MINUTES (ABC, New!) - Taking a cue from FOX's "24" and "Ricochet," the Alphabet is developing a new drama which looks at the final moment of a crisis in real time. No additional details however were given.

CLASS ACTIONS (Lifetime) - Charles Haid ("Threat Matrix") has signed on to direct the network's drama pilot, about a New York lawyer (Diane Venora) who relocates to a small town with her teenage daughter to work as a professor. Production is set to begin shortly in Vancouver on the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and producer Deborah Joy LeVine ("The Division").

DESPERATION (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet is once again partnering with Stephen King as the network is developing a three-hour adaptation of his 1996 book of the same name. King TV regular Mick Garris ("The Stand," "The Shining") is on board to direct the project from a script adaptation by King himself. Mark Sennet ("K Street") will executive produce the telefilm, which follows the plight of a man who must fight a mysterious force that is killing the residents of a bizarre mining town in Desperation, Nevada. Production is being targeted for a March or April start date for broadcast during the 2004-05 season. Garris is currently working on another King project, the feature "Riding the Bullet" based on the author's ebook of the same name.

DEVIL DOCS (ABC, New!) - The network is developing a new drama which focuses on physicians in war zones, additional details of which were not available.

THE FAMILY (ABC) - Buena Vista International Television has licensed the short-lived reality series to Britain's Channel 4, which will produce its own version of the show. The news marks the company's first format sale abroad.

FRASIER (NBC) - Co-executive producer Bob Daily has signed a seven-figure, multi-year development deal with Paramount Network Television to create, develop and executive produce new projects for the studio. Fellow executive producers Joe Keenan and Christopher Lloyd are also set up at the studio, as is Kelsey Grammer's production company, Grammnet Productions.

GARY THE RAT (Spike TV) - The animated comedy drew just 300,000 viewers for its final batch of first season episodes, off substantially from its 1.3 million viewer start in June.

HOUSE OF DREAMS (A&E) - The cable channel's entry in the popular house makeover genre will kick off on Monday, January 5 at 9:00/8:00c. Viewers can sign up at the show's official web site for a chance to win their own dream home.

HUFF (Showtime) - The pay channel is reportedly close to giving a series order to the two-hour drama pilot, which stars Hank Azaria as Craig Huffstodt, a psychiatrist suffering a midlife crisis. Oliver Platt, Paget Brewster and Blythe Danner also star in the project, which is written by Bob Lowry and executive produced by Mike Newell ("Mona Lisa Smile"), Bob Lowry and Cam Jones. The Sony Pictures Television project is one of three drama pilots put into production by Showtime earlier this year, the others being "Paradise" and Spike Lee's "S.F.C."

JUDGE HATCHETT (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has renewed the court show veteran for a fifth season. The pickup includes clearances in 71% of the country, including FOX owned-and-operated stations in New York (WNYW-TV), Los Angeles (KTTV-TV) and Chicago (WFLD-TV). Additionally, "Hatchett" has been cleared on stations from the Tribune, Viacom, Cox, Belo, Sinclair, Raycom, LIN, Weigel, Media General, Pappas, Pegasus, Comcorp/White Knight, Four Seasons and Granite conglomerates. To date this season the series is averaging a 1.9 household rating and recently posted a 27% growth during November sweeps in year-to-year comparisons.

KID NOTORIOUS (Comedy Central) - The cable channel's animated comedy has averaged a paltry 571,000 viewers (166,000 among persons 18-34) since moving to Tuesday nights in November. That's a far cry from its debut, which snagged 1.6 million viewers following "South Park" on Wednesday nights.

MURDER BOOK (NBC, New!) - The Peacock is developing a new drama series which will focus on a detective who's tracking a serial killer over the course of a season. No other details were released about the project, which mirrors the plot of ABC's untitled drama from Robert Nathan.

NOW WHO'S THE BOSS? (TLC, New!) - The cable channel has given a six-episode order to a new reality series that transplants CEOs into entry-level jobs at the companies they run. The hourlong series is based on the BBC show "Back to the Floor" and is produced by New York Times Television. Loews Hotels chairman and CEO Jonathan Tisch is featured in the pilot episode which has him working as a housekeeper and bellhop at one of his own hotels. Future episodes will feature Skip Sherman, senior vp entertainment at Universal Orlando; Dan Brestle, group president of Stila Cosmetics at Estee Lauder Cos.; John Selvaggio, president of Delta Airlines' Song Air Service; Larry Flax and Rick Rosenfield, co-founders of California Pizza Kitchen; and John Vanderslice, president and CEO at Club Med Americas. Michael Klein will executive produce the series, which premieres in March, along with New York Times Television's Matthew Gould.

THE SAINT (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet is reportedly considering a new TV version of "The Saint" however no details were revealed.

SEX AND THE CITY (HBO) - The U.S. Comedy Arts Festival will host "Sex in Aspen," a post-mortem for the HBO series after it wraps its run on February 22. Executive producer Michael Patrick King and actress Sarah Jessica Parker are among those expected to appear at the round-table, reflecting on how their own personal experiences became inspirations for the show.

SOL GOODE (FOX, New!) - The network is developing a small screen version of the 2001 film, which was released by Lions Gate Entertainment. It's not clear if writer/director Danny Comden ("I'm With Her") will be involved with the TV version. The ensemble dating comedy starred Balthazar Getty, Jamie Kennedy, Cheri Oteri, Tori Spelling, Johnathon Schaech, Robert Wagner, Carmen Electra and Jason Bateman.

SPIDER-MAN (MTV) - A recent report indiciated the summer run of the animated series averaged under 200,000 viewers in MTV's target demographic of males 18-34.

STRIPPERELLA (Spike TV) - The network confirmed that six new episodes of the series are set to air in 2004.

TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD: THE ERIK WEIHENMAYER STORY (ABC, New!) - Mark Sennet ("K Street") is developing a new telefilm about the life of Erik Weihenmayer, the only blind athlete to conquer the seven summits -- the tallest peaks on the world's seven continents. The title comes from Weihenmayer's book, subtitled "A Blind Man's Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye Can See," about said adventures.

UNTITLED AARON SPELLING PROJECT (FOX, New!) - The prolific producer is developing a family medical drama at the network, additional details of which were not available.

UNTITLED GARY TIECHE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Gary Tieche ("MDs") is developing a new drama at ABC about trauma surgeons on the front lines in the military. No additional details were given.

UNTITLED GO-GO'S PROJECT (ABC) - The network's biopic of the early 1980s MTV staple is still in development at the network from producers Mark Sennet and Alan Jacobs ("Inside the Osmonds"). The project however may be redeveloped by the duo into a independent feature film.

UNTITLED LINDA COHN PROJECT (NBC, New!) - The Life of ESPN "Sportscenter" anchor Linda Cohn is set to be the focus of a new workplace/family comedy at NBC. Peter Murrieta ("Greetings from Tucson") is behind the project, which has a script commitment at the network. The untitled comedy will track a successful female sports TV anchor who juggles her career in the predominantly male field and her responsibilities at home raising her kids. No studio was announced as being attached.

UNTITLED NAPA VALLEY PROJECT (NBC, New!) - The Peacock is develeoping a new primetime soap opera about the lives of several residents in California's Napa Valley. No additional information was released.

UNTITLED PETER MURRIETA PROJECT (USA, New!) - Peter Murrieta ("Greetings from Tucson") has sold a script to the cable channel for a new one-hour family drama about a Mexican-American male bounty hunter from the Los Angeles suburb of Echo Park. Murrieta likens the project to the '70s detective shows where the character was the center focus and not the procedural. No other details were revealed.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· 24 (FOX)
· CLASS ACTIONS (LIFETIME)
· COUNTDOWN (ABC)
· DEVIL DOCS (ABC)
· DEVIL DOCS (ABC)
· DIVISION, THE (LIFETIME)
· FAMILY, THE (ABC)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· GARY THE RAT (SPIKE TV)
· GREETINGS FROM TUCSON (WB)
· HOUSE OF DREAMS (A AND E)
· HUFF (SHOWTIME)
· I'M WITH HER (ABC)
· INSIDE THE OSMONDS (ABC)
· JUDGE HATCHETT (SYNDICATION)
· K STREET (HBO)
· KID NOTORIOUS (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· MDS (ABC)
· MURDER BOOK (NBC)
· PARADISE (SHOWTIME)
· RICOCHET (FOX)
· SAINT, THE (ABC)
· SERIAL (ABC)
· SEX AND THE CITY (HBO)
· SOL GOODE (FOX)
· SOUTH PARK (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· SPIDER-MAN (MTV)
· STAN LEE'S STRIPPERELLA (SPIKE TV)
· STEPHEN KING'S DESPERATION (ABC)
· SUCKER FREE CITY (SHOWTIME)
· THREAT MATRIX (ABC)
· TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD (A AND E)
· UNTITLED AARON SPELLING PROJECT (FOX)
· UNTITLED GO-GO'S PROJECT (ABC)
· UNTITLED LINDA COHN PROJECT (NBC)
· UNTITLED NAPA VALLEY PROJECT (NBC)
· UNTITLED PETER MURRIETA PROJECT (USA)





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