LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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GIVING HOPE (New!) - Reality guru Mark Burnett ("Survivor," "The Apprentice") is developing a new project loosely inspired by the 1994-2003 CBS series "Touched by an Angel." "It's an unscripted show that will be about bringing hope to people," Burnett told The Hollywood Reporter. "It will be about people in Kansas who have lost their farm and helping get them back on their feet. We might profile people under a mountain of medical bills and finding ways to get them out from under it. That's what we'll be looking at -- providing hope and changing lives." "Angel" stars Roma Downey and Della Reese are said to be eyed as potential hosts for the series, which is expected to be pitched to the broadcast networks as early as next week.
NBC UNIVERSAL TELEVISION OVERALL/TALENT DEALS (New!) - NBC Universal Television has signed a handful of up-and-coming writers and producers to two-year, seven-figure overall deals at the studio. Among those scooped up: Jason Cahill (writer, "The Sopranos"); the duo of Russel Friend and Garrett Lerner (co-executive producers, "LAX"); and Jennifer Celotta (co-executive producer, "Malcolm in the Middle"). In addition, playwright-performer Julianne Grossman has pacted with the studio to develop a comedy series based on her one-woman show "From Bonkers to Botox." The dark comedy chronicles a young woman's three suicide attempts and as many hospitalizations in various psychiatric wards. Diana Stein will produce the project along with Grossman.
RESCUE ME (FX) - The cable channel has quietly announced the second season of the critically-acclaimed drama will premiere on Tuesday, June 21 at 10:00/9:00c. In addition, Lee Tergesen ("Oz") has been confirmed as a new recurring cast member while Diane Farr has been upgraded to series regular. As for specifics about the new season (highlight the following text to read), Leary told USA Today: "If last season was about sorrow and the grieving process, this season's probably more about salvation and redemption. But that doesn't mean it's necessarily better or happier." It's understood Leary's character will begin the season having transferred to a Staten Island firehouse (following the events of the season finale), where he's trying to stop drinking and find a way to get his children back.
UNTITLED GREG GIRALDO PROJECT (Comedy Central, New!) - "Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn" producers Ken Ober and Liz Stanton along with frequent guest Greg Giraldo are developing a pseudo-revival of the one-time Comedy Central mainstay. Production was completed last month on a pilot for the untitled project, which features Giraldo as host of a roundtable talk show (a la "Tough Crowd") as well as conducting man-on-the-street-style field segments. No other details were available about the project, one of four under consideration for the post-"The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" time period. The others being eyed: Giraldo's "Gone Hollywood," a satirical showbiz newsmagazine; and untitled talk shows from "The Man Show's" Adam Corolla and comedian D.L. Hughley.
WILL & GRACE (NBC) - The Peacock is expected to announce later this week it has officially renewed the veteran comedy for an eighth (and possibly) final season following lengthy renewal negotiations with the producers and cast. It's understood NBC will pay roughly $4 million per episode for a fresh batch of at least 24 episodes as well as a clip show (a la "Everybody Loves Raymond's" May 16 pre-finale "The Last Laugh" special) next season, down from its current license fee of about $5 million per episode. In addition, principal cast members Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Sean Hayes and Megan Mullally have all reportedly received one-year pay bumps to $600,000 per episode (up from their current estimated $400,000 per episode). The news comes in spite of rumblings the cast would have to take a pay cut in order to come under the expected reduced license fee. It's not clear how the show's producer, NBC Universal Television, will offset the extra cost on top of its $1 million per episode fee cut.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters and USA Today