LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Executive producer Joel Surnow confirmed at FOX's session of the TCA's summer press tour that aside from Kiefer Sutherland, virtually the entire cast will not return for its fourth season in January 2005. The move means Dennis Haysbert, James Badge Dale, Elisha Cuthbert, Carlos Bernard and the rest of the cast won't likely make more than a few, if any, appearances as part of the new season. As for specifics (highlight to read), only Geoff Pierson, who played Palmer's Republican rival John Keeler, has been confirmed as returning. He'll take over as the President in the series' universe. In addition, Surnow also revealed Sutherland's Jack Bauer will no longer be working for CTU.
C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - Reiko Aylesworth ("24") has signed on to join the cast of the veteran drama. She'll play a lab-based detective in the series when it returns for its fifth season this fall. Industry insiders say the move is unrelated to the recent firings of cast members George Eads and Jorja Fox. Additional details about her character are expected shortly.
CHICAGO HOPE (CBS) - Discovery Health Network has purchased the cable rights from 20th Century Fox Television to all 141 episodes of the 1994-2000 CBS series to begin airing three times a day - noon, 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. eastern time - starting August 2. The cable channel will kick off the show's run with an eight-hour marathon hosted by series star Hector Elizondo on Wednesday, August 1. Financial details of the three-year pact were not released. "Hope" last appeared on cable on the Lifetime network back in 1998 in a deal valued at $475,000 per episode. Discovery Heath's deal is actually not exclusive as Lifetime still holds the cable rights to "Hope" for another year however it has not appeared on the network in some time.
COLD CASE (CBS) - Actor/director Tim Matheson has signed onto the sophomore drama as a producer. The deal calls for the recently prolific director to helm several installments of the series this season, having already directed an episode of the series last season ("The Lost Soul of Herman Lester"). Matheson has also directed episodes of "Without a Trace," "Third Watch" and "Ed."
DESIGN INVASION (Syndication, New!) - 20th Century Fox Television and Banyan Productions ("Trading Spaces") are set to unleash their latest five-day-a-week syndicated series into test markets beginning Monday, September 13. The new project sees one of six interior designers from across the U.S. makeover one room of a chosen home in just 12 hours. "Invasion" is expected to take the place of the currently testing "Live Like a Star" on several yet-to-be-determined Fox owned-and-operated stations. 20th and Banyan last teamed for "Ambush Makeover" which like "Invasion" started as a test run on Fox O&Os last season before rolling out nationally this fall. No decision has been made on the fate of "Star" however.
EXTREME MAKEOVER (ABC) - Looking to take the edge off the launch of FOX's "Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy," the Alphabet has scheduled a special first-run installment of the series for Tuesday, July 20 at 8:00/7:00c. The episode (#222) sees sisters Frances, Jennie and Kathryn each undergo their own transformations. ABC has made no secret of its distaste for FOX's "Spouses," which features a similar premise to that of the Alphabet's fall series "Wife Swap." The move to put "Makeover" against "Spouses" seems more than likely to have come from that ire.
FRANKENSTEIN (Hallmark) - The cable channel has rescheduled its four-hour mini-series for Tuesday, October 26 and Wednesday, October 27. Here's how Hallmark's press materials describe the project: "Obsessed with violating the laws of nature and of life and death, scientist Victor Frankenstein constructs a creature from the limbs of the dead. Once jolted to life, the creature proves even more human than his creator�knowledgeable, wise, and also possessed of a conscience. Unable to inspire love, he chooses to inspire fear and vows to avenge the man who created and abandoned him." Donald Sutherland, Alec Newman, Nicole Lewis, William Hurt and Luke Goss star.
THE HOLLYWOOD MOM'S MYSTERY (Hallmark) - Like "Frankenstein," the Hallmark channel has rescheduled the telefilm for Sunday, August 8. The project, which stars Justine Bateman, Holliston Coleman, Andrew McCarthy, Angie Everhart, David Gale and George Hamilton, is described as follows in the network's press materials: "Lucy Freers is a struggling illustrator married to Kit, formerly successful Hollywood producer who�s looking for his next big break that�ll allow them to keep their Beverly Hills lifestyle. They become more famous than they ever dreamed when the body of a has-been starlet is found dead in their pool and Kit becomes the prime suspect. Now it�s up to Lucy to clear her husband�s name and find the real killer among the rich and famous. A high society Hollywood actress is found dead in her neighbor Lucy's swimming pool, and everyone, including Lucy's husband is a suspect. Lucy is determined to clear her husband's name, and like a good Hollywood mystery, she becomes an amateur sleuth, set on solving the whodunit. Lucy unravels some deep dark Hollywood secrets which may bring the killer to justice, but will she be the next on his list?"
HOPE & FAITH (ABC) - Megan Fox ("The Help") has been cast as Sydney, the teen daughter of Faith Ford's character. She'll take over for Nicole Paggi, who has exited the series for unspecified reasons, when the series returns for its second season this fall.
HOT TICKET (Syndication) - Paramount Domestic Television has confirmed the three-year-old syndicated series will not return this fall. The studio has scuttled the series not due to ratings but rather to free up space for the hourlong weekend edition of its upcoming "Entertainment Tonight" spin-off "The Insider." "Ticket" has averaged a 1.5 household rating since September of last year, slightly behind Buena Vista Television's "Ebert & Roeper at the Movies'" average during the same period (2.0 rating). During May sweeps however "Ticket" nearly caught "Movies," pulling in a 1.6 household rating versus "Movies'" 1.8 rating.
IDENTITY THEFT: THE MICHELLE BROWN STORY (Lifetime, New!) - Kimberly Williams-Paisley ("According to Jim") and Annabella Sciorra ("The Sopranos") are set to topline Lifetime's latest telefilm, based on the bizarre true story of woman (Williams-Paisley) whose identity is stolen by another woman (Sciorra) who racks up thousands of dollars in bills and tries to become Brown via plastic surgery. Production is underway for a November premiere on the project with Robert Dornhelm ("Spartacus") directing from a script by Deena Goldstone ("Drinking: A Love Story"). Granada America is producing "Theft" in association with Blue Andre Productions with Blue Andre, Stephen Davis ("Rudy: The Rudy Giuliani Story") and Jody Brockway ("Maiden Voyage") executive producing.
THE L WORD (Showtime) - Eric Lively ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") is set to join the cast of the pay channel's drama series when it returns for its second season in 2005. He'll play the new roommate of Mia Kirshner's character. Lively spent the past development season as part of the NBC comedy pilot "The Men's Room," his role on which went on to be recast.
NEARLY NIRVANA (NBC) - Comedian Arj Barker has scored the lead role in the still-alive comedy pilot, about what happens when an Indian-American doctor's immigrant parents move in with him and his Caucasian wife (Judy Greer). Barker will take over for Kal Penn on the project, which comes from Ajay Sahgal, Jamie Tarses and Karey Burke.
MURDER WITHOUT CONVICTION (Hallmark) - The cable channel's telefilm has been rescheduled for Sunday, September 5. Megan Ward, Matt Lutz, David Proval, Morgan Weisser and Patty Duke star in the drama, which the network's press materials describe as: "Christine Bennett is a former nun who leaves the cloistered world for a modern one. But her new life comes with unexpected dangers when she�s compelled to exonerate twin brothers who, thirty years ago, were accused of the brutal murder of their mother."
RAPTOR ISLAND (Sci Fi) - Sci Fi has slated its latest Saturday original for August 21 at 9:00/8:00c: "Lorenzo Lamas (TV's Renegade and The Immortal) and Steven Bauer (Scarface and Traffic) star in this fast-paced adventure about a team of special agents whose search for a murderous terrorist leads them to the South China Sea � and to a mysterious island populated by vicious, prehistoric raptors."
RESCUE ME (FX) - Former "The Job" co-stars Diane Farr and Lenny Clarke are set to reteam with Denis Leary on the upcoming drama series, about the lives of Tommy Gavin (Leary) and his fellow firefighters at a New York firehouse. Farr will appear in at least five episodes while the length of Clarke's run wasn't made clear.
SEE ARNOLD RUN (A&E) - Oscar-nominee Mariel Hemingway is set to play Maria Shriver in the cable channel's upcoming biopic of Arnold Schwarzenegger's (Jurgen Prochnow) rise to governor of California. Production on the project is set to begin next week in San Diego with J.B. Rogers directing from a script by Matt Dorff. Dorff, Gerald W. Abrams, Michael Goldstein and A&E's Delia Fine are the executive producers.
THE SIMPLE LIFE 2: ROAD TRIP (FOX) - FOX has announced the series will close its second season with back-to-back episodes on Wednesday, August 4 starting at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network describes each installment: "Paris and Nicole continue on their cross-country journey to their next stop in Texas, the Click Ranch. The girls give the father, Bob, some tips on how to be more romantic with his wife. Meanwhile, they get jobs at the local sheriff's station, where their wild antics lead their boss to give them the right to remain silent on episode "209" of THE SIMPLE LIFE 2: ROAD TRIP Wednesday, Aug. 4 (9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (LIF-209) Before finally heading home to Beverly Hills, Paris and Nicole make their last stop at a Texas ranch, where they work on a cattle drive. But when the girls discover the herd is going to be slaughtered, they take matters into their own hands on the season finale episode "210" of THE SIMPLE LIFE 2: ROAD TRIP Wednesday, August 4 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (LIF-210)"
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN) - "Star Trek: The Next Generation" alum Brent Spiner is set to appear in at least three episodes of the latest "Star Trek" spin-off when the series returns for its fourth season this fall. He'll play the great-great-grandfather of Dr. Noonien Soong, the creator of his character Data on "The Next Generation." No air dates for Spiner's arc have been announced.
UNTITLED STAR TREK PROJECT (New!) - Long time "Trek" executive producers Rick Berman and Brannon Braga are set to team with Jordan Kerner ("A Wrinkle in Time") and Kerry McCluggage ("Homeland Security") for what could be the next spin-off of the sci-fi franchise. The project, which is understood to take place before any of the five television series, will focus on a group of cadets at Starfleet Academy. It's also not clear if said new take will be a feature or a TV series. Paramount reportedly is looking for a "re-imagining" of the concept, and is being extremely cautious about its development. A writer has yet to be named.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters