[03/17/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 17
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

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

Looking to keep track of all the various pilots and other projects in development? Be sure to check out our detailed production chart listings by clicking here.

BEVERLY HILLS S.U.V. (NBC) - Jeffrey Nordling ("Once & Again"), Henry Winkler ("Arrested Development") and Darryl M. Bell ("A Different World") are the first to join the cast of the comedy pilot, which centers on an unlikely ensemble of highly competitive salespeople at an upscale Beverly Hills car boutique. "The Bernie Mac Show" co-creator Larry Wilmore is behind the project, which comes from NBC Studios.

C.S.I.: NEW YORK (CBS) - Carmine Giovinazzo ("Black Hawk Down") is the latest to join the cast of the third installment of the "C.S.I." franchise. He'll play one of the investigators, along with the previously cast Vanessa Ferlito. Danny Cannon, who helmed the pilots for both the original "C.S.I." and "C.S.I.: Miami," has also signed on to direct "New York's" backdoor pilot episode of "Miami." Cannon has recently been upped to executive producer on all three editions of the franchise, as part of one-year deal with Bruckheimer Films. The pact also calls for him to write episodes of "Miami" next season as well as direct installments of all three series.

CALL ME: THE RISE AND FALL OF HEIDI FLIESS (A.K.A. GOING DOWN) (USA) - The cable channel has retitled its Heidi Fleiss biopic, which bows on March 29, to "Call Me." In addition, the network alerted TV critics this week that they had inadvertently received the European version of the telefilm and issued new copies of the domestic version. Various sources have indicated there's little difference between both versions, outside of a couple of sex scenes having been trimmed by a few seconds. It's understood that with indecency on everyone's minds, USA doesn't want to risk any misperceptions about the movie's level of exposure. Adding more confusion to the issue is that a third version is in the works for the movie's impending DVD release that promises to be somewhat racier than the other two versions.

THE FRIENDLYS (NBC) - Newcomer Owain Yeoman has joined the cast of the Peacock's offbeat comedy pilot, about the fight between a recently deceased mogul's boozy wife (Ana Gasteyer) and his spoiled daughter (Julie Bowen) over the business. He'll play the daughter's British ex-husband in the NBC Studios project, which also stars Dave Foley and Bill Gardell.

GOOD GIRLS DON'T (A.K.A. MY BEST FRIEND IS A BIG FAT SLUT) (Oxygen) - The cable channel has retitled and rescheduled its first original scripted series. The project, a co-production with Carsey Werner-Mandabach, will instead bow Friday, June 4 in a yet-to-be-determined time period. Oxygen originally targeted the series, which was created by Claudia Lonow ("Less Than Perfect"), for an April start date. Bree Turner, Joy Gohring, Kevin Christy, Brent King and Nicole Hiltz star in the project, a half-hour comedy about a pair of Minnesota twentysomethings who move to L.A. in search of the Hollywood life.

HERCULES: THE LEGENDARY JOURNEYS (Syndication) - Anchor Bay Entertainment and Davis-Anderson Merchandising Corp. have provided us with the complete breakdown of the show's third season DVD release. The nine disc set, which streets on March 23, includes all 22 episodes from the show's junior outing. Here's the disc-by-disc summary - Disc One: "Mercenary" (with audio Commentary by Michael Hurst), "Doomsday" and "Love Takes a Holiday" (with interviews by Eric Gruendemann, Robert Tapert and Michael Hurst) as well as a Photo Gallery, Credits Crawl and Weblink; Disc Two: "Mummy Dearest" (with audio commentary by Kevin Sorbo), "Not Fade Away" (with interviews by Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Robert Tapert and Eric Gruendemann) and "Monster Child in a Promised Land"; Disc Three: "The Green-Eyed Monster," "Prince Hercules" (with interviews by Kevin Sorbo and Sam Sorbo) and "A Star to Guide Them"; Disc Four: "The Lady and the Dragon," "Long Live the King" (with interviews by Michael Hurst and Robert Tapert) and "Surprise" (with audio commentary by Kevin Sorbo); Disc Five: "Encounter" (with audio commentary by Kevin Sorbo), "When a Man Loves a Woman" and "Judgment Day" (with interviews by Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Sam Sorbo and Robert Tapert); Disc Six: "The Lost City," "Les Contemptibles" (with interviews by Kevin Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Eric Gruendemann, Robert Gillies and Robert Tapert) and "Reign of Terror"; Disc Seven: "The End of the Beginning" (with interviews by Kevin Sorbo, Paul Robert Coyle and Eric Gruendemann), "War Brides" and "A Rock and a Hard Place"; Disc Eight: "Atlantis" (with interviews by Kevin Sorbo, Eric Gruendemann and Robert Gillies) as well as the featurette "A Conversation with: Kevin Sorbo, Sam Sorbo, Michael Hurst, Rob Tapert, Eric Gruendemann and Robert Gillies); and Disc Nine features the CD-ROM material as well as Chronicles, Trivia, Bios and Mythology sections. Also note that Best Buy will include an exclusive extra disc which features 30 minutes of bonus interviews with the cast and crew.

KEVIN HILL (UPN) - Michael Michele ("ER") is set to star opposite Taye Diggs in the netlet's drama pilot, about a rising young attorney (Diggs) who gives up his playboy lifestyle to raise his cousin's infant daughter. Michele will play a single mom and the head of the law office where Diggs' character works. Alex Taub ("Judging Amy") has also come aboard to executive produce the Touchstone Television/Icon Productions project, which also comes from Mel Gibson, Bruce Davey and Jorge Reyes.

LUCKY US (FOX) - Chyler Leigh has finally gotten her co-star in the comedy pilot: Ethan Embry ("L.A. Dragnet"). The duo play a couple who go out on a blind date and wind up with an unexpected pregnancy. Holly Hester, Neil Moritz, Dawn Parouse and Marty Adelstein are behind the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television.

NAKED JOSH (Oxygen, New!) - Oxygen plans to launch the dramedy, which has an eight-episode order, this summer as part of its "Oh! Friday" block of original programming alongside fellow new series "Show Me Yours." According to press materials, "'Naked Josh' portrays the overdue coming-of-age of Josh Gould (David Julian Hirsh, "Leap Years"), a young and brilliant Oxford graduate. Emerging from a broken seven-year relationship, Josh returns to Montreal with a PhD tucked under his arm to become the youngest anthropology professor in the history of his university. From the hallowed halls of academia, the series follows Josh as he searches for sex and romantic love in Montreal while teaching a course on sexual anthropology. Krista Bridges ("Narc") also stars as his seemingly unattainable university crush, Hunter Randall. Some of Josh's sexual guides on his romantic journey include: his best friend Eric (Andrew Tarbet), a bartender in a funky bar on the Main whose idea of a committed relationship is letting the girl stay overnight; Jenn (Patricia McKenzie), the lesbian bar manager looking for love in all the wrong places; and ambitious Natalie Bouchard (Sarah Smyth), Josh's student and research assistant who questions the integrity of Josh's academic work in light of his stormy sex life." Production wrapped on the Montreal-based project in November of last year. The Cirrus Communications-produced series was created by Alex Epstein ("Warriors," "Galidor") and Laura Kosterski ("Bliss," "Vampire High"). Jacques Blain and Richard Speer serve as executive producers with Jos�e Vall�e and Andr� B�raud producing and Paul Carri�re directing.

MARRIAGE 101 (WB) - Brooke D'Orsay ("Beautiful Girl") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a young married couple who move in with the husband's friends. She'll play Jenna, one half of a young married couple in the 20th Century Fox Television/Brad Grey Television project, which also stars Brian Sites, Josh Waters and Katie Mixon. Boyce Bugliari, Jamie McLaughlin, Brad Grey and Peter Traugott are the executive producers.

PLAN B (ABC) - Millicent Martin ("Frasier") is set as the mother of Caroline Rhea's character in the Universal Network Television pilot, about a thirtysomething career woman (Rhea) balancing work and love. Rocky Carroll, Kali Rocha, Sarah Shahi, Willie Garson and Steven Eckholdt also star in the project, which comes from Josh Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia.

THE SAVAGES (ABC) - Andrew Eiden ("Boston Public"), Shaun Sipos ("Smallville"), Eric Von Detten ("Dinotopia") and Mitchel Musso ("Oliver Beene") are among the first to join the Icon Productions/Universal Network Television project, which centers on a blue-collar dad raising five teenage boys, ages 11 to 17. The quartet will play four of the five boys - Sam, the eldest Savage boy; Jack, the girl-magnet; Chris, the jock; and T.J., the youngest, respectively - in the pilot, which comes from Mike Scully, Julie Thacker-Scully, Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey.

SHOW ME YOURS (Oxygen, New!) - The cable channel revealed at its upfront presentation to the advertising community it plans to debut the Barna-Alper Productions-produced dramedy this summer as part of its "Oh! Friday" block of original programming alongside fellow new series "Naked Josh." Here's how distributor Alliance Atlantis describes the project in its press materials: "In 'Show Me Yours,' Kate Langford (Rachael Crawford, "The Ride," "Traders," "When Night is Falling") wants desperately to take a sabbatical from her emotionally exhausting psychology practice to write a book about the nature of erotic experience. Writing seems like the ideal antidote to her fatal (and secret) flaw as a therapist - she�s really not good with people. Enter the brainy, brawny Dr. Benjamin Chase (Adam Harrington, "Out of Order," "Jeremiah"), a biologist newly returned from a stint of field research where he studied the mating habits of monkeys - and the new co-author who�s just been foisted upon Kate by her publisher. Together, the two researchers must temper their own volatile and sexually charged relationship in order to conduct their study, which involves interviewing people about their erotic experiences." Production was completed on the series, which was executive produced by Laszlo Barna, in Toronto's historic Distillery District in January.

STEALING SINATRA (Showtime) - Showtime has scheduled the telefilm for Sunday, April 25 at 8:00/7:00c. David Arquette and William H. Macy star in the project, about the real-life kidnapping of Frank Sinatra, Jr.

SUDBURY (CBS) - Jeri Ryan ("Boston Public") is in final talks to star opposite Kim Delaney in the drama pilot, which is loosely based on the 1998 feature "Practical Magic," about the trials and tribulations of two sisters, both witches. The trio of Sandra Bullock ("The George Lopez Show"), Denise Di Novi ("The District") and Becky Hartman-Edwards ("American Dreams") are behind the project, which is set up at the former's Fortis Films and Warner Bros. Television.

TEMPTING ADAM (Oyxgen, New!) - The cable channel has greenlighted its third original mini-movie, about a workaholic who plays matchmaker to her commitment-phobic friend. The first, the Peter Gallagher-led "A Tale of Two Wives" bowed in October to solid ratings while its second "My Sexiest Mistake," starring Sabrina Lloyd, premieres this Saturday at 8:00/8:00c.

UNTITLED ANDREW KENNEDY PROJECT (CBS) - John Ratzenberger ("Cheers") has come aboard the comedy pilot, which centers on a blended family, in which the parents (Kennedy, Christa Miller) have conflicting points of view. Andrew Gordon and Eileen Conn are behind the project, which is set up at Sony Picutres Television and CBS Productions.

UNTITLED SOFIA VERGARA PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Colombian actress Sofia Vergara ("Soul Plane") is set to be the centerpiece of a new comedy pilot at the Alphabet, about a single Latina mom from Colombia who pays a disgraced stockbroker to marry her, allowing her to stay in the United States. Trouble starts though when the pair learn that in order for her to qualify for a green card, they have to live together as man and wife for an extended period. Don Reo, Damon Wayans ("My Wife and Kids") and Jeff Sagansky of the newly formed DDJ Productions (an acronym of their first names) are behind the project, which will be co-produced by Touchstone Television. Casting is underway on the pilot, which is expected to be shot on April 13 and 14.

YES, DEAR (CBS) - TBS has purchased the cable rights to the veteran CBS comedy. The two-year license term begins in August, one month before the show premieres in off-network syndication on local stations across the country. The deal with 20th Century Fox Television is somewhat of a rarity for a comedy series in that most distributors give a multi-year window between its local station and cable premieres. "Malcolm in the Middle" (fall 2007 on FX), "My Wife and Kids" (fall 2008 on ABC Family), "King of the Hill" (fall 2004 on FX), "That '70s Show" (fall 2005 on FX) and "King of Queens" (fall 2006 on TBS) for example won't begin their cable runs until three years after their debuts on local outlets. TBS will pay a just $75,000 per half-hour for the rights to "Yes, Dear" as well as give up three 30-second spots for national ad sales by 20th.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [march 2004]  

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