LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
'70S NEW YORK COP PROJECT (NBC) - Donnie Wahlberg ("Boomtown") is in talks to join the cast of the drama pilot, a 1970s-based project about real-life New York detectives Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan who inspired the Oscar-winning 1971 feature "The French Connection." Wahlberg would play the character based on Egan while Bobby Cannavale has already been cast as Grosso's character. Clark Johnson is set to direct the NBC Universal Television-based project from a script by creator Rand Ravich. Wahlberg had been previously attached to another Peacock project entitled "The Code," which apparently will not go forward despite its put pilot commitment.
ACCESS HOLLYWOOD (Syndication) - The syndicated newsmagazine is a go for a 10th season, as NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has cleared the series in 85% of the country for the 2005-06 season.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (Sci Fi) - Cable sibling USA has quietly announced it plans to rebroadcast the first two episodes of "Battlestar Galactica" on Saturday, February 5 at 4:00/3:00c. USA had previously ran the show's "Lowdown" special earlier this month.
BRENNAN (A.K.A. UNTITLED KATHY REICHS PROJECT) (FOX) - Hart Hanson's drama project at FOX has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The 20th Century Fox Television-based project is based on the real-life experiences and bestselling works of novelist-forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs who solves crimes using evidence supplied by skeletal remains. The potential series then would track a Reichs-inspired character named Marjorie Miles, who along with a team of experts, solves the crimes "the C.S.I. teams can't" using reconstructive artists and bug experts. "Brennan" apparently is a working title as it refers to the regular heroine in Reichs' fiction works, Dr. Temperance Brennan. Barry Josephson is also on board to executive produce the project along with Hanson. Reichs herself will also receive a producer credit.
BRIAR & GRAVES (FOX, New!) - "Prison Break" creator Paul Scheuring has lined up a second pilot at FOX for the 2005-06 season, this time about a hard-living priest who partners with a female doctor to investigate unexplained religious phenomena. The project, which is described as "X-Files" meets "The Exorcist," is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Marty Adelstein and Dawn Parouse's self-titled banner. Adelstein and Parouse will then executive produce alongside Scheuring.
THE CHRIS MATTHEWS SHOW (Syndication) - The weekend news show has been given the go-ahead for a third season as distributor NBC Universal Domestic Television has cleared the series in 80% of the country for the 2005-06 season.
CRAZY (UPN, New!) - Feature writer Sarah Thorp (the upcoming "Twisted") has booked a pilot order from the netlet for a new drama about a young therapist gets involved in the lives of her patients, seeing her own problems reflected in their woes. The project is set up at Spelling Television with Ed Zuckerman, Aaron Spelling and E. Duke Vincent executive producing. Thorp will write the pilot script and serve as co-executive producer.
FEAR FACTOR (NBC) - NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution has cleared a second season of "Fear Factor" repeats on local stations covering a whopping 96% of the country.
FILMORE MIDDLE (NBC, New!) - Matt Tarses ("Scrubs") has scored a cast-contingent pilot order from the Peacock for a new comedy about young teachers who work at a public junior high. Tarses will write and executive produce the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television.
GIRLS BEHAVING BADLY (Oxygen) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared repeats of the cable comedy/reality series in nine of the top 10 markets, including such stations as WCBS New York, WCIU Chicago, KYW Philadelphia, WBZ and its sister station WSBK Boston and KTVU San Francisco. The participating stations won't pay cash for the 70 half-hours but rather give half of their ad time to Sony for national ad sales.
THE INSIDER (Syndication) - Paramount Domestic Television has cleared the "Entertainment Tonight" spin-off on the CBS owned-and-operated stations throught the 2007-08 season. The news means the Pat O'Brien-hosted newsmagazine is a firm go for another three seasons beyond its current freshman run. Among the stations renewing the show were WCBS New York, KCBS Los Angeles, KYW Philadelphia, WBZ Boston and WWJ Detroit.
JUDGE ALEX (Syndication) - Twentieth Television has raised the court show's national clearance rate another 15%, bringing its total coverage to 65% of the country. The distributor hopes to add another 15% by the end of this week's NATPE convention.
LIES AND THE WIVES WE TELL THEM TO (NBC) - Johnny Sneed ("First Daughter") has been cast in a lead role in the comedy pilot, about the marriages and friendships of four best friends and the secrets and lies they tell to keep them going. Sneed, whose involvement is understood to lift the cast-contingency on the pilot's production, spent the past development season as part of comedian Earthquake's failed pilot at ABC.
MEDICAL INVESTIGATION (NBC) - Repeats of the freshman drama have quietly been airing on NBC's cable sibling USA since the new year began. Episodes generally run Thursdays at 7:00/6:00c with a few exceptions. See USA's official site for more details.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - TNT, Spike TV and A&E reportedly are the frontrunners to snag repeats of the pay channel's popular mob drama. Even more surprising is that it seems their bids are expected to top the initial asking price of $1.8 million per episode and are fast approaching the current $1.92 million per episode record for NBC Universal's "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" by USA and Bravo.
STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (UPN) - As expected, Paramount Domestic Television has had no problem clearing off-network repeats of the series. Stations covering 90% of the country are set to begin airing repeats of the series on weekends this fall. Most of said clearances came in the Fox and ABC owned-and-operated station groups.
SUCKER FREE CITY (A.K.A. S.F.C.) (Showtime) - The pay channel has confirmed Spike Lee's two-hour drama pilot turned original movie is set to premiere Saturday, February 12 at 8:00/7:00c. Here's how Showtime's press materials describe the project: "Spike Lee directs this gripping drama set in culturally diverse San Francisco, where three young men of different ethnic backgrounds perpetrate low-level crimes that infringe upon each other's turf. Nick (Ben Crowley) is a white Mission District resident working in a corporate mail room while stealing credit card numbers; K-Luv (Anthony Mackie) is a member of the impoverished black gang V-Dub in Hunter's Point; Lincoln (Ken Leung) makes collections as a bagman in the Chinese mafia."
THE TOM JOYNER SHOW (Syndication, New!) - Syndicated radio talk veteran Tom Joyner ("The Tom Joyner Morning Show") is currently offering a new one-hour weekend variety-comedy show at the industry's annual NATPE convention which runs this week. The project is being targeted for Saturday nights beginning this fall. Reach Media, which syndicates his radio show, is distributing the TV series. Full details on the project weren't specified, however they're likely based on Joyner's "Sky Shows," a series of entertainment-variety programs held in more than 20 cities each year. Said events have featured such performers as Usher, Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child, Bill Cosby and D.L. Hughley.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters