LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP - Week two of Showtime's new comedy "Fat Actress" saw ratings plummet for its second outing with just 285,000 viewers tuning in. Said numbers were down nearly 70% from its premiere (924,000) and far short of recent installments of fellow Showtime series "The L Word" and "Huff." As for HBO, the second week of "Deadwood's" new season saw significant growth from its premiere installment (2.79 million) with 3.41 million viewers tuning in, a 22% spurt. Meanwhile on the basic cable networks, the season finale of MTV's "The Real World" closed to 3.2 million viewers last week while newcomer "PoweR Girls" opened to 1.2 million viewers this past Thursday. And on Comedy Central, the season and series premieres of "South Park" and "The Hollow Men" saw 3.0 million and 1.1 million tuning in respectively.
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC) - Leslie Hope ("24") and Jasmine Jessica Anthony ("Catch Me If You Can") are the latest to score roles in the pilot, a political drama about the nation's first female president (Geena Davis). Hope, who's role is listed as recurring, will play the incoming president's attorney general, a character that was originally envisioned as being played by a man. Anthony then is set as Amy Allen, one of the president's three children. Her character is listed in the casting notice as: "Mackenzie [Davis] and Rod's [Kyle Secor] youngest child, this precociously mature 6 year old Caucasian girl is very close to her mother, and frets about the implications of her mother's new position. Already a talented pianist, Amy takes things a little too seriously for a child of her age, and is always thinking of others rather than herself." Donald Sutherland, Julie Ann Emery, Ever Carradine, Caitlin Wachs and Harry J. Lennix also star in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television and executive producers Rod Lurie and Marc Frydman.
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR (FOX) - Chi McBride ("Boston Public") is the latest to join the cast of the drama pilot, about a team that tracks serial killers. He'll play a lieutenant on the Regency Television-based project, which also stars Marguerite Moreau and Johnny Messner. Russel Friend, Garrett Lerner and Josh Berman are the executive producers.
DIRTBAGS (FOX) - Melissa Joan Hart ("Sabrina, the Teenage Witch") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about a group of twentysomething friends in a blue-collar suburb of Boston, some of whom have never left and others who have ventured out and returned. She'll play Kate in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television, executive producer Will Gluck ("Method & Red") and creators Matt Boren & Doug Segal.
THE PRINCE (The WB) - Newcomer Chris Egan has booked the lead role in the drama pilot, about a rich New York family and the relationship between the father and the younger son following the older son's death. He'll play Zach, said younger son in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television, Berlanti-Liddell Productions and Fort Hill Productions. Also joining the cast are Amber Heard ("Friday Night Lights") as Serena and Noel Fisher ("Huff") as Triscuit. No other character details were available about the project, which also stars Tim Matheson. Matt LeBlanc, Jesse Wigutow, John Goldstone, Greg Berlanti and Mickey Liddell are the executive producers.
RED AND BLUE (ABC) - Writer/producers Dan Staley and Rob Long have inked a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the duo to develop new projects for the studio, including the recently picked-up pilot "Red and Blue." Said project, about a conservative grandfather and a liberal father who disagree about how to raise the next generation, is also executive produced with Shady Acres' Tom Shadyac and Michael Bostick. Bruce Ferber ("Home Improvement") created the series, and is expected to stay with the show in some unspecified capacity.
THE WEST WING (NBC) - The veteran political drama has reportedly been picked up for a seventh season, as it's understood NBC has picked up its option for 22 more episodes of the series. An official announcement is expected as early as tomorrow, when NBC Entertainment topper Kevin Reilly briefs advertisers on its fall development. As for specifics, industry insiders say the renewal comes with a reduced $3 million per episode license fee, literally half of its previous $6 million per episode pact. Nevertheless, said fee is again likely to be tied to its ratings, meaning should its numbers improve next season, NBC's fee for the show will go up. No details however were available about which cast members will be retained for the new season, although Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, John Spencer and Bradley Whitford are all under contract through the 2005-06 season. Warner Bros. Television and John Wells Productions indicated earlier this season that a cast shakeup was possible, especially considering the show's focus on a showdown between Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda's characters for the post-Bartlet presidency.
UNTITLED PETER DINKLAGE PROJECT (ABC) - Tina Majorino ("Napoleon Dynamite") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about an unconventional teacher played by Peter Dinklage. No details were available about her character in the project, which comes from creator Don Todd, Touchstone Television and Stu Bloomberg's Cabloom! banner. Busy Philipps also stars.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters