[12/17/04 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: December 16-17
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 IDOL (FOX) - Former FremantleMedia programming chief David Lyle, the recently named general manager and COO of the soon-to-launch Fox Reality Channel (FRC), has confirmed FOX has vetoed the idea of showing repeats of the hit series on FRC due to fears of overexposure. The channel is expected to bow next spring in at least 17 million households, most of which comes from News Corp.'s 13.5 million DirecTV subscriber base as well as Dish Network and Cox Communications' digital cable customers. The channel is understood to consist mostly of repeats of FOX's previous reality entries, from "The Simple Life" and "Temptation Island" to "Celebrity Boxing" and "When Animals Attack," as well as fresh offerings, full details of which have yet to be released.

BLIND JUSTICE (ABC) - The Alphabet has quietly confirmed the midseason drama will premiere Tuesday, March 8. "Justice" will take over the Tuesday, 10:00/9:00c hour from "N.Y.P.D. Blue," which will wrap its 12-year run on Tuesday, March 1, the final Tuesday of the February sweeps period.

BRAT CAMP (ABC Family, New!) - The cable channel is set to launch a new four-week reality series on Monday, January 10 at 10:00/9:00c. The project tracks a group of badly behaved teenagers that are sent to a pioneering wilderness camp in Utah by their parents in a final attempt to change their behavior. It's there they must adhere to strict rules and learn to respect others and themselves.

THE FIRST 48 (A&E) - Season two of the docu-reality series is set to premiere Thursday, January 6 with a special 90-minute episode at 9:00/8:00c. The series will then return to its regular 10:00/9:00c slot on January 13.

LEGALLY BLONDE/REAL PEOPLE (Syndication) - Tribune Entertainment has confirmed both projects are unlikely to move foward for a 2005-06 season launch date. The news marks another stumbling block for the once powerful distributor which has seen virtually all of its fare disappear from the airwaves in recent years. Newcomer "Home Delivery" was its sole freshman entry this season and has since been canceled while sci-fi drama "Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda" is currently in its final season. Said moves have caused layoffs of at least four of its executives with others possibly in store. "Blonde," which was developed in conjunction with MGM Television, is understood to have been stalled by Sony Pictures' possible takeover of MGM while it's not clear what lead to "People's" shelving.

REUNION (FOX, New!) - Jon Harmon Feldman ("Tru Calling") and Steve Pearlman are reportedly close to receiving a pilot order for a new drama series which tracks the friendships of six high school friends for 20 years, all over the course of a single 22-episode season. The pilot begins in 1986 as the sextet graduates from their upstate New York high school and tracks their last summer before heading off to college. Each subsequent episode then would follow a year's time as a lead up to their 20-year high school reunion in 2006. The project is set up at Pearlman's Warner Bros. Television-based Class IV Productions with Feldman writing the pilot and executive producing alongside Pearlman and Class IV's Andrew Plotkin. It's not clear however how the show would continue on for a second season although it's likely each season would start with a new set of friends and a different city with some possible carryover characters. Each of the six friends will also be played by the same actor throughout the course of the series with casting directors eyeing for actors in their late 20s who can play both teenagers and thirtysomethings.

RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT (TBS) - Industry insiders have confirmed Sci Fi's purchase of the exclusive cable rights to the onetime TBS mainstay is valued at $7 million. The five-year license term, which includes access to all 88 produced episodes, kicks in next month as the cable channel plans to air back-to-back installments every Wednesday at 8:00/7:00c beginning January 26.

SITUATION: COMEDY (Bravo) - Mort Nathan ("Golden Girls") has joined the cable channel's sitcom talent search where he'll help supervise one of the two finalists as he or she develops their concept. It's understood taping on the project is expected to begin next week.

SPIRIT OF AMERICA (FOX, New!) - Mort Nathan ("Golden Girls") and producer Brad Johnson have scored a script order for a new half-hour comedy that hopes to do for Iraq what "M*A*S*H" did for Korea. The project tracks the staffers of a fledgling American-run TV network in Baghdad that's trying to bring Western-style programming to the locals. Nathan will write and executive produce the project with Johnson through the latter's 20th Century Fox Television-based Watson Pond Productions.

STARGATE SG-1 (Sci Fi) - Ben Browder ("Farscape") is set to join the cast of the veteran sci-fi drama, while talks are underway to ensure the return of Richard Dean Anderson in some capacity for its ninth season. No details however were given about Browder's character.

UNTITLED D.L. HUGHLEY PROJECT (Comedy Central, New!) - Recent "The Late Late Show" guest host D.L. Hughley, one of the four comedians that was in the running for the job that ultimately went to Craig Ferguson, is in talks to develop his own talk show at the cable channel. Robert Morton ("The Late Show With David Letterman") is attached to executive produce the project, which would feature the typical format of a monologue, comedy sketches and celebrity guests, along with Hughley. Comedy Central is understood to be close to ordering two pilot episodes for the series which will could either run weekly or daily as a companion to "The Daily Show."

UNTITLED JOE & TONY GAYTON PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Brothers Joe Gayton ("Bulletproof") and Tony Gayton ("Murder By Numbers") are developing a new ensemble crime drama at the network about the wife of a mob boss who's thrust into running their Biloxi, Mississippi-based organized crime operation, which includes a region of night spots and resorts known to locals as the Redneck Riviera. The project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television with the pair writing the script and executive producing.

UNTITLED MARISSA JARET WINOKUR (ABC, New!) - Marissa Jaret Winokur ("Beautiful Girl") is back at the Alphabet as the actress is set to team with writer Dana Klein ("Friends") to develop a new sitcom for the network. The project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television, would star Winokur as a working class girl who strikes it rich and moves with her husband to an exclusive gated community. ABC has given a script commitment to the project with an unspecified penalty attached. Klein will write the pilot script and executive produce with Winokur and her manager Michael Valeo serving as producers. Winokur spent the past development season attached to the comedy pilot "The Furst Family," which was not picked up to series.

UNTITLED MARLEY SHELTON PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Marley Shelton ("Sugar & Spice") is set to be the focus of a new comedy at the netlet from writer/producer Bruce Helford ("The Drew Carey Show"). The project centers on a driven 25-year-old woman (Shelton) from a modest middle-class upbringing who is determined to achieve the live of luxury she sees in magazines, in the movies and on television. The WB has given a put pilot commitment to the project which Helford will executive produce through his Warner Bros. Television-based Mohawk Productions.

UNTITLED NICK LACHEY PROJECT (FOX) - Writer Etan Cohen ("King of the Hill") has come aboard to write and executive produce Nick Lachey's comedy project at the network and 20th Century Fox-based Brad Grey Television. The comedy, which now has a script order plus a small penalty attached, is understood to feature Lachey as a retired baseball player returning home to his dysfunctional family.

UNTITLED TOM DAVIS PROJECT (Comedy Central, New!) - The life of "Saturday Night Live" alum Tom Davis is set to be the focus of a new half-hour comedy pilot at the network and Lawrence Bender Productions. The project revolves around Davis' life in rural upstate New York and the fact that he's virtually unknown despite being the writing partner of Al Franken and being credited with helping shape "SNL." Mort Nathan ("Golden Girls") is executive producing the project along with Davis, Bender, Karen Barber and Laila Nabulsi.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [december 2004]  


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