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[04/14/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: April 14
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.

Note: As we approach the end of pilot season, our "Development Updates" may not appear every day due to a lack of news.

BIG LOVE (HBO) - Joel McKinnon Miller ("Legally Blonde") has joined the cast of the Tom Hanks-produced drama pilot at the pay channel, about a polygamist's (Bill Paxton) relationship with his three wives (Chloe Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin). Miller is set to play the best friend and business partner of Paxton's character. Grace Zabriskie also stars in the project, which comes from Hanks' Playtone Productions.

BLUE COLLAR TV (WB) - Heath Hyche ("Style and Substance") has been added to the principal cast of the upcoming sketch comedy series. He'll join headliners Jeff Foxworthy, Bill Engvall and Larry the Cable Guy in the project, which has a six-episode commitment at the Frog. Fax Bahr, Adam Small, Foxworthy and J.P. Williams are the show's executive producers.

CITY OF DREAMS (NBC) - The Peacock has permanently shelved the Jimmy Smits-led drama pilot, despite a high profile commitment back in October. The Warner Bros. Television/Bruckheimer Television project had previously been pushed back to midseason 2005 consideration last month (read the story) to give writer/producer David Mills ("Kingpin") more time to develop the series. Nevertheless, industry insiders are confirming the show is dead and the Peacock will roll its pilot commitment into another undetermined project from Warner Bros. and Bruckheimer. Smits is also reportedly in talks to renew his talent holding deal with the studio. "Dreams" starred Smits as a Los Angeles private investigator who fixes problems for the rich and famous.

DARK SHADOWS (WB) - Kelly Hu ("X2: X-Men United") is the latest addition to the Frog's "Dark Shadows" update, where she'll play Dr. Julia Hoffman, a physician who learns Barnabas Collins' (Alec Newman) vampire secret. Warner Bros. Television and John Wells Productions are behind the remake, which also stars Martin Donovan, Matt Czuchry, Alexander Gould, Blair Brown, Marley Shelton, Ivana Milicevic, Jessica Chastain, Alexis Thorpe, Jenna Dewan and Jason Shaw.

DEADWOOD/THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - 5.4 million viewers tuned into "Deadwood's" latest installment on Sunday, its largest audience since its premiere (5.8 million). Lead-in "The Sopranos" also continues to perform well, earning 9.9 million viewers for Sunday's broadcast. Both series also fared strongly in adults 18-49 with the mob drama earning a 5.3 rating/13 share and the western snagging a 2.8 rating/7 share nationally, the former of which won the hour in the key demograhic over ABC's "The Nick & Jessica Variety Hour" (4.7/11).

DEAL OR NO DEAL (ABC) - Endemol USA has confirmed the Alphabet is expected to launch the game show this summer. In addition, Scott St. John ("Change of Heart," "Street Smarts") has been named the show's executive producer as part of an overall deal with Endemol.

THE GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW (ABC) - Trevor Wright ("Boston Public") has scored a recurring role on the Friday comedy. He'll play a smart-alecky teenager, a potential new love interest for Masiela Lusha's character. Wright's first episode is slated for April 30.

HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (WB) - The Frog has confirmed the second season of the reality series will conclude on Sunday, April 25 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the WB's press materials describe the episode: "As the reunion comes to an end, three couples make decisions about their futures - LouAnn (The Cheerleader) is ready to change her entire life and move to Austin to be with Johnny (The Quarterback); Amanda (The Sophomore Tease) and Trevor (The Pipsqueak) have unexpectedly fallen in love and don't want to be apart; while Gabe (The Jock), who has been stand-offish to Denise (The Ex) the entire reunion, takes his ex-wife by surprise with his decision about their future. At the prom, Lenny (The Geek) has the night of his life and celebrates the resolution of old rivalries. (#207)"

MY 11:30 (NBC) - Donna Murphy ("What About Joan") is in talks for the female lead in the comedy pilot, about the relationship betweeen a shallow fortysomething businessman (Jeff Goldblum) and his no-nonsense therapist. Murphy is up for the role of said therapist in the project, which comes from NBC Studios and Paul Reiser's Nuance Productions. Kathryn Hahn, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Connie Britton also star.

SWEDEN, OHIO (FOX) - Newcomer Olliver Jones has been tapped to star in comedy pilot, about a teen whose life changes when a sexy Swedish exchange student (Helena Mattsson) moves in. Eric Jungmann ("Not Another Teen Movie") has also signed onto the Warner Bros. Television project as the boy's best friend. Also starring are Jessica Lundy, Peter Mackenzie and Ashley Johnson.

MYSPACE (New!) - Pipeline Entertainment ("Classmates") is looking to turn another popular web site into a syndicated series. The company has pacted with social networking portal MySpace.com for a new series that would feature real-life meetings of the site's participants. Pipeline topper Matthew Papish ("Blind Date") is currently shopping the project to both networks and distributors. Papish also says that the company has held focus groups with some of MySpace's 1.5 million registered users to help develop the show, which is expected to have a significant web component. Papish will executive produce alongside MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe and Chameleon Entertainment CEO Damon Harman (MTV's "Taildaters").

OUR FATHERS (Showtime) - Christopher Plummer ("The Insider") is set as Boston's controversial Cardinal Law in the pay channel's upcoming telefilm about the decades-long battle child abuse victims have waged against the priests accused of the crimes. Production is set to begin in June on the project with Dan Curtis ("Dark Shadows") directing from a script by Thomas Michael Donnelly ("A Soldier's Sweetheart"). "Fathers," which is executive produced by Curtis and David Kennedy, is based on the book of the same name by David France.

POINT PLEASANT (FOX) - Aaron Paul (MTV's "Wasted") is the latest to join the cast of the drama pilot, about a beach-side community turned upside-down when a mysterious girl (Elisabeth Harnois) washes ashore. He'll play a slacker who is trying hard to hide his crush on his childhood best friend in the project, which also stars Cameron Richardson, Brent Weber, Aubrey Dollar, Sam Page and Clare Carey. "Pleasant" is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Original Television.

REDEMPTION (FX) - The Jamie Foxx-led telefilm drew 4.0 million viewers for its broadcast premiere on Sunday. More importantly the project scored a 1.9 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 nationally, making it the most-watched basic cable telefilm so far this year in the demographic (as well as in adults 18-34). Overall, only last year's "44 Minutes: The North Hollywood Shootout" (6.1 million viewers) has performed better for the cable channel.

REEFER MADNESS (Showtime) - Broadway actress Amy Spanger has been added to the cast of the pay channel's small screen adaptation of the popular off-Broadway musical. She'll play Sally, a good girl gone bad because of her character's insatiable appetite for marijuana and her relationship with the town pusher (Steven Weber). Alan Cumming, Neve Campbell and Ana Gasteyer also star.

SEX AND THE CITY (HBO) - Former "Sex and the City" writers Julie Rottenberg and Elisa Zuritsky have signed a multi-year development deal to create and develop new series for the pay channel. It's expected that at least one pilot commitment will emerge from the pact.

SHE SPIES (Syndication) - Executive producer Joe Livecchi has signed a multi-year overall deal with Endemol USA. He's expected to develop new projects for the company. The producer most recently completed work on the upcoming NBC reality special "The One That Got Away," set to air on May 31.

SIX FEET UNDER (HBO) - Brooke Smith ("Iron Jawed Angels") is set to appear in a multi-episode arc on the show's upcoming fourth season. She's set to play a photography teacher in the drama, which will also see appearances by Bobby Cannavale, James Waterston, Peter Facinelli, Mena Suvari and Michelle Trachtenberg this season, which kicks off in June.

STRATOSPHERE (Sci Fi, New!) - Chris Pratt ("Everwood") is set to topline a new telefilm at the cable channel about a driven climatological theorist faced with global disaster. No other details were available about the project.

STRONG MEDICINE (Lifetime) - The fifth season of the veteran cable drama is set to launch on Sunday, June 13. In addition, Tamera Mowry ("Sister, Sister") has joined the cast of the series as an ambitious young medical resident from a small town who has always been an overachiever and star student.

UNTITLED ROCCO DISPIRITO PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Rocco DiSpirito ("The Restaurant") has pacted with Endemol USA to host a new syndicated series being targeted for a fall 2005 launch. While the project will no doubt feature a cooking slant, the producers hope to broaden the show's focus to include celebrity guests and possible reality show elements. Endemol expects to begin pitching distributors in the next few weeks once the pitch is finalized.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· 44 MINUTES: THE NORTH HOLLYWOOD SHOOTOUT (FX)
· BIG HOUSE, THE (ABC)
· BLIND DATE (SYNDICATION)
· BLUE COLLAR TV (WB)
· BOSTON PUBLIC (FOX)
· CHANGE OF HEART (SYNDICATION)
· CITY OF DREAMS (NBC)
· CLASSMATES (SYNDICATION)
· DARK SHADOWS (WB)
· DEADWOOD (HBO)
· DEAL OR NO DEAL (NBC)
· EVERWOOD (WB)
· GEORGE LOPEZ SHOW, THE (ABC)
· HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (TV LAND)
· IRON JAWED ANGELS (HBO)
· KINGPIN (NBC)
· MY 11:30 (NBC)
· ONE THAT GOT AWAY, THE (NBC)
· OUR FATHERS (SHOWTIME)
· PATH OF DESTRUCTION (SCI FI)
· POINT PLEASANT (FOX)
· REDEMPTION (FX)
· REEFER MADNESS (SHOWTIME)
· RESTAURANT, THE (NBC)
· SEX AND THE CITY (HBO)
· SHE SPIES (SYNDICATION)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· STREET SMARTS (SYNDICATION)
· STRONG MEDICINE (LIFETIME)
· SWEDEN, OHIO (FOX)
· UNTITLED ROCCO DISPIRITO PROJECT (SYNDICATION)
· WASTED (MTV)
· WHAT ABOUT JOAN (ABC)





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