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[04/01/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: April 1
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.

BRANSON'S BIG ADVENTURE (FOX, New!) - Virgin CEO Richard Branson, the self-made billionaire and hot air balloonist, is set to be the focus of a new reality series in which he'll "will whisk off a select group of America's best and brightest on the adventure of a lifetime," according to a network press release. "They will jet to international destinations and relive some of his personal experiences, tackling the types of dilemmas that help shape future billionaires. If they make decisions that impress Branson, they will continue. Each week, one candidate will be left behind on the tarmac as the rest of the group jets off to the next adventure." FOX has given a series commitment to the project, which will tape over the course of six weeks this summer for a yet to be determined amount of episodes and premiere date. "Big Adventure" was created by Lori Levin-Hyams, Laura Fuest and Tod Dahlke, who will executive produce alongside Branson.

THE CATCH (ABC) - Orlando Jones ("Evolution") has joined the cast the J.J. Abrams-produced drama pilot, an action-adventure series about a pair of bounty hunters. He'll co-star alongside Greg Grunberg in the project, which will now focus on the buddy relationship between Grunberg's and Jones' characters. Touchstone Television and Abrams' Bad Robot are behind the pilot, which was created by Abrams and Grunberg.

EVERYDAY PEOPLE (A.K.A. BROOKLYN) (HBO) - The pay channel has scheduled the telefilm, recently retitled "Everday People," for Saturday, June 26 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how HBO's press materials describe the project: "Written and directed by Jim McKay ("Our Song," "Girls Town"), the film explores the subtleties of daily interactions among people of different colors, ethnicities, generations and classes during a single day at a struggling Brooklyn diner. What starts as just another day at work evolves into a series of small but critical moments in the lives of a diverse and complex cast of characters." Nelson George, Sean Daniel and Caldecot Chubb are the executive producers of "People," which stars Reg E. Cathey, Iris Little-Thomas, Bridget Barkan, Ron Butler, Jordan Gelber, Billoah Greene, Stephen Henderson, muMs, Sydnee Stewart.

HOT MOMMA (ABC) - Lindsay Price ("Coupling") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which stars Gina Gershon as a cool mom raising a conservative teenage daughter. She'll play Dana, the sister and best friend of Gershon's character, in the project. Warner Bros. Television is behind the pilot, which also features Nick Lachey.

HUMOR ME (A.K.A. UNTITLED DANE COOK PROJECT) (UPN) - Justine Bateman ("Family Ties") is the latest to join the Dane Cook-led comedy pilot, which now features the title "Humor Me." Bateman plays Paula, the sister-in-law of Cook's character, who's not a big fan of his childish behavior. "Humor Me," which comes from Sony Pictures Television, stars Cook as a standup comedian who loses it all and is forced to move in with his brother (Pat Finn). Bre Blair also stars.

I HATE MY JOB (Spike TV, New!) - The cable channel has ordered eight one-hour episodes of a new reality series which follows three willing guys who abandon their careers for the chance to pursue their unfulfilled dreams. RDF Media (ABC's upcoming "The Swap") is behind the project, which opens with 10 aspiring quitters, such as a lawyer who dreams of being a record producer and a father of three who aspires to be a male model, and gives three finalists complete career makeovers as well as a boot camp-style prep for their potential new gigs. It's not clear how the initial elimination process will work, however the seven that don't make the cut won't have to quit their jobs to participate. The ensuing episodes will then track the makeover and job search of the finalists. Production is set to begin shortly on the project for a September premiere date with Timothy Duffy executive producing for Spike TV.

I MARRIED SOFIA (A.K.A. UNTITLED SOFIA VERGARA PROJECT) (ABC) - Kiddie rapper Lil Maxso has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which is now being developed under the title "I Married Sofia." The Touchstone Television/DDJ Productions project stars Vergara as a single Latina mom from Colombia who, in order to stay in the United States, finds an American businessman and pays him to marry her.

THE SIMPSONS (FOX) - Principal voice cast members Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, Harry Shearer, Yeardley Smith, Julie Kavner and Nancy Cartwright have each failed to appear for two table reads in the past few weeks, leading industry insiders to believe they plan to hold up production on the show's 2004-05 season until their new contract negotiations are completed. Each is reportedly asking for $360,000 per episode (about $8 million per 22-episode season) for their future services on the series, up from their current salaries of $125,000 an episode. The group, which last banded together in 1998 to up their then salaries of $30,000 per installment to said current pay, apparently had been in discussions with 20th Century Fox Television and Gracie Films for several months however no deal was reached. It's also not clear what the level of acrimony is between the parties. During the last work stoppage, 20th went as far as hiring casting directors in five cities to replace the voice talent.

SOMETHING THE LORD MADE (HBO) - HBO has bumped the telefilm's air date back an hour to 9:00/8:00c on Sunday, May 30. Alan Rickman and Mos Def star in the project about "the extraordinary true story of unlikely partners -- a black lab technician and a white surgeon -- who created cardiac surgery in 1940s America," according to the network's press materials.

STRIP SEARCH (HBO) - The pay channel has rescheduled the telefilm from Saturday, April 24 at 8:00/7:00c to Tuesday, April 27 at 9:30/8:30c. The project, which comes from Sidney Lumet, Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson, explore the status of individual liberties post-9/11 through two parallel stories.

UNTITLED AISHA TYLER PROJECT (CBS) - Conor Dubin ("Cold Case") is the latest to join the Aisha Tyler-led comedy pilot, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Is or Isn't Entertainment. Adam Goldberg, Lucy Davis and Richard Kind also star in the project, which casts Tyler as a sophisticated single New Yorker who makes the move from a small, edgy fashion house to a large corporation. Dubin's role wasn't specified.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





  [april 2004]  
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· CATCH, THE (ABC)
· COLD CASE (CBS)
· COUPLING (NBC)
· EVERYDAY PEOPLE (HBO)
· HOT MOMMA (ABC)
· HUMOR ME (UPN)
· I HATE MY JOB (SPIKE TV)
· I MARRIED SOFIA (ABC)
· REBEL BILLIONAIRE, THE: BRANSON'S QUEST FOR THE BEST (FOX)
· SIMPSONS, THE (FOX)
· SOMETHING THE LORD MADE (HBO)
· STRIP SEARCH (HBO)
· UNTITLED AISHA TYLER PROJECT (CBS)
· WIFE SWAP (PARAMOUNT)





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