LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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20 QUESTIONS (ABC) - Thomas Hines's drama pilot, about an idealistic young State Department employee who inadvertently stumbles onto a deadline conspiracy to undermine the United States, has been give the go-ahead to produce a pilot. Michael Engler ("Sex and the City") will direct the Touchstone Television-based project from a script by Hines with the duo executive producing along with Matt Gross and John Wirth.
THE BOOK OF DANIEL (NBC) - The show's official web site indicates one of "Daniel's" four unaired installments will be webcast this Friday beginning at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. No other specifics were given.
HIM & US (ABC) - Recent "How I Met Your Mother" guest star Ashley Williams has joined the cast of the Elton John-produced single-camera comedy pilot, about the life of an over-the-hill rock star, his road manager and the rest of his colorful entourage. She'll play the manager's assistant in the project, which comes from Touchstone Television, the Edelstein Co. and fellow executive producers Cindy Chupack, Michael Edelstein, Bob Halley and Bruce Roberts.
A HOUSE DIVIDED (ABC, New!) - An escalating conflict between a Midwest farming community and the U.S. government that sows the seeds of what will be the next civil war in present-day America is set to be the focus of a potential new drama at the Alphabet. Writer Andrew David Chapman and "Grey's Anatomy" executive producer Mark Gordon are behind the hour, which has a pilot order from the network and Touchstone Television. Chapman penned the pilot script and will co-executive produce while Gordon will executive produce through his Mark Gordon Co. banner.
JAKE IN PROGRESS (ABC) - Jane Espenson, a co-executive producer on the series, has clarified her previous blog post about "Jake's" fate: "A previous post of mine has been interpreted to mean that Jake was cancelled. IT WAS NOT. In fact, I was very careful not to use that word. ABC has been nothing but extremely clear that this season's episodes will air as soon as they have found the right positioning for them, and that the show could well continue beyond this season. I never said "cancelled," but I admit that I was overdramatic with my language - inexcusably so � as I tried to find a humorous/metaphoric take on the reduction of the order. I love my Jake co-workers, and when I wrote the original post, I was very sad that I would not be seeing them on a daily basis for a while. This mood leaked into the post in an inappropriate way -- But then, I'm very new to blogging (count it in days)."
THE JEFF GARLIN PROGRAM (TBS, New!) - "Curb Your Enthusiasm" co-star Jeff Garlin and "Everybody Loves Raymond" co-creator/executive producer Phil Rosenthal have booked a pilot order at the cable channel for what's being described as a throwback to the Jack Benny-style variety hours in which the hosts play themselves. Garlin and Rosenthal will both star as slightly skewed versions of themselves in the project, which begins with a show-within-a-show hosted by Garlin and flashes back to the week prior and the incidents that inspired that variety show episode. Rosenthal will play Garlin's neighbor with various celebrities appearing each week. Garlin wrote the half-hour along with feature writers Steve Rudnick and Leo Benvenuti ("Kicking & Screaming"). Production is set to begin in March with Garlin, Rosenthal and David Miner of 3 Arts Entertainment serving as executive producers.
LOW LIFE (FX) - Minnie Driver ("Will & Grace") has signed on to co-star in the Eddie Izzard-led drama pilot, about a husband-and-wife duo of traveling con artists who, along with their three kids, wander the country in a group of Irish Travelers who live off the grid. She'll play Dahlia, the wife of Izzard's character Wayne. Said project opens with Dahlia's release from prison, where she battled her drug addiction, and the family's subsequent decision to rejoin society and settle down in a suburban community in Baton Rouge, Louisana. Carl Franklin ("Out of Time") is on board to direct the pilot from a script by playwright Dmitry Lipkin, as is Fox TV Studios, who will co-produce with FX and Maverick Television. Izzard, Lipkin and Maverick's Guy Oseary, Michael Rosenberg and Mark Morgan are the executive producers. Production is set to begin in early March in New Orleans.
ULTRA (CBS, New!) - "Joan of Arcadia" creator Barbara Hall has scored a pilot order for a new drama based on the Image Comics property of the same name, about Pearl Penalosa, a single city-girl superhero balancing the demands of greatness with her love life and social calendar. CBS Paramount Network Television is behind the project, which Hall will write and executive produce with David Engel and David Alpert serving as co-executive producers.
THE WAY (CBS, New!) - Writer Adam Kulakow ("Escape to Witch Mountain") and feature producer Michael De Luca are set to team for a new drama at the Eye and Sony Pictures Television about a New England family that copes with the death of the powerful clan's matriarch by using witchcraft to hurt their rivals and build a successful business empire. Kulakow wrote the pilot script to the project, which has been given the green light to produce a pilot, and will serve as a co-executive producer.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters