LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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1 VS. 100 (NBC) - Bob Saget's deal to host the series (read the story) reportedly includes a talent holding component. Said aspect calls for co-producer NBC Universal Television to cast the "America's Funniest Home Videos" alum in one of its existing properties or develop a new project around the actor/comedian. In addition, while not specified in the release - the Peacock has committed to five one-hour episodes of the show, likely to be stripped as a weeklong stunt (a la "Deal or No Deal" when it first started) during the upcoming season.
BLIND DATE/ELIMIDATE (Syndication) - Both veteran reality dating series have been canceled by their respective distributors. NBC Universal Television's "Blind Date" however will continue to air repeats of its seven seasons to date in more than 90% of the country during the upcoming season while it's not clear if Telepictures' "Elimidate" will follow suit. The latter cancellation had been considered imminent with the exit of executive producer Alex Duda to fellow Telepictures offering "The Tyra Banks Show" earlier this year (read the story).
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - Josh Hopkins ("Pepper Dennis") has booked a recurring role on the upcoming drama, where he'll play a potential love interest for Calista Flockhart's character. The news marks Hopkins' second duty this fall, as he's also due to appear in several episodes of the FOX newcomer "Vanished" (read the story). No other specifics about his "Brothers" role were released. In addition, executive producer Marti Noxon has reportedly exited her role as showrunner of the series due to unspecified creative differences. A replacement expected to be named by producer Touchstone Television shortly. Creator Jon Robin Baitz and Ken Olin also serve as executive producers on the hour, which launches on Sunday, September 24 at 10:00/9:00c.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of July 31-August 6) - TNT's "The Closer" posted a stellar 6.93 million viewers on July 31, including a 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18-49. Not surprisingly, said numbers made it the top overall cable draw last week, beating out USA's "WWE Raw" (5.22 million viewers, 2.0 rating/6 share in adults 18-49). USA's Friday entries "Monk" (5.28 million, #3) and "Psych" (4.72 million, #5, 1.6/5 in adults 18-49) also fared well while "Closer" lead-out "Saved" posted 3.6 million viewers (#6). Also cracking the top 10: Bravo's "Project Runaway" with a series best 3.44 million viewers (1.7/5 in adults 18-49). Falling just shy of the top 10 then were the second season launch of VH1's "Flavor of Love" (3.3 million, 1.5/4 in adults 18-49) on Sunday and a new episode of HBO's "Entourage" (2.4 million, 1.5/4 in adults 18-49). Not faring as well were the premieres of ABC Family's "Three Moons Over Milford" (1.6 million viewers, 0.3/4 in adults 18-34) and VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club 4" (1.8 million viewers) while HBO's "Lucky Louie" and Showtime's "Brotherhood" fell to 1.1 million and 185,000 viewers respectively. As for the current week, A&E's "Gene Simmons' Family Jewels" opened to a solid 1.9 million viewers, making it the second most-watched series bow in the network's history, behind only the August 2004 debut of "Dog the Bounty Hunter." And speaking of "Dog," a pair of hourlong specials on Tuesday drew 4.0 million total viewers, including stellar numbers in adults 18-49 (2.7 million), 25-54 (2.6 million) and a network record in 18-34 (1.2 million). The two-hour broadcast hit a high at 10:00/9:00c with 4.5 million viewers and a 2.0 rating/6 share in adults 18-49 and a 2.1/5 in adults 25-54.
CAROLINA MOON (Lifetime) - Claire Forlani, Jacqueline Bisset and Oliver Hudson are all set to topline the original movie, the first of four Nora Roberts adaptations set to be produced by the network (read the story). Said project, along with "Blue Smoke," "Angels Fall" and "Montana Sky," are set run back-to-back on Monday nights in February. Peter Guber's Mandalay Television and Stephanie Germain Productions are producing.
THE CLASS (CBS) - David Keith ("Daredevil") has joined the cast of the upcoming Eye comedy. He'll take over for Eric Allen Kramer as Yonk Allen, the football star-turned-indoor barbecue grill guru husband of Andrea Anders's character. No reason was specified for the switch.
COMMITTED (NBC) - Former co-star RonReaco Lee has inked a one-year talent holding deal with NBC Universal Television. The pact calls for the actor, who spent the past development season attached to NBC's failed drama pilot "Haskett's Chance," to star in an upcoming pilot for the studio or join one of its existing properties.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO) - The pay channel has confirmed the comedy veteran will indeed return for a sixth season as production is set to begin on 10 new episodes in October. Co-stars Larry David, Jeff Garlin, Cheryl Hines and Susie Essman are all expected to return for the new season, due to air sometime in 2007.
THE ELLEN DEGENERES SHOW (Syndication) - Warner Bros. Domestic Television has cleared the popular talk show for three additional seasons, taking the series through the 2009-10 season. Stations covering more than 90% of the country are on board through the 2008-09 season with at least 70% sticking through the 2009-10 season. The news comes as little surprise as "Ellen" has increased its viewership among the prized women 18-49 and 25-54 demographics in each of its three seasons to date. Season four of the series kicks off on Monday, September 4.
HALLMARK CHANNEL ORIGINALS (Hallmark) - December will see the premiere of at least three new original movies from the cable channel. On Saturday, December 2 at 9:00/8:00c look for "Love's Abiding Joy," the fourth installment of the eight-book franchise by author Janette Oke. Willie LaHaye ("American Wedding") and Erin Cottrell ("Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde") star in the project, about a family that "must cope with the tragic death of their infant daughter while struggling to keep their frontier ranch going." Next up on Saturday, December 9 at 9:00/8:00c is "The Christmas Card." Said project, about a "career soldier stationed overseas who takes a leave of absence to search for the young woman who has written him a deeply touching personalized, but anonymous Christmas card," stars Ed Asner ("Lou Grant"), John Newton ("Desperate Housewives") and Alice Evans ("102 Dalmations"). And finally on Saturday, December 16 at 9:00/8:00c, keep an eye out for "What I Did For Love," about two lovers with very different backgrounds - a city-slicker lawyer (Jeremy London) and a country girl (Dorie Barton) lured to big-city life in Los Angeles to fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor - who come together despite the odds. Sally Struthers and James Gammon also star.
HEARTLAND (TNT) - Kari Matchett ("Invasion"), Danielle Nicolet ("Second Time Around") and Morena Baccarin ("Firefly") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an intense, sleep-deprived heart-transplant surgeon (Treat Williams) whose devotion to his work takes a toll on his relationships. Matchett will play the estranged wife of Williams's character, who works at the same hospital as the organ-recovery coordinator, while details on Nicolet and Baccarin's characters weren't specified.
INVASION (ABC) - Creator/executive producer Shaun Cassidy has signed a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact, which has an option for a third year, calls for the prolific writer/producer to develop new projects for the studio. Cassidy had previously been set up at Warner Bros. Television, home to the short-lived "Invasion."
JOHN FROM CINCINNATI (HBO) - Bruce Greenwood and Luis Guzman are in final talks to join the cast of the drama pilot, about the world of Southern California surfing. Greenwood will play the patriarch of the surfing family at the center of the show while Guzman is set as Ramon, an unspecified character. In addition, Emmy winner Mark Tinker has come aboard to direct the hour from a script by creator David Milch and author Kem Nunn.
LOST (ABC) - Kiele Sanchez ("Related") is the latest to join the cast of the popular drama, which returns for its third season on October 4. She'll play a new castaway and a potential love interest for fellow newcomer Rodrigo Santoro's character. Not surprisingly no other details were given about her character. Sanchez is the third actor to join the cast this season, the other being Elizabeth Mitchell as Juliet (read the story), while both Henry Ian Cusick ("Desmond") and Michael Emerson ("Henry Gale") were upped to series regulars.
SHOP SHOP (Lifetime, New!) - Whoopi Goldberg is in talks with the cable channel to develop a new game show which blends elements of "The Amazing Race" with "Supermarket Sweep." Goldberg will executive produce the project via her One Ho production banner along with Tom Leonardis of Whoop Inc. and 44 Blue Productions (A&E's "Designing Blind"). No specific details about the project were given.
THE SOPRANOS (HBO) - Daniel Baldwin ("Our Fathers") has booked a recurring role on the show's final batch of episodes. He'll play the star of the horror movie that Michael Imperioli's character has been working on, which is described in the show as "Saw" meets "Godfather II." No other details about his character were released.
THREE STRIKES (Comedy Central) - Jon Stewart's Busboy Productions has scored a pilot commitment from the cable channel for a new character-based comedy set in the world of minor league baseball. The half-hour, single-camera project comes from Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck ("King of the Hill"). The pair wrote the pilot script and will executive produce alongside Busboy's Stewart and Ben Karlin. No other specifics about the pilot were given.
UNTITLED AL MADRIGAL PROJECT (FOX, New)! - Al Madrigal is heading to FOX as the comedian has inked a talent holding deal with the network and sibling studio 20th Century Fox Television. The pact as usual calls for FOX and 20th to either develop a project around him or cast him in one of their existing properties. Should the former be the case, Madrigal's managers, Dave Rath and Kara Welker of Generate Management, will also serve as executive producers.
UNTITLED HUGH JACKMAN PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Actor Hugh Jackman and his producing partner John Palermo have inked a three-for-one development deal with CBS. The pact calls for the pair's Seed Productions to develop three projects, at least of one which is guaranteed a pilot order by the network. Jackman however isn't expected to star in resulting project, which has yet to attach a studio.
VANISHED (FOX) - "Invasion" alum Eddie Cibrian is the latest to join the ever-expanding ensemble cast of the freshman drama, which launches next week. He'll play an F.B.I. agent, additional specifics of which weren't released. Separately, former "Desperate Housewives" executive producer Chuck Pratt has signed on to join the show's producing team, which includes creator/showrunner Josh Berman. He'll take over for Paul Redford, who has left the show to focus on his own projects in development.
WINE COUNTRY (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel and Emmy-nominated producer David Gerber ("Flight 93") are developing a new original movie about a family-run winery in Northern California that's suddenly threatened by larger corporations taking over the region. Tina Boothe ("A Little Thing Called Murder") is on board to pen the script with author James Conaway ("Napa" and "The Far Side of Eden") serving as a consultant. Gerber then will executive produce the two-hour project.
THE WINNER (FOX) - Linda Hart ("Desperate Housewives") has joined the cast of the midseason comedy. She'll take over for Julie Hagerty as the mother of Rob Corddry's character, a thirtysomething slacker still living with his parents. No reason was given for the change.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters