[06/02/06 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: May 29-June 2 (Weekly Round-Up)
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

Looking to keep track of all the various projects in development? Click here to visit our newly branded "Devwatch" section. There visitors can view our listings by network, genre, studio and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

AMERICAN DAD (FOX) - FOX has quietly extended the animated comedy for another 22 episodes, pushing its run through at least the 2007-08 season. In total, at least 63 installments are set to be produced of the 20th Century Fox Television-based series. Co-creators Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman and Seth MacFarlane are all expected to remain on board as the executive producers. "Dad" joins its fellow animated series "The Simpsons," "Family Guy" and "King of the Hill," all of which have been renewed through the 2007-08 season.

BIG DAY (ABC) - Writer/producer Matthew Carlson ("Malcolm in the Middle") is set to join the freshman comedy as an executive producer as part of a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The pact also calls for Carlson to develop new series projects for the studio. As for "Big Day," he'll serve alongside creators Josh Goldsmith and Cathy Yuspa, who are also busy launching fellow newcomer "'Til Death" for FOX.

CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Various) - FX's "Rescue Me" returned to the tune of 3.21 million viewers on Tuesday, 2.05 million of which fell into the key adults 18-49 demographic. Said numbers were up 10% and 7% respectively from its sophomore debut last summer and 15% and 13% respectively from its overall second season average. Also opening strongly were the second seasons of A&E's "Inked" and "Criss Angel: Mindfreak" on Wednesday. The latter drew 2.3 million viewers (1.6 million in adults 18-49), up a whopping 34% in both categories from its freshman bow. As for "Inked," the series drew 1.1 million viewers (770,000 in adults 18-49) for its bow, also up an impressive 16% in viewers and 25% in adults 18-49 from its launch last summer. Meanwhile over on VH1, season two of "My Fair Brady" kicked off with 824,000 viewers this past Sunday. Said number was down significantly from its freshman closer (1.8 million on 11/6/05). Finally, Bravo's "Top Chef" wrapped its inaugural run with 1.5 million viewers on Wednesday.

COURTING ALEX (CBS) - Jenna Elfman, star of the short-lived CBS comedy, has inked a new development deal with the Eye. The pact calls for the network to develop a new half-hour project around the actress. No other specifics were given.

DEADWOOD (HBO) - Creator David Milch told TV Guide earlier this week that his HBO drama is riding off into the sunset. "I'm touched by the passionate response of many of the fans of Deadwood and understand the disappointment they have expressed that this is to be the final season of the show," read the statement. "However, I presented a new project to the network, John from Cincinnati, which they are very excited about. We worked together to try and fashion a plan that would have enabled us to produce a fourth season of Deadwood, as well as the new show. HBO, in fact, offered to commit to an additional six episodes after this season to conclude Deadwood. I felt the right decision creatively was to stop now and move forward with the new project. Deadwood has been a magnificent experience for both me and the cast and crew behind the show, and I hope that everyone who loves Deadwood will not allow their disappointment in any way to affect what we believe is a wonderful season to come." Nevertheless, HBO executives say no definitive decision has been made about the show's future. The network however did confirm it has released its options on the entire cast, allowing them to find work elsewhere.

GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Touchstone Television reportedly has given $200,000 bonuses to each of the show's principal cast members, which include Ellen Pompeo, Patrick Dempsey, James Pickens Jr., T.R. Knight, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Chandra Wilson, Isaiah Washington, Justin Chambers and Kate Walsh. Industry insiders suggest said development is designed to head off any potential pressure to renegotiate their original series deals. The payouts follow in the footsteps of the casts of "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost," both of which received similar pay bumps as a "thank you" for their ratings successes.

LAW & ORDER (NBC) - Milena Govich ("Conviction") is set to join the cast of the flagship "Law & Order" series next season while Dennis Farina has opted out of returning. The news marks the latest overhaul of the 16-year veteran, which moves to Friday nights at 10:00/9:00c next season. Despite taking place in the same TV "universe," Govich won't be reprising her role of Jessica Rossi from "Conviction." Instead she's expected to play the new partner of Jesse L. Martin's character, specifics of which weren't released. Producers are also casting for a new Assistant District Attorney to fill the void left by the exit of Annie Parisse's character, who was killed off in the season finale.

LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (NBC) - Tony Award winner Warren Leight ("Side Man") has been tapped as the "Law & Order" spin-off's showrunner. Leight, who previously served as a co-executive producer on the series, will take over for Rene Balcer, who's exiting the "Law & Order" franchise after 16 years. Balcer is expected to continue to develop new projects for NBC Universal, where his overall deal is based.

MY EX-LIFE (CBS) - Writer/producer Rich Appel has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which has an option for a third year, will keep Appel at the studio for the foreseeable future. This past development season, Appel was behind the CBS comedy pilot "My Ex-Life," which wasn't ordered to series.

NIP/TUCK (FX) - Sanaa Lathan ("Something New") is set to join the cast of the veteran cable drama when it returns for its fourth season this fall. She'll play a thirtysomething woman married to a wealthy, much-older man who together wind up buying McNamara/Troy, the Miami-based plastic surgery practice that's the centerpiece to the series. Meanwhile, co-stars Dylan Walsh and Julian McMahon have reportedly receive significant pay bumps, with each now earning more than $100,000 per episode (or about $1.6-1.8 million for its planned 15-episode run). The increase is understood to have come from FX itself, not producer Warner Bros. Television.

PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Executive producers Marty Adelstein and Dawn Parouse have decided to go their separate ways as the pair plan to dismantle their 20th Century Fox Television-based Adelstein-Parouse Productions banner. Both however will remain with the studio as part of separate two-year overall deals. Former NBC drama executive Michael Thorn is expected to serve as president of Adelstein yet-to-be named production company while no other specifics were given about Parouse's pact.

THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Co-stars Michael Imperioli and Vincent Curatola have both closed deals with the pay channel to return for the show's final batch of eight episodes. The pair joins James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, both of whom signed on earlier this year. It's understood Tony Sirico, Steve Van Zandt and the other remaining key players are also expected to return, with talks currently underway.

TRACE EVIDENCE (Lifetime, New!) - Amanda Detmer and Jonathan Scarfe are set to topline a new original move for the pay channel. The thriller, set to air later this summer, revolves around a scientist (Detmer) on the verge of discovering the genetic cause of addictive behavior. Montreal-based Muse Entertainment Enterprises and Ottawa-based Sound Venture Productions are behind the project, production of which is set to begin on June 16 with Peter Svatek directing and David Patterson and Jesse Prupas producing.

UNDAUNTED COURAGE (HBO) - Writer/producer Michelle Ashford ("Boomtown") has been tapped as the lead writer and co-executive producer of the mini-series, about the historic three-year expedition Lewis and Clark began in 1803 at the behest of President Jefferson to map what was then largely untamed wilderness to facilitate the then-young nation's westward expansion. Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Adam Leipzig and Tim Kelly also serve as executive producers on the project, which is based on Stephen F. Ambrose's book of the same named (subtitled "Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West").

UNTITLED SHONDA RHIMES PROJECT (ABC) - Jeffrey Dean Morgan ("Grey's Anatomy") is the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about a group of female journalists. Details on his character however weren't specified. "Grey's" creator Shonda Rhimes is behind the hour, which is based at Touchstone Television.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [june 2006]  


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