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[06/16/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: June 14-16
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (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.

THE DEAD ZONE (USA) - A solid 2.9 million viewers tuned into the cable series on Sunday, up from the 2.64 million that watched its third season opener last week.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - The network has confirmed Sheryl Lee ("Twin Peaks") is no longer involved with the drama as the actress has left the project for unspecified reasons. Casting is already underway to recast her character, Mary Alice, a suburban woman whose suicide serves as the catalyst of the series. Mary then goes on to narrate the world of her family, friends and neighbors from beyond the grave.

FAMILY GUY (TBS) - The animated comedy will once again return to TBS' schedule as the cable channel has slated back-to-back repeats of the series for Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00c beginning July 7. TBS had previously aired the series as part of its afternoon schedule last summer. The move won't effect "Guy's" current run on Turner sibling Cartoon Network as part of its Adult Swim lineup.

THE FIRST 48 (A&E) - An audience of 1.4 million viewers checked out the documentary series' launch on June 3, including a healthy 0.6 national rating/2 share in A&E's target demographic of adults 25-54. Said score was up a solid 47% from the network's primetime average. In its second week, "First 48" maintained its debut numbers, pulling in 1.3 million viewers.

FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (Sci Fi) - After a string of mini-series hits ranging from "Battlestar Galactica" (4.2 million) to "Taken" (5.0 million) to "Frank Herbert's Dune" (4.6 million) to "Children of Dune" (2.7 million), the cable channel struck out with the five-hour entry, which averaged a disappointing 1.69 million viewers over the course of its four-night run. "I would be lying if I said we weren't disappointed and really surprised," Bonnie Hammer, the recently named head of both the Sci Fi and USA Network, told The Hollywood Reporter. "But we've been so fortunate that at some point something had to be lower than expectations." The mini-series pinballed each night of its broadcast: Monday, June 7 (1.60 million); Tuesday, June 8 (1.53 million); Wednesday, June 9 (2.0 million); and Thursday, June 10 (1.63 million). Despite such lackluster marks, the project did nearly double the network's primetime average from the previous week.

THE GREAT DOMESTIC SHOWDOWN (ABC) - The Alphabet has slated the two-hour special to air Sunday, July 11 at 9:00/8:00c. Originally scheduled as a two-night event for the end of May sweeps, ABC opted to hold the project until the summer months. Here's how the network's press materials describe "Showdown": "Sure there are lots of people who claim to be able to create a family dinner with only three ingredients in the cupboard, or who say they can cheerfully host a cocktail party for 50 after spending the day retiling their bathroom. These people possess the certain belief that they run their homes, entertain, decorate and garden� well, better than you. But can they prove it? They are certainly going to try, as the ABC Television Network presents �The Great Domestic Showdown,� a nail-biting two-hour competition that will determine who really does it all best. �The Great Domestic Showdown� airs SUNDAY, JULY 11 (9:00-11:00 p.m., ET)."

I DO (BUT I DON'T) (Lifetime, New!) - Denise Richards ("Spin City") is set to topline a new telefilm at the cable channel, a romantic comedy about a divorced wedding planner (Richards) who juggles a manipulative boss, an overbearing mother, a lackluster love life and one pushy bride-to-be after another. The project, which is based on Cara Lockwood's novel of the same name, will be directed by Kelly Makin ("Mickey Blue Eyes") from a script by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder. No target air date or production credits were given.

INTERVENTION (A&E) - The cable channel has given a series order of six episodes to the reality pilot, which chronicles the real-life stagings of interventions. GRB Entertainment ("Next Action Star") and Robert Sharenow ("House of Dreams") are behind the project, which could be ready in time for a fourth quarter premiere later this year. "Intervention" will feature not only profiles of drug addiction and alcoholism but also shopaholics, videogame addicts and estranged family members.

JOEY (NBC) - Sherry Bilsing-Graham and Ellen Plummer ("Friends") have been named co-executive producers of the upcoming comedy as part of a two-year overall deal with NBC Universal Television. No financial details about the pact were released.

NEXT ACTION STAR (NBC) - GSN has acquired the repurposing window of the Peacock's latest reality entry. Encores of each of the show's 10 installments will air within nine of days of their original NBC run. Look for GSN's broadcast of the series to begin Wednesday, June 23 (time to be announced).

NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: REAL NIGHTMARES (CBS) - New Line Television has scored a six-episode order from the Eye for a new reality series in which viewers will be given the chance to confront their worst fears head-on. Freddy Krueger himself, Robert Englund, will host the project which will be executive produced by Star Price ("Penn & Teller: Bullshit!"), Rick Ringbakk ("The Missy Elliott Project"), Tony Yates ("Mad, Mad House") and New Line's Jon Kroll. Each one-hour episode will showcase three elaborate recreations of contestants' fears by a visual effects team led by Oscar-winner Peter Kuran ("Star Wars," "X2: X-Men United"). It's doesn't appear that there will be a prize involved or a competitive element between the contestants, but rather the payoff will be in seeing someone face down their personal demons. No target date or time slot has been set although it's no doubt expected "Nightmares" will run as part of CBS' new reality-driven Saturday night lineup.

THE RIVERMAN (A&E) - Bruce Greenwood ("Meltdown"), Sam Jaeger ("Girls Club"), Kathleen Quinlan ("Apollo 13") and Cary Elwes ("From the Earth to the Moon") have all signed on as the principal cast members of the upcoming telefilm, a docudrama about the true story of how convicted serial killer Ted Bundy (Elwes) aided homicide detectives Robert Keppel (Greenwood) and Dave Reichert (Jaeger) in solving the Green River murders. Quinlan will play Keppel's wife. Production is underway on the project for a September premiere date.

SCREAM PLAY (E!) - A miniscule 447,000 viewed watched the show's opening installment on Sunday, off nearly 50% from its time slot holder last week, an episode of the "E! True Hollywood Story" (803,000). Among adults 18-49, "Scream" posted a dismal 0.2 rating/1 share.

SIX FEET UNDER (HBO) - A disappointing 4.2 million viewers tuned into the fourth season premiere of the pay channel drama, down 17.6% from its debut last season (5.1 million on 3/2/03) and 32.3% from its second season launch (6.2 million on 3/3/02). Overall, "Six" averaged a 2.7 rating/4 share among all households (last season: 3.5/5) as well as a 1.5/4 in adults 18-49 and a 1.8/5 in adults 25-54. Said numbers didn't help the season finale of lead-out "Deadwood," which posted a series-low 3.2 million viewers. Last week the western posted 4.3 million following the season finale of "The Sopranos." Nevertheless, "Deadwood" averaged 4.5 million viewers over the course of its 12-episode run making it the most-watched freshman season of any HBO series save for the inaugural season of "Six Feet Under."

STRONG MEDICINE (Lifetime) - The fifth season opener of the veteran cable drama pulled in 2.3 million viewers (1.8/3 household rating), on par with its fourth season's premiere numbers (2.4 million on 6/15/03).

THE SURREAL LIFE (VH1) - Charo, Dave Coulier ("Full House"), Public Enemy's Flava Flav, New Kids on the Block's Jordan Knight, Brigitte Nielsen ("Red Sonja") and "American Idol's" Ryan Starr have been announced as the housemates for the third edition of the series and VH1's inaugural installment of the franchise. Look for the series to kick off on Sunday, September 5.

T.H.E.M. (NBC) - The Peacock has slated its two backdoor pilot specials of the project for Wednesday, June 23 at 8:00/7:00c and 8:30/7:30c. Here's how NBC's press materials describe the series: "A gang of magicians called T.H.E.M (Totally Hidden Extreme Magic) perform surprise magic acts on unsuspecting pedestrians with various edgy and mysterious acts, and it's all caught on hidden camera. The members of T.H.E.M. target their subjects at different outlets including: a Los Angeles nightclub, a coffee house and the set of NBC daytime drama "Passions," where they perform their magic on actors Brook Kerr and Galen Gering." The project has been in development for some time at the Peacock, with its commitment originally announced 10 months ago (read the story).

TRAIL TO HOPE ROSE (Hallmark) - The cable channel has rescheduled the telefilm for Saturday, July 3 at 9:00/8:00c, one day after its previously announced premiere date (read the story). Here's how Hallmark's press materials describe the telefilm: "Released from prison where he served seven years for armed robbery, Keenan Deerfield (Lou Diamond Phillips) arrives in an 1850s mining town asking for nothing more than the means to make an honest living. Although his arrival is met with scrutiny and hostility, Keenan insists on staying � and soon learns that the locals are virtual slaves of the corrupt mine owner and his son. Under the watchful eye of the town�s sole lawman (Lee Majors) and with the support of a sympathetic landowner (Ernest Borgnine), Keenan toils in the mines and tills the fields where he intends to put down roots. The ex-con even manages to steer clear of trouble until a battered woman (Marina Black) asks for his protection, unleashing the rage of a drunken miner who would sooner see Keenan dead. Forced to fight for his future, Keenan learns that too few stand on the right side of the law on �The Trail to Hope Rose.�"

UNTITLED ROB BURNETT/JON BECKERMAN PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman ("Ed") have been given a cast-contingent pilot order for a new half-hour comedy at the Peacock about an action movie star who hits rock bottom and ends up reconnecting with a son he's never really known. No other details were given about the New York-set project, which is a result of the pair's overall deal with NBC Universal Television.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· AMERICAN IDOL (ABC)
· BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SCI FI)
· DEAD ZONE, THE (USA)
· DEADWOOD (HBO)
· DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
· ED (NBC)
· FAMILY GUY (FOX)
· FIRST 48, THE (A AND E)
· FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (SCI FI)
· FRANK HERBERT'S CHILDREN OF DUNE (SCI FI)
· FRANK HERBERT'S DUNE (SCI FI)
· FRIENDS (NBC)
· GIRLS CLUB (FOX)
· HOUSE OF DREAMS (A AND E)
· I DO (BUT I DON'T) (LIFETIME)
· INTERVENTION (A AND E)
· JOEY (NBC)
· MAD MAD HOUSE (SCI FI)
· MELTDOWN (FX)
· NEXT ACTION STAR, THE (NBC)
· NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET: REAL NIGHTMARES (CBS)
· PENN & TELLER: BULLSHIT (SHOWTIME)
· RIVERMAN, THE (A AND E)
· ROAD TO STARDOM WITH MISSY ELLIOTT, THE (UPN)
· SCREAM PLAY (E)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· SPIN CITY (ABC)
· STEVEN SPIELBERG PRESENTS: TAKEN (SCI FI)
· STRONG MEDICINE (LIFETIME)
· SURREAL LIFE, THE (VH1)
· THEM (NBC)
· TRAIL TO HOPE ROSE, THE (HALLMARK)
· UNTITLED BECKERMAN & BURNETT PROJECT (NBC)





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