LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
24 (FOX) - Dennis Haysbert has been tapped to return for the show's final six episodes this season where he'll reprise his role as the now former President David Palmer. No other details were given about his return to the series, the first episode of which will likely air on April 25.
ATHENS/THE O.C. (FOX) - Creator Josh Schwartz confirmed during FOX's portion of the TCA Winter Press Tour his long-in-the-works drama "Athens," originally announced back in May (read the story), won't be moving forward. He did however indicate there are firm plans to develop a spin-off of "The O.C." itself. Said project would focus on Kaitlin Cooper, the younger sister of Mischa Barton's character, who has rarely been seen or mentioned as of late. It's understood Kaitlin will reappear on "The O.C." later this season or early next season, after which the spin-off will track her exploits at boarding school. It's not clear however if actress Shailene Woodley will reprise her role or if it will be recast for the spin-off, which is being likened to a small screen version of "Mean Girls."
BRAT CAMP (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has quietly begun production on six one-hour episodes of a domestic verison of the successful U.K. series of the same name about a group of troubled children who are sent to the Utah wilderness for at least 30 days in an attempt to turn their lives around. Cable sibling ABC Family began running the U.K. version on Monday nights earlier this month. "Big Brother's" Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner are executive producing ABC's take on "Brat Camp," which has actually been in production since November but only recently was confirmed. The producers were also quick to note the show won't feel like your typical "reality series" and instead will be shot more like a documentary.
THE COLIN QUINN SHOW (NBC) - Comedy Central reportedly is looking to revive the short-lived NBC sketch comedy series, which ran for just three weeks in March 2002. Network chief Doug Herzog mentioned said development during a luncheon hosted by the Museum of Television & Radio on Tuesday, likening the show's quality to that of "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." No firm decisions have been made however.
THE COMMUTERS (CBS) - Dan Bucatinsky's long-in-the-works dramedy is finally moving forward as the writer/producer received a pilot commitment from the Eye this week. The project, which was originally set up at CBS and 20th Century Fox Television back in December 2001, has since moved to Paramount Network Television. "Commuters'" revival is undoubtedly linked to its "Desperate Housewives"-esque concept, about three troubled couples in the suburbs, the husbands of which all commute together each day on the train to New York. Bucatinsky's Warner Bros. Television-based production house Is or Isn't Entertainment won't be involved in "Commuters" as Warner Bros. simply agreed to loan out Bucatinsky to work on the project.
CONVICTION (A.K.A. UNTITLED ED REDLICH/SARAH TIMBERMAN PROJECT) (CBS) - Ed Redlich and Sarah Timberman's drama at the Eye - about a defense attorney-turned-prosecutor who crafts cases, presenting a powerful reconstruction of the crime in narrative in order to get a conviction - has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The project is set up at Timberman's Warner Bros. Television-based 25C Productions with Timberman, Redlich and Carl Beverly executive producing.
THE HUNTERS (Lifetime, New!) - Efrem Seeger ("Second Time Around") has booked a pilot at the cable channel for a new drama about a dysfunctional family of undercover government spies run by the devious matriarch. No other details were given about the project, which Seeger will write and executive produce. Lifetime reportedly wants to complete production on at least six scripted pilots in 2005, in the hopes of boosting its original content by 30% this year.
I LOVE EVERYBODY (AND OTHER ATROCIOUS LIES) (ABC, New!) - Laurie Notaro's autobiography of the same name is being developed for the small screen by the Alphabet and Thruline Entertainment. Katie Ford ("Miss Congeniality") is working on adapting the book, which chronicles Notaro's life as a self-deprecating, underachieving columnist. Touchstone Television is also on board to produce.
I LOVE FARON HITCHMAN (NBC, New!) - Actor/writer Carlos Jacott ("She Spies") has scored a cast-contingent pilot order for a new comedy about a newly married couple who may have married too soon and whose families hate each other. J.B. Roberts and Kelly Kulchak are also on board to executive produce the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television and Tagline Pictures.
THE LOT (UPN, New!) - "Veronica Mars" executive producers Jennifer Gwartz and Danielle Stokdyk have set up a new drama pilot at the netlet about the lives of several twentysomethings in Hollywood trying to make it big in the world of showbiz. Dana Baratta ("North Shore") wrote and will executive produce the project, which is set up at Joel Silver's Warner Bros. Television based production banner.
MURDER BOOK (FOX) - Chris Brancato and Bert Salke's put pilot has been given the go-ahead to produce a pilot. The procedural crime drama, which is set up at their self-titled 20th Century Fox Television-based company, revolves around L.A. cops and the beat-by-beat way they go about their business, including compiling reams of info about a case in one giant book.
INCONCEIVABLE (NBC, New!) - Marco Pennette ("All About the Andersons") and Oliver Goldstick ("Desperate Housewives") are set to team on a new drama pilot at the Peacock, about doctors, shrinks and lawyers who work in a fertility clinic. The project, which has a green light to produce a pilot, is set up at the Touchstone Television-based Tollin/Robbins Productions.
PAINKILLER JANE (Sci Fi) - Tate Donovan ("The O.C."), Richard Roundtree ("Desperate Housewives") and Eric Dane ("Charmed") have joined the cast of the two-hour backdoor drama pilot, about a young Marine officer (Emmanuelle Vaugier) exposed to a biochemical weapon that endows her with self-healing powers. Donovan will play a professor who aids Jane in figuring out her new abilities, while Roundtree is set as her commanding officer and mentor with Dane as a street-smart thief who befriends Jane. The project is set up at NBC Universal Television and MGM Television with John Harrison ("Dune"), Don Opper and Greg Gold writing and executive producing.
UNTITLED STAX RECORDS PROJECT (HBO, New!) - Forest Whitaker, Richard Pearce ("Law & Order: Trial by Jury") and Jason Horwitch ("Medical Investigation") are set to team for a new telefilm at the pay channel about the birth of Stax Records, the 1950s-era music label that released a number of classics from Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T. and the MGs, and Johnnie Taylor. Peter Guralnick's book "Sweet Soul Music" is set to serve as the basis of the project, which will also examine the birth of modern rhythm and blues and the racial tensions that resulted in the undoing of the Memphis-based company. Pearce is set to direct from a script by Horwitch with the pair executive producing alongside Whitaker.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters