LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE CHELSEA HANDLER SHOW (E!, New!) - The cable channel has ordered eight episodes of a new variety series starring comedian Chelsea Handler ("Girls Behaving Badly"). The half-hour project, a co-production of 3 Arts Entertainment and Jay & Tony Show Productions, will feature Handler in taped spoofs, film shorts and field remote pieces, all framed by stand-up segments of her performing before a studio audience. Production on the eight installments is expected to be completed in time for a spring launch. Jay Blumenfeld, Tony Marsh and Mark Schulman are executive producing along with Handler.
COMANCHE MOON (CBS) - Simon Wincer ("Into the West") has been tapped to direct the six-hour prequel to his famed 1989 mini-series "Lonesome Dove." Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana ("Brokeback Mountain") wrote the script to the mini-series, which follows the formative years of Texas Rangers Augustus McCrae and Woodrow F. Call as they hunt the leader of the Comanche tribe. No casting has been announced. Production is set to begin in mid-April with McMurtry, Ossana and Firm Films's Julie Yorn, Paul Frank and Adam Schulman serving as executive producers.
HASKETT CHRONICLES (NBC) - Actor/director Tim Blake Nelson ("O") has signed on to direct the Conan O'Brien-produced drama pilot, about a politician who is murdered but given a chance to come back to the physical world (albeit, this time as a drug addict who lives in a halfway house) in order to save his soul. Willie Reale wrote the pilot script to the NBC Universal Television-based hour, which he's executive producing along with Conaco Productions's O'Brien, David Kissinger, A.J. Morewitz and Jeff Ross.
HEROES (NBC) - Greg Grunberg ("Alias"), Ali Larter ("Final Destination"), Hayden Panettiere ("The Book of Daniel"), Santiago Cabrera ("Empire"), Tawny Cypress ("Jonny Zero"), Masi Oka ("Scrubs") and Sendhil Ramamurthy ("NUMB3RS") have all been cast in the two-hour drama pilot, about a group of regular people who discover that they have superpowers. No details about their respective characters were released. Tim Kring is behind the project, which comes from NBC Universal Television and Tailwind Productions. Also joining the pilot is David Semel ("House") who will direct the project from a script by Kring.
NINE LIVES (ABC) - John Billingsley ("Star Trek: Enterprise") and Owain Yeoman ("Kitchen Confidential") have both joined the cast of the ensemble 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. The pair join the previously cast Lourdes Benedicto, Jessica Collins, Chi McBride and Scott Wolf in the Warner Bros. Television-based hour, which Alex Graves is directing from a script by creators/executive producers Hank Steinberg and K.J. Steinberg.
SECRETS OF A SMALL TOWN (ABC) - John L. Adams ("The Dead Zone") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about the emotional secrets that are revealed in a small town after of a teenage girl is murdered and her sister goes missing. Adams joins the previously cast Angie Harmon in the Touchstone Television-based hour, where he'll play a cameraman who accompanies Harmon's character, a TV reporter, to her hometown to cover the story. Charles Pratt, Chris Brancato and Bert Salke are behind the project, which Adam Davidson ("Lost") is directing from a script by Pratt.
SIX DEGREES (ABC) - Jay Hernandez ("Hostel") is the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about the intertwined stories of a group of strangers in New York from different walks of life. No details however were given about Hernandez's character. Stuart Zicherman and Raven Metzner are behind the Touchstone Television-based hour, which Rodrigo Garcia is directing from a script by the duo. Bad Robot Productions's J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk and Thom Sherman are the executive producers.
TRAVELER (ABC) - Matt Bomer ("Flightplan"), Logan Marshall-Green ("The O.C.") and Aaron Stanford ("X-Men: The Last Stand") have all booked the lead roles in the "Three Days of the Condor"-esque drama pilot, about two friends who are framed as terrorists by someone they both thought was their friend. Stanford will play the title role of Will Traveler with Bomer and Marshall-Green as Jay and Taylor respectively. David Digilio is behind the Warner Bros. Television-based project, which David Nutter is directing from a script by Digilio. Dan Jinks, Bruce Cohen and Digilio are the executive producers.
WEEDS (Showtime) - Producer/director Craig Zisk ("My Name Is Earl") is set to come aboard to the Mary-Louise Parker-led show's sophomore season, where he'll serve as a co-executive producer. Production on the new season begins this spring for a summer 2006 debut. Jenji Kohan created and executive produces "Weeds," which comes from Lionsgate Television in association with Tilted Productions.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters