LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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AMY COYNE (FOX) - Ashley Williams ("Good Morning, Miami") has been cast in the title role in the drama pilot, described as "Ally McBeal" meets "Jerry Maguire." She'll play a young woman who inherits her father's sports agency business following his sudden death. Said event forces her to come up with creative ways to run the agency in order to survive in the testosterone-pumped environment. Todd Holland will direct the 20th Century Fox Television-based pilot from a script by creator Kevin Falls.
THE BAD GIRL'S GUIDE (UPN) - Marcelle Larice, Christina Moore ("Hyperion Bay"), Stephanie Childers ("Less Than Perfect") and Johnathan McClain ("Happy Family") have been revealed as the principal cast members of the Jenny McCarthy-led comedy series. Here's how the network's press materials describe the project: "Charming and self-confident, JJ [McCarthy] is the ultimate bad girl. Living life to the fullest and never one to turn down fun with her girlfriends, JJ ultimately believes she will settle down when she finds Mr. Right, as long as he doesn't cramp her bad girl style. JJ's co-worker Holly [Larice], a fun-loving, divorcee who vows to never marry again, doesn�t believe in moderation and occasionally pushes her bad girlness to the limit. Rounding out the trio is Sarah [Moore], JJ�s smart and attractive roommate, who is ready for marriage and life as a responsible adult, but finds herself lured into the bad girl antics of best friends JJ and Holly."
"As two successful advertising executives, JJ and Holly struggle to maintain their creative and spontaneous nature while working in a structured corporate environment and staying one step ahead of their anti-bad girl supervisor Irene [Childers]. However, JJ and Holly find solace in Patric [McClain], the receptionist, who despite being engaged, relishes in being "just one of the girls" by helping JJ and Holly keep it together at work.By embracing the bad girl ideals, JJ, Holly and Sarah search for a perfect balance of love, career and friendship, but on their own terms, and use their wits, determination and charm to deal with any situation that comes their way." Robin Schiff and Tony Krantz are behind the project, which comes from Palm Tree Productions and Flame Television in association with Paramount Network Television.
BLUE COLLAR COMEDY TOUR RIDES AGAIN (Comedy Central) - A whopping 6.10 million viewers tuned into Sunday's premiere of the concert film on the cable channel. Said broadcast marks the second-most-watched program to date on Comedy Central, behind only a 1998 episode of "South Park." "Blue" was also the second-most-watched program on cable last week, behind only ESPN's coverage of the "NFL Pro Bowl" (6.16 million). Among adults 18-49, "Blue" actually beat the Pro Bowl (2.6 rating/6 share vs. 2.3/6).
CELEBRITY DRAG RACING (New!) - 44 Blue Productions ("Small Shots") is developing a new reality series that will pit stars against each other on the speedway. The project, which is being pitched to both broadcast and cable networks, would follow the celebrities as they train and race, culminating in a final competition that will award the winner a cash prize to donate to a charity of his/her choice. 44 Blue's Rasha & Stephanie Drachkovitch are the executive producers.
THE CONTENDER (NBC) - NBC, Mark Burnett Productions and DreamWorks all confirmed yesterday the upcoming boxing reality series will move forward despite the news of contestant Najai Turpin's suicide on Monday. Turpin's episode will apparently run unaltered except for an onscreen tribute and won't significantly affect the show's outcome as he was not one of the finalists. The producers have also set up a fund to support Turpin's 2-year-old daughter. "We were deeply saddened to learn of the death of Najai Turpin," NBC said in a brief statement released to the press. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as we extend our most sincere condolences during this tragic time." "The Contender" premieres next month.
DON'T ASK (FOX) - Fox TV Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow is back at the network, this time as an executive producer. His 20th Century Fox Television-based Phase Two banner has booked a pilot order from FOX for a new single-camera comedy about a married father of two teenage sons who announces he's gay and in love with his wife's shrink. The events then are told through the eyes of the man's 13-year-old son, Calvin Collins. Nicky Silver wrote the pilot script on spec for project, which he'll executive produce with Grushow and Phase Two's Paul Shapiro. Coincidentally, "Don't Ask" was the original title of FOX's short-lived John Goodman comedy "Normal, Ohio," about a Midwestern dad who happens to be gay.
EUREKA (Sci Fi) - Peter O'Fallon ("Wonderfalls") has been tapped to direct the NBC Universal Television-based drama pilot, about a U.S. marshal who gets stranded in an eccentric think-tank community in the Pacific Northwest. He'll direct from a script by creators Andy Cosby and Jamie Paglia.
JUDGE BONAVENTURE (Syndication, New!) - 44 Blue Productions ("What Should You Do?") is developing a new syndication offering about the 25,000 cases that no-nonsense Judge Joseph Bonaventure handles per year as part of his duties as a Las Vegas-based small-claims court judge. No other details are available about the project, which is executive produced by 44 Blue principals Rasha & Stephanie Drachkovitch.
LACKAWANNA BLUES (HBO) - 1.8 million viewers tuned into Saturday's premiere of the telefilm. The broadcast was also HBO's most-watched program last week, beating out new episodes of "Carnivale" (1.5 million) and "Unscripted" (454,000).
STACKED (FOX) - The Pam Anderson/Tom Everett Scott-led comedy pilot is set to tape on Monday, February 21 at Little Theater/Fox Studios. Steve Levitan is behind the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, which stars Anderson as a bad girl gone good who ends up working in an upscale bookstore.
THE SUBSTITUTE (New!) - Rasha & Stephanie Drachkovitch's 44 Blue Productions ("Caesars 24/7") and singer Lance Bass are developing a new unscripted project that places an extraordinary teacher in some of the country's most challenging classrooms. Said project would in fact track two teachers as they transition into new schools in different towns. No other details were given about the series, which is currently being pitched to various outlets.
SUPERNATURAL (The WB) - Jared Padalecki ("Gilmore Girls") and Jensen Ackles ("Smallville") have been cast in the lead roles of the drama pilot, described as a cross between "The X-Files" and "Route 66." The Warner Bros. Television/Wonderland Sound and Vision-based project revolves around Sam, a recent Stanford graduate, who along with his estranged older brother Dean encounter unusual ghosts and local creatures straight out of American folk lore and urban legends during a road trip from San Francisco back home to Los Angeles. It's not clear who plays Sam and who plays Dean. David Nutter, who has been behind 10 successful pilots in the past decade, is directing the project from a script by Eric Kripke. The pair will also executive produce alongside McG, Stephanie Savage and Peter Johnson.
THE SUZE ORMAN SHOW (Syndication) - After leaving NATPE with no announced clearances, the Twentieth Television syndie offering has reportedly found a home in several major markets, including WCBS-TV New York, KNBC-TV Los Angeles and WMAQ-TV Chicago. Said clearances should keep "Orman" on track for a fall 2005 launch. The one-hour series features the CNBC host helping people deal with financial problems that affect their relationships, such as a couple on the verge of splitting up because of a spending addiction and a daughter confronting her mother for stealing her credit cards and putting her into debt.
TRIANGLE (UPN) - Ivan Sergei ("Crossing Jordan") has scored the lead role in the drama pilot, about a young doctor (Sergei) who moves to the Caribbean after his wife mysteriously vanishes during their honeymoon there. John Sakmar and Kerry Lenhart are behind the project, which comes from Paramount Network Television and Perry Simon's Shore View Entertainment.
TRUE (The WB) - Ed Begley Jr. ("Arrested Development") is set to play father to Anne Heche in the comedy pilot, about a woman (Heche) whose boyfriend breaks up with her while she is in labor with their baby forcing her to move back in with her parents. Begley's character, Frank True, is described as follows in the casting notice: "Late 50's. Rosie's father, Frank is a low-strung guy who retreats into silent stoicism whenever family dynamics grow heated - so he's a cigar-store Indian almost all day long. A quietly squeamish guy as well, Frank balks at attending the birth of his grandson, correctly predicting that bodily fluids might well be forced into the light of day during the birth. A man who rarely comments on events around him, he also has the habit of zeroing in like a homing beam whenever he does say something trenchantly pertinent." Kari Lizer is behind the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television.
UNCOMMON SENSE (NBC) - Alanna Ubach ("Meet the Fokkers") and Reg Rogers ("Analyze That") have joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a columnist with a wry sense of humor (Larry Miller), and his relationship with his wife (Peri Gilpin). Ubach and Rogers will play Ilana and Michael, the respective best friends of Miller and Gilpin's characters. Andy Ackerman is on board to direct the Sony Pictures Television-based project from a script by Miller and his real-life wife Eileen Conn.
UNTITLED BILL OAKLEY/JOSH WEINSTEIN PROJECT (FOX) - Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein's ("The Simpsons") comedy project at FOX has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The workplace comedy, which comes from NBC Universal Television and Lorne Michaels' Broadway Video TV Productions, is described as a "Barney Miller" meets "NewsRadio" set at a police precinct in New York's Times Square that uses single- and multi-camera elements. Michaels and Broadway's JoAnn Alfano will executive produce the untitled project along with Oakley and Weinstein.
UNTITLED DAVE FLEBOTTE PROJECT (NBC, New!) - "Law & Order" creator Dick Wolf is getting into the comedy business as he's scored a pilot order from the Peacock for a new project about an old-school Italian family that owns a diner in the North End of Boston, where it caters to a combustible mix of longtime locals and the newly arrived yuppies. Dave Flebotte ("Will & Grace") created the comedy and will write the pilot script as well as executive produce with Wolf and Nena Rodrigue. In addition, TV veteran James Burrows has signed on to direct the pilot, which is set up at NBC Universal Television and Wolf Films.
UNTITLED LOUIS C.K. PROJECT (HBO) - Mike Royce ("Everybody Loves Raymond") has signed on as the showrunner of comedian Louis C.K.'s sitcom pilot for the pay channel, about a middle-class couple and their child. Gary Halvorson ("Committed") has also come aboard to direct the pilot, which is set up at HBO Independent Productions. Louis C.K. and his 3 Arts Entertainment manager Dave Becky also serve as executive producers.
WHAT ABOUT BRIAN? (ABC) - Raoul Bova ("Alien vs. Predator") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about a thirtysomething single guy surrounded by his married friends. Bova will reportedly play Angelo in the Touchstone Television-based project. The show's casting notice describes him as: "25-35. Nic's husband, he's younger, dark, almost ridiculously chiseled in face and physique, like a male model, which apparently he was not too long ago. Now in school studying psychology, Angelo is somewhat antagonistic/condescending towards Brian, who shows up at Nic's doorstep needing a place to stay after Karen locks him out. Though Angelo is out of town during Nic's CVS procedure, he flies back immediately upon learning that her pregnancy is compromised. Despite their differences in age, Angelo is clearly deeply in love with his wife and committed to the relationship." Amanda Detmer and Matthew Davis also star. Brothers Anthony and Joe Russo are set to direct the J.J. Abrams-produced pilot from a script by feature writer Dana Stevens ("City of Angels").
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters