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!
24 (FOX) - Twentieth Century Fox is on track to release a feature film based on the veteran FOX drama. Series creators Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow are on board to pen the script along with current showrunner Howard Gordon. It's believed the trio will complete the script this summer with the studio making the final green light decision early next year. Production then would commence between the show's sixth and seventh seasons. Star Kiefer Sutherland is widely believed to be on board however no formal deals have been signed. And as expected, details about the feature are being kept under wraps. Cochran, Surnow and Gordon then will also serve as executive producers via their Real Time Productions banner along with Imagine Television's Brian Grazer.
BONDS ON BONDS (ESPN) - The cable channel and producer Tollin/Robbins Productions have officially pulled the plug on the reality series, citing "creative control" issues with star Barry Bonds and his representatives. No other details about the decision were given. "Bonds" had been absent from the network's schedule since May 30 with its poor ratings leaving little expectations that it would return.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Various) - HBO's "The Sopranos" closed its 2006 season to the tune of 8.9 million viewers, including a 4.1 rating/12 share among adults 18-49. Said numbers made the series the top draw once again for the week of May 29-June 4. Lead-out "Big Love" also fared well, with 4.5 million viewers (#10) watching its season finale. Rounding out the top 15: Comedy Central's "Blue Collar Comedy Tour 3" (5.3 million, #7) and FX's "Rescue Me" (3.2 million, #13). Meanwhile, outside the top 15, MTV's "The Hills" opened to 2.93 million viewers last Wednesday (including a 2.3/7 in adults 18-34) while lead-out "Cheyenne" opened to 1.9 million. And finally over on ABC Family, "Falcon Beach's" two-hour launch drew a lackluster 1.14 million viewers while season four of "The Simple Life" debuted to 1.35 million viewers on Sunday. As for the current week, Lifetime's "Lovespring International" opened to about 1.0 million viewers on Monday, down significantly from its lead-in, the original movie "Stranded" (2.4 million).
DEXTER (Showtime) - Geoff Pierson ("24") has booked a recurring role on the upcoming drama, about a forensic expert (Michael C. Hall) that moonlights as a serial killer. He'll play Capt. Matthews, the supervisor of Hall's character.
DHARMA & GREG (ABC) - Writer/producer Dottie Dartland Zicklin is returning to television, inking a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for Zicklin to develop new projects for the studio as well as potentially join of its existing series. Her most-recent small screen effort was the 2004-05 season comedy pilot "Joint Custody" for the WB, after which she took a few years off to focus on her family.
ENTOURAGE (HBO) - Martin Landau ("The Evidence") is set to appear in a multi-episode arc on the show's third season. He'll play an old-school Hollywood producer that crosses paths with Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his eager
posse. It's not clear when Landau's first installment will air.
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes has renegotiated her existing overall deal with producer Touchstone Television. The new pact, valued at about $10 million, will keep Rhimes at the studio through at least the 2008-09 season. In addition to her duties on "Grey's," the deal also covers her midseason drama pilot about a group of female journalists as well as any other development during the period.
THE KING OF QUEENS (CBS) - Sony Pictures Television has cleared a second cycle of the veteran comedy on local stations covering 50% of the country, including WWOR in New York, KCOP in Los Angeles, WCIU in Chicago, WPSG in Philadelphia, KBHK in San Francisco and WSBK in Boston. "Queens'" current syndicated run is expected to expire during the 2009-10 broadcast season, with the new four-year cycle keeping it on the airwaves into the next decade. Said cycle is believed to be valued in the $1.5 million per episode range, on par with the healthy $2 million it netted from its first cycle, which began in the fall of 2003. Participating stations also turn over three minutes of ad time per half-hour to Sony, adding an extra $200,000 per episode for the second cycle (down from $500,000 per half-hour for the first). In total, "Queens'" syndicated run (on local stations and cable's TBS beginning this fall) will earn Sony a whopping $800 million.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) - Writer/producer Greg Malins ("Will & Grace") has inked a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for Malins to join the studio's sophomore comedy "How I Met Your Mother" next season, where he'll serve as co-showrunner along with creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. In addition, he'll likely develop new series projects for 20th. Malins spent the past development season behind the CBS/Sony Pictures Television comedy pilot "Sex, Power, Love & Politics."
INSPECTOR MOM (Lifetime Movie Network, New!) - Danica McKellar ("The West Wing") has been tapped for the lead role in a new original movie for the cable channel about a young suburban mother of two toddlers who solves local murder mysteries on the side. The project, set to begin production in Dallas this week, also plans to shoot eight short "webisodes" related to the telefilm. No other specifics were given.
THE L WORD (Showtime) - Janina Gavankar ("Bull Run") has joined the cast of the pay channel drama. She'll play an unspecified character on the series, which returns for its fourth season in January.
NIP/TUCK (FX) - Larry Hagman, Kathleen Turner and Brooke Shields have all booked roles on the show's upcoming fourth season. Hagman will play the much older husband of Sanaa Lathan's character, who winds up buying McNamara/Troy, the Miami-based plastic surgery practice of Dr. Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Dr. Christian Troy (Julian McMahon). Shields then is set as Dr. Wolper, a shrink in whom Troy confides while Turner will play Cindy Plumb, a phone-sex operator who comes to McNamara/Troy to rejuvenate her voice through a vocal cord surgery.
THE OFFICE (NBC) - Series star Steve Carell has reportedly received a significant pay bump for his duties on the NBC comedy. His new per episode salary is said to be in the $175,000 range. In addition, production on the show's third season will include two hiatuses to accommodate Carell's burgeoning feature film career.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Producers are currently casting a new lead character for the show's second season. Said character, Buck Mahone, is described in the casting notice as follows: "30-40, this strong, highly intelligent, methodical FBI agent is the man in charge of tracking our escapees. Something in his cool, calm gaze suggests an intense acumen that is extremely similar to that of Michael Scofield - the ringleader of the seven convicts Mahone is pursuing."
ROME (HBO) - Zuleikha Robinson ("Hidalgo") has joined the cast of the period drama, which returns for its second season early next year. She'll play Gaia, a sexy Amazonian female warrior and potential love interest for Ray Stevenson's character, Titus Pullo.
THE SARAH SILVERMAN PROGRAM (Comedy Central) - Writer/producer Dan Sterling ("King of the Hill") has come aboard the freshman comedy as an executive producer. He'll take over for co-creator/executive producer Dan Harmon, who has left the project over creative reasons. Sterling then will serve along with Silverman and Rob Schrab. Originally set for an August bow, the series has been bumped to a fourth quarter or even an early 2007 start.
SECRET OBSESSIONS (MyNetworkTV) - Mark Totty ("Joan of Arcadia") has joined the cast of the upcoming telenovela. He'll play the psychiatrist and confidant of Bo Derek's character, a cutthroat fashion mogul. The series launches on Tuesday, September 5 at 9:00/8:00c.
THE SHIELD (FX) - Clifton Collins Jr. ("Capote") has scored a multi-episode arc on the veteran cable drama. He'll play a federal agent on the series, which returns for its sixth season early next year.
THE TUDORS (Showtime) - Natalie Dormer, Callum Blue and Henry Czerny have all booked roles on the upcoming drama, about the reign and marriages of England's King Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Details on their respective characters were not released. The trio join the previously cast Henry Cavill, Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill.
VANISHED (FOX) - Josh Berman has opted to exit his executive producer role on "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation" in favor of focusing on his soon-to-launch drama "Vanished" for FOX. It's understood the writer/producer negotiated an early release from "C.S.I." producers CBS Paramount Network TV and Alliance Atlantis. This past April, Berman inked a four-year overall deal with "Vanished" producer 20th Century Fox Television with the understanding he'd still work on "C.S.I." for the 2006-07 season.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters