LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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A&E ORIGINAL PROJECTS (A&E, New!) - The cable channel detailed its various new series and projects in development during its portion of the TCA Winter Press Tour on Thursday. In addition to the previously announced "Driving Force" and "King of Cars" (read the story), the network has given a series order to "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," a docu-reality series about the KISS frontman and his family, which includes Shannon Tweed, a former Playmate of the Year, actress and model; and their kids, Nick and Sophie. Nancy Dubuc and Didi O'Hearn are executive producing the series, which comes from the Greif Co./A Day With Inc. and the Gene Simmons Co. A&E has also picked up "Elevator Moods," a series of 13 quirky one-minute films shot from the point of view of an elevator surveillance camera. It's expected the shorts will be used in some combination of on-air and online media. Robert Sharenow and Frontain Bryant are the executive producers of the project, which is produced for A&E Network/A&E IndieFilm by EMIC.
Among its development slate, A&E outlined five potential newcomers: "A Guy Walks Into a Bar" (one-hour, Full Circle Productions) features George Wendt ("Cheers") and George Gray ("Junkyard Wars") telling jokes in a bar setting which are in turn transitioned into sketches; "Commander Castle" (half-hour, CBS Eye Too Productions) tracks Paul Castle, a 30-year veteran of the U.K. Police Force who gets called in to help local officers in America handle dangerous situations; "Polar Posse" (one-hour, Engel Brothers Media Incorporate), about the Dragon Slayers, an all-youth, all-volunteer firefighting and EMS team based in a tiny town in the remote north of Alaska; "Finally a Family" (one-hour, New Line Television), a reality series which tracks the adoption process where the field of parents has been narrowed down to two sets; and "Rock Paper Scissors" (one-hour special, Protagonist Productions), about the USA Rock Paper Scissors League and their annual Rock Paper Scissors Tournament from the House of Blues in Las Vegas that features a $50,000 grand prize. All five projects come along as A&E experiences its second year of double-digit growth in the key 18-49 demo (up 12%) with a median age of 48.
BOY'S LIFE (TBS, New!) - Writer/producer Rob Ulin ("Malcolm In The Middle") has scored a pilot order from the cable channel for a new scripted comedy about the relationship between an eighth grader and his slightly eccentric single mom. The single-camera project, which Ulin will write and executive produce, will be told from the perspective of the middle-schooler, who loves his mom but winces when she starts dating his gym teacher, the father of his class rival. The news marks TBS's second scripted pilot order in recent weeks, the other being the Betsy Thomas-created "My Boys," about a twentysomething Chicago sports columnist whose life revolves around men - her brother, her ex-boyfriend, her best friend and a sportswriter for a rival paper.
FACELESS (FOX, New!) - Dario Scardapane ("The Darkling") has booked a pilot order from FOX for a new drama about a federal prosecutor who goes undercover as a criminal in order to take down a sprawling underworld organization. Feature director Joe Carnahan ("Narc") is on board to direct the pilot from a script by Scardapane, who will also serve as a co-executive producer. The project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Flame Television with Carnahan, Tony Krantz, Daniel Rappaport and Evelyn O'Neill executive producing.
HEROES (NBC) - "Crossing Jordan" creator Tim Kring has been given the go-ahead to produce a two-hour pilot for the drama project, about a group of seemingly everyday people who discover that they have superpowers. Kring will write and executive produce the drama, which is set up at NBC Universal Television.
JERICHO (CBS) - Stephen Chbosky's ("Rent") drama project, about the social, psychological and physical chaos that ensues in a small Kansas town when it becomes isolated from the rest of the world after a nuclear disaster, has been given a pilot order as part of feature helmer Jon Turteltaub's three-for-one deal with Paramount Network Television. Said pact, announced last month (read the story), called for CBS to develop three of Turteltaub's scripts (via his Junction Entertainment banner), one of which would ultimately be guaranteed a pilot order. Turteltaub will direct the pilot from a script by Chbosky with both serving as executive producers. The two other scripts - the drama "Suspect Behavior," from Daniel Cerone, and an untitled half-hour from Michael Glouberman - nevertheless still remain under consideration.
LOVE MONKEY (CBS) - Michael Rauch, the writer/producer behind the upcoming drama, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Paramount Network Television. The pact covers his duties on the Paramount-based "Monkey" as well as any potential development. In addition to "Monkey," Rauch serves as an executive producer on the ABC Family/Sony Pictures Television-based "Beautiful People."
ORPHEUS (CBS) - Nicholas Meyer's ("The Human Stain") drama pilot, about a young man whose girlfriend is involved in a sophisticated, modern-day cult and draws him to it, has been given the green light to produce a pilot. Ridley and Tony Scott's Paramount Network Television-based Scott Free Productions is behind the hour, which Meyer will write and executive produce along with the Scotts and David Zucker.
ROLLERGIRLS (A&E) - Just 631,000 viewers tuned into the show's second episode on Monday, down a whopping 60.56% from its January 2 launch (1.6 million viewers). Said premiere numbers also fell 59.26% from its lead-in, a repeat of "Dog the Bounty Hunter" (2.7 million).
SEEING RED (NBC, New!) - "Boomtown" creator Graham Yost has landed a cast-contingent pilot order for a new drama about an eccentric, brilliant cop who talks to dead victims that help him solve his cases. NBC Universal Television is behind the hour, which Yost will write and executive produce.
SEX, POWER, LOVE & POLITICS (CBS) - Pamela Fryman, who helmed the pilot to "How I Met Your Mother," is said to be close to signing on to direct Greg Malins's comedy project for the Eye and Sony Pictures Television. The half-hour, about a group of thirtysomethings who work in Washington politics, received a pilot order last month (read the story).
THE SHIELD (FX) - 3.42 million viewers tuned into the veteran cable drama's fifth season opener on Tuesday, including a 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18-49 (about 2.25 million viewers, 45% of which were female). Said numbers were down just 5% from last year's bow but up 13% from its season four average. Overall, "The Shield" was the most-watched program on cable on Tuesday.
SIX DEGREES (ABC) - The drama, about a group of six strangers in New York whose stories somehow interconnect, has found a new home at ABC. Previously in the works at the WB last season, the one-hour project has since moved on to the Alphabet, where it's been given the go-ahead to produce a pilot. Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner ("What About Brian") are behind the Touchstone Television/Bad Robot-based pilot, which they'll write and executive produce along with J.J. Abrams, Thom Sherman and Bryan Burk.
TOUCH THE TOP OF THE WORLD (A&E) - Peter Facinelli ("Six Feet Under") has been cast in the lead role of the long-in-the-works original movie, about the first blind man to climb Mount Everest. Jaffe/Braunstein Films and Sony Pictures Television are behind the project, principal photography of which has begun.
UNTITLED ALICIA KEYS PROJECT (UPN, New!) - The life of Grammy-winner Alicia Keys is set to be the focus of a potential new drama series at the netlet. Said project would be inspired by the life of the 24-year-old music prodigy, who was born into a biracial family in the gritty Hell's Kitchen area of New York. Felicia Henderson ("Soul Food") is on board to pen the pilot script with Keys herself serving as an executive producer along with Henderson and Jeff Robinson. No studio however is currently attached.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters