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!
BEST LAID PLANS (The WB) - French Stewart ("3rd Rock from the Sun") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a woman (Jane Leeves) who struggles when her daughter meets her anonymous-sperm-donor father. Stewart will play the metrosexual friend and co-worker of Leeves's character in the 20th Century Fox Television/Imagine Television-based project, which comes from executive producers Jeff Kleeman, Michael Saltzman, Brian Grazer and David Nevins. In addition, the pilot's film date has been pushed back to Friday, April 29 at Fox Studios.
BLUE SKIES (NBC) - Nicole Dalton ("Strangers with Candy") has been cast in an unspecified role in the comedy pilot, about a 27-year-old former golden child (Anna Faris) who finds herself becoming the reluctant enabler to her crazy family. Missi Pyle, Jay Paulson and Michael McKean also star in the NBC Universal Television-based project, which was created by Jhoni Marchinko.
BRIAR & GRAVES (FOX) - A recently discovered casting notice has detailed the various roles in the drama pilot, about a hard-living priest (Charles Mesure) who partners with a female doctor (Elisabeth Rohm) to investigate unexplained religious phenomena. As previously noted, Mesure plays Father Malachi Briar: "30-40. Handsome in a kind of used-up way, like he's packed a dozen lifetimes of boozing, brawling and Marlboros into his short 33 year tenure here on earth, a bit weary and cynical, Briar is an excommunicated Catholic priest who was involved in an exorcism that went bad. Impassioned, knowledgeable, fearless, devoted to the fight between Good and Evil (which to him comes down to God and the Devil), Briar is happy to help Laurie Graves with her brother, Rick, whom Briar instantly recognizes as being in the throes of possession. Nonjudgmental but appreciative of Laurie's fact-based deductions (and her ties with Police Captain Marco Settembrini), Briar ultimately can do nothing for Rick, but as he moves on to another case, he clearly welcomes Laurie's input."
Rohm then is set as Dr. Laurie Graves: "28-34. A surgeon in Boston, Laurie is a woman of science, who later opens her mind to religious possibilities. Respected and liked at work, Laurie is very concerned about her artist brother Rick, who recently suffered the loss of his wife and infant son in a car accident while he was driving; Rick appears to be suffering a mental breakdown with bizarre religious overtones or at least, that's the way it seems to Laurie. Believing that it might placate Rick's tortured request for a priest, Laurie contacts to the maverick Father Malachi Briar, hoping a priest might get Rick to calm down and receive appropriate medical treatment. Aghast at the shivering, possibly dangerous wreck her brother has become, Laurie quickly grows uncomfortable with Briar's instant assessment of demonic possession. However, as Rick's tragic fate plays out, Laurie ever so slightly begins to concede that there may be more to this earth than she previously gave credit for - and she's willing to partner up with Briar as the scientific rock of reason to his stalwart belief in God and the Devil."
As for its supporting roles, Colm Meaney plays Alister McSweeney - "54. A wry-humored, compassionate priest, Alister stops Laurie after she's just unsuccessfully sought an exorcist from a group of Catholic diocese priests, and tells her he knows the man for her job. Alister introduces Laurie to the unlikely priest Father Malachi Briar, his good friend whom he's stood by even through a murder charge in the aftermath of an exorcism gone bad. Like Briar, Alister believes in the on-going fight between God and the Devil, and he clearly believes in Malachi's talent. He works with him on ravelling the mystery of Rick's possession - while Dondre Whitfield's role is that of Jefferson Sims - "30. An African-American serologist (a pathologist who analyzes blood and body fluids), Jefferson is a colleague and friend of Laurie's who works with her at the Mass General Hospital. A good-natured, easy-going person who clearly cares about Laurie (but not in a romantic way), Jefferson analyzes the blood found at her brother Rick's house, the first sample of which is bovine. However, as Rick's condition deteriorates, Jefferson's analyses become unnerving and ultimately frightening."
Finally, Graham Beckel plays Captain Marco Settembrini - "50. All beer belly and bluster, Marco's a Boston police captain who's wrapped around Laurie's finger since she saved his life with quadruple bypass surgery. A blue collar guy, Marco's happy to help Laurie find her missing brother and doesn't seem to mind when she orders him to detain, not arrest, Rick. Marco's not always thrilled to hear from Laurie, particularly when she calls him at home in the middle of the night, but he helps her however he can." - and Angel Desai is set as Saralee Ting - "28, Asian American. Saralee is a neurological radiologist and a good friend of Laurie's. Trying to help Laurie with her concern about her brother Rick, Saralee takes another look at Rick's MRI from the accident two years ago which took the lives of his wife and baby. As pragmatic as Laurie, but also compassionate, Saralee recommends getting Rick "back in the tube" so they can see if the encephalomalacia trauma has spread." Marty Adelstein, Dawn Parouse, Paul Scheuring are the executive producers.
FREDDIE (ABC) - Chloe Suazo (HBO's "The Comeback") has joined the cast of the Freddie Prinze Jr.-led comedy pilot, about a successful single guy (Prinze) who's forced to move back in with women who raised him. It's believed she'll play Zoey in the project, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and Mohawk Productions. Her character is detailed in the casting notice as: "13. With Dark Hair. She is Freddie's niece and Sofia's [Jacqueline Obradors] daughter, Zoey is a bright, attractive, who is constantly frustrated by her mother's attempts to keep her away from revealing clothes, mindless pop culture and junk food. She loves Freddie because he's always been the cool uncle who takes her side. At a turning point in her life since her parents' divorce, Zoey is starting at a new school, but along with the difficulties comes an opportunity to reinvent herself." Brian Austin Green also stars in the pilot, which is executive produced by Prinze, Conrad Jackson, Bruce Helford, Bruce Rasmussen and Deborah Oppenheimer. Filming on the pilot was completed this past Sunday at Warner Bros. Studios, five days later than previously indicated.
INCONCEIVABLE (NBC) - Elizabeth Janas ("Moonlight Mile") has booked a potentially recurring role on the drama pilot, about a group of doctors, psychologists and lawyers who work for a fertility clinic. She'll play a young surrogate mother who is distraught after giving birth in the Touchstone Television/Tollin-Robbins Productions-based project, which also stars Ming-Na, Jonathan Cake, David Norona, Joelle Carter and Kevin Alejandro. Alfre Woodard is also featured in a guest role in the pilot, which comes from executive producers Marco Pennette, Oliver Goldstick, Mike Tollin and Brian Robbins.
THE NIGHT STALKER (ABC) - Eric Jungman ("Not Another Teen Movie") has joined the cast of the Frank Spotnitz-produced update of the cult classic 1970s series, about a reporter named Carl Kolchak (Stuart Townsend) who had a tendency to uncover mysteries involving vampires, serial killers and other freakish occurrences. He'll reportedly play Jain McManus, who's described in the casting notice as: "20-23, male. A Genius type that accelerated through school and is now an investigative photographer for the Beacon." Daniel Sackheim is directing the Touchstone Television-based project from a script by Spotnitz. Gabrielle Union also stars.
SOUTH BEACH (UPN) - Chris Johnson ("Cursed") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about three young adults whose dreams and aspirations lead them to Miami. No details were given about Johnson's role in the project, which also stars Vanessa L. Williams, Sara Foster and Marcus Coloma. Philip Levens, Jennifer Lopez, Tony Krantz, Simon Fields and Matt Cirulnick are the executive producers of the pilot, which is set up at Nuyorican Productions, Flame Television and Paramount Network Television.
THE STUDIO (UPN) - Mike Erwin ("Jack & Bobby") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of twentysomething assistants with big dreams working on a Hollywood studio backlot. It's believed Erwin will play Tommy Lachance, the male lead in the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Silver Pictures. His character is described in the casting notice as: "Early 20s. Carelessly handsome, driven, way in debt, and scrambling to keep his dream of being a filmmaker alive, Tommy is Heather's [Kelly Overton] best friend since childhood. He has no idea that she's got deeper feelings for him. And when she lets him know, he discovers that he feels the same. Aside from this unexpected development, Tommy is guilt-ridden over having his father work extra shifts to help support him, and hates his job as a bike messenger on a studio lot. But like Heather, he has staying power, and is not yet ready to give up." Gina Gershon and Jessica Lucas also star in the pilot, which comes from executive producers Dana Baratta, Joel Silver, Jennifer Gwartz and Danielle Stokdyk.
THEY WORE BLUE (A&E, New!) - The cable channel is developing a new original movie about the two-week hunt for a suspected gunman in the 2003 killing of Burbank, California police officer Matthew Pavelka. Adam Friedman's Traveling Light Media is behind the project, which will track the shootout that resulted in the death of Pavelka all the way through the arrest of suspected gunman David Garcia on Thanksgiving Day in Mexico. Ken Sanzel ("The Replacement Killers") has been tapped to write the script to the telefilm, one of several upcoming projects A&E is expected to announce during its upfront presentation at Rockefeller Center in New York on Thursday. More details about "Blue" are also expected to be revealed on said date.
THE TONY DANZA SHOW (Syndication) - Buena Vista Television has scored several upgrades and new clearances for the talk show, which returns for its second season this fall. Among the upgrades are in the Boston market, where it's moving from 2:05 a.m. on ABC affiliate WCVB to noon on the Fox owned-and-operated WFXT in the fall, while CBS affiliate WGCL in Atlanta has re-upped the series in its current 10 a.m. slot. The most significant news however is the show's clearance in the Washington D.C. market, where it will air on the Fox owned-and-operated station WTTG starting in the fall. "Danza" had previously not aired in D.C., the nation's eighth largest market. Overall, "Danza" has been cleared in more than 120 markets for the 2005-06 season, reaching over 90% of the U.S.
WINGWOMAN (UPN) - Holly Robinson Peete ("Like Family") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a single woman (Shannen Doherty) who helps her male clients find their soulmates. She'll play the boss of Doherty's character in the project, which comes from creator Andrew Secunda, who executive produces along with Adam Chase, Warren Littlefield, Mark Burg and Oren Koules. The pilot is set up at the Littlefield Co., Chase Television, Evolution Entertainment and Paramount Network Television. Reagan Gomez-Preston and Ion Overman also star.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters and Audiences Unlimited