LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BRITNEY & KEVIN: CHAOTIC (UPN) - The network has confirmed the show's air schedule following its one-hour premiere on Tuesday, May 17 at 9:00/8:00c. New half-hour installments will air on May 24, May 31 and June 7 after which the show will wrap with a one-hour finale on June 14 (all at 9:00/8:00c). In addition, MTV and/or VH1 is expected to encore each episode a week after its original run on UPN.
CAROL POTTER GETS A LIFE (ABC) - Michael McMillian ("What I Like About You") has been confirmed as a cast member on the project, about a middle-aged woman (Brenda Blethyn) who suddenly decides to make a change in her picture-perfect family life, gets divorced and gets a job. He'll play the woman's youngest child in the project, which comes from NBC Universal Television, Touchstone Television and Conaco Productions. Eugene Byrd, Erin Hershey Presley, Jenna Von Oy and Kevin Dunn also star.
CHAPPELLE'S SHOW (Comedy Central) - Entertainment Weekly reports that Dave Chappelle has apparently checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa. The news comes on the heels of last week's announcement that Comedy Central has indefinitely postponed the show's third season launch. The report indicates Chappelle flew from Newark, New Jersey to South Africa on April 28 for treatment, citing a source at the series. "We don't know where he is," Comedy Central spokesman Tony Fox said about the news. "We've heard about South Africa. We don't know. We haven't talked to Dave." In addition, EW notes that Chappelle has shot four to five episodes' worth of sketches for the new season, but none of its onstage introductions.
DEADWOOD (HBO) - Brent Sexton ("Radio") has joined the cast of the pay channel drama. He'll guest star in the show's final two episodes this season as Tom Nuttall's (Leon Rippy) new right-hand man after which he'll be upped to series regular for its expected third season.
DIRT SQUIRREL (MTV, New!) - David Arquette and Courteney Cox-Arquette's Coquette Productions has completed production on a pilot for the cable channel which features a mix of animated and live-action characters set against an animated background. The project stars Arquette as a crime-fighting superhero named Dirt Squirrel, who takes on neighborhood villains (which include Cox, Paul Reubens and Lukas Haas) with his own martial-arts style while spewing snappy one-liners. Jeff Braine and Brittany Finamore also star as skateboarder Merlin Ipswich (Jeff Braine) and "rebel grrrl" Jeanie Ipswich, who assist Dirt Squirrel via the crime-fighting squadron known as the League of Super Nuts.
ESPN ORIGINAL MOVIES (ESPN) - ESPN has confirmed launch dates for its two latest original movies, "Four Minutes" and "The Code Breakers." The latter project is set to bow on Saturday, December 10 at 9:00/8:00c (with a simultaneous airing on ESPNU, a college-sports cable network). Scott Glenn ("Training Day") stars as the Army's famed football coach Red Blaik who saw most of his football team (including his son) dismissed following the infamous 1951 cheating scandal at West Point. Production is set to begin shortly on said project in Toronto (the writer and director were not specified).
Meanwhile, "Four Minutes," which tracks Roger Bannister's breaking of the four-minute mile barrier, is set to launch in October (exact date TBA) on ESPN's sister channel ESPN2. British actor Jamie Maclachlan plays Bannister in the project with Christopher Plummer ("A Beautiful Mind") as track coach Archie Mason. Production began earlier this month on "Minutes" with Charles Beeson ("Second Sight") directing from a script by Sports Illustrated writer Frank Deford. Olympic documentarian Bud Greenspan is executive producing the project along with Gerald W. Abrams.
EUREKA (Sci Fi) - Maury Chaykin ("Being Julia") and Erica Cerra ("Man About Town") have both landed roles on the two-hour drama pilot, about a small town populated by the brightest minds in America. They'll play the sheriff and deputy sheriff respectively in the project, which also stars Colin Ferguson, Greg Germann, Salli Richardson-Wittfield, Joe Morton, Debrah Farentino and Jordan Hinson.
FREEBIRDS (FOX) - Josh Dean ("Purple Gas") has been revealed to be the comedy pilot's lead while and Erin Cahill ("Power Rangers: Time Force") has also been identified as a cast member. Said project, described as a partially scripted update of "The Graduate," stars Dean as Nate Sawborough, a former big Man on campus who returns to his small Midwestern hometown and finds himself in a situation he never imagined. Robert Roy Thomas ("Significant Others") created the series, which is set up at Fox 21 Productions.
FX ORIGINAL SERIES (FX) - The cable channel has confirmed the new Steven Bochco-produced drama series "Over There" will premiere on Friday, July 22 at 10:00/9:00c. The news marks FX's third series launch for this summer, where it will come on the heels of the debut of "30 Days" on June 15 and "Rescue Me's" second season launch on June 21. Two other originals - the comedies "Starved" and "It's Always Funny In Philadelphia" - are also expected to bow in August.
Meanwhile, FX has struck a deal with an exclusive sponsor for "Nip/Tuck's" third season premiere. The identity of said sponsor has yet to be revealed however it's believed to be a major movie studio. While a firm premiere date has yet to be finalized, "Nip/Tuck" will likely follow "Rescue Me's" 13-week run come September. The show will then run through December with newcomer "Thief" taking over in January and the presumed fifth season of "The Shield" in March of 2006. Said strategy is designed to give FX a year-round presence in original programming.
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the show's producer Touchstone Television. The pact, which includes an option for a third year, calls for Rhimes to continue in her showrunning duties on the hit midseason drama as well as potentially develop new projects for the studio.
HIDDEN PLACES (Hallmark, New!) - Sydney Penny ("All My Children"), Jason Gedrick ("Boomtown"), Tom Bosley ("Happy Days") and Barry Corbin ("One Tree Hill") are set to star in a new original movie for the Hallmark Channel. The Depression-era project centers on an Indiana widow and apple-orchard owner (Penny) who needs help making it through the next harvest, and assistance arrives in the form of a hobo (Gedrick). Yelena Lanskaya is directing from a script by Robert Tate Miller ("Secret Santa"). No air date timeframe was specified.
LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (NBC) - Paula Garces ("Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle") has scored a recurring role on the veteran "Law & Order" spin-off. She'll play Tech Vizcarrando on the series however it's not clear when her character's first appearance will be.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Muse Watson ("Walker, Texas Ranger") has been confirmed as a cast member on the upcoming drama series. He apparently plays a legendary criminal named Charles Westmoreland who Michael (Wentworth Miller) tracks down for help with the break. Meanwhile, Peter Stormare's character has been confirmed as John Abruzzi, a former mob boss. Amaury Nolasco, Robin Tunney, Sarah Wayne Callies, Stacey Keech, Dominic Purcell and Marshall Allman also star in the project, which is expected to premiere this fall on FOX.
VERONICA MARS (UPN) - Erica Gimpel, who guest starred this past season as Wallace's (Percy Daggs III) mother, has signed a deal to continue recurring on the show's second season this fall. No other details about said pact were specified.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters