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.
THE 4,400 (USA) - The show's first season finished the year as the most-watched rookie series on cable among adults 18-49, averaging 2.9 million viewers in the key demographic per week. Also finishing in the top five in adults 18-49 for 2004 were TBS' "The Real Gilligan's Island" (1.973 million for six episodes), FX's "Rescue Me" (1.935 million for 13 hours), MTV's "'Til Death Do Us Part" (1.921 million for seven episodes) and MTV's "The Ashlee Simpson Show" (1.834 million for eight episodes).
THE ASSISTANTS (NBC, New!) - Offspring Entertainment has scored a script order for a new one-hour dramedy about a group of assistants who work in the same building in a number of different industries. The project, described as an "Upstairs, Downstairs" look at assistants and their bosses, is set up at 20th Century Fox Television. Bryan Fuller ("Wonderfalls") created the series and will executive produce alongside Offspring principals Adam Shankman ("Bringing Down the House") and Jennifer Gibgot.
THE CLOSER (TNT) - Robert Gossett ("Arlington Road") and G.W. Bailey ("Police Academy") are the latest additions to the Kyra Sedgwick-led drama pilot, about the female deputy chief (Sedgwick) heading up a special unit of the L.A.P.D. that handles sensitive, high-profile murder cases. Gossett will play Capt. Taylor, the head of the robbery/homicide division of the L.A.P.D. while Bailey is set as Detective Lt. Provenza, a hard-line politically incorrect cop.
THE INSIDE (FOX) - Adam Baldwin ("Firefly") has joined the cast of the midseason drama, about a young, ambitious F.B.I. agent (Rachel Nichols) who is assigned to the agency's Los Angeles Violent Crimes Division. Baldwin will play a tough, seasoned F.B.I. agent in the project, a man's man with 25 years on the job. Jay Harrington also stars as the partner of Nichols' character.
INTO THE WEST (TNT) - Sean Astin ("Jeremiah"), Beau Bridges ("10.5"), Gary Busey ("I'm With Busey"), Jessica Capshaw ("The Practice"), Tyler Christopher ("General Hospital"), Rachael Leigh Cook ("She's All That"), Balthazar Getty ("Traffic"), Daniel Gillies ("Spider-Man 2"), Lance Henriksen ("Millennium"), Emily Holmes ("Taken"), Christian Kane ("Angel"), Zahn McClarnon ("Momentum") and Will Patton ("The Agency") have been revealed as additional cast members on Steven Spielberg's epic 12-hour mini-series. The project, currently in production, is set to premiere during the summer of 2005.
NOBODY'S WATCHING (The WB) - Paul Campbell ("Battlestar Galactica") has been cast in one of the lead roles in the comedy pilot, about two Midwestern guys who win a reality show contest and get to create their own TV comedy series. The duo then live on a soundstage where their every move is filmed, unaware of the fact that they are actually the show. Bill Lawrence, Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan are behind the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television and Lawrence's Doozer banner.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Stacy Keach ("Titus") has joined the cast of FOX's ambitious drama pilot, about an engineer (Wentworth Miller) who inserts himself into a prison he designed to help his brother (Dominic Purcell), a death row inmate who insists he is innocent, escape. Keach plays a warden at the prison in the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, which is being directed by Brett Ratner from a script by Paul Scheuring. Sarah Wayne Callies, Peter Stormare, Amaury Nolasco, Marshall Allman, Robin Tunney and Jessalyn Gilsig also star.
THE SIMPSONS (FOX) - Ricky Gervais, the creator and star of the U.K. hit "The Office," is set to write an upcoming episode of the animated comedy. Said episode, details of which weren't available, will also feature Gervais in a voice cameo. It's not clear when the episode is planned to air.
SIX FEET UNDER (HBO) - Jenna Fischer ("The Office: An American Workplace") is set to appear on the show's upcoming fifth and final season in a guest-starring role. She'll play a dental hygienist who dates Freddy Rodriguez's character.
UNTITLED CHERI OTERI/J.J. ABRAMS PROJECT (ABC) - The Cheri Oteri-led/J.J. Abrams-produced comedy, the premise of which has yet to be revealed, is understood to revolve around a woman who works at a children's TV show. ABC has made a script commitment to the project, which is set up at Abrams' Touchstone Television-based Bad Robot banner.
UNTITLED DEBI GUTIERREZ PROJECT (Lifetime, New!) - Comedian Debi Gutierrez is set to topline a new comedy pilot at the cable channel, which revolves around Gutierrez's real-life experiences as a mother who raises her three kids with the help of her husband and ex-husband. Sally Lapiduss ("The Nanny") is writing the script to the project, which reportedly has been given the green light to produce a pilot. It's understood Lifetime plans to shoot at least four to six pilots as part of its 2005-06 development slate.
UNTITLED SCOTT BAIO PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Scott Baio is looking to return to the small screen as the actor is set to topline a new comedy pilot at the Peacock about a fortysomething man (Baio) who moves in with a guy in his 20s, turning his life upside down. The project, which has a script commitment from the network, is set up at HBO Independent Productions and Tagline Productions. Blake McCormack is on board to write the pilot script with Jace Richdale ("Oliver Beene") executive producing.
WILDFIRE (ABC Family) - Micah Alberti ("All My Children"), Greg Serano ("Kingpin"), Nicole Tubiola ("Undressed") and Nana Visitor ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") have been named the principal cast members of the two-hour backdoor pilot telefilm, about a girl in her late teens who ends up working with a racehorse. Michael Piller ("The Dead Zone") is behind the project, additional details of which were not available.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters