[09/01/06 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: August 28-September 1 (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!

THE APPRENTICE (NBC) - Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump's co-star on the reality veteran, has been let go from the Trump Organization and will not be featured on the upcoming sixth season of the series. No specific reason was given by Trump spokesman Jim Dowd, who noted "Mr. Trump wishes her the best." The New York Post, which first reported the news, speculated that Kepcher's own endeavors were getting in the way of her Trump chores. Filling in for Kepcher on the new season will be Trump's kids: Ivanka and Donald Jr.

ARMY WIVES/SIDE ORDER OF LIFE (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel is moving forward with two more drama pilots, as network topper Susanne Daniels has greenlighted both "Army Wives," from the Mark Gordon Co. and writer Katherine Fugate ("The Prince & Me"), and "Side Order of Life," from feature producers Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks and writer Margaret Nagle ("Warm Springs"). The former hour, which is set up at Touchstone Television, revolves around a sassy young woman from the wrong side of the tracks who marries a soldier and moves her kids onto an Army base, where she befriends other women whose husbands are in the military. The project is based on Tanya Biank's book "Under the Sabers: The Unwritten Code of Army Wives." Production on the pilot is set to begin later this month on an actual Army base in South Carolina with Ben Younger ("Prime") directing from a script by Fugate. Gordon, Fugate and Deb Spera will then serve as executive producers. Already cast is newcomer Sally Pressman. As for "Life," said semi-autobiographical project tells the story of a magazine photographer who begins rethinking her life after her best friend is diagnosed with cancer one week before her wedding day. Warner Horizon Television is behind the hour, which Jinks and Cohen will executive produce with Nagle serving as a co-executive producer.

BAD GIRLS (FX, New!) - The cable channel is developing a U.S. version of the U.K. series of the same name, about the lives of incarcerated women in prison. William Schmidt ("Carnivale") is on board to pen the pilot script with Shed Productions' Eileen Gallagher, Ann McManus and Maureen Chadwicke attached as executive producers.

CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of August 21-27) - TNT's "The Closer" (6.3 million, #3) remained cable's top scripted draw last week, beating out the season finales of USA's "Monk" (5.6 million, #5), "Psych" (4.6 million, #10), "The 4,400" (2.95 million, 1.2/3 in 18-49) and "The Dead Zone" (2.21 million, 0.9/2 in 18-49). Also of note last week: HBO's wrapped its summer Sunday lineup of "Deadwood" (2.03 million, 0.9/2 in 18-49), "Entourage" (2.54 million, 1.5/4 in 18-49) and "Lucky Louie" (1.3 million) while TBS saw solid numbers for its "Funniest Commercials" special (4.2 million, #12). Rounding out the week were the launch of Oxygen's "Breaking Up with Shannen Doherty" (340,000 viewers) and the season finales of Comedy Central's "Reno 911" (966,000) and Bravo's "Work Out" (985,000). As for the current week, "Rescue Me" concluded its third season to the tune of 3.1 million viewers on Tuesday, including 1.9 million in the 18-49 demographic. Overall this summer, "Rescue Me" was up 7% and 5% respectively in said categories from last season. Meanwhile, "30 Days" concluded its sophomore run on Wednesday with 1.4 million viewers (1.3 household rating) tuning in, including 909,000 adults in the 18-49 demographic. A midnight encore of the installment also drew 892,000 total viewers, 578,000 adults 18-49 and a 0.8 household rating.

FOOTBALLERS' WIVES (ABC, New!) - A U.S. version of the popular U.K. soap is being developed by the Alphabet and Touchstone Television-based producers Chris Brancato and Bert Salke. Writer/producer Marco Pennette ("Ugly Betty") is on board to adapt the hour which will track three ordinary women's lives as they are transformed by the celebrity and fortune that come with marriage to sports superstars. As expected, the concept will be reimagined in the world of pro football rather than soccer. Brancato, Salke and Pennette then will serve as executive producers alongside Shed Productions' Eileen Gallagher, Ann McManus and Maureen Chadwicke.

FRANGELA (FOX) - Mo Collins (Starla on "Arrested Development"), Michael Boatman (Carter Heywood on "Spin City") and Garrett Morris (Uncle Junior on "The Jamie Foxx Show") have all joined the cast of the comedy pilot, a female buddy comedy starring comedians Frances Callier and Angela Shelton. Morris will play the superintendent of the apartment building the two women live in while Collins will play Callier's boss with Boatman as her husband. David Zuckerman is behind the Touchstone Television/Brillstein-Grey Television-based half-hour, which he's co-writing with Callier and Shelton. Dan Pasternack and Peter Traugott also serve as executive producers with David Steinberg ("Sons & Daughters") directing.

HIDDEN PALMS (The CW) - Tessa Thompson (Jackie Cook on "Veronica Mars") has joined the cast of the CW's midseason drama, a soap set in Palm Springs. She'll play Nikki, an unspecified character in the hour, which also stars Michael Cassidy, Taylor Handley, Amber Heard, Sharon Lawrence, D.W. Moffet, Gail O�Grady, Ellary Porterfield and Cheryl White. Kevin Williamson is behind the Lionsgate Television-based project, the pilot of which was directed by Scott Winant.

JOHN FROM CINCINNATI (HBO) - Austin Nichols (Morgan Earp on "Deadwood"), Ed O'Neill (Eric Baker on "The West Wing") and Brian Van Holt (Sean Cavennaugh on "Threshold") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the dysfunctional Yost family of Imperial Beach, California. Nichols will play the title character, a dim but wealthy kid from Cincinnati, who has come to take surfing lessons from surf legend Mitch (Bruce Greenwood), the head of the Yost clan. O'Neill will play Bill, a friend of the Yost family and a former Marine while Van Holt is set as Butchie, Mitch's son. David Milch and author Kem Nunn are behind the hour, which also stars Luis Guzman and is being directed by Mark Tinker.

LIPSHITZ SAVES THE WORLD (NBC) - Newcomer Jack Carpenter has been tapped for the lead role in the single-camera comedy pilot, about 17-year-old social outcast Adam Lipshitz (Carpenter) who finds out in a most bizarre way that he might be "the one" to save the world with the help of Leslie Nielsen. Dan Fogelman is behind the NBC Universal Television-based half-hour, which Chris Koch is directing.

THE LOST ROOM (Sci Fi) - Kevin Pollak ("Hostage"), comedian Margaret Cho, Dennis Christopher (Bellegarde on "Deadwood") and Ewan Bremner ("Elizabeth I") have all scored roles on the upcoming mini-series, about a homicide detective (Peter Krause) who stumbles upon a mysterious key that unlocks the door to a world of unimaginable power and soon thereafter becomes the target of those who will stop at nothing to claim it. Pollak will play Karl Kreutzfeld, a wealthy Pittsburgh businessman who's after the key with Cho as Suzie Kang, a tough, chain-smoking independent operator who will sell information to anyone about the room for the right price; Christopher as Martin Ruber, a county coroner and colleague of Krause's character; and Bremner as Harold Stritzke, a petty thief who teams with Krause's character to recover the latter's lost daughter. The group joins the previously cast Julianna Margulies, Roger Bart and Elle Fanning in the Lionsgate Television-based project, which is set to premiere in December.

RUN FOR MONEY (ABC, New!) - Buena Vista Productions and Fujisankei Communications are developing a domestic version of the popular Japanese reality/gameshow in which contestants compete in a high-tech game of hide-and-seek featuring celebrities on the run from a pack of menacing hunters. Scott Messick's Mess Media ("Pros vs. Joes") is on board to shepherd the project, which is being targeted as a weekly primetime hour, or a series of primetime specials for ABC with a possible repurposing on ABC Family.

THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX) - Pilot guru David Nutter ("Traveler") has come on board to direct and executive producer the pilot, which has been officially greenlighted for production. The Warner Bros. Television-based hour is a small screen take on the "Terminator" feature franchise, telling the story of Sarah Connor and her 14-year-old son John between the two big screen sequels. Nutter will work from a script by Josh Friedman ("War of the Worlds") with C2 Pictures' Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar also serving as executive producers and James Middleton producing.

SHOW ME WHAT YOU'VE GOT (A.K.A. SHOW ME THE MONEY) (FOX) - ABC is redeveloping the FOX game show, which previously went under the title "Show Me the Money." The Endemol USA-based quiz show features players answering trivia questions and taking chances to rack up prize money. The twist: "a never-before-seen mechanism" that can reduce a contestant's winnings to zero or multiply it into the millions. Endemol's David Goldberg is executive producing the project with creator Dick de Rijk.

UNTITLED ALLISON JANNEY PROJECT (CBS, New!) - Emmy-winner Allison Janney (C.J. Cregg on "The West Wing") is set to topline a potential sitcom vehicle for the Eye. Tagline Television's Kelly Kulchak and Chris Henze ("Psych") are on board to develop the project, full details of which weren't specified. Janney herself will also receive a producing credit.

VH1 ORIGINAL SERIES (VH1, New!) - The lives of Andrew Dice Clay and Tom Sizemore are set to be the focus of two of VH1's latest "Celebreality" entries. Both projects have received eight-episode orders, production of which is expected to be completed in time for a March premiere. The Clay project, which has yet to be titled, will track the foul-mouthed comic - along with his on-again-off-again fiance and two teenage kids - as he boards the comeback train by writing a book, cutting a record and producing his own Sirius radio show. Fox TV Studios is behind the show with Danny Salles executive producing. As for the Sizemore effort, said project will likewise follow Sizemore's efforts to rehabilitate himself, including his work on a movie for the BBC that's currently shooting in Canada. Troy Searer and John Foy are on board to executive produce the Sizemore project. Meanwhile, the cable channel is moving forward with two other projects: "Celebrity Paranormal Project," a one-hour series that sends celebrities to collect data on paranormal activity in some of the world's scariest, off-limits places; and "The Wendy Williams Experience," a new series which goes behind the scenes of Williams' radio show in which she talks music and celebrity gossip. Both series have eight-episode orders and are set to premiere in October. Rachel Hunter, Gary Busey, Gilbert Gottfried, Traci Bingham and David Carradine are among the celebs set to appear in the former entry, which comes from The Surreal Life" executive producers Mark Cronin and Cris Abrego. "Williams" then comes from executive producers Rick Hankey, Shelly Tatro, Michael Hirschorn, Kevin Hunter and Williams herself with Greg Wacks producing.

WHITNEY (HBO, New!) - Lisa Schraeger ("Numb3rs") has scored a pilot order from the pay channel for a new single-camera comedy described as exploring female sexual politics through four women "blazing" their way around Miami. Schraeger penned the pilot script and will executive produce along with Alex Gansa and Larry Kennar.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

  [september 2006]  

· 30 DAYS (FX)
· 4400, THE (USA)

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