LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES/LOST (ABC) - The Alphabet's two major success stories this season are set to be the focus of their own one-hour "introductory guides." Both specials are designed to help new viewers catch up on each series' sometimes dense mythology as well as act as a refresher course for regular fans. The "Lost" special, set to air on Wednesday, April 27 at 8:00/7:00c (the show's regular time period), will focus on the characters of Jack (Matthew Fox), Kate (Evangeline Lilly), Locke (Terry O'Quinn), Sawyer (Josh Holloway) and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) and retell their respective backstories in a linear fashion. It's unclear however how the clips will be introduced and if the hour will include any "behind-the-scenes"-type footage.
As for the "Housewives" special, said installment will feature the Mary Alice character (Brenda Strong) as she gives a tour of Wisteria Lane and its residents. It's understood the special will air at 8:00/7:00c as a lead-in to the show's season finale (tentatively scheduled for May 22). The Metropolitan/Hodder Group is producing the "Lost" hour while Lynne Lussier Productions is behind the "Housewives" special, both which are likely to be included on the upcoming DVD sets of their respective series.
DOG TOWN LAWYERS (The WB) - Amy Aquino ("Crossing Jordan") has booked a guest role on the drama pilot, about the relationship between a young prodigy lawyer (Jay Baruchel) and his mentor, a jaded defense attorney (Don Johnson) who has fallen from the big leagues. She'll play Judge McLaughlin in the Warner Bros. Television/Bruckheimer Television-based project, which is executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, Jonathan Shapiro and Jonathan Littman.
EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (UPN) - Reggie Hudlin ("Serving Sara," "The Boondocks") has been tapped to direct the Chris Rock-produced comedy pilot, a "Wonder Years"-esque take on the world of an eldest child living in a strict home and attending a predominantly white school in 1982. He'll direct the Paramount Network Television-based project from a script by Rock and Ali LeRoi, who are also executive producing alongside 3 Arts Entertainment's Michael Rotenberg and Dave Becky.
FILMORE MIDDLE (NBC) - Justin Bartha ("National Treasure") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about disillusioned teachers at a rundown public school. Bartha's involvement lifts the cast-contingency off the pilot's production. Matt Tarses ("Scrubs") created the NBC Universal Television-based project, with Marc Buckland attached to direct.
HITCHED (A.K.A. UNTITLED JEFFREY LIEBER PROJECT) (FOX) - Tara Reid ("Scrubs") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, which now features the title "Hitched." The Spelling Television-based project revolves around a brother (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and sister (Leslie Bibb) who manage a one-stop-shop Las Vegas wedding emporium. Reid, who has signed a new talent deal with the network in addition to her "Hitched" duties, will play a young woman who was involved with the father of the siblings and thus becomes their unwanted business partner. FOX had previously been developing a comedy series for Reid, about a bad girl who tries to rehabilitate her image for the sake of her family and friends, with "American Dreams" creator Jonathan Prince. As for "Hitched," the pilot also stars Megalyn Echikunwoke and Dagmara Dominczyk with Jeffrey Lieber, Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent and Warren Littlefield executive producing.
I MARRIED A PRINCESS (Lifetime) - The reality series, about the lives of real-life princess and actress Catherine Oxenberg, her Hollywood husband Casper Van Dien, and their five kids, is set to premiere Monday, April 18 at 8:00/7:00c with back-to-back half-hour episodes.
MINDY & BRENDA (The WB) - Noureen DeWulf ("West Bank Story") has been cast as Mindy in the comedy pilot, about two best friends in New York (DeWulf, Virginia Williams) who look at the world differently. Her character is described in the casting notice as: "23-25, of Indian descent. Mindy is a post-college, premarriage, sharing a Brooklyn apartment with her best friend, Brenda. Mindy is wildy funny, outspoken, unique, yet adorable, with her own brand of logic and plays by her own rules." Simon Rex and Josh Janowicz also star in the Carsey-Warner/Martin-Stein Co.-based project, which comes from creators Mindy Kaling & Brenda Withers and executive producers Marcy Carsey, Tom Werner, Steve Martin and Joan Stein.
THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE (NBC, New!) - The Peacock has snatched up the rights to the four-hour Hallmark Entertainment-produced mini-series, which stars Steve Guttenberg, Peter Weller, Rutger Hauer, Bryan Brown and Adam Baldwin. The project was originally targeted for the Hallmark Channel itself, however NBC - hoping to find another tentpole mini-series event - snagged the Robert Halmi-produced adaptation for roughly $20 million. "Adventure" then will air at some point during the 2005-06 season, well before the big-budget Wolfgang Petersen-directed feature (set to hit theatres in May 2006). Here's how Hallmark's press materials describe the project: "The blockbuster phenomenon now becomes a precedent-setting new miniseries as Hallmark Entertainment raises the stakes�and the fear factor�in a hair-raising adaptation of Paul Gallico�s bestselling passage into unfathomable suspense. Welcome aboard the majestic S.S. Poseidon�a virtual floating city�as it departs from Athens on a month-long cruise. Among the 2,500 hundred passengers is Mike Rogo (Adam Baldwin, Full Metal Jacket), undercover agent for Homeland Security. Among the crew of 1,200 is Kasim Badawi, a terrorist conspiring to send an explosive message to the world. Acting on word of the impending danger, the Poseidon pushes its engine at full speed toward the nearest port, slicing through the churning waters of an escalating storm and directly into unavoidable catastrophe. Only minutes into the new year, the bomb detonates, leaving the shredded hull vulnerable to the roiling seas pouring into the wounded Poseidon. The 136,000-ton beast capsizes, leaving a chosen few underwater and terrified for their lives."
"It�s hell upside down as the disparate survivors make their way up�to the bottom of the S.S. Poseidon: Richard Clarke (Steve Guttenberg, Three Men and a Baby), a husband and father torn between a mistress he must save and the family he can�t live without; European pop star Aimee Anderson (Tinarie Van Wyk, Backstage), embarking on an American career and a new Hollywood marriage; Belle Rosen (Sylvia Syms, What a Girl Wants), a widow enduring in the name of her beloved late husband; and Rogo and his reviled prisoner Badawi, handcuffed together in a personal war of justice, sacrifice, and revenge. Through the twisted metal inferno of the inverted ship, they must outlast the inevitable as the Poseidon sinks deeper and deeper into darkness. From this nightmarish maze emerges a drama of human spirit and resilience, of life-and-death emotions and psychological terrors, and of the unyielding strength of the human will to survive against all odds. With an all-star cast that also includes Emmy and Golden Globe nominee Bryan Brown (The Thorn Birds), Golden Globe winner Rutger Hauer (Salem�s Lot), C. Thomas Howell (Gods and Generals), and Oscar nominee Peter Weller (Robocop), The Poseidon Adventure is an ingenious mix of breathtaking special effects, heart-pounding human drama, and alarming suspense surpassing all that has come before for sheer epic adventure�level by terrifying level."
UNTITLED PETER DINKLAGE PROJECT (ABC) - Dave Foley ("NewsRadio") has joined the cast of the Peter Dinklage-led comedy pilot, where he'll play unconventional teacher Dinklage's principal. Tina Majorino and Busy Philipps also star in the project, which comes from creator Don Todd, Touchstone Television and Stu Bloomberg's Cabloom! banner.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters