LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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ABC FAMILY ORIGINAL MOVIES (ABC Family, New!) - The cable channel has provided details for three of its upcoming originals, all of which are set to air in early 2006. January will see the premiere of "If Only," about a British man who gets a second chance after his girlfriend is killed in a taxi crash before his eyes following a lovers' spat. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Paul Nicholls and Tom Wilkinson star. Next up in March is "Fallen," about an 18-year-old boy who hits his birthday and realizes he's a fallen angel. No casting information has been released however. Finally there's Lacey Chabert and Wendie Malick in "Same As It Ever Was" (air date TBA), about a self-absorbed college student who must raise her stepsister, following the death of her father and stepmother.
ALIAS (ABC) - Co-executive producers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec have inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television, the show's producer. The pact calls for the pair to continue in their duties as co-executive producers of "Alias" over the course of the pact as well as develop new projects for the studio.
AMBULANCE GIRL (Lifetime) - The Kathy Bates-led telefilm is set to premiere on Monday, September 12 at 9:00/8:00c. The docudrama tracks the true story of how former food writer Jane Stern (played by Bates) conquered clinical depression after becoming a paramedic.
THE BOYS (CBS, New!) - Feature director Mark Waters ("Mean Girls") and writer Lona Williams ("Drop Dead Gorgeous") have scored a put pilot order from the Eye for a new dramedy about three 40-year-old men who used to be great childhood buddies that find their paths crossing once again when their respective children end up in the same elementary school. Paramount Network Television is behind the project, which Waters and Williams will executive produce with the former directing (schedule permitting) and the latter writing the pilot script. No other details were specified.
THE CLOSER/INTO THE WEST (TNT) - "The Closer's" July 11 installment drew 5.0 million viewers, up nearly 32% from its previous week's numbers (3.8 million). Said installment tied USA's "Monk" for the second most-watched program on cable last week, falling short of only ESPN's "Home Run Derby" coverage on July 11 (6.3 million). Meanwhile, the penultimate installment of "Into the West" drew 3.7 million viewers on July 15, making it the least-watched episode of the mini-series to date.
COLD CASE (CBS) - TNT's off-network run of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama is set to begin on Tuesday, September 27 at 11:00/10:00c. Episodes will run just once a week on the network (a la "Without a Trace") before switching to a five-night-a-week run in the fall of 2007.
THE CONTENDER (NBC) - ESPN is understood to be close to picking up the short-lived boxing competition, which struggled on Sunday nights for NBC earlier this year. No details however were given other than a formal announcement is expected soon.
DANCING WITH THE STARS (ABC) - Finalist John O'Hurley has inked a talent holding deal with GRB Entertainment ("The Princes of Malibu") to star in an unscripted series focusing on the actor. It's understood GRB plans to begin pitching the series, which will track O'Hurley's exploits a la "Malibu," in the next few weeks. Brant Pinvidic will create the series with O'Hurley as well as executive produce. Separately, Pinvidic and GRB have quietly landed a pilot commitment from FOX for a top-secret project, full details of which (obviously) are being kept under wraps.
GROUNDED FOR LIFE (The WB) - ABC Family's off-network run of the comedy will reportedly launch on Monday, September 26. Back-to-back episodes are expected to air weekdays beginning at 4:00/3:00c.
THE KING OF QUEENS (CBS) - Co-star Leah Remini has scored a significant pay raise for her duties on the show's upcoming eighth season. It's understood she'll take home at least $400,000 per episode, on par with fellow star Kevin James's $500,000 per episode salary (which includes his producing duties on the show). Both figures are said to be among the top for comedy actors now that "Friends," "Frasier" and "Everybody Loves Raymond" have left the air.
MEDIUM (NBC) - Creator/executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron has scored a two-year overall deal with Paramount Network Television. The pact will keep the veteran writer/producer at the studio for the length of the deal as well as give him the option to develop new projects.
MINDING THE STORE (TBS) - Only 1.4 million viewers tuned into the one-hour premiere of the Pauly Shore-led reality series. Said numbers were off more than 26% from the lackluster second season launch of "The Real Gilligan's Island" earlier this summer.
MURDER IN THE HAMPTONS (Lifetime) - 4.81 million viewers on average tuned into the premiere of the Lifetime original on July 11, making it the fourth most-watched program on cable last week.
NIP/TUCK (FX) - The cable channel has confirmed the show's third season will bow on Tuesday, September 20. It's understood the series will take over the 10:00/9:00c hour for "Rescue Me," which will wrap its second season the previous week.
THE O.C. (FOX) - Eric Mabius ("Eyes") has booked a recurring role on the show's upcoming third season. He'll play the new dean of discipline at the Harbor School who's brought in to calm concerns over student safety and butts heads with Marissa (Mischa Barton), Ryan (Benjamin McKenzie), Seth (Adam Brody) and Summer (Rachel Bilson). No other details, such as when his first appearance will be, were specified.
THE SHIELD (FX) - Sony Pictures Television has sold repeats of the veteran cable drama to all 26 of the Tribune Broadcasting-owned local stations across the country. The two-year pact, which begins in the fall of 2006 and is limited to weekend plays only, comes on the heels of Sony's weekday sale to Spike TV (read the story). That four-year pact, which begins in March of 2006, is reportedly valued in the low- to mid-six figures. As for the Tribune sale, Sony will hold back seven minutes of ad time for national ad sales in lieu of cash from the stations. And while neither Spike nor Tribune is expected to air the series earlier than 10:00/9:00c, some editing (at least in Tribune's case) is expected to be made to the episodes to meet broadcast standards.
TOMMY LEE GOES TO COLLEGE (NBC) - VH1's encore run of the unscripted series is set to begin on Friday, August 19 at 10:00/9:00c, just three days after its two-episode premiere on the Peacock. Back-to-back episodes will run that Friday as a lead in to the premiere of "Gene Simmons' Rock School" at 11:00/10:00c. "Rock School" will then settle into the Friday, 10:30/9:30c slot the following week.
WILL & GRACE (NBC) - Lifetime's off-network run of the veteran Peacock comedy is set to begin on Monday, September 19. It's understood episodes will run weekdays at 11:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. with additional airings on Mondays at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday at 11:30 p.m., and Saturdays at noon and 12:30 p.m. (all times ET/PT).
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters