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[12/17/03 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: December 17
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

AFFAIRS TO REMEMBER (USA, New!) - Craig Anderson ("Wilder Days") has pacted with the cable channel to executive produce a new six-hour limited series about infidelity from the perspectives of several interweaving couples. Cynthia Saunders ("Sisters," "thirtysomething") is on board to write the project, which will look at the subject matter from several points of view, along the lines of the network's upcoming "Traffic" mini-series remake. Anderson will executive produce through his Craig Anderson Productions banner.

THE EX-MEN (UPN, New!) - Mort Nathan ("The Golden Girls") is writing and executive producing a new comedy at the network about an ex-husband, an ex-straight man, an ex-rich guy and an ex-sitcom star who are all friends. Grammnet Productions's Kelsey Grammer and Steve Stark ("Girlfriends") will also executive produce the project, which comes from Paramount Network Television.

FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (Sci Fi) - Timothy Hutton, Hamish Linklater and newcomer Gage Golightly have all signed on for the lead roles in the network's upcoming limited series. Hutton will play J.T. Neumeyer, a physics professor who receives a police file from the future, with explicit details of his own gruesome murder, just five days away. Golightly will play J.T.'s 9-year-old daughter with Linklater as an obsessed student who idolizes Hutton's character. Michael Watkins previously signed on to direct the project, which is set to begin production shortly in Vancouver. Sci Fi plans to air the project over five consecutive nights, each a one-hour installment, in June.

THE HOUSE (FOX, New!) - Ashton Kutcher and his production partner Jason Goldberg are developing a new college-based drama at the network from writers J. Mackeye Gruber and Eric Bress ("The Butterfly Effect," "Final Destination 2"). Kutcher and Goldberg's Katalyst Productions along with 20th Century Fox Television are producing the project, which has a script commitment at FOX. "The House" tracks the lives of several students who live in a frat house and will take a frank look at the good and bad aspects of said lifestyle.

JOEY PIGZA (CBS, New!) - The Eye is developing a telefilm based on Jack Gantos' award-winning book of the same name, which revolves around a recovering alcoholic trying to deal with her 11-year-old child, who has attention-deficit disorder. Nick Castle ("Hook") is adapating the book while Craig Anderson Productions' Beth Grossbard will executive produce.

KEEPING WATCH (CBS, New!) - Craig Andersons Productions is developing a new telefilm at the Eye about a war veteran who deals with the ghosts of his past by treating abused children, until he meets one who may not be as innocent as he seems. Wesley Bishop ("The Christmas Shoes") is writing the script to the project, which is still in the early stages of development.

THE SAINT (ABC) - Some additional details have emerged about the Alphabet's remake of the classic 1960s series, which comes from Craig Anderson Productions and FremantleMedia. Stephen Nathan ("Joan of Arcadia") is writing the pilot script with CAP's Craig Anderson and Fremantle's Marla Ginsburg executive producing.

SIX FEET UNDER (HBO) - Mena Suvari ("American Beauty") has signed on to appear in six episodes of the show's upcoming fourth season. She'll play an art school pal of Lauren Ambrose's character, a role originally held by Zooey Deschanel ("Elf") who exited for unspecified reasons.

THE SKETCH SHOW (FOX, New!) - FOX is getting back into the primetime sketch comedy business as the network has greenlighted production on a pilot presentation for a new half-hour comedy series, titled simply "The Sketch Show." Kelsey Grammer's Paramount-based Grammnet Productions is behind the project, which is based on the British series of the same name. Avalon Entertainment, the company behind the original, is also producing the U.S. version. The series is best known for its rapid-fire nature, in which 30 or so brief sketches are crammed into a half-hour show (a la "Laugh-In"). The U.S. version will follow the same format and use existing scripts from the show, performed by American actors. Should it go to series, Grammnet has the rights to use some 450 existing sketches from the U.K. version but will also hire a writing staff to produce original bits. Dan Patterson ("Whose Line Is It Anyway?") is on board to executive produce the project, as are Gramment's Steve Stark and Avalon's John Thorday.

THIN AIR (WB, New!) - Paramount Network Television is developing a new comedy at the Frog about a Colorado mom who reunites with her son following the death of her ex-husband, the boy's father. Mark Steilen is behind the project and will executive produce along with Grammnet Productions' Kelsey Grammer and Steve Stark ("Girlfriends").

TOAST (UPN, New!) - The netlet is developing a new comedy from writers Nick LeRose ("Whoopi") and Kathy Green ("The Drew Carey Show") about a famous married couple who find themselves dealing with life after their careers fall apart. The duo will executive produce the Paramount-based project, along with Grammnet Productions' Kelsey Grammer and Steve Stark ("Girlfriends").

UNTITLED SOLANGE KNOWLES PROJECT (UPN, New!) - The netlet has signed a talent holding deal with the actress, the younger sister of popular singer/actress Beyonce Knowles. The pact calls UPN to place her in one of its existing sitcom pilots being targeted for fall 2004. Knowles can next been seen in the upcoming feature "Johnson Family Vacation."

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· AFFAIRS TO REMEMBER (USA)
· CHRISTMAS SHOES, THE (CBS)
· DREW CAREY SHOW, THE (ABC)
· EX-MEN, THE (UPN)
· FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (SCI FI)
· GIRLFRIENDS (CW)
· HOUSE, THE (FOX)
· JOAN OF ARCADIA (CBS)
· JOEY PIGZA (NBC)
· KEEPING WATCH (CBS)
· KELSEY GRAMMER PRESENTS: THE SKETCH SHOW (FOX)
· SAINT, THE (ABC)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· THIN AIR (WB)
· TOAST (UPN)
· TRAFFIC (USA)
· UNTITLED SOLANGE KNOWLES PROJECT (UPN)
· WHOOPI (NBC)
· WHOSE LINE IS IT ANYWAY? (CW)
· WILDER DAYS (TNT)





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