LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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36-24-36 (Showtime, New!) - "Sex and The City" executive producer Jenny Bicks is developing a new half-hour comedy at the pay channel about a young woman who gets pulled back into the family business, working for her mother and grandmother in a strip club. Bicks described the project to Daily Variety as "about sexuality and women being empowered by sexuality." She added, "I've been very interested in how women in the porn and strip-club industry are really starting to take control of their careers and doing it successfully. This show will be a look at that world from a female point of view that isn't exploitive."
AMERICAN IDOL (FOX) - Industry insiders have confirmed FOX has picked up the series for a least four more seasons as well as options for two more installments. The news comes on the heels of the out-of-court settlement between the show's creator, Simon Fuller, and its star judge, Simon Cowell, over the latter's U.K.-based series "X-Factor." Fuller had filed a $170 million copyright suit against Cowell, claiming he ripped off the idea for "X-Factor" from "American Idol." In any case, financial details about the settlement and FOX's license fee for the series weren't released. As for Cowell, FOX has locked in the judge for at least five more seasons of "Idol." His contract on the show was due to expire after this season, which begins in January.
BIG LOUD LISA (FOX, New!) - Comedian Lisa Lampanelli is set to topline a potential new comedy at the network from HBO Independent Productions. The project will track Lampanelli's life as a self-described woman with "a big heart but can't edit her mouth." Feature writers Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti ("The Santa Clause") are on board to write the pilot script and executive produce along with Lampanelli, Madeleine Smitberg ("The Daily Show With Jon Stewart") and Parallel Entertainment's J.P. Williams and Maggie Houlehan ("Blue Collar TV"). As for plot specifics, "Lisa" will track Lampanelli (and her African-American boyfriend) as she ditches life in the big city in order to move back to the small town in Connecticut in which she grew up. There, despite her best efforts, she finds it tough to fit in among the so-called normal folks.
BRAVE NEW WORLD/THE WHOLE TRUTH (NBC, New!) - "Law & Order: S.V.U." executive producer Neal Baer has set up a pair of drama projects at NBC through his NBC Universal Television/Wolf Films-based Baer Bones banner. The first, entitled "Brave New World," revolves around the ethics of modern-day science (such as stem cell research and avian flu containment) and its various dangers and abuses. No other details were given about the project, which Patrick Harbinson (also of "S.V.U." fame) will write based on a story by Harbinson and Baer. Harbinson (through his Torcello Films banner) and Baer will then executive produce along with Dick Wolf. "The Whole Truth," the second project, comes from fellow "S.V.U." scribe Jonathan Greene. Said effort revolves around the world of an eccentric investigative TV news producer. Greene, himself a former local TV news producer, will write the pilot and executive produce along with Baer and Wolf.
CITY OF GOLD (The WB, New!) - Former "Twin Peaks" writer Harley Peyton is developing a new adventure series about an archeological expedition in the Amazon, with the central conflict being between a father and son. NBC Universal Television-based Tollin-Robbins Productions ("Smallville") is behind the project, which would take place in a different part of the world each season. Peyton will pen the pilot script and executive produce along with Tollin-Robbins principals Mike Tollin, Brian Robbins, Joe Davola and Shelley Zimmerman.
GIRLS NEXT DOOR (E!) - E! has quietly renewed the Sunday original for a second cycle. It's not clear however when the new season will start or how many episodes were ordered.
JUDGE MARIA LOPEZ (Syndication) - Sony Pictures Television has upped the show's clearance rate to 90% of the country. Among those signing on were stations in Los Angeles (KTLA), Washington, DC (WBDC), Seattle (KCPQ/KTWB) and Sacramento (KTXL). The quartet joins the show's previous clearances in New York (WPIX), Chicago (WCIU), Philadelphia (KYW/WPSG), Boston (WBZ/WSBK) and San Francisco (KBHK/KPIX). In total, Sony has cleared "Lopez" in 45 of the nation's top 50 markets for a fall 2006 launch. The half-hour daily strip features Maria Lopez, the first female Hispanic judge appointed to the Massachusetts Superior Court.
KIDNAPPED (NBC) - Mykelti Williamson ("Boomtown"), Carmen Ejogo ("Lackawanna Blues") and Boris McGiver ("Taxi") have all been cast in the serialized drama pilot, about a wealthy New York family whose 15-year-old son is kidnapped and held for ransom. In addition, Linus Roache ("Batman Begins") and Delroy Lindo ("Domino") are also in talks to join the ensemble cast. No details however were given about their respective characters. Production on the pilot, which comes from NBC Universal Television and Sony Pictures Television-based 25C Productions, is set to begin shortly in New York with Michael Dinner directing from a script by Jason Smilovic. Smilovic, Dinner and 25C's Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly then are all serving as executive producers.
THE L WORD (Showtime) - Promos currently running on the pay channel indicate the show's third season will begin Sunday, January 8 at 10:00/9:00c.
MEET THE ROKERS (A.K.A. UNTITLED AL ROKER PROJECT) (NBC) - Ralph Farquhar ("The Parkers") has come aboard to executive produce Al Roker's semi-autobiographical comedy project, about a weatherman and father of two who realizes that he has become his own dad, for better and worse. NBC has given a script commitment to the half-hour, which is based at NBC Universal Television, Al Roker Productions and Farquhar's Regan Jon Productions.
MOMMIES WHO DRINK (The WB, New!) - Brett Paesel's upcoming book of the same name, due in August, is set to be the focus of a potential new single-camera comedy at the network. The project, which is set up at HBO Independent Productions, revolves around a group of women who are trying to hold on to their old lives while raising their kids. Paesal himself will pen the pilot script with Jenny Bicks ("Sex and The City") attached to executive produce along with Paesel's manager Adam Peck.
ROLLERGIRLS (A&E) - The series, about the lives of women's competitive roller derby skaters based in Austin, Texas, is set to premiere Monday, January 2 at 10:00/9:00c.
THE SIMPLE LIFE (FOX) - E! will reportedly pay 20th Century Fox Television around $700,000 per episode to license the show's new fourth season. Said pact, announced on Monday (read the story), marks one of E!'s most expensive in its history - behind only its $50 million purchase of "Saturday Night Live" repeats in 2002. It's also understood E! has the option for additional seasons of the series with stars Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie locked in through at least season five. As for the off-network rights to the 36 previously produced episodes of "The Simple Life," it's not clear however how much E! paid for said installments. 20th has retained rights to syndicate the show on weekends, meaning E!'s three-year deal is exclusive to weekdays only. In addition, E! president-CEO Ted Harbert told Daily Variety he hopes to land the repeat rights to both "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Entourage" in the near future.
UNTITLED JENNY BICKS/JAMES MANGOLD PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer Jenny Bicks ("Sex and The City") and feature director James Mangold ("Walk the Line") are set to team for an untitled drama at the Alphabet about a thirtysomething relationship expert who gets stuck in an Alaskan town full of men soon after she discovers her own fiance has been cheating. ABC has given a script commitment to the project with a significant penalty attached if it doesn't go to pilot. Bicks will write the pilot and executive produce along with Mangold and his wife Cathy Konrad.
UNTITLED DAVID ARQUETTE PROJECT (ABC, New!) - David Arquette is set to star in a new comedy vehicle at the Alphabet from "Everybody Loves Raymond" writer/producer Jeremy Stevens. The project, which has a script commitment from ABC, centers on a reluctant PI (Arquette) whose life changes when his 10-year-old son and ex-wife come back to town after eight years. Stevens is penning the script to the Warner Bros. Television-based project and is executive producing along with Arquette and wife Courtney Cox through their Coquette Productions banner.
UNTITLED LUKE MABLY PROJECT (FOX, New!) - British actor Luke Mably ("The Prince & Me") has inked a talent holding deal with the network. The pact calls for FOX to cast Mably in one of its drama projects in development or to create one around the actor.
UNTITLED NICK LACHEY PROJECT (The WB) - "Mad About You" co-creator/executive producer Danny Jacobson has been tapped to shepherd Nick Lachey's comedy project for the netlet. The untitled Touchstone Television-based half-hour stars Lachey as a famous baseball player trying to navigate a new marriage. Jacobson will write the pilot script and executive produce.
UNTITLED JOHN CAPARULO PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Comedian John Caparulo is set to headline a potential new comedy series for the Peacock, about a young man who returns to his hometown after college despite expectations that he was destined for bigger things. The project is loosely based on Caparulo's blue-collar origins in a small Ohio town. Brian Scully ("The Simpsons") is writing the pilot script to the untitled half-hour, which comes from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison banner. Scully and Sandler then will executive produce along with Jack Giarraputo and Doug Robinson.
WILDFIRE (ABC Family) - The cable channel has confirmed the show's second season will launch Monday, January 2 at 8:00/7:00c.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters