LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Jonah Lotan ("The Jacket") is the latest addition to the show's upcoming fifth season. He'll play Spenser, a new agent in the show's Counter Terrorist Unit. No other details were given.
5-0 (NBC, New!) - Ryan Pinkston ("Quintuplets") is set to topline a new single-camera comedy for the Peacock and NBC Universal Television. The project, from feature writer Greg Coolidge ("Cockblockers"), tracks a 5-foot tall, 18-year-old rookie cop (Pinkston) who reluctantly agrees to take on assignments that make use of his small size - such as going undercover as a student - to try and impress his dad, the chief of police. NBC has given a script commitment to the comedy with Coolidge set to write and executive produce along with Walter Hamada and Chris Fenton of H2F Entertainment.
THE APPRENTICE: MARTHA STEWART (NBC) - The Peacock has confirmed "The Apprentice" spin-off won't return for a second cycle. A spokesman for the network nevertheless told The Hollywood Reporter the series had always been scheduled for just one go around. Industry insiders however suggest the decision to not order another round of episodes came down over the weekend. Roughly 6.78 million viewers on average have tuned into the series, a dip of 34.68% from its parent series average this season (10.38 million). The show's two-hour live finale is set for Wednesday, December 21 at 8:00/7:00c.
BLADE (Spike TV) - Jill Wagner ("dr. vegas"), Neil Jackson ("Alexander"), Nelson Lee (USA's "Traffic") and Jessica Gower ("The Secret Life of Us") will round out the cast of the Kirk "Sticky" Jones-led original movie. In addition, Peter O'Fallon ("Eureka") has been tapped to direct the two-hour project, which is eyeing a June 2006 premiere, from a script by David Goyer and Geoff Johns. Jackson will play Marcus Van Sciver, the chief villain in the project. His character is described in the casting notice as: "25-40, male, Caucasian. He's a charismatic, dapper, sexy, aristocratic vampire with pale skin, piercing eyes and an unslaked hunger for power - and blood. First turned into a vampire back in the days of the American colonies, Marcus looks down on humans as little more than cattle - but we sense that he may have a hidden longing for his lost human existence. A wealthy developer and a pillar of the community, Marcus hangs with the city's elite, but his real power stems from his ties to the age-old House of Chthon, venerable vampire rulers. Impressed by Christa's bravery and tenacity, Marcus "turns" her and recruits her for his vampire "family"." Lee then is set as Shen: "Late 20s, male, Asian. Blade's loyal ally, he's a thin but muscular Asian with a shaved head and an imperturbable manner. A former religious man, Shen now devotes his energies to the good fight against the vampire hordes. He helps perfect new technologies for Blade to use in his battles, and his mere presence helps the driven Blade achieve at least a measure of inner peace."
Finally, Wagner and Gower will play the female leads, although its not clear who is playing Christa Starr and who is playing Chase. The former is described as: "Mid 20s, female, Caucasian. She's a doctor and former military medic who has recently been discharged from active service. Drained by her combat traumas, Christa is trying to re-enter normal civilian life when she gets word that her fraternal twin brother, Zack, has been killed under mysterious circumstances. Unable to get any satisfaction from the police, Christa decides to investigate Zack's death herself. It's a decision that catapults her into a strange new world of vampires and familiars that she didn't even know existed. A courageous, tenacious and fierce adversary, Christa is captured and "turned" by powerful vampire Marcus, who enlists her in his vampire ranks." The latter then is detailed as: "Mid 20s, female, any ethnicity. Marcus's most loyal and efficient follower, she's a gorgeous vampire who appears to be in her early 20s, although her hungry eyes tell a different story. She helps Marcus kills Zack, Christa's fraternal twin. Later, after Christa is herself turned into a vampire, Chase takes her on a tour of the vampires' world, and gives her a sweeping overview of the vampires' tumultuous history."
CONVICTION (NBC) - Eric Balfour ("Sex, Love & Secrets") and Milena Govich ("Rescue Me") have both been cast in the Dick Wolf-produced midseason drama, about a group young assistant district attorneys in New York. The pair will play unspecified characters on the series, where they'll join the previously cast Julianne Nicholson and Anson Mount. "Conviction" comes from Wolf's NBC Universal Television-based Wolf Films with Walon Green, Rick Eid and Peter Jankowski also serving as executive producers.
DEAD RINGERS (HBO, New!) - David Cronenberg's 1998 feature, about twin gynecologists (both played by Jeremy Irons) who go insane after becoming romantically involved with the same woman, is being developed as a television series by the pay channel. HBO has ordered a script to the project, which Wesley Strick ("Cape Fear") will write and Cronenberg himself will direct. The pair will also executive produce along with Carol Baum ("The Good Girl") and Morgan Creek Productions.
HEIST (NBC) - Dougray Scott ("Dark Water"), Seymour Cassel ("Stuck on You"), David Walton ("Cracking Up"), Reno Wilson ("Blind Justice") and Marika Dominczyk ("North Shore") have all been cast in the serialized drama pilot, about a group of thieves' attempt to simultaneously rob three jewelry stores on Beverly Hills' famed Rodeo Drive over the course of a season. Scott will play the mastermind of the operation with the remaining quartet playing unspecified characters. Doug Liman is directing the pilot from a script by Mark and Robb Cullen. The trio will also executive produce the project, which comes from NBC Universal Television, Hypnotic and Sony Pictures Television, along with David Bartis, Bernie Brillstein and Peter Safran.
THE HILLS (MTV, New!) - MTV is moving forward with its long-rumored spin-off of the "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County," featuring 19-year-old Lauren "LC" Conrad. Said project will track Conrad as she moves to Los Angeles to attend the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising and work as an intern at Teen Vogue. Adam DiVello is behind the series, which he'll executive produce with fellow "Laguna" veterans Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley. The cable channel is targeting a spring bow for the series however no specific episode order was given.
THE MUD SHOW (ABC Family) - Melinda Allen ("A Day Without a Mexican") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about the performers and staff of a dilapidated one-ring circus as they try to get along with their new owner - the grudging, estranged son of the previous owner. Sandy Chanley ("Fat Actress") and Doug Shaffer ("Weakest Link") wrote the script to the project, which Keith Truesdell ("Fat Actress") is directing, and are executive producing along with Tom Bull.
RUN'S HOUSE (MTV) - The cable channel has renewed the reality series, featuring Joey Simmons (a.k.a. Rev. Run of Run DMC), for a second season. The series, which wraps its augural six-week run on Thursday, will return with new episodes sometime in 2006. Through its first four airings, "House" has averaged a strong 2.1 million viewers. Russell Simmons, Stan Lathan, Will Griffin, John Davies, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Jason Carbone and Jac Benson all serve as executive producers on the series.
THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX, New!) - Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar's C2 Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and feature writer Josh Friedman ("War of the Worlds") are set to team for a potential small screen take on "The Terminator" franchise. The project, which takes place between the second and third "Terminator" features, will track the lives of Sarah Connor and her 14-year-old son son John Connor (played by Linda Hamilton and Edward Furlong in the former installment). Both roles however will be recast for the TV version, which FOX has given a pilot commitment with a significant penalty attached if it doesn't go to series. It's understood the series will feature a link between a potential new feature trilogy however no specifics were given. Friedman will write the pilot script and executive produce along with Vajna, Kassar and C2's senior VP of development James Middleton.
SCRUBS (NBC) - Travis Schuldt ("10-8") has booked a recurring role on the veteran NBC comedy. He'll play a charming but naive intern on the series, which returns for its fifth season early next year.
UNDERFUNDED (USA, New!) - Writer/producers David Breckman ("Monk") and Ross Abrash ("Love & Money") have scored a cast-contingent pilot order for a potential new dramedy about a Canadian secret service agent and his less than high-profile organization. No other details were given about the project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television.
UNTITLED AQUAMAN PROJECT (The WB, New!) - "Smallville" executive producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough have landed a put pilot commitment from the WB and Warner Bros. Television for a small screen take on the DC Comics hero Aquaman. The project however won't be a spin-off of "Smallville," which featured an incarnation of the character played by Alan Ritchson. Nevertheless, the producers plan to keep it in the same spirit of "Smallville" with no costumes or even word "Aquaman" being used. As for plot specifics, the untitled hour will track a twentysomething Arthur Curry as he battles everything from ocean polluters to evil oil companies to even freaky occurrences related to the Bermuda Triangle. In addition, the show will feature a recurring arc involving the disappearance of his mother. Other details mentioned include that he'll have an adopted father, an officer in the Coast Guard, as well as a mentor who'll help train him. Miller and Gough will pen the pilot script with fellow "Smallville" veteran Greg Beeman on board to direct.
UNTITLED BOBBY CANNAVALE PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Emmy-winner Bobby Cannavale ("Will & Grace") has inked a development deal with the Peacock and NBC Universal Television. The pact calls for the network and studio to develop a single-camera comedy for the actor, who starred in last year's failed drama pilot "NY-70" for NBC, that will be shot in New York. No other specifics about the project were given.
UNTITLED KIRK RUDELL PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer Kirk Rudell ("Will & Grace") has snagged a script order (with a significant penalty attached) for a new comedy about how friendships formed early in life change and become more complicated once people hit their 30s. No other details were specified about the Warner Bros. Television-based project, which Rudell will write and executive produce.
UNTITLED SHANA GOLDBERG PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Former "Friends" showrunner Shana Goldberg has scored a pilot order from the Alphabet and Warner Bros. Television for a new comedy about two sisters who were raised in vastly different environments - one was raised rich, while the other grew up poor. Goldberg, who has an overall deal at the studio, will write and executive produce the project.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters