[01/13/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: January 13
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

DEAD LIKE ME (Showtime) - MGM TV Entertainment president Hank Cohen revealed at Showtime's session at the TCA's winter press tour the network had upped its license fee for the show's second season. The move by Showtime topper Robert Greenblatt was done to give producers extra time to shoot each episode. Because of the budget increase, "Dead Like Me" will switch to an eight day episode production schedule, up from its previous seven day schedule.

DYNASTY (ABC, New!) - Writer/director Matthew Miller ("The Perfect You") is set to spearhead a new telefilm at the Alphabet that will explore the rise and fall of the popular Aaron Spelling soap. Miller will write and direct the project, with Stanley M. Brooks and Greg Gugliotta ("Behind the Camera: The Unofficial Story of Three's Company") executive producing. Casting is already underway on the project with production expected to be completed in time for May sweeps. Neither "Dynasty" creators Richard and Esther Shapiro nor executive producer Aaron Spelling will be involved with the project, which Brooks and Gugliotta stress won't be a "behind-the-scenes tell all" that their "Three's Company" telefilm was. Instead the telefilm will look at the pressure the show constantly felt to "one-up" itself in order to stay at the top of the ratings as well as how the show served as a metaphor for the 1980s. Once Upon a Time Productions is behind the project in association with Nitelite Entertainment.

THE FIX (ESPN, New!) - Writers Brian Koppelman and David Levien ("Runaway Jury," "Rounders") have landed script commitment from ESPN for a new drama set in the worlds of gambling and college football. Bruce Nash ("Meet My Folks") is also attached as an executive producer on the project, additional details of which were not released.

HUFF (Showtime) - The upcoming drama is reportedly set to be the network's most expensive original series in its history with a per episode license fee of $1.75 million to Sony Pictures Television. The large budget is widely believed to be caused by the decision to shoot the series in California rather than Vancouver, where its pilot was shot. Series star Hank Azaria originally signed on to the project with the caveat that should it go to series, production would move to L.A. Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt signed off on the possible budget increase (believed to be $550,000 per episode to move from Vancouver to L.A.) as he saw Azaria's involvement crucial to the project's overall success.

I DO, I DID, NOW WHAT (UPN, New!) - Jenny Lee's bestselling book of the same name about what happens to modern couples after they get hitched will be the focus of a new half-hour comedy at the netlet from executive producer Kate Hudson. Dan Cohen and F.J. Pratt ("Less Than Perfect") are set to write and executive produce the project, which has a script commitment, along with Hudson through her production company, Cosmic Entertainment.

NUMBERS (CBS, New!) - The Eye has greenlit a new drama pilot from executive producers Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") and Tony Scott ("Top Gun") about an MIT mathematician who's enlisted by the F.B.I. to help solve crimes. Cheryl Heuton and Nick Falacci ("Outfoxed") are attached to write and executive produce the project, which comes from the Scott's production company Scott Free in association with Paramount Network Television. David Zucker is also on board to executive produce.

ONE BIG HAPPY (FOX, New!) - FOX has handed out a pilot order for "One Big Happy" an irreverent dramedy about a very unconventional family from director Shawn Levy ("Just Married," "Cheaper by the Dozen"). 20th Century Fox Television is behind the project, which will be written and executive produced by Aaron Harberts and Gretchen Berg ("Roswell," "Wonderfalls"). Levy will also executive produce the pilot and is expected to direct.

POP-UP CULTURE (VH1, New!) - The music channel is set to go ahead with the series, a pseudo-sequel to the network's popular "Pop-Up Video" series. Woody Thompson and his Spin the Bottle production company is behind the project, which is set to roll out in the spring or early summer. "Culture" will feature the same format as the original, but the snarky bubble notes will accompany clips from iconic moments or elements from pop culture, from clips of TV shows to real-life events.

S.F.C. (Showtime) - At Showtime's session at the TCA's winter press tour, network executives noted that they are hoping to turn the Spike Lee drama pilot into a six-hour limited series.

SUBURBAN MADNESS (CBS, New!) - Storyline Entertainment and Sony Pictures Television ("The Reagans") are back the Eye where they've landed a cast-contigent greenlight for a new telefilm about dentist Clara Harris, the Houston woman who murdered her husband by running him over with a Mercedes. Kimberlee Reed is on board to write the script to the project with Storyline's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron executive producing. The duo hope the telefilm will evolve into something beyond the typical biopic (a la HBO's "The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom"). Harris was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year.

UNTITLED DAVID SHORE PROJECT (FOX) - The producers have been given the go-ahead to produce a pilot for the drama, which focuses on a team of doctors charged with solving complicated medical mysteries that mystify other health-care professionals. Paul Attanasio and David Shore are behind the Universal-based project, which previously had a put pilot commitment at the network.

UNTITLED TERRI HUGHES/RON MILBAUER PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Bounty hunters will be the focus of a new untitled drama project from writers Terri Hughes and Ron Milbauer (UPN's "Kamelot," "Idle Hands"). The duo will write and executive produce the pilot, which comes from Spelling Television, along with Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent. The Eye has given the greenlight to produce a pilot for the drama, which revolves around a bounty hunter and his two sons, who join the family business.

WHOT (UPN, New!) - Queen Latifah ("Barbershop 2: Back in Business") is executive producing a new comedy pilot at the netlet, about a young white woman who gets hired as the station manager for a hip-hop radio station, WHOT. Buddy Sheffield ("In Living Color") and David Sheffield ("The Nutty Professor") will write and executive produce the project, which has a script commitment at the network, with Shakim Compere also on board as an executive producer. "WHOT" comes from HBO Independent Productions in association with Latifah's production company, Flavor Unit.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [january 2004]  


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