LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
DA VINCI'S INQUEST (CBC) - Thunderbird Films and Program Partners are looking to import repeats of the Canadian crime drama, currently airing its seventh season, to U.S. audiences. The pair will showcase "Inquest," which stars Nicholas Campbell as a coroner who works with homicide detectives, forensic investigators and pathologists to bring murderers to justice, at the annual NATPE convention in Las Vegas later this month. Program Partners' Ritch Colbert told Daily Variety: "There's a huge appetite by cable networks in the States like Spike, USA, A&E and TNT for these kinds of series." 87 episodes have aired to date on CBC.
GAYS ON STRIKE (A&E, New!) - Stephen Mazur ("Liar Liar") is set to write a new original movie for the cable channel. The project, which is being likened in tone to the feature film "In & Out," centers on a young gay couple who inadvertently spark a strike by every gay person in America to protest for their right to get married. No other details were given about "Strike," which is set up at Storyline Entertainment ("Chicago," "The Reagans").
IN THE GAME (ABC) - Christine Baranski ("Happy Family") is the latest addition to the cast of the midseason comedy, which also stars Jennifer Love Hewitt, Alyson Hannigan and Ed O'Neill. Baranski will play the senior reporter on the fictional sports show that's the focus of the series. Baranski had been attached to the FOX midseason comedy pilot "Spellbound" which apparently will not go forward to series. Touchstone Television and Handprint Entertainment are behind "Game," which is executive produced by Jeff Judah and Gabe Sachs.
THE LANCE KRALL SHOW (Spike TV, New!) - The cable channel has committed to eight episodes of a new improv series featuring "The Joe Schmo Show" alum Lance Krall and his comedy troupe, the Whole World Theater. Krall played "Kip, the Gay Guy" on "Schmo's" first season. Production has been completed on all eight half-hours of the series, which features everything from man-on-the-street segments to crank calls, with Krall himself writing and directing each installment. Sarah Baker, Phil Cater, Annie Humphrey, Rob Poynter, Michael Sweeney, Loren Tarquinio and Anna Vocino also star in the project, which was executive produced by Krall and his manager Rory Rosegarten. "Krall" reportedly will be paired with Spike's signature Thursday series "MXC" beginning in the spring however no firm dates have been set.
LIVE WITH REGIS & KELLY/WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE (Syndication) - Buena Vista Television has confirmed both syndicated series have been cleared in at least 60% of the country through the 2007-08 season. The news means each project is a go for three additional seasons.
THE MOUNTAIN (The WB) - As expected, the Frog confirmed over the weekend the freshman drama has been officially canceled. "The Mountain" averaged a paltry 1.92 million viewers over the course of its 13-episode run with only the reality entry "Big Man on Campus" (1.86 million on average) faring worse overall this season for the network.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Taking a cue from its successful sale of "Sex and the City" to TBS and local stations across the country, HBO has begun talks to sell repeats of the show's six season run to basic cable networks starting in the fall of 2006. It's understood TNT, A&E, Spike TV, USA, FX and Lifetime are among the networks the pay channel is targeting. While TBS paid a relatively modest $450,000 per episode for "Sex," HBO hopes to sell "The Sopranos" for as much as $1.8 million per episode. The pay channel however had similar hopes for "Sex," but had to settle for the six-figure license fee once all was said and done. Like "Sex," HBO already has edited versions of the series in the can but it's likely even more cuts will be done to avoid FCC scrutiny. Industry insiders however say the show's serialized nature means a hefty seven-figure per episode fee is extremely unlikely. Twentieth Television recently sold FOX's serialized drama "24" for a modest $250,000 per episode to A&E while stand-alone fare such as "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" earned a blockbuster $1.92 million between USA and Bravo.
THE TONY DANZA SHOW (Syndication) - Buena Vista Television reportedly is close to ordering a second season of the freshman syndie talk show. So far stations in 90 markets have agreed to carry the series through the 2005-06 season, good enough for a 60% clearance rate. Buena Vista nevertheless hasn't given the firm go ahead. Among the stations reupping were WABC New York, WPVI Philadelphia and KGO San Francisco, three of ABC's largest affiliates.
UNTITLED BARRY LEVINSON/TOM FONTANA PROJECT (The WB, New!) - Longtime collaborators Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson ("Oz," "Homicide: Life on the Street") have booked themselves a new drama pilot, this time at the Frog. The project, which focuses on the lives of New York City college students enrolled in a course about human sexuality and behavior, is set up at HBO Independent Productions and will shoot in New York City. "Homicide" scribe Julie Martin co-created the series with Fontana and will co-write the pilot script. Fontana, Martin, Levinson and Jim Finnerty will then serve as executive producers of the project.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters