[11/24/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 19-24
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.

C.S.I.: NEW YORK (CBS) - Spike TV has scored the off-network rights to the latest "C.S.I." spin-off in a record deal with syndie distributor King World vauled at $1.9 million per episode. Said deal marks the largest off-network sale for a drama series in television history, second only to Spike's deal for the parent series "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation." The record setting deal comes despite not much of a bidding war for the series as Viacom is said to have been intent on keeping the series under its corporate umbrella. While full details weren't released, "New York" will likely begin its run on Spike TV with a once-a-week play come fall 2006 with an expansion to five-nights-a-week come fall 2008.

COLD CASE (CBS) - TNT has emerged as the winner of the off-network rights to the sophomore CBS drama in a pact with Warner Bros. Domestic Cable valued at $1.4 million per episode. The deal tops TNT's previous off-network record of $1.35 million for fellow Eye drama "Without a Trace." Like its deal for "Trace," "Case's" run on TNT will begin with a once-a-week run during the show's third season (fall 2005) before expanding to a five-night-a-week run at the start of its fifth season (fall 2007). The hefty price tag is said to be the result of a bidding war for the series with Lifetime and A&E. Interestingly enough, A&E is said to have had an exclusive window to bid on the series as part of a copyright dispute settlement concerning the network's similarly titled "Cold Case Files." Nevertheless, A&E let the window expire, leaving Warner Bros. open to talk with other cable networks. The pact also isn't completely exclusive to TNT as Warner Bros. can sell the series to local stations for weekend syndication beginning in fall 2007.

THE COMEBACK (HBO) - The pay channel is moving forward with its Lisa Kudrow-led comedy pilot, ordering 13 episodes of the project in addition to its pilot. "Comeback" stars Kudrow as a one-time sitcom star who is trying to revive her career. Kurdow is also executive producing the series with Dan Bucatinsky through the pair's production banner Is or Isn't Entertainment while Michael Patrick King ("Sex and the City"), who co-wrote the script (with Kudrow) and directed the pilot, will serve as the executive producer/showrunner. The project also stars Robert Michael Morris, Damian Young ("The War Next Door"), Laura Silverman ("Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist"), Malin Akerman ("Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle"), Robert Bagnell ("N.C.I.S.") and Lance Barber ("On the Spot") however no details were given about their respective roles.

CONFESSIONS OF A DOG (NBC, New!) - "Scrubs" creator Bill Lawrence and Eric Weinberg, one of the show's writers, are set to team for a new comedy at the network and NBC Universal Television. The project, which has a premium script commitment, revolves around a likable self-deprecating serial dater who has never been in a serious relationship and his two best friends - a guy who got married early and had an instant family and a woman who, after playing the field for years, has fallen in love and gotten engaged - all of whom have remained friends despite their divergent lifestyles. The news marks Lawrence's third project in the works for next season, the others being "Nobody's Watching" with Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan at the WB and an untitled Brian Regan comedy with Tim Hobert at NBC. Lawrence will executive produce all three projects through his Doozer banner.

A CURRENT AFFAIR (Syndication) - Twentieth Television reportedly is considering a revival of the 1986-96 syndicated newsmagazine, originally hosted by Maury Povich. No firm developments however have been made as a Twentieth spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter: "Our strategy is to look at the titles in our library, see what performed well and possibly develop new shows based on those titles, reviewing them on a case-by-case basis."

THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN'S PIER (Lifetime, New!) - Ann Packer's best-selling novel is set to be the focus of a new telefilm at the cable channel. Here's how the project is described by the publisher: "How much do we owe the people we love? Is it a sign of strength or weakness to walk away from someone in need? These questions lie at the heart of Ann Packer�s intimate and emotionally thrilling new novel, which has won its author comparisons with Jane Hamilton and Sue Miller. At the age of twenty-three Carrie Bell has spent her entire life in Wisconsin, with the same best friend and the same dependable, easygoing, high school sweetheart. Now to her dismay she has begun to find this life suffocating and is considering leaving it�and Mike�behind. But when Mike is paralyzed in a diving accident, leaving seems unforgivable and yet more necessary than ever. The Dive from Clausen�s Pier animates this dilemma�and Carrie�s startling response to it�with the narrative assurance, exacting realism, and moral complexity we expect from the very best fiction." No details were given about the project, which is set to begin production shortly, other than Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey are the executive producers through their Icon banner.

DR. PHIL (Syndication) - Dr. Phil McGraw's popular daytime effort is on track for renewal through the 2008-09 season as the host has reupped his contract through said date while distributor King World is expecting little trouble in clearing the show through said time frame. Both McGraw's contract and "Phil's" local station clearances were set to expire following the 2005-06 season. Nevertheless with "Phil" being one of the most successful first-run syndicated launches in recent memory, there had been little doubt the series would continue for several more years. In terms of station renewals, various CBS owned-and-operated stations will take over "Dr. Phil" come fall 2006 from mostly NBC owned-and-operated stations including those in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. "Dr. Phil" already airs on CBS-owned stations in New York and Philadelphia. Overall, the series has been cleared in 50% of the country through the 2008-09 season.

DYNASTY: THE MAKING OF A GUILTY PLEASURE (A.K.A. DYNASTY: BEHIND THE SCENES) (ABC) - The Alphabet has slated its "behind-the-scenes" telefilm about the 1981-1989 ABC soap for Sunday, January 2 at 9:00/8:00c. Among the project's principal cast are Melora Hardin as Linda Evans, Bart John as John Forsythe, Alice Krige as Joan Collins, Pamela Reed as Esther Shapiro, Ritchie Singer as Richard Shapiro and John Terry as Vince Peterson. Here's how the Alphabet's press materials describe the project: "From 1981-1989, ABC broadcast the phenomenally-successful primetime drama serial, Dynasty, a series that reflected the Reagan years of excess and glamour. Now ABC takes viewers behind-the-scenes with a satirical, yet poignant, look at the show that allowed people to forget about their ordinary lives and drink in the champagne and caviar existence of the Carrington's - a TV family dripping in jewels but short on basic morality. Dynasty was not an instant hit series when Esther and Richard Shapiro first created the show, but it eventually dazzled audiences around the world with one of TV history's most notoriously wicked female characters, Alexis Carrington; revolutionized the term 'cat fight' as Alexis and Krystle went at it through a lily pond and mud puddle; and inspired millions of women to beef up their shoulder pads. With success came bigger salary demands from the stars and an over-inflated budget, making it one of the most expensive shows on television at that time. Dynasty: Behind The Scenes tells of the sometimes desperate, and frequently hilarious, efforts to keep the show at the top of the ratings. No plotline was too outrageous or inconceivable for the show that left an indelible imprint on the '80s."

ICE (CBS, New!) - Eriq La Salle ("ER") and his Humble Journey Films are developing a new drama at the Eye which tracks two Miami-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as they dismantle global crime rings. Michael Steinberg ("The Cave") will write the pilot script, which won't feature La Salle on camera. The project is set up at Paramount Network Television with La Salle executive producing alongside Humble Journey's Terri Lubaroff.

KINGS OF NEW YORK (NBC, New!) - "Will & Grace" creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are back at the Peacock as the pair are reportedly close to getting a pilot order for a new comedy which revolves around four friends in New York, all best friends from childhood. The project, which will be written and executive produced by Kohan and Mutchnick, is set up at Warner Bros. Television where the duo have an overall deal. No other details were given. The news comes despite pending lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kohan and Mutchnick against NBC and vice-versa over their profit participation on the series.

LAW & ORDER (NBC) - Annie Parisse ("National Treasure") has joined the cast of the veteran drama where she'll take over on the legal side for Elisabeth Rohm, who will exit her role as Serena Southerlyn following the show's 13th episode this season. Like Rohm, Parisse will play an assistant district attorney however full details about her character were not released. Parisse's first episode is expected to air in January. Rohm originally was set to leave the series following last season but opted to stay on for an additional 13 episodes to help with the transition from Jerry Orbach to Dennis Farina. As for Parisse, the actress is actually no stranger to the Dick Wolf-created series as she guest-starred in the May 2002 episode "Attorney Client."

UNTITLED ROBIN QUIVERS PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Longtime Howard Stern radio partner Robin Quivers has signed a deal with Sony Pictures Television to create a new talkshow for daytime syndication. No format or additional details about the project were given other than it could potentially be ready for an early 2005 launch.

UNTITLED WILL GLUCK/PAM BRADY PROJECT (FOX) - Bret Harrison ("Grounded for Life") has scored the lead role in the untitled comedy pilot while Betty Thomas ("Private Parts") has signed on to direct. The project, which also stars Becki Newton, centers on a guy right out of college (Harrison) who becomes the first among his friends to get a real job and straddles the fence between slacker and working man. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the single-camera comedy, which was written by Gluck and Brady not to mention also features extensive product integration woven into the story lines.

THE WATER IS WIDE (CBS, New!) - Alfre Woodard, Frank Langella and Jeff Hephner are set to star in the Eye's latest Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation, an adaptation of Pat Conroy's memoir of the same name. The project recounts Conroy's experiences as an enthusiastic teacher who tries to bring literacy and self-respect to a group of poor students in South Carolina during the late 1960s. John Kent Harrison ("What the Deaf Man Heard") is attached to direct from a script by Jonathan Estrin with Richard Welsh and Brent Shields executive producing.

WING MEN (The WB, New!) - Will Smith's Overbrook Entertainment is developing a new comedy at the Frog described simply as a male buddy comedy. Mike Soccio ("The King of Queens") is behind the project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television where he has an overall deal. Smith, wife Jada Pinkett-Smith and Overbrook partner James Lassiter ("All of Us") will all executive produce alongside Soccio.

THE WOOL CAP (TNT) - A solid 4.17 million viewers tuned into Sunday's premiere of the telefilm. Among adults 18-49, "Cap" averaged a solid 1.3 rating/3 share.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [november 2004]  

· ER (NBC)

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