CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE AMAZING WESTERBERGS (CBS) - Chris O'Donnell ("The Practice") has been tapped for the lead role in the comedy pilot, which revolves around two brothers who grew up thinking they were special, and must now face the reality that they're just ordinary dudes. O'Donnell's involvement stems from a talent deal the actor signed with the Eye back in September (read the story). Writer/producers Jay Scherick and David Ronn ("Spin City") are behind the project, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and CBS Productions.
FIRST FAMILY (ABC) - The Alphabet has greenlighted a pilot for the comedy, a remake of the British comedy "The Royle Family." The news marks the second attempt by a U.S. network to try and import the comedy, with CBS failing in 2001 with the Randy Quaid-led pilot "The Kennedys." The ABC version, which will be written and executive produced by Alan Zweibel ("Curb Your Enthusiasm"), follows the lives of a blue-collar family in Queens. Touchstone Television and Granada Television are behind the project.
GAME OVER (UPN) - USA Today is reporting the netlet has committed to six additional scripts of the animated comedy, one of which will feature video game icon Lara Croft from the "Tomb Raider" series. Said plot will find Lara and Raquel (voiced by Lucy Liu) having a heroine heart-to-heart over an espresso. The show's initial six-episode run kicks off Wednesday, March 10 at 8:00/7:00c.
JACK & BOBBY (WB) - Newcomer Matthew Long will play Jack to Logan Lerman's Bobby in the Frog pilot, a drama about the two teenage sons of a single mom (Christine Lahti), one of whom is destined to become the President of the United States.
LAW & ORDER: S.V.U. (NBC) - Marlo Thomas ("Deceit," "Two Against Time") has signed on for a five-episode arc on the drama. She'll play a judge who is known for speaking her mind and serves as a mentor to Diane Neal's character. Thomas' arc begins next week.
THE ROBINSONS: LOST IN SPACE (WB) - Mike Erwin ("Everwood") is set as Don West in the Frog's remake of the cult classic sci-fi series. Erwin takes over the role made famous by Mark Goddard in the original TV series and later played by Matt LeBlanc in the 1998 feature. He joins the previously cast Jayne Brook (Maureen Robinson) and Adrianne Palicki (Judy Robinson) on the project. Erwin's involvement is the result of a talent deal the actor signed with the WB in July of last year (read the story).
THE SAVAGES (A.K.A. UNTITLED MIKE SCULLY/JULIE THACKER PROJECT) (ABC) - Julie Thacker and Mike Scully's ("The Simpsons") comedy at the Alphabet has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The comedy, which is loosely based on the life of executive producer Mel Gibson, centers on a blue-collar single father who is raising five teen boys. Gibson and Bruce Davey will executive produce the project, which comes from Icon Productions and Universal Network Television, along with Thacker and Scully. ABC had previously given the project a hefty put pilot commitment back in November (read the story).
THANK GOD IT'S MONDAY (ABC, New!) - Warren Bell ("According to Jim") has landed a pilot commitment at the network for a new comedy about how men talk about their family life with their co-workers. Touchstone Television is behind the project, additional details of which were not available.
UNTITLED JESSICA SIMPSON PROJECT (ABC) - The "Newlyweds" star's comedy pilot at the Alphabet is officially a go. Simpson will play a pop culture icon named (note the spelling) Jessica Sampson who's hired by a TV newsmagazine to do part-time work as an on-air reporter. The producers are currently casting for a co-lead, a hard-working female producer of said program whose world turns upside down when Sampson signs on. Touchstone Television and Ted Harbert Television are behind the project, which is being written by Gayle Abrams. Harbert and Simpson's father, Joe Simpson, are the executive producers.
UNTITLED JOEL STEIN/MARSH MCCALL PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Time journalist Joel Stein ("I Love the '80s") is teaming with Marsh McCall ("Just Shoot Me") to write and executive produce a new comedy based on Stein's experience as the youngest-ever columnist at the magazine. Michael Hanel and Mindy Schultheis are also executive producing the Warner Bros. Television-based project, which has a pilot commitment at the network.
UNTITLED JOHN STAMOS PROJECT (ABC) - ABC has greenlighted production on a pilot for the project, a romantic comedy whose entire first season will focus entirely on a couple's first date. Stamos ("Thieves") is set as the male lead and will executive produce the project along with writer Austin Winsberg ("Still Standing"). The Alphabet gave the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television-based Brad Grey Television, a put pilot commitment earlier this month (read the story).
UNTITLED METHOD MAN/RED MAN PROJECT (FOX) - Ella Joyce ("Roc") has been added to the cast of the comedy. She'll play Method Man's mother in the project, which features the duo as rap stars who encounter sudden success and move into a big house in the mostly white New Jersey suburbs. Joyce joins the previously cast Beth Littleford, Peter Jacobson, David Henry and Lahmard Tate.
UNTITLED MICHAEL JACOBS PROJECT (FOX, New!) - The network has given a cast-contingent pilot pick-up for a new comedy about parents trying to cope with their kids growing up. Michael Jacobs ("Boy Meets World") is behind the project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television and Jersey Television. Danny DeVito, John Landgraf, Michael Shamberg and Stacey Sher will executive produce for Jersey.
UNTITLED PHIL HENDRIE PROJECT (FOX) - Amy Yasbeck ("Wings"), Sarah Silverman ("Greg The Bunny"), Nat Faxon ("Grosse Pointe") and Neil Flynn ("Scrubs") have been added to the voice cast of the animated comedy pilot, which revolves around the life of radio personality Phil Hendrie ("Gated World"). The pilot presentation tracks Hendrie's character who after landing a gig in a major market, ends up marrying a woman with three children and moving into a gated suburban community. Steven Levitan ("Just Shoot Me") and Phil Lord & Chris Miller ("Clone High, U.S.A.") are behind the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television. The Hendrie project is one of four animated presentations under consideration by FOX for next season (the others being Seth MacFarlane's "American Dad," the small screen version of comic strip "The Boondocks" and an untitled project from the "Dr. Katz" team of Jonathan Katz and Tom Synder). FOX is expected to give a series order to at least one of the projects shortly in order to provide its respective producers enough lead time to make a 2004-05 season start.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters