CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
AMERICAN IDOL (FOX) - Barely a week into its third season, FOX has already scheduled a new "American Idol" special, entitled "The Road to Hollywood." Here's how FOX describes the installment, which airs Monday, February 2 at 8:00/7:00c: "Last week more than 57 million viewers tuned in to watch all or part of the first three episodes of AMERICAN IDOL's third season as the vocally skilled and the vocally challenged performed for the judges. Some made it through to Hollywood, and many more were sent home. This all-new AMERICAN IDOL special looks inside the auditions at the contestants who made it to Hollywood and who get a chance at stardom."
DOING IT (ABC) - Kelly Osbourne ("The Osbournes"), Marguerite Moreau ("Runaway Jury," "Queen of the Damned") and Missi Pergrym ("Black Sash," "Jake 2.0," "Tru Calling") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot. The trio joins the previous cast Sean Faris, Chris Lowell and Jon Foster in the project, based on the popular British novel of the same name by Melvin Burgess, which centers on the sexual antics of three 16-year-old Seattle boys: Dino (Faris), Jonathan (Lowell) and Ben (Foster). Osbourne will play a love interest for Lowell's character; Peregrym will play Dino's girlfriend, Jackie; and Moreau will play a young English-lit teacher, Miss Young. Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah are the executive producers of the project, which comes from Touchstone Television, along with Stu Bloomberg and Francie Calfo.
THE HANDLER (CBS) - The Eye's struggling drama series will actually produce 16 episodes this season, not 15 as previously reported. Its season finale, featuring guest star Annabella Sciorra ("The Sopranos"), airs February 13.
JOHNNY ZERO (FOX) - The John Wells-produced drama project has been given the green light to produce a pilot. Franky G ("The Italian Job") stars in the drama as an ex-con who tries to go legit and become a private eye, but is frequently tempted by the dark world he left behind. R. Scott Gimmell ("ER," "J.A.G.") wrote the pilot based on a script by Ken Sanzel and will executive along with Wells, Gimmell and Llewellyn Wells. The news marks Warner Bros.-based John Wells Productions first ever pilot pick-up at FOX.
KEVIN HILL (UPN) - Writer Jorge A. Reyes' ("Resurrection Blvd.") drama pilot has been given the go ahead to produce a pilot by UPN. The project centers on a 30-year-old single playboy lawyer in L.A. who suddenly has to raise his brother's six month old baby girl -- and go to work for a law firm run by women -- one of whom he slept with. Reyes will executive produce the pilot, which comes from Touchstone Television and Icon Productions, along with Icon's Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey.
NICE GUYS (CBS) - The Eye has given a cast-contingent green light to the drama pilot, from writers Shane Black ("Lethal Weapon") and Anthony Bagarozzi. Thomas Schlamme has come aboard to direct the pilot, a buddy action-adventure drama described as "Rockford Files" meets "Lethal Weapon." He'll also executive produce the project, which comes from Warner Bros.-based Silver Pictures and Shoe Money Productions, along with Black, Bagarozzi and Ron Silver. CBS had previously given "Nice Guys" a hefty $2 million put pilot commitment meaning a production green light was virtually guaranteed.
RICOCHET (FOX) - Josh Hopkins ("Ally McBeal"), Johnny Messner ("Tears of the Sun,"), Rosa Arrendondo ("Law & Order") and Dagmara Dominczyk ("Law & Order: S.V.U.") are set to join Dondre Whitfield ("Hidden Hills") as the principal cast of the drama pilot, a police drama that takes a "Memento"-like reverse approach to storytelling. Rene Echevarria and Jeff Kline are the executive producers of the project, which comes from Touchstone Television.
ROMY AND MICHELE: IN THE BEGINNING (ABC) - The Alphabet has rescheduled its small screen prequel to "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion" for an unspecified later date. The network had previously slated the telefilm to air on February 14 (read the story).
SILVER LAKE (A.K.A. UNTITLED JUSTIN TANNER PROJECT) (UPN) - Justin Tanner's ("Gilmore Girls") drama pilot at UPN has been given both a title and a green light to produce a pilot presentation. The project revolves around a record store owner who uses his psychic abilities to communicate with the dead and help them resolve issues they left behind. Spelling Television is behind the pilot, which will be executive produced by Tanner, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent ("7th Heaven," "Charmed").
TRAFFIC (USA) - Part one of the three-part, six-hour, $12 million mini-series scored a solid 2.8 million viewers on Monday, but fell short of fellow cable series "WWE Raw" on Spike TV and "Law & Order" on TNT during the 9:00/8:00c and 10:00/9:00c hours. "Traffic" however edged out TNT's "Law & Order" among adults 18-49 (1.5 million viewers). On the flip slide, the mini-series lost 100,000 viewers of lead-in "Law & Order: S.V.U.'s" overall audience. The news comes on the heels of USA's rare monthly win among cable networks for January (2.5 million viewers on average), its first victory since July 2000. The network also won the month (which ended in ratings terms on January 25) in adults 18-49 and adults 25-54. USA executives attribute the performance to the return of "Monk" and repeats of "S.V.U."
UNTITLED MICHAEL BAY/SHANE SALERNO PROJECT (ABC) - The drama project has been pushed back to midseason 2005 consideration due to the respective busy schedules of director Michael Bay and writer Shane Salerno. The Touchstone Television project focuses on an ultra-moral U.S. attorney who aims to take down a ruthless crime boss he's known since both were kids.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters