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[11/30/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: November 29-30
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.

AMERICAN DAD (FOX) - The network has ordered six additional episodes and eight additional scripts of the animated comedy, which premieres Sunday, February 6 following the Super Bowl (and a special episode of "The Simpsons"). Said order brings its season total to 19 episodes. "Dad," which comes from "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, revolves around a C.I.A. agent and family man whose household includes a wife, two teenage kids, a sarcastic space alien and a German-speaking goldfish.

BOSTON LEGAL (ABC) - Actress Lake Bell is set to exit the freshman drama as the producers reportedly don't plan to renew her contract beyond her initial 13-episode commitment. Bell plays newbie lawyer Sally Heep on the series. It's not clear how her character will be written out.

CHUPACABRA: DARK SEAS (Sci Fi) - The original telefilm has been slated to premiere on Saturday, January 29 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "A team of hunters captures a live Chupacabra, a monster said to prey on livestock and humans throughout Central America. Unfortunately, their attempt to smuggle it into the United States aboard a cruise ship goes fatally awry, and a squad of U.S. Navy SEALs is dispatched to terminate the creature before it turns all the hostage passengers into hors d'oeuvres. John Rhys-Davies (The Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Indiana Jones films, TV's Sliders), Dylan Neal (star of SCI FI Pictures' Babylon 5: The Legend of the Rangers) and Giancarlo Esposito (The Usual Suspects, the SCI FI Original Miniseries 5ive Days to Midnight, TV's Homicide: Life on the Street) star in this creepy man-vs.-monster adventure."

CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATHIC SOCIAL CLIMBER (Oxygen) - Joseph Lawrence ("American Dreams") and Colin Ferguson ("Coupling") have joined the cast of the telefilm, a small screen adaption of the best-selling novel by Adele Lang about a young ad sales executive (Jennifer Love Hewitt) who will do just about anything to claw her way up the San Francisco social ladder. Lawrence will play the gay partner-in-crime of Hewitt's character, while Ferguson is set as an attorney who serves as a love interest for her. Dana Lustig ("Wedding Bell Blues") is also attached to direct the project, which is targeting a March 2005 premiere and comes from Stanley M. Brooks' Once Upon a Time Films.

DOOR TO THE THRONE (A.K.A. UNTITLED RICK WEINER/KENNY SCHWARTZ PROJECT) (ABC Family) - The comedy pilot, which revolves around twins who move in with their widowed father and discover a basement trapdoor leading to alternate universes, is now being developed under the title "Door to the Throne." The Touchstone Television-based Tollin-Robbins project is one of three half-hours under consideration for a series order come early 2005, the others being Carter Covington's "Just a Phase" and the recently announced "East of Normal, West of Weird." Rick Weiner and Kenny Schwartz are behind the pilot with Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins executive producing.

EAST OF NORMAL, WEST OF WEIRD (ABC Family, New!) - ABC Family is moving forward with a third comedy pilot for 2005 series consideration. The project revolves around a precocious 13-year-old Chinese girl named Becca (Nikki SooHoo) who is adopted by Caucasian parents (a Protestant mom and Jewish dad) and lives in New York's Upper East Side. Barry Wernick ("The Stones") wrote the pilot script and will executive produce alongside Becky Clements and Brad Grey for Brad Grey Television in association with Sony Pictures Television. Peter Lauer ("Wonderfalls") is also attached to helm the pilot, which is expected to complete production in January.

GARDEN OF LOVE IN THE CITY OF SIN (ABC Family, New!) - Production has begun on 12 episodes of a new reality series about a family-run Las Vegas wedding chapel for the cable channel. No other details were given about the project, which comes from executive producers Stephen Hopkins, David Schermerhorn and Brent Travers.

HE'S A LADY (TBS) - John Phillips and Derek Gerard are suing TBS and the show's producer Evolution Film & Tape for $3 million, claiming they stole their idea for a cross-dressing reality show. The pair's idea involved male contestants competing in what they are lead to believe is a battle to become an "All-American Man" but is actually a hoax to make them look and act like women. The concept, which was copyrighted by Phillips and Gerard, is understood to have been based on the latter's experience as an "all-American" athlete who later in life decided to undergo a sex change. TBS passed on the show but eventually picked up "Lady" from Evolution, who were repped by the same agent Cal Boyington. Said "coincidence" undoubtedly led to the suit being filed.

THE HOLLOW MEN (Comedy Central) - The producers have confirmed production has completed on six episodes of the project, a sketch comedy series featuring the British group of the same name. The series, which comes from executive producer Scott Tomlinson ("The Andy Dick Show," "Cedric the Entertainer Presents") is set to premiere in the first quarter of 2005.

LARVA (Sci Fi) - The cable channel's first original movie of 2005 is scheduled to air Saturday, January 15 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how Sci Fi's press materials describe the project: "Just because they're small, that doesn't mean they can't kill you! A small western ranching town finds itself on the front line of a war against a new foe � one that strikes from within. As time runs out and an infestation of mutant larvae inches closer to tainting the national food supply, a lawyer and a doctor team up in a last-ditch effort to avert tragedy. Vincent Ventresca (star of the SCI FI Original Series The Invisible Man) and supermodel Rachel Hunter star in this gut-wrenching glimpse into an all-too-possible modern-day disaster."

MISSING (Lifetime) - The sophomore drama is set to return to Lifetime's schedule on Sunday, January 9 at 10:00/9:00c with the first of its final four episodes of its season.

PEEP SHOW (FOX, New!) - FOX is importing the U.K. hit as the network has ordered a pilot from indie studio Carsey-Werner and executive producers Jeff and Jackie Filgo ("That '70s Show"). The comedy project, like the British original, takes a look inside the disturbing minds of two average guys who form a modern day "Odd Couple." The Filgos will write and executive produce the pilot along with Carsey-Warner principals Tom Werner and Marcy Carsey. It's not clear if Sam Bain and Jesse Armstrong, the pair behind the U.K. "Peep Show," will be involved in the U.S. version.

PIZZA WARS (ABC Family, New!) - The cable channel has greenlit production on a new telefilm which puts a contemporary spin on "Romeo and Juliet" by relocating the classic tale to rival pizzerias in Verona, N.J. No casting or producing details were given however about the project, which is targeting a second quarter 2005 air date.

STRONG MEDICINE: FIRST RESPONSE (Lifetime) - The "First Response" backdoor pilot episode of veteran cable drama has been slated to air on Sunday, January 16 at 9:00/8:00c as the 20th episode of "Strong Medicine's" fifth season. Said episode will introduce the potential leads for the spin-off - two sisters by adoption, one white (Nichole Hiltz) and one black (Lauren Velez), who work as a paramedic and a trauma surgeon, respectively. Michael Trucco also stars.

UNTITLED BRET ERNST PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Comedian Bret Ernst has inked a development deal with the Frog to topline a new comedy project for the network based on his comedy act. Barry Kemp ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") and Eric Lapidus ("Two and a Half Men") are on board to write and executive produce the project for Touchstone Television, where Kemp has an overall deal. No details about the show's concept were given. Ernst had a talent holding deal at Touchstone last season and was featured in the New Faces showcase at the 2003 Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal.

UNTITLED PAMELA ANDERSON PROJECT (New!) - Pamela Anderson ("Baywatch") is once again making a ploy for the small screen as the actress has pacted with Steven Levitan ("Just Shoot Me") to topline a new comedy project for 20th Century Television. The project is a result of rich development/talent holding deals signed with both talents. In terms of a concept, it's understood the untitled comedy will revolve around a "less famous" version of Anderson, who would star as a woman with a weakness for bad boys and seeks to change her ways. Anderson and Levitan are no strangers as the former turned up for a cameo on "Shoot" during the 2000-2001 season.

UNTITLED ROBERT WEIDE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Emmy-winner Robert Weide ("Curb Your Enthusiasm") has pacted with the Alphabet to develop a new comedy project as well as helm other pilots for the network. The pact, which kicks in sometime next year once his work on "Curb" wraps, gives Weide and his Whyaduck Productions banner a blind script-plus-penalty order from ABC as well as the opportunity to direct two single-camera pilots during the upcoming development season. Weide has been nominated for an Emmy in the directing category in each of the three seasons of "Curb," winning last year for the episode "Krazee Eyez Killa." He also helmed the special "Larry David: Curb Your Enthusiasm," which served as the basis of the series.

UNTITLED ROZ CHAST PROJECT (ABC Family, New!) - New Yorker staff cartoonist Roz Chast has inked a development deal with the cable channel to produce an 11-minute pilot presentation for the network. The project, an animated comedy about three families, one tonally in the middle of two extremes, marks her first work for television. No other details were available, other than Chast is currently meeting with writers to work with her in developing the concept.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters





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· AMERICAN DAD (TBS)
· AMERICAN DREAMS (NBC)
· ANDY DICK SHOW, THE (MTV)
· BABYLON 5: THE LEGEND OF THE RANGERS (SYFY)
· BAYWATCH (SYNDICATION)
· BOSTON LEGAL (ABC)
· CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER PRESENTS (FOX)
· CHUPACABRA: DARK SEAS (SYFY)
· CONFESSIONS OF A SOCIOPATHIC SOCIAL CLIMBER (OXYGEN)
· COUPLING (NBC)
· CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)
· DOOR TO THE THRONE (ABC FAMILY)
· EAST OF NORMAL, WEST OF WEIRD (ABC FAMILY)
· FAMILY GUY (FOX)
· FIVE DAYS TO MIDNIGHT (SYFY)
· HE'S A LADY (TBS)
· HOLLOW MEN, THE (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· INVISIBLE MAN, THE (SYFY)
· JUST A PHASE (ABC FAMILY)
· JUST SHOOT ME (NBC)
· LARVA (SYFY)
· LAS VEGAS GARDEN OF LOVE (ABC FAMILY)
· MINUTE WITH STAN HOOPER, A (FOX)
· MISSING (LIFETIME)
· PEEP SHOW (FOX)
· PIZZA MY HEART (ABC FAMILY)
· SIMPSONS, THE (FOX)
· STACKED (FOX)
· STONES, THE (CBS)
· STRONG MEDICINE (LIFETIME)
· STRONG MEDICINE: FIRST RESPONSE (LIFETIME)
· THAT '70S SHOW (FOX)
· TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS)
· UNTITLED BRET ERNST PROJECT (WB)
· UNTITLED ROBERT WEIDE PROJECT (ABC)
· UNTITLED ROZ CHAST PROJECT (ABC FAMILY)
· WONDERFALLS (FOX)









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