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[03/29/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 29
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.

ALIAS (ABC) - Jesse Alexander, a co-executive producer on the series, has signed a one-year, low seven-figure development deal with Touchstone Television. The pact, which has an option for a second year, calls for Alexander to continue with his duties on "Alias" through its fourth season and includes a promotion to executive producer for its fifth season should the option get picked up. In addition, he'll develop new drama projects for the studio, possibly in conjunction with creator J.J. Abrams' Touchstone-based production company Bad Robot.

THE BAD GIRL'S GUIDE (UPN) - Jenny McCarthy ("Jenny," "One on One") is set as Annie in the comedy pilot, which centers on three women who live life to the fullest with no excuses. Paramount Network TV and Flame Productions are behind the project, which is executive produced by Jennifer Heath, Michele Wolff and Tony Krantz. In addition, McCarthy will also serve as a producer on the show. McCarthy's involvement stems from a talent holding deal the actress signed with CBS last year. The show that resulted from that pact - "Keeping Up With the Joneses" - didn't go forward to pilot so the deal was slid over to the CBS-run netlet.

BEVERLY HILLS S.U.V. (NBC) - Annie Parisse ("As the World Turns") has joined the cast of the pilot, a workplace comedy revolving around salespeople at an upscale car lot in Beverly Hills. Jeffrey Nordling, Henry Winkler and Darryl M. Bell also star in the project, which is set up at NBC Studios.

THE BLUE LAGOON (WB, New!) - Sony Pictures Television and Storyline Entertainment's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are developing a small screen remake of the twice-adapted feature about a young man and woman forced to survive when they're marooned on a deserted island. Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins starred in the more recent 1980 version, which was a remake of the 1949 original. Shannon Bradley ("The Lion Sleeps Tonight") is set to write the script to the project, which will take a contemporary approach to the story. The new version reportedly will focus more on the sweeping adventure and love story between the two main characters, pushing away from the notorious softcore elements from the 1980 version. Sony's Helen Verno and Storyline's Dave Mace will oversee the project for their respective studios.

COME TO PAPA (NBC) - The Peacock has confirmed it has pushed the comedy to a summer start date at the earliest. Tom Papa and Jennifer Aspen star in the project, which is "based on Papa's wildly successful standup as it explores the ups and downs of a writer's family, friends and his desire to do more than live an ordinary life in New Jersey," according to the network's press materials. Greg Malins ("Friends") and Papa created the NBC Studios/Warner Bros. Television series, with Malins and Andy Ackerman serving as the executive producers.

DARK SHADOWS (WB) - Alec Newman ("Dune"), Jessica Chastain ("ER"), Martin Donovan ("Traffic"), Alexander Gould ("Finding Nemo") and Matt Czuchry ("Hack") are the latest to join the Frog's new take on the cult classic series. Newman will play Barnabas Collins in the Warner Bros. Television/John Wells Productions project with Chastain as Carolyn Stoddard, Donovan as Roger Collins, Gould as David Collins and Czuchry as Willie Loomis. The group joins the previously cast Marley Shelton (Victoria Winters) and Ivana Milicevic (Angelique).

FRANKENSTEIN (USA) - John Shiban ("Threat Matrix," "Star Trek: Enterprise") is set to serve as the show's executive producer/showrunner. Production is set to begin in May on the series' two-hour pilot, which stars Parker Posey as a homicide detective who unwittingly unravels the myth of Frankenstein's monster in present-day Seattle. Martin Scorsese, Dean Koontz and Flame Television's Tony Krantz are all behind the project, which will be directed by Marcus Nispel ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre").

HOT MOMMA (ABC) - Nick Lachey ("Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a wedding planner and single mom (Gina Gershon) who's more wild than her conservative teenage daughter. Lachey will play a struggling actor who works odd jobs and runs errands for the women in exchange for boarding. His involvement steps from a talent holding deal the actor signed with ABC back in January (read the story). Suzanne Martin and Andy Ackerman are behind the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television.

JOEY (NBC) - Drea de Matteo ("The Sopranos") has landed the female lead in the upcoming "Friends" spin-off. She'll play Gina, the sister of Matt LeBlanc's character, a hairdresser who lives with her 20-year-old son Michael (the previously cast Paulo Costanzo). The producers indicate Gina is a strong woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind and like Joey, has a way with the opposite sex. In addition, the actress' involvement won't interfere with her work on "The Sopranos'" 10-episode sixth season, due in 2005. Scott Silveri, Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Kevin S. Bright are behind "Joey," which comes from Warner Bros. Television.

LACKAWANNA BLUES (HBO) - Halle Berry has scrapped plans to appear on-camera in the upcoming telefilm, which she is executive producing. No reason was given for the move. Epatha Merkerson, Delroy Lindo, Henry Simmons, Terrence Howard, Macy Gray, Hill Harper, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Jeffrey Wright, Rosie Perez and Liev Schreiber all star in the project, which is based on Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Obie-winning one-man play of the same name about a group of eccentrics at an all-black rooming house in Lackawanna, New York.

THE O.C. (FOX) - Chris Carmack may not return for the show's second season, as the actor's rep, Jerry Shandrew, has told The New York Post that Carmack declined to sign a new contract with the series. He indicates the decision is not due to money concerns, but because producers refused to guarantee him airtime in the upcoming year. Stars Benjamin McKenzie, Mischa Barton, Peter Gallagher and Adam Brody all reportedly have clauses in their contracts that guarantee a certain amount of screen time. Click here to read the original report.

RECOVERY (CBS, New!) - Production has completed on a new one-hour reality series pilot which follows a team of military and law enforcement veterans, led by ex-CIA operative Bazzel Baz, as they attempt to find stolen children and reunite them with their parents. Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Apprentice") is behind the project, which has been secretly in the works for the past 18 months due to security concerns. Burnett reportedly developed the series due to his belief that law enforcement doesn't have the means to adequately follow each abduction because of newfound commitments to fighting terrorism. In addition to Baz, the pilot, which is begin targeted for CBS' fall 2004 schedule, features an ex-Scotland Yard detective, a former Secret Service officer, a former S.W.A.T officer and an analyst.

TASTE (CBS) - Rufus Sewell ("A Knight's Tale") is the latest to join the cast of the comedy pilot, about a culinary school grad (Jane Krakowski) who lands her first job at a high-profile New York restaurant. Kirk Rudell and Andy Cadiff are behind the project, which comes from Regency Television and CBS Productions. Richard Ruccolo also stars.

UNTITLED LEWIS BLACK PROJECT (ABC) - Brad Raider ("That Was Then") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which stars Lewis Black as a cantankerous history teacher who is named high school principal. He joins the previously cast Anne Dudek who plays Black's well-intentioned assistant. Raider's role wasn't specified in the project, which comes from Paramount Network Television.

UNTITLED MARSH MCCALL/JOEL STEIN PROJECT (ABC) - David Hasselhoff ("Baywatch") has joined the ensemble cast of the comedy pilot, about a young reporter (Colin Hanks) who makes waves at a respected magazine. Sheryl Lee Ralph, Roger Rees and Sharon Lawrence also star in the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Acme Productions.

UNTITLED SOLUNA PROJECT (UPN) - Paramount Network Television and Grammnet Productions have joined de Passe Entertainment and HBO Independent Productions as co-producers of the comedy pilot, about the four members of the Latina singing group Soluna as they live and sing together. Kelsey Grammer, Steve Stark, Irene Dreyer, Jacque Edmonds Cofer and Suzanne de Passe will all serve as executive producers.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





  [march 2004]  
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· ALIAS (ABC)
· APPRENTICE, THE (NBC)
· BAD GIRL'S GUIDE, THE (UPN)
· BAYWATCH (SYNDICATION)
· BEVERLY HILLS SUV (NBC)
· BLUE LAGOON: THE AWAKENING (LIFETIME)
· COME TO PAPA (NBC)
· DARK SHADOWS (WB)
· EDUCATING LEWIS (ABC)
· ER (NBC)
· FRANK HERBERT'S DUNE (SCI FI)
· FRANKENSTEIN (USA)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· HACK (CBS)
· HOT MOMMA (ABC)
· JOEY (NBC)
· KEEPING UP WITH THE JONESES (CBS)
· LACKAWANNA BLUES (HBO)
· NEWLYWEDS: NICK & JESSICA (MTV)
· NEWS TO ME (ABC)
· OC, THE (FOX)
· ONE ON ONE (UPN)
· RECOVERY (CBS)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN)
· SURVIVOR (CBS)
· TASTE (CBS)
· THAT WAS THEN (ABC)
· THREAT MATRIX (ABC)
· TRAFFIC (USA)
· UNTITLED SOLUNA PROJECT (UPN)





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