LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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60 MINUTE MAN (ABC, New!) - "Boomtown" creator Graham Yost has booked his second pilot order for the 2006-07 season, this time for a new drama at ABC and Touchstone Television. Said project revolves around John Henderson, a suburban man who doesn't remember what he did for one hour each day, driving him to figure out whether he's part of a major national conspiracy. Yost will pen the pilot script along with fellow "Boomtown" alum Chris Brancato with Yost, Brancato and Bert Salke all serving as executive producers via the latter two's self-titled Brancato/Salke banner. Last week, Yost received a cast-contingent pilot order from NBC for "Seeing Red," a drama about an eccentric, brilliant cop who talks to dead victims that help him solve his cases.
BENDER-BROWN PRODUCTIONS PROJECTS (New!) - Producers Lawrence Bender and Kevin Brown ("dr. vegas") have lined up seven projects for the 2006-07 season: the comedy "Addicks" at HBO, the drama "Pumped" at VH1, the comedy "Friendly Skies" at FOX, the comedy "Flirt" and the drama "Normal State" at UPN, an untitled drama at ABC Family and an original movie at TNT. As for specifics, "Addicks" comes from feature writer Jason Dean Hall ("Easy") and producer Peter Morgan ("Poison Ivy") and tells the story of a pair of recovering addicts: one's an ex-drug dealer/gigolo, the other's an heir to a fortune he can't collect until he's sober. Hall will write the pilot script and executive produce along with Morgan, Bender and Brown. VH1's "Pumped" is described as a modern "Shampoo" set at a celebrity-filled, Crunch-style gym with John Kim ("Velvet") in talks to write the pilot. As for "Skies," Bender-Brown is co-producing the comedy, about the twentysomething cabin crew of a low-budget airline, with Fox TV Studios. Oliver Dennis (BBC's "Mile High") is attached to write the pilot.
At UPN, Bender-Brown is teaming with the newly-rebranded CBS Paramount Network Television and Sean Hayes & Todd Milliner's Hazy Mills Productions for the medical drama "Normal State." Joseph Doherty ("thirtysomething") is behind the hour, full details of which weren't given. Also at the netlet is the half-hour "Flirt," from Barry Wernick ("Boston Common") and co-produced by Touchstone Television, about the only guy at a women's magazine. As for the ABC Family hour, Eric Guggenheim ("Miracle") is writing the script to the project, about young athletes living together in a Florida sports academy. Finally there's the original movie "The Beatles in America," about the true story of Sid Bernstein, the agent who booked the Beatles at Carnegie Hall before they were a U.S. phenomenon. Craig Sabin penned the latest draft to the project, working from an earlier draft by co-producer Larry Block. The seven projects join the previously announced "Heroes Anonymous" (based on the Bongo Comics property of the same name) at Sci Fi, which has recently added Karl Schaefer ("Dead Zone") as showrunner.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer Jon Robin Baitz ("The West Wing") has scored a pilot commitment from ABC and Touchstone Television for a new family soap opera set against a group of adult siblings. Baitz penned the pilot script while Ken Olin ("Alias") is attached to direct. Both will also serve as executive producers of the project, additional details of which weren't specified.
THE CLASS (CBS) - Jason Ritter ("Joan of Arcadia") and Jesse Tyler Ferguson ("Mercury in Retrograde") have both joined the cast of the ensemble comedy, about a group of eight twentysomethings - all of whom attended the same third-grade class 20 years ago - that are reunited after one of them throws a surprise anniversary party for his girlfriend, also of the same group. Ritter will play 27-year-old Ethan, said party thrower, while Ferguson will play Richie. The pair joins the previously cast Lucy Punch in the Warner Bros. Television-based project, which comes from David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.
DAY BREAK (ABC) - Paul Zbyszewski's ("After the Sunset") drama project, about a cop who's trying to stop the murder of a loved one while trying to find the person who framed him for murder, has been given the green light to produce a pilot. Zbyszewski wrote the pilot script and will serve as a co-executive producer on the Touchstone Television-based project with Matt Gross ("Across the Universe") executive producing through his Gross Entertainment banner.
MASTERS OF HORROR (Showtime) - The New York Times reports Showtime has opted not to air the project's 12th installment, "Imprint," directed by renegade Japanese filmmaker Takashi Miike. Originally set for January 27, the pay channel will instead air the show's finale "Haeckel's Tale" (directed by John McNaughton). As for "Imprint," the unaired hour will be released directly to the DVD market through producer IDT's home video subsidiary, Anchor Bay Entertainment (date TBA). No official reason for the decision was given by Showtime however it's likely tied to the film's outlandish and shocking imagery, which is said to include aborted fetuses. Mick Garris, the creator and executive producer of the series, told the Times, "I think it's amazing, but it's even hard for me to watch. It's definitely the most disturbing film I've ever seen."
He added, "We made it clear that we were going on American pay cable television, and even though there wasn't as much control over content, there still were concerns. And then when we got the first cut, it was very, very strong stuff, and we made some suggestions on what might help before we showed it to Showtime. The Japanese made the changes they were comfortable with, and eventually we arrived at a film that he was happy with and we're all happy with. But Showtime felt it was not something they were comfortable putting out on the airwaves." As for the decision to go to DVD, Garris said: "It really was, let's try and not hack this up. Let's all just agree to release it in its complete form on the DVD, and hopefully its audience will be able to find it that way." (Click here to read the original story.)
MONK (USA) - 5.40 million viewers tuned into the show's 2006 debut last Friday, including a solid 1.5 rating/4 share among adults 18-49. Said numbers made the broadcast cable's third most-watched program last week, behind fellow USA series "WWE Raw's" two Monday installments.
OUR THIRTIES (ABC, New!) - "Crumbs" writer/executive producer Dave Walpert has lined up a pilot order at ABC and Touchstone Television for a new comedy about a group of San Francisco-based thirtysomethings dealing with adulthood. Walpert wrote the pilot script and will executive produce along with Warren Littlefield and his Littlefield Co.
UNTITLED JULIAN WHITAKER PROJECT (Syndication, New!) - Associated Television International ("The National Health Test") is looking to launch a weekly half-hour talk show featuring wellness expert Dr. Julian Whitaker into syndication beginning this fall. Said project would feature Whitaker, director of the Whitaker Wellness Institute in Newport Beach, California, offering wellness tips and answering medical questions from in-studio guests and viewers at home. No other details were given.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters