LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
Looking to keep track of all the various projects in development? Click here to visit our newly revamped "Series in Development" charts. Visitors can now filter our listings by network, genre and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!
'70S NEW YORK COP PROJECT (NBC) - Kat Foster has joined the cast of the drama pilot, which stars Bobby Cannavale and Donnie Wahlberg as real-life 1970s cop heroes Sonny Grosso and Eddie Egan, who inspired the Oscar-winning 1971 feature "The French Connection." Foster is understood to be playing Rachel Abramowitz in the project, which comes from NBC Universal Television, from a script by creator Rand Ravich. Here how her character is described in the casting notice: "Mid-late 20s, Caucasian. Quick-witted and pretty, she is the Assistant District Attorney. She is extremely good at her job. Rachel has a fondness for Sonny, but is not fond of the liberties Popeye sometimes takes in doing his job. She has become a successful DA as a woman in the all men's club of 1970 New York justice system."
C.S.I.: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - Wallace Langham has been upped to series regular on the successful CBS drama. He'll continue in his role of David Hodges on the series, an acerbic lab technician who often butts heads with Eric Szmanda's character.
THE COMEBACK (HBO) - Kellan Lutz ("Summerland"), Jason Olive ("All My Children") and Kimberly Kevon Williams ("Pop Star"), all of whom guest-starred in the pilot episode of the upcoming Lisa Kudrow-led comedy series, are set to continue in recurring roles. "The Comeback" premieres in June along with a new season of "Entourage."
CONVICTION (CBS) - Jon Avnet ("Boomtown") has signed on to executive produce the drama pilot, in addition to his previous commitment to direct the project. "Conviction," which comes from creator Ed Redlich and Sarah Timberman & Carl Beverly's Warner Bros. Television-based 25C Productions, revolves around a hotshot defense attorney who ends up switching sides, solving crimes for the prosecution. No casting has been announced for the project.
EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT MEN (CBS, New!) - Fred Barron's BBC comedy "According to Bex" is being imported to the U.S. as CBS has given a pilot order to a domestic version of the comedy. Like "Bex," "Men" will track a single young woman juggling all the men in her life. The project is set up at Touchstone Television with Barron writing and executive producing.
ELVIS (CBS) - Tim Guinee ("Ladder 49") has joined the cast of the upcoming miniseries. He'll play Sun Records founder Sam Phillips in the project, which is set to air on Sunday, May 8 and Wednesday, May 11, both starting at 9:00/8:00c.
FATHOM (NBC) - Former "Boston Legal" co-star Lake Bell has been cast as the female lead in drama pilot, about a group of naval officers, oceanographers and fishermen from around the world who encounter a group of mysterious sea creatures who turn out to be space invaders from Venus, here to make life on earth sustainable for even more creatures to come. Bell will play a smart, athletic, adventurous marine biologist who discovers the bizarre new species while piloting a submersible on an underwater research expedition. "L.A. Dragnet's" Josh and Jonas Pate are behind the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television.
HOUSE (FOX) - The network has confirmed it has upped its commitment to the freshman drama by four more episodes, bringing its season total to a full 22 episodes. Since getting "American Idol" as a lead-in, "House" has shot up the ratings charts as last week's installment was seen by 12.75 million viewers, making it the 14th most-watched program of the week not to mention FOX's most-watched scripted program.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS, New!) - Carter Bays and Craig Thomas ("American Dad") have scored a pilot order from CBS for a new comedy about the exploits of a single man, as told through his own eyes 20 years later. No other details were given about the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.
MURDER BOOK (FOX) - Josh Brolin ("Mister Sterling") has scored a lead role in the drama pilot, which 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. No other details were given about Brolin's character. "Training Day's" Antoine Fuqua is set to direct the 20th Century Fox Television-based project from a script by creators Chris Brancato and Bert Salke ("Boomtown," "North Shore").
OLD CHRISTINE (A.K.A. UNTITLED KARI LIZER PROJECT) (CBS) - Kari Lizer's ("Will & Grace") put pilot at the Eye has been given a cast-contingent production order. The comedy project, originally announced back in November (read the story), centers on a 35-year-old divorced mom trying to keep pace with everyone around her including the judgmental stay-at-home moms at her son's private school and her ex-husband, who already is dating. Lizer is also behind the WB's comedy pilot "True," starring Anne Heche. As for "Christine," the project is set up at Warner Bros. Television.
THE READING ROOM (Hallmark, New!) - James Earl Jones, Keith Robinson ("Fat Albert"), Joanna Cassidy ("Six Feet Under"), Lynne Moody ("General Hospital"), Douglas Spain ("Band of Brothers") and Gabby Soleil ("Johnson Family Vacation") are set to star in a new original movie for the cable channel. The project, from "Roots: The Next Generations" director Georg Stanford Brown, centers on a widower (Jones) who opens a reading room to teach people in a lower-income neighborhood how to read in order to honor his wife's dying request. It's there he encounters problems when the room becomes a target for street thugs, who later burn it down. Brown himself will also appear in the project, which is being targeted for a November premiere, as a minister.
REUNION (FOX) - Alexa Davalos ("Chronicles of Riddick") and Sean Faris ("life as we know it") have joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the lives of six close friends from their high school graduation in 1986 to their 20th reunion in 2006. Davalos will play Samantha, a "beautiful overachiever," while Faris is on board to play Craig in the project, which also stars Amanda Righetti and Dave Annable. The casting of Faris likely means the cast of "life" has been released from their contracts, a sure sign the series is a long shot to return next season. Jon Amiel will direct the pilot, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Class IV Productions, from a script by creator Jon Harmon Feldman.
THE SHIELD (FX) - Sony Pictures Television is looking to follow in the footsteps of HBO's "The Sopranos" by offering FX's "The Shield" to off-network outlets on both cable and local stations across the country. The distributor is expecting to have 67 episodes of the series ready for rerun play beginning in September 2006. Sony hopes the show's strong appeal to the male 18-49 demographic will appeal to such potential outlets as A&E, TNT, USA, Court TV and Spike TV. Industry insiders however are skeptical about a successful sale as basic cable networks rarely purchase each other's programming, especially when "The Shield" is likely to continue to run new episodes for the foreseeable future on FX. Sony tried a similar strategy with Lifetime's "Strong Medicine," but ended up selling its weeknight run back to Lifetime itself. A similar scenario seems more likely for "The Shield."
UNCOMMON SENSE (NBC) - Peri Gilpin ("Frasier") has been tapped to star opposite Larry Miller in the comedy pilot, about a columnist (Miller) with a wry sense of humor, and his relationship with his wife. Gilpin will play the wife in the project, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television and co-financed by NBC itself (in return for a first-look option). In addition, Andy Ackerman ("Seinfeld") has signed on to direct the pilot from a script by Miller and his wife Eileen Conn ("Just Shoot Me").
UNTITLED RICH APPEL PROJECT (CBS) - Rich Appel's ("King of the Hill") comedy pilot at the Eye has received the go-ahead to produce a pilot. The project, which originally was given a put pilot commitment last year (read the story), revolves around a divorced couple who remain best friends and share custody of their kids. Appel will write and executive produce the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television.
WESTSIDE (ABC) - Ashley Scott ("Birds of Prey") is the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about an upscale real estate agency specializing in high-end homes on L.A.'s Westside. Specifics on Scott's character however were not released. Silvio Horta ("Jake 2.0") is behind the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Steve Pearlman's Class IV Productions.
WHAT ABOUT BRIAN? (ABC) - Matthew Davis ("Legally Blonde") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a single man in his 30s still trying to figure out his life after all his friends have gotten hitched. Davis will play the best friend of the title character, who has yet to be cast. "Brian" was created by Dana Stevens with Touchstone Television-based producers J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk executive producing.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters