LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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ALIAS (ABC) - Writer/producer Jeff Pinkner has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the show's producer Touchstone Television. The pact will cover Pinker's services as showrunner on the veteran spy drama for the first year, after which he's expected to move on to developing new projects for the studio.
BETTY LA FEA (ABC) - "Jake 2.0" creator Silvio Horta has been tapped to write the script for Ben Silverman and Salma Hayek's long-in-the-works adaptation of the popular South American soap opera. Horta will pen a new script for the Touchstone Television-based project as well as executive produce the pilot should it move forward. "Fea" concerns the adventures of an unattractive secretary who works for a fashion design company and falls in love with her ultra-handsome boss. Hayek and Jose Tamez will also serve as executive producers through their Ventanarosa Productions banner as will Silverman through his Reveille company.
BONES (FOX) - Jonathan Pontell ("Boston Public") has come aboard the freshman drama as a consulting producer. It's understood he'll direct several episodes of the series as well as supervise outside directors and be involved in all creative nonwriting production elements of the show.
BOSTON LEGAL (ABC) - Michael J. Fox ("Spin City") is set to appear in three upcoming episodes of the drama series. The actor, whose battle with Parkinson's disease has kept him away from regular acting appearances since 2001, will play Daniel Post, an extremely wealthy businessman suffering from lung cancer who uses his power and influence to make sure he doesn't get the placebo in a pharmaceutical study. Post then comes to Crane, Poole and Schmidt to defend him after one of the other participants finds out sues him and the company. Shooting began this week on Fox's first installment, which will air on December 13.
COLE TRACER, P.I. (ABC, New!) - Producer Sean Bailey ("Push, Nevada"), directors Joe and Anthony Russo ("What About Brian") and feature writer David Collard ("Out of Time") are in talks to team for a new offbeat drama about Ben Martin, a blacklisted actor who opts to become a real detective after his show gets axed. Said project, which is set up Touchstone Television and Bailey's Live Planet banner, will track Martin as he teams with the technical adviser from the show, who together form an "Odd Couple"-esque bond. The Russos are expected to direct from a script by Collard with all three (along with Bailey) serving as executive producers.
COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF (ABC) - Alison Cross ("Philly") and Joel Fields ("Over There") have both joined the writing staff of the freshman drama as part of incoming showrunner Steven Bochco's revamp. Cross had been a co-executive producer on NBC's recently-axed "Inconceivable." Talks are also underway with two other unspecified writers to join the staff.
DAISY DOES AMERICA (TBS) - The premiere of the Courteney Cox/David Arquette-produced comic reality series has been bumped up to Tuesday, December 6 at 10:00/9:00c. Here's how TBS's web materials describe the project: "Courteney Cox and David Arquette present Daisy Does America, a fresh, new comedy series that unleashes funny woman Daisy Donovan on an unsuspecting America. Daisy just wants to fit in wherever she goes, but since she's pretty much a disaster at everything she tries, the results are unpredictable and hilarious."
GERALDO AT LARGE (Syndication) - Twentieth Television has cleared the upcoming Geraldo Rivera-hosted syndicated series in 10 additional markets - KPIX (San Francisco), WXIN (Indianapolis), KUSI (San Diego), WCNC (Charlotte, N.C.), WFLX (West Palm Beach, Fla.), KOB (Albuquerque), KGPE (Fresno, California), WSJV (South Bend, Ind.), WUPW (Toledo, Ohio) and KGBT (Harlingen, Texas). Said signings, along with its previous thumbs-up from the FOX owned-and-operated stations, bring the show's total clearance rate to 55% of the country for its October 31 launch.
HAPPY HOUR (FOX, New!) - Tom Werner, Eric Gold and Jimmy Miller's newly formed Werner-Gold-Miller banner has booked its first pilot order, a comedy about a pair of thirtysomething roommates - one who's been damaged by love, and another who's been blinded by love. Jeff and Jackie Filgo ("That '70s Show") are behind the project, which they'll write and executive produce along with the Warner Bros. Television-based Werner-Gold-Miller. The pair recently signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with the company, replacing their previous one at Carsey-Werner.
HAUNTING SARAH (Lifetime) - The Kim Raver-led Lifetime original drew 4.0 million viewers for its October 3 bow, good enough to finish as the 15th most-watched program last week.
KYLE XY (ABC Family) - The cable channel has given a series order of eight episodes to the drama pilot, one of three projects the network was developing for next year (read the story). "XY" centers on a suburban family that takes in a mysterious teen - Matt Dallas ("Way of the Vampire") - naive to the world around him. Here's how the original casting notice described Dallas's character: "16, Caucasian, sympathetic, other-worldly, and extremely likeable. He's "born" naked, covered in pink jelly in the woods. Sporting a beautiful smile, he is without a belly button or any knowledge of human experience, even the most basic bodily functions. Kyle's origins are extraordinarily mysterious, and we suspect that they might be extraterrestrial or genetically engineered in nature. Taken in by Nicole Baxter [Marguerite MacIntyre], a child psychologist specializing in autism and exceptional children, Kyle becomes a part of the Baxter household, where he first begins to discover and use his extraordinary mental and physical powers. In so doing, he eventually becomes a true member of the Baxter family, accepted for the extraordinary individual he really is. But who Kyle really is, and why some tenacious individual might be searching for him, remains a mystery - for now. Prefer 18 To Play 16 Years Old."
The series also stars Bruce Thomas ("Legally Blonde") as Stephen Baxter, Nicole's husband; April Matson ("Quintuplets") as their immature 17-year-old daughter Lori; newcomer Jean-Luc Bilodeau as their mischievous son Josh; Kristen Prout ("Elektra") as Amanda Bloom, a teen girl who lives next door to the Baxters; and Chris Olivero ("24") as Declan McMannus, the local high school heartthrob. Touchstone Television is behind the project, which will bow in the summer of 2006, with David Himelfarb, Eric Bress, J. Mackye Gruber, Chris Bender and J.C. Spink serving as executive producers.
LOVE'S LONG JOURNEY/MEET THE SANTAS (Hallmark, New!) - The Hallmark Channel has confirmed air dates for its two December originals - "Love's Long Journey," the third installment of the "Love Comes Softly" series, is set to bow on Sunday, December 3 at 9:00/8:00c while "Meet the Santas," the sequel to last year's "Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus," will premiere on Sunday, December 17 at 9:00/8:00c. Here's how the company's press materials describe the former: "'Love's Long Journey' is the third installment of the 'Love Comes Softly' series, based on the best-selling series by Janette Oke and a Hallmark Channel viewer favorite."
"Santas" then is detailed as follows: "'Meet the Santas,' the sequel to Hallmark Channel's highest-rated original movie ever -- 'Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus' -- follows Nicholas Kringle (Steve Guttenberg) and Beth Marshall (Crystal Bernard) as they prepare their long-awaited Christmas Day nuptials and, subsequently, to take over 'the family business' from Nicholas's dad, Santa Claus. The Santas' faces are crimson when Beth's prim-and-proper mother turns their special day into her own special project; meanwhile, the mother-in-law to be is frosted over by her new son-in-law's parents � flighty sorts who appear to work just one day a year. The Claus's are coming to town this holiday season!"
MEET THE HAUNTEDS (NBC, New!) - Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's Platinum Studios ("Jeremiah") and ex-NBC drama executive Chris Conti's Chris Co. have scored a script order from NBC and NBC Universal Television for a small screen adaptation of Chris Wichtendahl's graphic novel of the same name. The single-camera comedy will track an upper-middle-class white family who moves into a restored house in a gentrified neighborhood that's haunted by a black family from the early 1970s. Rosenberg and Conti will executive produce the project, which is currently searching for a writer, along with Platinum's Aaron Severson and
Jay Burns as well as Rigberg Entertainment Group development executive Rashad Raisani.
MY SUPER SWEET 16 (MTV) - The popular reality series has been picked up for a third season to premiere in the first quarter of 2006. 4.1 million total viewers, including a 2.9 rating among persons 12-34, watched the show's second season finale on Monday. Overall, "16" averaged a 3.0 rating in said demographic for the season, up 8% from its inaugural run. Nina Diaz and Dave Sirulnick created the series and are the executive producers.
NIP/TUCK (FX) - Three-time Emmy-winner Kathy Baker is set to appear on two upcoming episodes of the series. She'll play Gail Pollack, the until-now-unseen biological mother of Julian McMahon's character, who appears to tell him about the truth behind his birth. Baker's first episode is set to air next week with her second appearance due on November 8.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Veteran TV director Kevin Hooks ("Ghost Whisperer") has signed onto the freshman drama, where he'll serve as a co-executive producer and producing director. Hooks will take over from Michael Watkins, who's leaving the show to pursue other interests, beginning with the 14th episode. Meanwhile, Rockmond Dunbar ("Head Cases") has been upped to series regular where he'll continue in his role as the tough, mysterious inmate "C-Note."
THE TUDORS (Showtime) - Emmy-winning director Charles McDougall ("Desperate Housewives") has been tapped to direct the two-hour drama pilot, about the tumultuous reign and marriages of a young King Henry VIII. "Tudors" comes from writer Michael Hirst with Ben Silverman, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner and Hirst himself serving as executive producers.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters, USA Today