CHICAGO (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BLUE COLLAR TV (A.K.A. UNTITLED BLUE COLLAR COMEDY TOUR PROJECT) (WB) - The Frog's sketch comedy series starring Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry The Cable Guy now features the title "Blue Collar TV." The network hopes to have the show's six episode order completed in time for a late summer launch in order to get a jump on the start of the 2004-05 season.
CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE (CBS) - Spencer Breslin ("Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat") is the latest to join the cast of the comedy pilot, which comes from Warner Bros. Television, CBS Productions and the Tannenbaum Co. He'll play Miles in the project, which also stars John Goodman, Diedrich Bader, Melinda McGraw and Jean Smart.
DR. VEGAS (CBS) - Rob Lowe ("The West Wing, "The Lyon's Den") is set to topline the pilot presentation, which revolves around a young, unconventional doctor who lives and works in an old-school, Palms-like hotel-casino in Las Vegas. He'll play said doctor in the project, named George Rivers. Lowe's involvement lifts the cast-contingency on the pilot's production. John Herzfeld ("15 Minutes"), Lawrence Bender ("Kill Bill"), Kevin Brown ("Roswell") and Mark Sennett ("K Street") are all behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television, Bender-Brown Productions and CBS Productions.
THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW (Syndication) - The second season of the successful talk show has been cleared in 85% of the country, including new clearances on stations in Richmond, Virginia, and Springfield, Missouri. The series will also be upgraded to higher profile time periods in several markets, including Orlando and Atlanta, where it will move to 4 p.m. from 10 a.m. eastern, not to mention get a second run at 5 p.m. on stations in the WB 100+ group beginning March 8.
GLOBAL FREQUENCY (WB) - The pilot for the small screen version of the DC/Wildstorm comic won't begin production until July, likely delaying any potential series order for the project until midseason 2005. The holdup is reportedly due to the increased prep time needed for the CGI effects featured in the Warner Bros. Television/Mark Burnett Productions project. "Frequency" centers of an independent defense intelligence organization that uses ordinary individuals as agents around the world to fight evil.
HARRY GREEN AND EUGENE (ABC) - Alex Desert ("Becker") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, which centers on Los Angeles private eye Harry Green (Mark Valley) and his inept brother Eugene (Jason Segel). Desert's role was not specified in the project, which comes from Paramount Network Television, the Littlefield Co. and Frequency Films.
MEDIUM (NBC) - April Grace ("Magnolia," "Finding Forrester") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, which stars Patricia Arquette as a suburban mom who uses her psychic powers to solve crimes. Grace will play a power-hungry assistant district attorney skeptical of using Arquette's character's help. She joins the previously cast Jake Weber as Arquette's husband and Miguel Sandoval as her district attorney boss. "Medium" comes from Paramount Network Television, Kelsey Grammer's Grammnet Productions and Glenn Gordon Caron's Picturemaker Productions.
THE MEN'S ROOM (NBC) - John Cho ("Off Centre") is the first to join the comedy pilot, which revolves around three men in different stages of their lives. Cho will play Bob, a thirtysomething guy who's one of the central focuses in the ensemble comedy, which is set up at NBC Studios and comes from writer/producer Danny Zuker ("Coupling," "Off Centre").
POINT PLEASANT (FOX) - Cameron Richardson ("Skin") and Brent Weber have joined the cast of the drama pilot, described as a cross between "Peyton Place" and "The Omen" that takes place in a town shaken one summer when a mysterious girl washes ashore. John McLaughlin ("The Last Good Time") and Marti Noxon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") are behind the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television.
PRODIGY (WB) - Cody Arens ("Riding in Cars With Boys") and Stacy Edwards ("Chicago Hope") have snagged the lead roles in the drama pilot, about a teenage girl who hides her music talents from her family, which is busy focusing their attention on her younger brother, a well-known prodigy. Arens will play the younger brother, while Edwards is set as the mother of the duo. Josh Friedman ("Chain Reaction") and Ron Silver ("The Matrix") are behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television-based Silver Pictures.
ROCKY POINT (WB) - Production on the drama pilot has been pushed back to July due to scheduling conflicts involving executive producer/director John Stockwell. Stockwell is currently in the midst of filming the Paul Walker/Jessica Alba feature "Into the Blue" and won't be available until the summer. The news means the Warner Bros. Television project has been pushed to midseason 2005 series consideration. "Point" revolves around a young woman shacking up with pals on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii who must take in her estranged father.
THE ROYALS (New!) - Gerry McKean and Michael Shevloff ("Temptation Island") have inked an 18-month overall production and development deal with Fox Television Studios to create and develop new reality series. The first project out of the pact is "The Royals," a reality series based on the Sky TV show of the same name which will take an ordinary American family and move them to the U.K., where they'll live a royal lifestyle. The duo, who will executive produce the project under their newly formed Shevloff/McKean Productions banner, will begin pitching the concept to U.S. broadcast networks in the next two weeks. They're also developing a "reverse" version of the project, which would send an upper-crust U.K. family to live in a working class U.S. neighborhood.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (ABC Family, New!) - Maggie Lawson ("It's All Relative"), Joseph Lawrence ("Run of the House") and Marilu Henner are set to star in the cable channel's latest romantic comedy. The project, which is scheduled to premiere in June, stars Lawson and Lawrence as a young engaged couple who struggle with the bride-to-be's mother (Henner) to keep their upcoming nuptials low-key. Steve Robman ("The O.C.") is set to direct the telefilm from a script by Alan Marc Levy.
UNTITLED JASON HORWITCH PROJECT (NBC) - Anna Belknap ("The Handler") is the latest to join the drama pilot, which stars Neal McDonough and Christopher Gorham as doctors who unravels medical mysteries. Belknap will play the doctors' spin doctor/press liaison in the project, a co-production of Paramount Network Television, NBC Studios and Landscape Entertainment.
UNTITLED JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT PROJECT (ABC) - John Patrick Stewart ("Andy Richter Controls the Universe") and Josie Davis ("Melrose Place") have joined the cast of the Jennifer Love Hewitt-led comedy pilot presentation, about a sports reporter and single mom (Hewitt), whose arrival threatens the network's top sports reporter. Stewart will play network anchor T.J., while Davis will star as Brandee, said top sports reporter, a beautiful but airheaded reporter. Touchstone Television is behind the project, which comes from Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah ("Freaks & Geeks").
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters