LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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AMERICAN CRIME (FOX, New!) - Uber-producer Jerry Bruckheimer is returning to FOX as the network has ordered a drama pilot from the Warner Bros. Television-based Jerry Bruckheimer Television for a new legal drama set in the world of high-powered Los Angeles lawyers. Tyler Bensinger ("Cold Case") and David McNally ("Coyote Ugly") are on board to respectively write and direct the project as well as executive produce along with Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman. As for plot specifics, it's understood the show will focus on the forensics of law, examining how "celebrity" lawyers go about freeing their clients, most of whom are either very rich or involved in high-profile cases.
CHEERLEADER (MTV, New!) - The cable channel has ordered a pilot for a new reality series that follows a year in the life of an ultracompetitive cheerleading squad in Kentucky. Laurie Girion ("R U the Girl With T-Boz and Chili") is behind the project, which is set up at Fox TV Studios. Girion recently signed an overall deal with the company. No other details were specified.
FUTURAMA (Comedy Central) - The cable channel has purchased the off-network rights to all 72 episodes of the animated comedy from Twentieth Television. The five-year pact, valued at an impressive $400,000 per episode, calls for the network to take over the show's off-network run from the Cartoon Network beginning in January of 2008. The deal however is only exclusive to cable television as Twentieth still has the option to sell "Futurama" reruns to local broadcast stations across the country. The "Futurama" pact comes on the heels of Comedy Central's off-network purchase of Buena Vista Television's "Scrubs" earlier this year (read the story).
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Writer/producer Jim Parriott ("Threat Matrix") has signed a seven-figure, multi-year overall deal with the show's producer Touchstone Television. The pact calls for him to continue his role as showrunner on the hit medical drama as well as develop new series projects for the studio. Said deal replaces the previous pact Parriott inked with Touchstone prior to "Grey's" launch earlier this year.
HIM AND US (A.K.A. UNTITLED ELTON JOHN PROJECT) (ABC) - The long-in-the-works Elton John-produced project has received an official green light to produce a pilot. The single-camera comedy revolves around the relationships between the fictional rock star Max Slash (an amalgam of "male divas" such as Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, David Bowie and John himself) and the people near him (including manager Freddy Lazarus). Cindy Chupack ("Sex and the City") wrote the pilot script and will executive produce alongside John, Michael Edelstein ("Desperate Housewives"), John's business manager Bob Halley and songwriter Bruce Roberts. John and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin will also write original music for the series (the title "Him and Us" comes from John's recent CD "Peachtree Road," a track he wrote specifically for the TV project).
JAKE IN PROGRESS (ABC) - Charlotte Ross ("N.Y.P.D. Blue") has joined the cast of the John Stamos-led comedy, which will return for its second season in January. She'll play Annie, the previously unseen ex-fianc�e of Stamos's character, whose unexpected arrival causes him to have thoughts about settling down, even though Annie is engaged to someone else. No other details were given.
JUDGE MARIA LOPEZ (A.K.A. UNTITLED JUDGE MARIA LOPEZ PROJECT) (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared the Maria Lopez court series in 35% of the country for a September 2006 launch. So far "Lopez" has been cleared in seven of the top 10 markets - WPIX-TV New York, WCIU-TV Chicago, KYW-TV/WPSG-TV Philadelphia, WBZ-TV/WSBK-TV Boston, KBHK-TV/KPIX-TV San Francisco, KTVT-TV/KTXA-TV Dallas and WUPA-TV Atlanta - with additional clearances expected to be announced shortly. The project is a result of a talent holding deal Lopez, the first female Hispanic judge appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court, signed with Sony earlier this year.
KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX (A&E) - The Ted Danson-led telefilm, about an English teacher who struggles to better the lives of poor children from the South Bronx, has been slated to premiere Tuesday, December 6 at 8:00/7:00c.
LIFE OF LEISURE (ABC, New!) - Guy Shalem (TBS's "Worst-Case Scenario") has set up a new improvised comedy (a la "Curb Your Enthusiasm") at the Alphabet about a depressed twentysomething man who decides to move back in with his parents and discovers they've settled into a retirement community for active seniors. Producer Fox TV Studios shot a 12-minute pilot presentation on spec with ABC then committing to an outline of the show's full first episode.
MY BIG BREAK (TV Land, New!) - Scott Sternberg Productions (A&E's "Spying on Myself") has booked a six-episode order from the network for a "Before They Were Stars"-esque series about a celebrity's first big break in showbiz. Actors Katey Segal and Jim Belushi were featured in the pilot to the half-hour project, which is expected to bow sometime next year.
MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) - Writer/producer Barbie Adler ("Arrested Development") has inked a two-year overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for Adler to continue in her role as a co-executive producer on the hit comedy "My Name Is Earl" as well as develop new projects for the studio.
UNTITLED JOHN HEFFRON PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Former "Last Comic Standing" winner John Heffron has inked a six-figure talent holding/development deal with ABC and Touchstone Television. The pact calls for the network and studio to develop a comedy project around the comedian or cast him in one of its existing projects in development. Heffron and his manager Peter Rosegarten will also serve as executive producers on the project should the former scenario play out. Heffron previously had a development deal at NBC and NBC Universal Television as part of his prize for winning "Standing's" second season.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters