LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE CATCH (ABC) - John Eisendrath ("Alias") has inked a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the writer/producer to help co-create, co-write and executive produce the bounty hunter drama pilot, which stars Greg Grunberg and Orlando Jones, with J.J. Abrams. In addition, Eisendrath has set up three new drama projects at the studio - an untitled series set in the world of boxing at ESPN; "Wanted," about the agents who track down the dangerous criminals on the F.B.I.'s Most Wanted list at ABC; and an untitled series about a female divorce lawyer at FOX, the latter two of which have script commitments at their respective networks.
A CURRENT AFFAIR (Syndication) - Twentieth Television has confirmed it is moving forward with a new contemporary version of the syndicated newsmagazine, which originally ran from 1986-1996. No specific format details were given about the revival other than it has been cleared on the Fox Television Stations group, representing nearly 45% of the country, for an unspecified 2005 launch. Peter Brennan, who created the original edition, is on board to shepherd the new take.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Creator/executive producer Marc Cherry has inked a new overall deal with Touchstone Television valued in the high seven figures. The pact, which is retroactive to last summer and runs through summer 2007, will keep Cherry working on "Housewives" for the foreseeable future as well as includes the option to develop new projects for the studio through his Cherry Productions banner. Said deal is also understood to have a backend cut of "Housewives'" potential syndication sale meaning the total value of the pact could rise significantly. Meanwhile in other related news, Katie Ford ("Miss Congeniality") and Chris Black ("Star Trek: Enterprise") have joined the show's writing staff where they'll take over for three unspecified writers who have exited the series.
EAST OF NORMAL, WEST OF WEIRD (ABC Family) - Jane Sibbett ("Friends"), Mitchell Whitfield ("Friends") and Amy Farrington ("The Michael Richards Show") have signed on to the comedy pilot, about 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. Sibbett and Whitfield will play Becca's parents in the Sony Pictures Television/Brad Gray Television project while Farrington is set as a psychologist.
GIRLS BEHAVING BADLY (Oxygen) - Sony Pictures Television has purchased the syndication rights to the cable channel's signature series, which features four young women who play pranks on unsuspecting people. The company is expected to offer 71 half-hour episodes to local stations beginning next fall, some of which will be edited for content. With no first-run pilots earning station deals yet and a number of half-hours exiting the marketplace following the 2004-05 season, "Badly" has a solid shot at full clearance. Interested stations won't pay a cash license fee but rather give up 3.5 minutes of ad time per half-hour for national ad sales by Sony.
I MARRIED A PRINCESS (Lifetime, New!) - Production has begun on 13 half-hour episodes of the reality project, a "Newlyweds"-esque look at the married life of Catherine Oxenberg ("Dynasty") and Casper Van Dien ("Starship Troopers"). Oxenberg's mother is HRH Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia (now Serbia and Montenegro). The series will track the pair as they deal with the obstacles of family life, which includes five children from three different relationships. Production on the series, which comes from New Wave Entertainment, is expected to be completed in time for a second quarter 2005 premiere.
THE INSIDE (FOX) - Peter Facinelli ("Fastlane") has opted out of the midseason drama following the show's revamp by new showrunner Tim Minear. The concept originally revolved around a 22-year-old federal agent (Rachel Nichols) working undercover at a suburban high school. Facinelli played Sean Eckhardt, the handler of Nichols' character. It's understood the new version casts Nichols, now the only remaining holdover from the original pilot, as a young F.B.I. agent who works for the L.A. bureau's Violent Crimes Unit. Facinelli's character has since changed to that of the partner of Nichols' character. Casting is currently underway on a replacement for Facinelli as well as additional roles.
KAPTAIN KNIEVEL (A&E) - The cable channel has given a series order to the project, which follows the exploits of Evel Knievel's son Robbie as he travels the country performing death-defying stunts. Production is expected to be completed in time for a first quarter 2005 air date where it's being targeted as a companion series to "Dog the Bounty Hunter."
LAW & ORDER: TRIAL BY JURY (NBC) - David Rogers ("The Legend of Butch & Sundance") has booked a recurring role on the upcoming "Law & Order" spin-off. No details however were given about his character.
THE LIBRARIAN: QUEST FOR THE SPEAR (TNT) - A whopping 7.0 million viewers tuned into Sunday's premiere of the telefilm, making it the most-watched original movie thus far in 2004 on basic cable. Among adults 18-49, "Librarian" averaged a 2.8 rating/6 share, good enough to beat CBS and the WB in said demographic. The series also fared well among adults 25-54 (3.3 rating/7 share) while its 10:00/9:00c encore earned a respectable 2.9 million viewers.
POINT PLEASANT (FOX) - Susan Walters ("The Young and the Restless") and Marcus Coloma ("Go Fish") are the latest additions to the revamped cast of the supernatural drama, which premieres Thursday, January 20 at 9:00/8:00c. Walters will play a woman who takes in Elisabeth Harnois' character, a mysterious girl whose presence unsettles the town, while Coloma will play a priest. Walters replaces Tricia O'Kelley, who played the role in the original pilot.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Sarah Wayne Callies ("Tarzan"), Peter Stormare ("Fargo"), Amaury Nolasco ("Mr. 3000") and Marshall Allman ("Little Black Book") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an engineer's (Wentworth Miller) attempt to break his older brother (Dominic Purcell), a wrongly convicted man on death row, out of prison over the course of a season. No details were given about their respective characters however. Brett Ratner ("After the Sunset") directs the project from a script Paul Scheuring ("A Man Apart").
SERGEANT IN THE HOUSE (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel has greenlit production on a new reality series pilot which sends a family's parents away for a while and has a drill sergeant move in to get the kids and the housework in line. Red 23 Entertainment is behind the one-hour project, which will air as a special in the first quarter of 2005. Mark Ganshirt and Sam Korki (VH1's "Kept") are the executive producers.
TRIPPING THE PROM QUEEN (Lifetime, New!) - Jon Avnet ("Boomtown") is set to direct and co-executive produce a new half-hour comedy pilot for the cable channel, about how women navigate and compete in the workplace and in suburbia. The project is based on Susan Shapiro Barash's upcoming non-fiction book of the same name, subtitled "How Far Women Will Go to Get What They Want." Ellyn Williams ("Once Upon a Mattress") is also on board to produce the comedy pilot, which is currently seeking a writer to pen the pilot. Production is then scheduled to begin early next year with Barash serving as a consultant.
UNTITLED BILL OAKLEY/JOSH WEINSTEIN PROJCT (FOX, New!) - Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ("The Simpsons") are set to team with Lorne Michaels ("Saturday Night Live") to develop a new ensemble workplace comedy at the network about cops who work the Times Square precinct. The project, which has a script commitment with a small penalty attached, is described as a mix of "Barney Miller" and "NewsRadio." Oakley and Weinstein will write and executive produce the untitled project along with Michaels and JoAnn Alfano through his NBC Universal Television-based Broadway Video.
UNTITLED MATT CIRULNICK PROJECT (UPN, New!) - Writer Matt Cirulnick ("Paid in Full") is developing a new primetime soap at the netlet set in Miami's famed South Beach. The project is set up at Jennifer Lopez's Nuyorican Productions and Tony Krantz's Flame Entertainment with Cirulnick, Lopez, Simon Fields and Krantz executive producing. The network has given a script commitment to the Paramount Network Television-based project with an unspecified penalty attached. It's understood said effort marks Nuyorican's first since the expiration of its first-look deal with Fox TV Studios and Regency Television earlier this year.
UNTITLED PAM BRADY/WILL GLUCK PROJECT (FOX) - Philip Baker Hall ("Pasadena") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about a guy right out of college (Bret Harrison) who becomes the first among his friends to get a real job and straddles the fence between slacker and working man. Becki Newton and Mimi Rogers also star in the 20th Century Fox Television project. Hall's character is that of a boss where the lead works.
UNTITLED SPIKE FERESTEN PROJECT (New!) - Emmy-nominated writer Spike Feresten ("Seinfeld") is developing a new satirical half-hour entertainment news/talk show at Fox TV Studios. Feresten will executive produce and serve as the host of the project, which has been given a pilot presentation order by the company. The apparent "Daily Show"-esque project will also feature a celebrity guest. No other details were available.
WE'RE IN THE BAND (Comedy Central, New!) - Alanis Morissette is set to be the focus of a new mockumentary-style improv series at the cable channel from Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman's Playtone Productions. Comedy Central has greenlighted production a pilot to the project, which tracks a fictional road crew that travels with Morissette on tour with improv actors playing everything from her manager, tour manager, tech guys, security and wardrobe people. Morissette, Goetzman, Johanna Stein, Jeff Rosenthal and Brian Blondell will all serve as executive producers of "Band."
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters