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[07/15/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: July 14-15
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 ASSISTANT (MTV) - A solid but far from spectacular 1.6 million viewers tuned into the show's premiere on Monday, falling short of VH1's second hour of "I Love the '90s" (1.8 million). Said broadcast on VH1 also built from its opening hour of 1.6 million.

BLOW OUT (Bravo) - The freshman series closed its six-week run on a high note, posting its best numbers to date among total viewers (1,097,000), adults 18-49 (844,000, 0.7 rating/2 share) and adults 25-54 (876,000). Over the course of its run, which began on June 8, "Blow Out" grew 115% among adult 18-49 viewers, 94% in 25-54 viewers and 70% in total viewers.

CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATHIC SOCIAL CLIMBER (Oxygen, New!) - Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Party of Five") is set to topline the cable channel's latest original movie, about a young ad sales executive who will do just about anything to claw her way up the San Francisco social ladder. The project, which comes from Stan Brooks' Once Upon a Time Films ("Call Me: The Rise and Fall of Heidi Fleiss"), is based on Adele Land's bestselling book of the same name. Production is set to begin on "Confession" next month for an early 2005 air date. Hewitt spent the past development season as the star on the ABC comedy pilot "In the Game."

THE DEAD WILL TELL (CBS) - The Eye has released an official description of the upcoming telefilm, which is set to debut during the 2004-05 season: "THE DEAD WILL TELL, a new television movie inspired by the readings of famed psychic James Van Praagh ("Living With The Dead," Talking to Heaven), starring Anne Heche ("John Q"), Academy Award nominee Kathleen Quinlan ("Apollo 13"), Jonathan LaPaglia ("The District") and Academy Award nominee Chris Sarandon ("Dog Day Afternoon"), has begun production in New Orleans for broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The supernatural thriller revolves around a young woman whose world is turned upside down when her fianc� gives her an antique engagement ring. Soon after she starts to wear the ring, Emily Parkes (Heche) begins to see fleeting images of a beautiful young woman who then disappears into thin air. Emily visits the dealer who sold it to her fianc�, Billy (LaPaglia), and learns that its original owner, Marie Sallinger (Leigh Jones), died 35 years earlier. Convinced that Marie is trying to make contact with her, Emily begins to investigate the mysterious circumstances of her death and soon becomes entangled in a series of terrifying circumstances that make her question her own sanity. Billy's mother, Beth (Quinlan), tries to convince her son that Emily is not stable and that he would be better off without her. But he loves Emily and though he is very concerned about her behavior, Billy continues to support her. As Emily's visions become more revealing, they lead her to a family connection never before revealed as the afterlife and present day collide. Chris Sarandon plays Paul Hamlin, Marie Sallinger's lover and a possible suspect in her murder. THE DEAD WILL TELL is being produced by Barbara Lieberman Productions in association with Robert Greenwald Productions. Barbara Lieberman ("Gleason") and James Van Praagh ("Beyond with James Van Praagh") are the executive producers; Phyllis Heller and Malcolm Petal are the co-executive producers; Philip Kleinbart is the supervising producer; Salli Newman and Anne Heche are the producers. Stephen Kay is the director from a script by Mark Kruger, Nancy Fichman & Jennifer Hoppe."

DR. 90210 (E!) - 665,000 viewers tuned into the show's debut on Sunday, including a 0.3 rating/1 share among both adults 18-34 and adults 18-49. While no doubt disappointing, "90210's" launch was on par with Bravo's inaugural episode of "Blow Out" last month (645,000 viewers).

GLOBAL FREQUENCY (WB) - Michelle Forbes ("Star Trek: The Next Generation") is set as the mysterious Miranda Zero in the Frog's drama pilot, which is under consideration for a midseason 2005 series order. Here's how the WB's press materials describe the project: "Based on the suspenseful and action-packed graphic novel franchise, "Global Frequency" marks the dramatic television debut of successful producer Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Apprentice"). The Global Frequency is an independent, illegal, covert intelligence agency determined to prevent international politics from undermining the security of the global community. Led by the former NSA agent Miranda Zero, GF is everywhere and nowhere � and it's mankind's best defense against everything that occurs outside our peripheral vision. This marvel of brains and machinery is hacked into every satellite, mainframe, cell phone and database across the globe. With the help of her central command dispatcher, the feisty but brilliant Aleph, Zero is just a phone call away from tapping anyone anywhere to volunteer their skills to help save the world. GF's newest "recruit," suspended cop Sean Ronin, is paired with introverted Kate Finch, a mastermind of the scientific inner workings of the covert network. The most original conspiracy saga since "The X-Files," "Global Frequency" shows us that one person can make a difference in the battle against the dangers of the modern world. From Warner Bros. Television Production Inc. and Cloudbreak Entertainment with writer/executive producer John Rogers (upcoming film "Catwoman," "The Core") and director Nelson McCormick ("Alias," "Third Watch")."

HATE (Showtime) - Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen ("American Beauty," "Big Fish") have come aboard to executive produce the drama pilot where they'll take over for David Janollari, who has since moved on as the entertainment president on the WB. The duo will join remaining executive producers Paris Barclay ("NYPD Blue") and James DeMonaco ("The Negotiator") on the project, which revolves around the N.Y.P.D.'s hate crimes unit and its female inspector, the highest-ranking woman in the N.Y.P.D. Barclay and DeMonaco wrote the script with the former attached to direct.

HELL'S KITCHEN (FOX, New!) - FOX is once again looking overseas for its latest reality project, as the network has committed to 10 episodes of a domestic version of the Granada Television series "Hell's Kitchen." The project is described as a mix of "Survivor," "Big Brother" and "The Restaurant," in which a group of people live and work together at a restaurant specifically created for the show. The contestants are then eliminated each week through a series of yet-to-be-determined challenges, with the last person standing given ownership of said restaurant. Gordon Ramsay, the acerbic star of the U.K. version, is on board to topline the FOX edition, which could begin production as soon as September. It's not clear if FOX will air the series as a multi-night event (a la "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here") as it did in Britain.

INTO THE WEST (TNT) - Skeet Ulrich ("Miracles"), Alan Tudyk ("Firefly") and Matthew Settle ("Band of Brothers") are each in talks to star in the cable channel's upcoming 12-hour, $50 million mini-series. The group is set to play three spirited brothers from Virginia in the project, which tells the story of the opening of the American West in the 19th century through the eyes of two multigenerational families, one of white settlers and one of Native Americans.

JEOPARDY (Syndication) - The success of $1 million winner Ken Jennings has paid major dividends for the syndicated series, which has seen its numbers blossom to a 11.1 rating/21 share in the metered markets through two nights this week. The series averaged a 6.8/13 share nationally for Jennings' first full week (June 7-11), building to a 9.0/18 last week (July 5-9). Said numbers helped make "Jeopardy!" tie fellow syndicated game show "Wheel of Fortune" for the first time in several years. Overall, the series is up 36% in year-to-year comparisons.

MISSING/WILD CARD (Lifetime) - The new seasons of Lifetime's returning dramas opened to mix results this past weekend. "Missing" snagged 2.6 million viewers for its second season launch on Saturday, down 21.21% from its series opener last year (3.3 million). The show nevertheless posted a strong 1.2 rating/4 share among women 18-49 and 1.3/4 among women 25-54. Meanwhile, "Wild Card" posted 2.2 million viewers for its sophomore debut on Sunday, including a 0.9/3 in women 18-49 and a 1.2/3 in women 25-54. Said numbers were down from lead-in "Strong Medicine," which earned 2.4 million viewers," and like "Missing," was off from its launch last year (2.8 million viewers).

NORTH SHORE (FOX) - Industry insiders have confirmed FOX has picked up an unspecified number of additional scripts for the drama however the series has yet to receive a full season order.

OUTBACK JACK (TBS) - TBS' reality entry posted 2.01 million viewers for its most recent airing on Tuesday, including a 1.1 rating/3 share in adults 18-49. Both scores were on par with its average-to-date this season.

RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER (CBS) - The Eye has released its official description of its latest "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation, which is slated to air sometime during the 2004-05 season: "RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER, a new "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation starring multiple Emmy Award-winner Rosie O'Donnell ("The Rosie O'Donnell Show") and Andie MacDowell, who make their network television movie debuts, has begun production in Toronto for broadcast on the CBS Television Network. The movie is based on the inspiring true story about the unbreakable bond between two very different sisters. Academy Award-winner Anjelica Huston ("Prizzi's Honor," 1985) is directing the movie based on the book of the same title by Rachel Simon. Huston was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1997 for her role directing "Bastard Out of Carolina." Huston directed and starred in the feature film "Agnes Brown." Rachel Simon (MacDowell) is an in-demand New York City fashion photographer whose busy life camouflages her emotional isolation. When her father suddenly dies, Rachel comes face to face with the family problems she has tried so hard to avoid. With no one else in the family willing to take on the responsibility, Rachel is forced to spend time with Beth (O'Donnell), her endearing, feisty and developmentally disabled sister who fills her days riding city buses. During what at first was supposed to be an obligatory exercise, the time she spends with Beth becomes an awakening for Rachel as she discovers that her sister has created a whole family for herself with the bus drivers, in particular Rick (D.W. Moffett, "Thirteen"), whose big heart and good looks impact Rachel and her sister, as well as the regular passengers and Beth's boyfriend, Jesse (Richard T. Jones, "Phone Booth"), who value her in a way that Rachel could never have imagined. Rachel and Beth's days together are both demanding and challenging, but for the first time, the disparate sisters have the opportunity to really get to know one another and find a way to communicate as a family. RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER is being produced by Hallmark Hall of Fame Productions in association The Sanitsky Company. Emmy-Award nominated producer Larry Sanitsky ("The Last Don" and "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All") and Rosie O'Donnell are executive producers. Emmy-Award nominated Joyce Eliason ("The Last Don" and "Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tell All") adapted the script."

SPELLBOUND (FOX) - Production is set to begin shortly on the long-in-the-works comedy pilot, about a male witch who must decide whether to give up his powers when he falls in love with a mortal. NBC originally produced a pilot for the project last season featuring Richard Ruccolo and Andrea Anders in the lead roles, however FOX ended up picking up the concept and redeveloping it for themselves. Warner Bros. Television is behind the FOX version, with Rob Greenberg and Suzanne Martin writing and executive producing along with Andy Ackerman, who's attached to direct and executive produce.

STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN) - Manny Coto ("Odyssey 5") has been upped to showrunner on the drama series when it returns for its fourth season this fall. He'll serve alongside current executive producers/showrunners Rick Berman and Brannon Braga. Coto joined "Enterprise" last season as a co-executive producer.

U R HERE (MTV, New!) - Michael Trevino has been cast in MTV's latest scripted endeavor, about the romance between a public school girl named Angie and a private school guy named Greg. Trevino will play a prep school student who hires said girl to work in a store at the mall where most of the series takes place.

WEEDS (Showtime) - Actress Mary-Louise Parker ("Angels in America") and director Brian Dannelly ("Saved!") have signed onto the comedy pilot, which takes a comic look at life in suburbia through the eyes of a mom (Parker) and her daughter. Jenji Kohan ("The Stones") created and wrote the script to the project.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· ALIAS (ABC)
· ANGELS IN AMERICA (HBO)
· APPRENTICE, THE (NBC)
· ASSISTANT, THE (MTV)
· BAND OF BROTHERS (HBO)
· BEYOND WITH JAMES VAN PRAAGH (SYNDICATION)
· BIG BROTHER (CBS)
· BLOW OUT (BRAVO)
· CALL ME: THE RISE AND FALL OF HEIDI FLEISS (USA)
· CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATHIC SOCIAL CLIMBER (OXYGEN)
· DEAD WILL TELL, THE (CBS)
· DISTRICT, THE (CBS)
· DR. 90210 (E)
· FIREFLY (FOX)
· GLEASON (CBS)
· GLOBAL FREQUENCY (WB)
· HATE (SHOWTIME)
· HELL'S KITCHEN (FOX)
· I'M A CELEBRITY, GET ME OUT OF HERE! (NBC)
· IN THE GAME (2004 VERSION) (ABC)
· IN THE GAME (2005 VERSION) (ABC)
· INTO THE WEST (TNT)
· JEOPARDY (SYNDICATION)
· LIVING WITH THE DEAD (CBS)
· MIRACLES (ABC)
· MISSING (LIFETIME)
· NORTH SHORE (FOX)
· NYPD BLUE (ABC)
· ODYSSEY 5 (SHOWTIME)
· OUTBACK JACK (TBS)
· PARTY OF FIVE (FOX)
· RESTAURANT, THE (NBC)
· RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER (CBS)
· ROSIE O'DONNELL SHOW, THE (SYNDICATION)
· SPELLBOUND (FOX)
· STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN)
· STONES, THE (CBS)
· STRONG MEDICINE (LIFETIME)
· SURVIVOR (CBS)
· THIRD WATCH (NBC)
· U R HERE (MTV)
· WEEDS (SHOWTIME)
· WHEEL OF FORTUNE (SYNDICATION)
· WILD CARD (LIFETIME)
· X-FILES, THE (FOX)





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