LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE CLOSER/WANTED (TNT) - A solid 3.7 million viewers tuned into the launch of TNT's latest original series "Wanted" on Sunday, including a 1.4 rating/4 share among adults 18-49. Nevertheless, said debut fell short of a new episode of "The Dead Zone" on USA in the 10:00/9:00c hour, which hit a season high 3.9 million viewers (1.6/5 among adults 18-49). "Wanted" however was the top cable draw among men (both 18-49 and 25-54) on the night. As for "The Closer," the show's July 25 installment drew a stellar 5.2 million viewers, once again making it the top cable draw for the week.
ER (NBC) - Co-star Sherry Stringfield has opted not to return for the show's 12th season, marking her second departure from the veteran medical drama. In a statement released to the press, Stringfield said: "I am extremely grateful for the time I spent on 'ER.' It is a wonderful show, and there are so many people I will miss. But I'm ready for new roles and new challenges." Stringfield was set to appear in only a handful of the show's episodes this season. No mention was made about how her character will be written out of the series.
HEAD CASES (FOX) - Rhea Seehorn ("I'm With Her") is the latest new addition to the drama series, about an odd-couple pairing of lawyers (Chris O'Donnell and Adam Goldberg). She'll play Nicole, the former assistant to O'Donnell's character who he recruits to join his new practice.
JOEY (NBC) - The "Friends" spin-off is set to add a new regular when its second season launches next month. The casting notice details the character, Zack, as: "Early-mid 30's. An aspiring actor who makes up for whatever he lacks in talent with ambition and drive. He's convinced he's destined for great things and is constantly planning new ways to further his career. But he's not slick or cutthroat enough, more of a dreamer who believes in himself and is relentlessly optimistic, even when he shouldn't be. Zach is impressed by Joey's talent and success and is certain that together they will take over Hollywood. Joey agrees. They are wrong."
LAGUNA BEACH: THE REAL ORANGE COUNTY (MTV) - Season two of the popular docu-reality series opened to 3.6 million viewers, up a whopping 50% from its debut last year (2.4 million on 9/28/04). Overall, "Laguna" tied the premiere of Lifetime's "Beach Girls" to become the sixth most-watched cable series last week.
THE O.C. (FOX) - Dave Bartis and Doug Liman's Hypnotic banner ("Mr. & Mrs. Smith") has inked a two-year, first-look development deal with NBC Universal Television. The pact gives the Peacock-based studio first crack at any of the company's TV projects. Hypnotic had already been set up at Universal on the film side in a non-exclusive deal (with its TV operations at Warner Bros. Television). Bartis and Liman currently serve as executive consults on FOX's "The O.C.," the pilot to which was directed by Liman and co-produced by the duo.
OPRAH WINFREY PRESENTS: PARADISE (ABC) - Salma Hayek ("After the Sunset") has been tapped to star in the Oprah Winfrey-produced mini-series, based on Toni Morrison's book of the same name. No details were given about which character she'll be playing the project, which Darnell Martin ("Oprah Winfrey Presents: Their Eyes Were Watching God") is adapting and plans to direct.
OUR HOUSE (Hallmark, New!) - Doris Roberts ("Everybody Loves Raymond") and Judy Reyes ("Scrubs") are set to topline a new upcoming original movie at the cable channel. The project centers on a lonely Beverly Hills socialite (Roberts) who opens up her mansion to homeless people after one (Reyes) saves her life. Production is set to begin today on the telefilm, which is being eyed for a May 2006 debut.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Creator/executive producer Paul Scheuring has inked a massive, three-year, seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact will reportedly keep the writer/producer on the 20th-based "Break" for the length of the deal, as well as allow him to develop new projects for the studio. Brett Ratner, Matt Olmstead, Marty Adelstein and Dawn Parouse also serve as executive producers on the series, which bows on Monday, August 29.
ROCK STAR: INXS (CBS) - In addition to its recent scheduling makeover (read the story), CBS has confirmed the talent search will wrap on Tuesday, September 20 - a full two weeks before its previously targeted end date. It's not clear however how CBS and producer Mark Burnett plan to shave six installments from its initial 38-episode order. As for the VH1 deal, industry insiders indicate the cable channel paid no money for the "Rock Star" episodes with CBS simply using them as free advertising for its Tuesday and Wednesday editions.
SITUATION: COMEDY (Bravo) - The sitcom search's two-hour debut was seen by a miniscule 217,000 viewers last Tuesday. Said number was off considerably from Bravo's most-recent Tuesday launches, including season three of "Project Greenlight" (311,000) and season two of "Blow Out" (661,000).
SONS & DAUGHTERS (ABC) - Amanda Walsh ("These Girls") has been added to the cast of the midseason comedy. She'll take over for Corri English in the role of Jenna, a single mother who is the younger stepsister of Fred Goss' and Alison Quinn's characters. No reason was given for English's exit from the project, however her involvement in "Sons" maybe have been in second position to her duties on the WB's midseason drama "The Bedford Diaries."
SURFACE (NBC) - Ian Anthony Dale ("Mr. 3000") has joined the cast of the freshman drama, which bows on Monday nights this fall. He'll play Davis Lee, a Pentagon employee, on the series. It's not clear when his first appearance will be.
THE TYRA BANKS SHOW (Syndication) - John Redmann ("The Tony Danza Show") has joined the freshman syndicated offering as an executive producer. He'll serve alongside the current executive producing staff of host Banks, Benny Medina and Kerrie Moriarity. "Tyra Banks," which bows on Monday, September 12, is produced by Telepictures Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.
USA ORIGINAL SERIES (USA) - "The Dead Zone" hit a season high of 3.9 million viewers on Sunday with a strong 1.6 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 and a 1.8/5 among adults 25-54. Said numbers were good enough to beat the much-hyped premiere of "Wanted" on TNT in the 10:00/9:00c hour. Lead-in "The 4,400" also fared well, drawing 3.5 million viewers and a 1.4/4 in adults 18-49. And Friday mainstay "Monk" continued to impress, averaging 4.7 million viewers for its July 29 episode.
WEEKENDS AT THE D.L. (Comedy Central) - The show averaged a modest 665,000 viewers for its initial Friday, Saturday and Sunday broadcasts this past weekend.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters