LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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CRUMBS (ABC)/INCONCEIVABLE (NBC) - Marco Pennette, the co-creator/executive producer of both 2005-06 season newcomers, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the writer/producer to continue his producing duties on both series (which are co-produced by Touchstone and Tollin/Robbins Productions) as well as develop new projects for the studio.
GRACE (TNT) - The cable channel has greenlighted production on the drama pilot, which comes from executive producers Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent and Nancy Miller ("C.S.I.: Miami"). Here's how TNT's press materials describe the project - which was originally announced back in March (read the story) - "A female cop and 20-year veteran crashes her vehicle into another car on her way home from a particularly grueling day, fatally wounding the driver of the other car. After screaming to Heaven not to let the man die, an angel comes to her and erases the event, on the one condition that she change her life and her embittered attitude towards others. She agrees, and this unique series follows her long and bumpy road to redemption, with the angel sticking around to keep her on track."
JOEY (NBC) - Miguel A. Nunez Jr. ("Juwanna Mann") has joined the cast of the "Friends" spin-off. He'll play the previously mentioned Zack character, who's described in the casting notice 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." Nunez's casting is one of many changes in store for the series, which returns for its second season next month: Jon Pollack ("Just Shoot Me") has joined the showrunning team of Kevin Bright and Scott Silveri; Jennifer Coolidge, who plays the agent of Matt LeBlanc's character Joey, has been upped to series regular; the show's old apartment set will be scrapped in favor of a new house Joey buys after scoring the lead role in a major motion picture; and Joey's sister (Drea De Matteo) will get a job at Bobbie's (Coolidge) office. As for Paulo Costanzo, no details were given about his character's fate.
THE MIKES (FX, New!) - Writer/producers Gregg Kavet and Andy Robin ("Seinfeld," "The Michael Richards Show") have booked a pilot order from FX for a new comedy about two hard-luck families living next door to each other in the California desert who blame each other for their economic, social and sexual problems. Casting is set to begin shortly on the project with shooting set to begin in Los Angeles this fall. No other details were specified.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - After months of various rumors, the pay channel officially extended the show's sixth season to a whopping (for HBO anyway) 20 episodes. In addition, much like "Sex and the City's" final season, the series will split its run in half with the first 12 beginning in March 2006 and the back eight bowing in January 2007. Previously, HBO and creator/executive producer David Chase had only planned shooting 10 installments with the number being upped to 12 in recent weeks. It's not clear however if the new eight-episode extension is covered by the actors' contracts current episode rate or if they will have to be renegotiated.
UNTITLED DAVID E. KELLEY PROJECT (New!) - Prolific writer/producer David E. Kelley (through his self-titled 20th Century Fox Television-based banner) reportedly is shopping a new drama project to the broadcast networks. Said project, which Kelley apparently has already written on spec, is set behind the scenes at a network TV morning show. No other details were available about the drama, which industry insiders are pegging to land at NBC.
UNTITLED STEVEN BOCHCO PROJECTS (FOX/The WB, New!) - Uber-producer Steven Bochco ("N.Y.P.D. Blue," "Over There") has lined up a pair of new drama projects, one at FOX and the other at the WB. The former, which has been given a pilot commitment at FOX, revolves around an ongoing, high-profile civil court case. As for specifics, Bochco told The Hollywood Reporter it will emphasize "the personal lives of all the principals involved, including the defendants, the plaintiffs, the lawyers and the judge, and the way in which their private lives may be at variance with the high ideals and ethics of the profession they represent." Meanwhile, the WB project - which the network has given a script order - details the exploits of two Hollywood homicide detectives at the L.A.P.D. "These are two young, smart, clever detectives who are a little sideways sometimes," he told Daily Variety. "They get the job done in a different way." Said project will also mark Bochco's first solo script job in years. The pair join Steven Bochco Productions' already busy 2006-07 season slate, which also includes a baseball-themed comedy from Mitch Katlin and Nat Bernstein at FOX.
WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS) - Creator/executive producer Hank Steinberg has signed a massive overall development and production deal with the show's producer/distributor Warner Bros. Television. The three-year pact will put Steinberg's focus on developing new projects for the 2006-07 season as well as cover his current non-showrunner duties on "Trace."
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters