LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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ANGRY LITTLE GIRLS (Oxygen, New!) - Jennifer Love Hewitt ("Ghost Whisperer") has scored a pilot order from the cable channel for a new animated series based on Lela Lee's web-based comic strip of the same name. Said comic revolves around the adventures of a "South Park"-esque group of girls living in an increasingly angry world. Hewitt is on board to executive produce the project through her Lovespell Entertainment banner along with Untitled Entertainment. Lee herself will write the pilot script and also serve as an executive producer.
BECOMING GLEN (FOX) - 14-year-old Keir Gilchrist has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a successful fortysomething man who looks back at 1994, when he was a 32-year-old slacker living with his parents and spending all his time lying on the couch watching TV. He'll play Josh, the son of a woman Glen has a crush on. He's described in the casting notice as: "An off-beat, quirky, and hypochondriac 14 years old boy. Though shy around most adults, Josh feels instantly comfortable around Glen - bonding over competing heart rates and na�ve sexual curiosity. Josh comes alive when he's with Glen. His overall innocence and vulnerability make him likeable." Seth MacFarlane and Ricky Blitt are behind the 20th Century Fox Television-based project.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - Ron Rifkin ("Alias") is the first to be cast in the drama pilot, a family soap revolving around adult siblings. He'll play Uncle Sol, the brother of the family matriarch in the series, which comes from creator Jon Robin Baitz ("The West Wing"). Fellow "Alias" alum Ken Olin is also on board to direct the project as well as executive produce along with Baitz.
NINE LIVES (ABC) - Chi McBride, last seen in the short-lived FOX series "Killer Instinct," has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the lives of nine strangers who share a bond after experiencing a 52-hour hostage crisis that stems from a bank robbery that goes bad. No details however were given about his character. Hank Steinberg and K.J. Steinberg are behind the Warner Bros. Television-based hour, to be directed by Rodrigo Garcia.
SHERIFF LUKE (ABC, New!) - Recent Golden Globe winners Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana ("Brokeback Mountain") have booked a script order at ABC and Touchstone Television for a new drama about the sheriff of a small Midwestern town beset by such urban ills as illegal immigration and illicit drug use and dealing. Said sheriff is understood to be a widowed Gulf War veteran with two teenage children. McMurtry and Ossana will executive produce the project, which is being eyed for a potential 2007 berth. No writer however was mentioned.
STUDIO 7 ON THE SUNSET STRIP (NBC) - After weeks of on-again/off-again negotiations, Matthew Perry ("Friends") has signed on to topline the much-hyped Aaron Sorkin/Thomas Schlamme-produced series about the behind-the-scenes drama at a fictional long-running sketch-comedy series in the mold of "Saturday Night Live." He'll play Matt Albie, a former writer/co-executive producer for the show (and the ex of the show's major female cast member) who is asked back when its Lorne Michaels-esque producer quits. Also joining the cast is D.L. Hughley ("Weekends at the D.L.") as Simon Stiles, one of the sketch show's three stars. The pair join the previously cast Steven Weber who plays Jack Rudolph, the ambitious chairman of UBS, the fictional network that airs the show. Schlamme will direct the pilot from a script by Sorkin with each also serving as executive producers. NBC gave the Warner Bros. Television-based project a blind 13-episode commitment in October (read the story).
UNDERFUNDED (USA) - Ryan McPartlin ("Living With Fran"), Joanna Canton ("That '70s Show"), Brian Howe ("A Minute With Stan Hooper") and the singluarly named Dhirendra ("Da Vinci's Inquest") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about Darryl Freehorn (Mather Zickel), the star agent for the little-known Canadian Secret Service whose brilliance in the field compensates for the woefully underfunded agency's lack of resources, both high- and low-tech. Canton will play Naomi Lutz, who's detailed in the casting notice as follows: "20s, a fresh-faced American. She is an agent with the U.S. State Department. Naomi is a gung-ho, upbeat young woman with a terrible crush on an unsuspecting Darryl Freehorn. Clearly jealous when he starts falling for a beautiful widow, Naomi does everything in her power to keep the romance from flourishing. Eager to be a field agent, anxious to be where the action is, Naomi finds herself bumped from her position after an ill-fated car chase. She temporarily winds up working as a waitress, ultimately joining Darryl when he takes a position in Washington, D.C."
McPartlin then is set as Matt Sykes - "30-40. He is a handsome square-jawed CIA agent to whom Darryl must report. Sykes is a selfinvovled glory-hound who is constantly stealing Darryl's thunder. Even when he tries to give Darryl some of the credit for solving the mystery, he's met with polite laughter" - while Dhirendra is believed to be playing Nash - "30-45, any ethnicity, a self described (bad inventor). Nash is in charge of the "Ordinance Department" at the Canadian Secret Service. Just like Bond had "Q", Darryl depends on Nash for his clever gadgetry. Upfront Nash can't come up with anything. In fact gives Darryl ordinary household objects, then sends him out into the field. And he forces guilt on Darryl for not exposing him as a fraud." Finally, Howie is understood to be playing Owen Barnaby: "40s-60s, Darryl's section chief at the CSS (Canadian Secret Service). He is a impossibly upbeat fellow, who manages to keep the place running ..."with bailing wire and spit." Barnaby keeps a close tab on costs (including what Darryl spends for lunch). He's used to Darryl's weekly tirades about quitting and takes the whole thing in stride." In addition, John Fortenberry ("Rescue Me") is on board to direct the NBC Universal Television-based project from a script by creators David Breckman and Ross Abrash.
UNTITLED MICHAEL LOFTUS PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Comedian Michael Loftus is set to be the focus of a potential new half-hour comedy at FOX and NBC Universal Television about a married couple dealing with everything from religion and politics to therapy and addictions in an unconventional way. The network has given a script order to the untitled half-hour with Bob Kushell ("Jake in Progress") on board to write and executive produce along with Levity Entertainment Group's Judi Brown-Marmel and Robert Hartmann.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters