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[11/18/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 15-18
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.

100 DAYS OF DARKNESS (FX, New!) - Helen Hunt ("Mad About You") and Djimon Hounsou ("Alias") are in negotiations to star in a docudrama at the cable channel set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Feature director Shekhar Kapur ("Elizabeth") is already on board to direct the Sony Pictures Television project from a script by Stuart Beattie ("Collateral") and Peter Silverman ("Something the Lord Made"). Hunt would play an American relief worker who risks her life to find the man she's fallen in love with, an embattled Tutsi (Hounsou) whose family is forced to flee during the tribal wars. Production in on track to begin in February in South Africa with Francine LeFrak ("Shot Through the Heart") and Amy Lanier executive producing.

24 (FOX) - Angela Goethals ("The Brotherhood of Poland, N.H.") has signed on for a recurring role on the series' fourth season, which premieres Sunday, January 9. She'll play the troubled daughter of new CTU director Erin Driscoll (Alberta Watson).

THE 4,400 (USA) - Former Viacom Productions executive Perry Simon has come aboard as an executive producer for the series' second season. Simon helped oversee the show's development at Viacom, which has since been shuttered as part of the CBS/Paramount Network Television reorganization.

BLIND JUSTICE (ABC) - Jane Lynch ("MDs") is set to appear in at least two episodes of the Ron Eldard-led midseason drama, about a police officer who's blinded on the job. She'll play a medical examiner on the series, which is expected to take over the Tuesday, 10:00/9:00c hour once "N.Y.P.D. Blue" concludes its run early next year.

BOSTON LEGAL (ABC) - Executive producer Jeff Rake has opted to exit the freshman drama for unspecified reasons. Rake overaw the show's writing staff along with fellow executive producer Scott Kaufer. It's not clear who will replace him on the series. Rake, who has an overall deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television, will move on to developing his own projects or potentially come aboard one of the studio's other projects in the works for fall 2005.

BROTHERHOOD (A.K.A. SOUTHIE) (Showtime) - The pay channel has made several changes to the drama pilot, about two ambitious brothers from south Boston, one a politician (Jason Clarke) and the other a gangster (Jason Isaacs). The show's locale has been changed to Providence, Rhode Island as has its title to simply "Brotherhood." Annabeth Gish ("The X-Files") also stars in the project, which comes from writer/producer Blake Masters and director Phillip Noyce ("Tru Calling"). In addition, Kerry O'Malley ("The Mike O'Malley Show") has also booked a potentially recurring role as the sister of the two main characters. Showtime is expected to order at least two of its six projects in the works (three dramas and three comedies) to series early next year.

C.S.I: NEW YORK (CBS) - CBS News reportedly has fired the producer responsible for breaking into the concluding minutes of the series last Wednesday to report on the death of Yasser Arafat. Said decision led to viewers in the Eastern and Central time zones to miss the last five minutes of the broadcast. (CBS has since replayed the episode this past Friday.) The name of the producer however was not released.

DIVORCE COURT (Syndication) - Twentieth Television confirmed this week the syndie veteran has been renewed for the 2005-06 season - it's seventh season to date - on local stations in 64 markets covering 65% of the country.

EASTENDERS (FOX, New!) - The network is looking to import the popular U.K. soap, committing to six scripts from 19 Entertainment's Simon Fuller ("American Idol") for an American version of the series. Tony Jordan, the head writer on the BBC version, is on board to executive produce the U.S. edition along with Fuller. The U.K. "EastEnders" revolves around the working-class citizens of Albert Square, in East London's fictitious Walford Borough. It's not clear how the concept will change for the U.S. version.

FARSCAPE (Sci Fi) - Mort Marcus and Ira Bernstein's Debmar Studios, the company behind "South Park's" recent syndicated sale, is looking to sell the cult series' 88-episode run to local stations across the country for weekend syndication beginning in the fall of 2005. Interested stations won't pay cash for the episodes but rather set aside seven minutes of each hour for national ads sales by Debmar. The company is hoping to capitalize on the demise of first-run weekend sci-fi offerings (the last of which, "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda," concludes its run this season) as well as the expiration of 20th Century Fox Television's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel" and "The X-Files" current weekend deals at the end of the 2004-05 season. "Farscape" producers Jim Henson Productions and Hallmark Entertainment are undoubtedly looking to help recoup the show's hefty $2 million per episode budget, which wasn't covered completely by Sci Fi's license fees.

THE FLYOVER STATES (ABC, New!) - Touchstone Television-based Vertikal Entertainment is developing a new drama at the Alphabet about a New York woman who moves back to her Arkansas hometown, with two teenage kids in tow, after her husband dies and rediscovers how things aren't just tawdry in the big city. Vertikal's Marla Ginsburg is expected to executive produce the project, which is being eyed as a "Desperate Housewives" companion series, while it's not clear how involved novelist Clint Catalyst ("Cottonmouth Kisses"), filmmaker Darren Stein and producer Jon Marcus ("Party Monster"), all of whom brought the project to Ginsburg, will be.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION (NBC) - The Peacock has given a cast-contingent pilot order to Rand Ravich's ("The Astronaut's Wife") small screen take on the 1971 Oscar-winning feature film, which in turn was based on the lives of New York City cops Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan. Said project will recount the events of the "French Connection," one of the biggest drug busts in U.S. history, over the course of its first 13 episodes. The new "Connection" won't be reimagined for the 21st century however as the project will still be set in the 1970s and hopes to take a serious look at the lives of these '70s-era "supercops." Ravich will write and executive produce the pilot along with Grosso and Larry Jacobson through their Grosso-Jacobson Communications banner.

HUFF (Showtime) - After opening to a paltry 456,000 viewers on November 7, the freshman drama fared even worse in its second outing on Sunday with 297,000 viewers tuning in (a 34.87% decline).

JUDGE ALEX (Syndication, New!) - Twentieth Television is developing a new syndicated court show featuring Florida Circuit Court Judge Alex Ferrer. The project will track Ferrer, a Cuban immigrant and former police officer, attorney and law professor, as she presides over a wide array of cases. Burt Wheel and Sharon Sussman are attached as executive producers of the project, which is targeting a 2005-06 season launch.

JUDGING AMY (CBS) - Jennifer Esposito ("Spin City") is set to guest star in at least three episodes of the Eye's veteran drama. She'll play Crystal Turner, a social worker who runs an outreach program for homeless kids. No details were given about when her character's first appearance will be.

JUST A BABY (Lifetime, New!) - Mercedes Ruehl ("Frasier"), Jane Krakowski ("Ally McBeal") and Danielle Panabaker ("Searching for David's Heart") are set to star in one of the cable channel's upcoming telefilms, about a pregnant 16-year-old (Panabaker) whose well-meaning mother (Ruehl) forces her to keep the birth a secret and decides to raise the baby as her own. Krakowski's character is that of a guidance counselor who discovers the girl's secret and tries to get her to enroll in a program for pregnant and parenting teens. Sofronski Productions and von Zerneck/Sertner Films are behind the project, which will be directed by Peter Werner from a script by Nancey Silvers ("The Elizabeth Smart Story") with Frank von Zerneck, Robert M. Sertner and Bernie Sofronski executive producing. Production on "Baby" is set to be completed in time for a first quarter 2005 air date.

LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (NBC) - Production has been halted on the third installment of the "Law & Order" franchise after several fainting incidents involving series star Vincent D'Onofrio. The actor was hospitalized after similar symptoms last week but was released after two days of observation. Nevertheless after returning to the set on Monday, D'Onofrio fainted again and apparently has been hospitalized once more. No other details were given other than D'Onofrio is said to be in good spirits with exhaustion the likely cause of the faintings.

LIFE ON A STICK (FOX) - Creator/executive producer Victor Fresco (also of "Andy Richter Controls the Universe" fame) has inked a three-year, seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which spells the end of Fresco's nearly 10-year tenure at Paramount Network Television, kicks in come June where he'll begin developing new comedy projects for the studio. As for his reason to switch homes, Fresco told The Hollywood Reporter: "What I like about Fox -- the studio and the network -- is that they swing for the fences. They let you try and do things that can only exist on Fox and are constantly willing to take chances."

NORTH SHORE (FOX) - Dominic Purcell ("John Doe"), who has a talent holding deal at the network, has booked a three-episode arc on the freshman drama. He'll play Tommy Ravetto, a world-famous chef, beginning with the show's December 2 episode.

RUSH (TNT) - Karen Sillas ("Simple Men") is the latest addition to the Gary Cole-led drama pilot, about the formation of an elite team to fight urban crime in Los Angeles. Sillas' role, which is potentially recurring, was not specified. Rashida Jones, Dedee Pfeiffer and Brendan Kelly also star in the project, which comes from executive producers Jorge Zamacona and Aaron Spelling.

UNTITLED AL MADRIGAL PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Comedian Al Madrigal ("The Ortegas") has signed a talent holding deal at the network. The pact calls for the Eye to cast Madrigal in one of its pilots in the works for the 2005-06 season. Madrigal spent the past development season aboard the failed NBC comedy pilot "Americana."

UNTITLED BOW WOW PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Bow Wow is back at the Frog as the actor/rapper has inked a new talent holding deal with the network. The deal calls for the Frog to develop a new project, most likely a comedy, around him for the 2005-06 season. Bow Wow's previous effort for the WB was a failed comedy pilot entitled "Saving Jason" in 2003, which cast him as a gifted pianist who becomes a fish out of water when he enrolls at an elite conservatory/boarding school.

UNTITLED CARMEN ELECTRA PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Carmen Electra ("Baywatch") is making a return to scripted television as the actress has pacted with executive producer Pete Aronson ("The Bernie Mac Show") and Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst banner to topline a new comedy at the network and 20th Century Fox Television. The project, which has a script commitment, stars Electra as a woman who marries into a big Midwestern family and stands to inherit a large sum if they don't break up. Writers Andrew Jacobson and Adam Epstein ("Not Another Teen Movie") are on board to pen the pilot script with Aronson, Kutcher and Jason Goldberg executive producing. Electra's involvement also includes to option to be cast in one of the studio's other pilots should her untitled comedy not go forward.

UNTOLD (Spike TV) - The cable channel's final entry in its new weeknight "Spike at 9" block earned 941,000 viewers on Friday for its premiere. Said numbers bested the openers of "I Hate My Job" (775,000 viewers) and "The Club" (809,000 viewers) last Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· 100 DAYS OF DARKNESS (FX)
· 24 (FOX)
· 4400, THE (USA)
· ALIAS (ABC)
· ALLY MCBEAL (FOX)
· AMERICAN IDOL (FOX)
· AMERICANA (NBC)
· ANDROMEDA (SYFY)
· ANDY RICHTER CONTROLS THE UNIVERSE (FOX)
· ANGEL (WB)
· BAYWATCH (SYNDICATION)
· BERNIE MAC SHOW, THE (FOX)
· BLIND JUSTICE (ABC)
· BOSTON LEGAL (ABC)
· BOW (WB)
· BROTHERHOOD (SHOWTIME)
· BROTHERHOOD OF POLAND, NH, THE (CBS)
· BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (UPN)
· CLUB, THE (SPIKE TV)
· CSI: NEW YORK (CBS)
· DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
· DIVORCE COURT (SYNDICATION)
· EASTENDERS (FOX)
· ELIZABETH SMART STORY, THE (CBS)
· FARSCAPE (SYFY)
· FLYOVER STATES, THE (ABC)
· FRASIER (NBC)
· HUFF (SHOWTIME)
· I HATE MY JOB (SPIKE TV)
· JOHN DOE (FOX)
· JUDGE ALEX (SYNDICATION)
· JUDGING AMY (CBS)
· LAW & ORDER (NBC)
· LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (USA)
· LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC)
· LIFE ON A STICK (FOX)
· MDS (ABC)
· MIKE O'MALLEY SHOW, THE (NBC)
· MOM AT SIXTEEN (LIFETIME)
· NORTH SHORE (FOX)
· NY-70 (NBC)
· NYPD BLUE (ABC)
· ORTEGAS, THE (FOX)
· PRISON BREAK (FOX)
· SAVING JASON (WB)
· SEARCHING FOR DAVID'S HEART (ABC FAMILY)
· SOMETHING THE LORD MADE (HBO)
· SOUTH PARK (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· SPIN CITY (ABC)
· TRU CALLING (FOX)
· UNTITLED AL MADRIGAL PROJECT (CBS)
· UNTITLED CARMEN ELECTRA PROJECT (FOX)
· UNTOLD (SPIKE TV)
· WANTED (TNT)
· X-FILES, THE (FOX)











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