LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest pilot buzz, culled from various reports and sources:
BLIND JUSTICE (ABC) - The Alphabet continues to remain high on the drama, which is expected to roll out at midseason. It's understood the current plan is to run "N.Y.P.D. Blue" for 22 or so consecutive weeks on Tuesdays at 10:00/9:00c, with "Justice" taking over the hour in March. That scenario would give ABC some extra firepower during February sweeps with "Blue's" swan song airing that month. Not surprisingly, "Justice" comes from "Blue" vets Steven Bochco, Matt Olmstead and Nicholas Wootton.
CATS AND DOGS (A.K.A. PLAY NICE) (UPN) - The Charisma Carpenter/Tyler Labine comedy is now said to be running under the title "Cats and Dogs." Said pilot, which comes from Paramount Network Television and the Littlefield Co., reportedly screened well earlier this week.
EMPIRE (ABC) - ABC has officially cut the show's production commitment to six hours, as previously indicated (read the story). All parties seem happy with the decision as the producers were said to be fearful the Alphabet would scrap the project entirely. The limited series' budget however will still remain at $30 million with writer Thomas Wheeler tightening up storylines to fit the new six-hour limit. In addition to Wheeler, Chip Johannessen, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan are the executive producers of the Touchstone Television/Storyline Entertainment project which more than likely will roll out at midseason or November sweeps at the earliest.
GREY'S ANATOMY (A.K.A. UNDER THE KNIFE) (ABC) - Shonda Rhimes' medical drama pilot appears to have gone through another title change, this time to "Grey's Anatomy."
HOUSE (FOX) - Executive producers David Shore, Paul Attanasio and Katie Jacobs have been given the go ahead to begin staffing the drama project, a clear indicator FOX will give or has already given a series order to the project. Hugh Laurie, Omar Epps, Robert Sean Leonard, Jennifer Morrison, Jesse Spencer and Lisa Edelstein all star in the drama, which focuses on a team of doctors charged with solving complicated medical mysteries that mystify other health-care professionals. The news would mark the second "medical mystery" project to get the green light, the other being NBC's "The Cure." NBC Universal Television and Heel and Toe Films are behind "House."
THE INSIDE (FOX) - Staffing is said to have begun on the drama pilot, about a 23-year-old woman (Rachel Nichols) who poses as a 16-year-old high school student in order to investigate a drug ring but complications arise as she has to navigate the world of high school all over again and slowly becomes emotionally attached to the person she's supposed to be investigating. Peter Facinelli also stars. The project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television, comes from Kathryn Bigelow, Todd Kessler, Glenn Kessler, Brian Grazer and David Nevins.
LIAR (CBS) - The Eye is said to be considering turning its Saturday schedule into a reality-themed night with the D.L. Hughley-hosted update of "To Tell the Truth" among the possibilities. Also mentioned: "Fire Me Please!," a previously unreported version of the overseas format "Sack Race."
LIFE AS WE KNOW IT (A.K.A. DOING IT) (ABC) - The teen drama now features the title "Life as We Know It."
LOST (ABC) - The J.J. Abrams drama is looking more likely for a midseason bow. Various sources indicate ABC is leaning toward having the series take over "Alias'" Sunday, 9:00/8:00c time period at midseason as an alternative to the show's often low-rated repeats. While the pilot has been received well, there's indications some ABC executives feel the project doesn't have the legs to become a full-fledged series. The alternative is a more limited structure along the lines of fellow Alphabet drama "Empire."
THE SAVAGES (ABC) - The Mel Gibson-produced comedy pilot is reportedly close to a series order as the producers, which also include Bruce Davey, Julie Thacker and Mike Scully, have been given the go ahead to begin staffing the show. Keith Carradine stars as a blue-collar dad raising five teenage boys, ages 11 to 17, much like Gibson who himself is the father of six boys. NBC Universal Television and Gibson's Icon Productions are behind the project. Gibson himself directed the pilot.
UNTITLED PRACTICE PROJECT (ABC) - Early indicators put the spin-off, as previously suggested, on Sundays at 10:00/9:00c in "The Practice's" old slot following "Alias."
And some quick hits:
-- Still hot: John Stamos, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Rodney Carrington's projects for ABC; dramas "Desperate Housewives" and "Eyes," also at ABC; Chris O'Donnell, John Goodman and Jason Alexander's respective comedy pilots at CBS; the Stanley Tucci drama "The Webster Report" at CBS; FOX's animated comedy "American Dad" as well as the drama "Point Pleasant"; and UPN's Mel Gibson-produced/Taye Diggs-led drama "Kevin Hill."
-- Heating up: ABC's comedy "We Are Family"; dramas "Clubhouse," "Dr. Vegas" and "Colderon" over at CBS; John Wells and Mimi Leder's drama "Johnny Zero" at FOX; the comedy "Related by Family," also at FOX; and the drama "Countdown" over at ABC.
-- Cooling off: the Jessica Simpson and the Marsh McCall/Joel Stein comedy projects at ABC.