LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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30 DAYS (FX) - The cable channel has renewed the series for a third season of six episodes. In addition, creator/executive producer Morgan Spurlock is set to participate in two of the six upcoming installments, up from his singular appearance each season. Spurlock, R.J. Cutler, Ben Silverman and H.T. Owens are all set to return as executive producers.
ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A FIFTH GRADER? (FOX, New!) - The network has given an eight-episode commitment to a new game show in which one ordinary adult must - you guessed it - answer a series of general knowledge questions targeted at the fifth grade level. Reality guru Mark Burnett is behind the project, which is set to begin production in time for a potential January or February start. As for specifics, each contestant will start with $100,000 but then must wager it in a series of subjects, including first grade art to fifth grade math. In addition, various real-life fifth graders will be on hand as potential life lines as well as to mock the adults' lack of knowledge. Burnett and Roy Bank will executive produce via his self-titled banner alongside Barry Poznick and John Stevens of Zoo Productions.
AVERY HOUSE (Sci Fi, New!) - Reality guru Mark Burnett has lined up a new scripted project at the cable channel, about a New York family that moves into a haunted home. Emmy winner Dava Savel ("Ellen") is behind the hour, which is based at NBC Universal Television and Tagline Television. "House" was recently billed as one of the 10 best unproduced drama scripts by Written By magazine. Savel and Burnett will then executive produce alongside Tagline's Kelly Kulchak, Ron West, Willie Mercer and J.B. Roberts.
BAD MOMMY (ABC, New!) - Dawn Dekeyser ("Becker") and Clay Graham ("The Drew Carey Show") are set to team for a new comedy at the Alphabet about a woman who deals with a new marriage, new infant and stepdaughter. Touchstone Television and DreamWorks Television are behind the project, which is executive produced by the duo and DreamWorks' Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
BAD MOTHERS (NBC, New!) - Cheryl Holliday ("King of the Hill") has added another script to her 2007-08 season roster, a ensemble female comedy focusing on a return to old-fashioned parenting. The NBC Universal Television/DreamWorks Television-based half-hour is Holliday's third project in the works for next season, the others being "Generations" for CBS and an untitled effort with Dick Wolf for NBC. DreamWorks toppers Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will executive produce alongside Holliday.
BEDROOMS & BOARDROOMS (A.K.A. UNTITLED JON HARMON FELDMAN PROJECT) (ABC) - Jon Harmon Feldman's ("Reunion") drama project for the Alphabet has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The untitled hour revolves around CEOs gone wild, following the boardroom and bedroom antics of four dysfunctional but lovable high-powered execs. He'll write and executive produce the project, which is based at Warner Bros. Television.
BIG ED (NBC, New!) - Jeff Martin ("The Simpsons") was scored a script commitment from the Peacock for a new comedy about a larger-than-life car dealer who must surrender control of his automotive empire to a Japanese businessman. The half-hour is based at NBC Universal Television with Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey of DreamWorks Television also serving as executive producers.
CABLE RATINGS ROUND-UP (Week of December 4-10) - "Santa Baby" emerged as ABC Family's most-watched original movie to date as 4.7 million viewers tuned into its December 10 premiere. Overall, TNT's "The Closer" was the top cable draw last week with 5.44 million viewers (and a 1.8 rating/4 share in adults 25-54) tuning into its special two-hour installment on December 4. Also of note on cable last week: HBO's "The Wire" signed off on Sunday to the tune of 1.9 million viewers, it's largest audience in two seasons; A&E's original movie "Wedding Wars" drew a modest 986,000 viewers on December 4; and Hallmark Channel's original holiday movie "What I Did for Love" averaged 3.1 million viewers on Saturday.
THE CALL (The CW, New!) - Caleb Kane and Charles Segars are developing a new drama at the netlet about rookie LAPD officers and their training officers. CBS Paramount Television and DreamWorks Television are co-producing the hour, which also has DreamWorks' Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive producing.
THE CANYONS (Showtime, New!) - Novelist Bret Easton Ellis ("Less Than Zero," "The Rules of Attraction" and "American Psycho") and former magazine editor Dave Kalstein are developing a new horror-themed soap at the pay channel about a 29-year-old magazine editor who escapes his hard-partying New York life by following his best friend and a new girlfriend across the country, only to find himself virtually isolated when his friend is killed in a mysterious accident. The project, which has a script commitment, would then track said man as well as a group twenty- and thirtysomethings in Los Angeles, including an art gallery owner, lawyer, event planner and a closeted bartender, as they deal with career and relationship issues that are briefly manifested as monsters and other apparitions that may or may not be real.
CARPOOLERS (ABC, New!) - "Kids in the Hall" alum Bruce McCulloch is developing a new half-hour for the Alphabet about a group of suburban guys who carpool to work together. The half-hour is based at Touchstone Television and DreamWorks Television with McCulloch and DreamWorks' Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive producing.
COMEDY COLOSSEUM (NBC, New!) - "America's Funniest Home Videos" executive producer Vin Di Bona has booked a pilot order from the Peacock for a new reality competition series in which comedians go head-to-head for $10,000 by earning the most laughs from randomly selected audience members. Dean Edwards ("Saturday Night Live") and British TV personality Olivia Lee have already been tapped to host the one-hour project, which is based on Tokyo Broadcasting System's "Theiromonea." As for specifics, each comedian must figure out a way to make the specified portion of the audience, who are unsuspecting of their duties, laugh. Di Bona will executive produce alongside Peter Schankowitz, Al Edgington and Greg Bellon with Ron de Moraes on board as director.
THE COMPASS (NBC, New!) - Walter Parkes ("WarGames") and Wesley Strick ("Doom") are developing a new hour at the Peacock about a young FBI agent who goes deep undercover to investigate a Skull & Bones-like society. NBC Universal Television and DreamWorks Television are behind the drama, which the pair will executive produce alongside Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
DRIVE (FOX) - Nathan Fillion ("Firefly") has been cast in the lead role of the upcoming drama series, about an underground race across America. He'll take over for Ivan Sergei as Alex Tully, who is detailed in the original casting notice as: "Early 30s. A ruggedly handsome blue-collar nursery owner. He is beside himself with worry over his wife's recent disappearance. When Alex receives a mysterious phone call instructing him to place his savings into a secret account, he assumes that the money is his wife's ransom. Before long, he realizes that the reason's behind his wife's disappearance are far more sinister and complicated than he could have imagined. In fact, Alex has been specially scouted to take part in a secret road race, that has been organized, perhaps for generations, by a mysterious cabal. Issued instructions along the way via a red cell phone, Alex teams up with the beautiful Corinna Wiles to unravel the mystery behind the race and his wife's fate. However, he's beginning to realize that this just might be a race to the death." No reason was given for the change. Fillion's casting was the result of a talent holding deal the actor signed with the network and 20th Century Fox Television earlier this year. Tim Minear, Ben Queen and Greg Yaitanes are the executive producers.
EVERYTHING IS WRONG WITH ME (A.K.A. UNTITLED JASON MULGREW PROJECT) (NBC) - Blogger Jason Mulgrew's comedy remains in the works at the Peacock as Eric Weinberg ("Scrubs") has come aboard to pen the pilot script. The DreamWorks Television-based half-hour revolves around a twentysomething New York man who decides to retire while he is still young and can enjoy life. Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey will executive produce alongside the duo.
THE EX-GIRLFRIENDS CLUB (TBS, New!) - Lori Gottlieb ("Significant Others") and Maggie Bandur ("Malcolm in the Middle") are developing a new relationship comedy at the cable channel. No details however were given about the project, which is set up at Tagline Television. The pair will executive produce alongside Tagline principals Kelly Kulchak, Ron West, Willie Mercer and J.B. Roberts.
THE EXPERT (NBC, New!) - Chris Murphey ("Conrail") has scored a script commitment from the Peacock for a new drama about a woman who solves crime through her hyper-intelligent senses. NBC Universal Television and DreamWorks Television are behind the project, which also comes from fellow executive producers Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
GRACE/HEARTLAND/SAVED (TNT) - The cable channel has given series orders to its drama pilots "Grace" and "Heartland" while newcomer "Saved" will not be renewed for a second season. Treat Williams toplines "Heartland," about an intense, ambitious heart transplant surgeon whose devotion to his work takes a toll on his relationships. Danielle Nicolet, Kari Matchett and Morena Baccarin also star in the Warner Horizon Television-based hour, which comes from creator David Hollander. "Grace" then stars Holly Hunter as an embittered Oklahoma City police detective who stars receiving visits from an irascible angel (Leon Rippy) determined to turn her life around. The Fox Television Studios-produced hour also stars Bailey Chase, Bokeem Woodbine, Kenneth Johnson and Laura San Giacomo. Artie Mandelberg, E. Duke Vincent, Gary A. Randall, Nancy Miller and Sergio Mimica-Gezzan are the executive producers. Mimica-Gezzan directed the pilot from a script by Miller. Both commitments are believed to be for 13 episodes. "Heartland" then is expected to roll out in June on Monday nights following "The Closer" while "Grace" will bow later in the summer in an unspecified time slot. As for "Saved," the show's cancellation is tied to its 55% audience retention out of "The Closer" this past summer.
HIGH MAINTENANCE 90210 (E!, New!) - The lives of the domestic help to the affluent is set to be the focus of a new six-episode, half-hour series at the cable channel. Prometheus Entertainment in association with the Bubble Factory are behind the project, which is set to launch on Monday, January 1 at 11:00/10:00c following the season finale of "Dr. 90210." Kevin Burns ("The Girls Next Door"), Jack Lippman and Jon Sheinberg of the Machine are the executive producers.
INSIDE (ABC, New!) - "Philly" co-creator Alison Cross is developing a new crime drama at the Alphabet about a female undercover cop in Los Angeles who uses her perfect instincts to stay alive as she reinvents herself during every case. She's penning the pilot script and will executive produce alongside LivePlanet's Sean Bailey. Touchstone Television is behind the hour.
JOHN ADAMS (HBO) - Laura Linney ("Man of the Year") has joined the cast of the mini-series, based on David McCullough's bestseller about the life of famed American Revolution hero (played by Paul Giamatti). She'll play Adams' wife, Abigail, whose letters to her husband were part of the basis for McCullough's book. In addition, Emmy winner Tom Hooper ("Elizabeth I") has signed on to direct all seven one-hour installments of project, which comes from writer Kirk Ellis and fellow executive producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman via their Playtone banner. Production is set to begin next month in Virgina for a March premiere on the pay channel.
THE LATE LATE SHOW (CBS) - Host Craig Ferguson has inked a two-year overall deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. The pact sets up his newly minted Green Mountain West banner at the studio, where he'll develop new series projects alongside Tracey Pakosta, a former executive VP of comedy development at the WB. In addition, the network itself has first-look rights to any series produced by the company.
THE MADNESS OF AVA (Lifetime) - Brittany Ishibashi ("The Office") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a brilliant neurologist (Ever Carradine) who learns she is bipolar and the impact the diagnosis has on her feckless sister. She'll play a neurology resident who works alongside the title character. Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow, Howard Gordon and creator Rob LaZebnik are behind the Fox 21-based hour, which is set to begin production next month. Tucker Gates is directing.
MANY LIVES, MANY MASTERS (CBS, New!) - The work of Dr. Brian Weiss is set to be the focus of a potential drama series at the Eye about how his patients explored their past lives to solve their current problems. Mark Kruger ("Revelations") is on board to pen the pilot script, which will use Weiss's book "Many Lives, Many Masters" as a basis. Kelly Kulchak, Ron West, Willie Mercer and J.B. Roberts of Tagline Television are also on board as executive producers.
MARLOWE (ABC, New!) - Sean Bailey ("Matchstick Men") is developing a small screen revival of Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled detective for the Alphabet. Greg Pruss and Carol Wolper are on board to pen the pilot script, which will re-imagine Philip Marlowe in a present-day procedural crime drama with noir aspects set in Los Angeles. LivePlanet's Bailey, who has an overall deal with producer Touchstone Television, will then executive produce alongside Pruss, Wolper, Daniel H. Blatt and Phil Clymer. As for specifics, the new "Marlowe" won't use any of Chandler's Marlowe books for source material. Among the actors who've played Marlow on the big and small screen: Powers Boothe, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Elliot Gould and James Garner.
MTV ORIGINAL SERIES (MTV) - The cable channel has confirmed launch dates for its first slate of series for 2007. The 12 new and returning projects will be rolled out on various branded nights as part of the network's continuing strategy to expand its "10 Spot" programming tentpole to the 9:00/8:00c hour. Mondays are being billed as the "coming-of-age" night with "My Super Sweet 16" at 9:00/8:00c, newcomer "Engaged & Underage" at 9:30/8:30c, the return of "The Hills" at 10:00/9:00c and the Jennifer Lopez-produced "DanceLife" (previously known as "Moves") at 10:30/9:30c. All but "Engaged," due on January 22, will bow on January 15. Tuesdays then are set as "adventure, adrenaline and action." Said lineup, which kicks off on January 30, will include the network's revival of "Road Rules" at 9:00/8:00c, season two of "Two-a-Days" at 10:00/9:00c with newcomers "Bam's Unholy Union" and "Wrestling Society X" at 9:30/8:30c and 10:30/9:30c respectively. Wednesdays will remain home to "The Real World" at 10:00/9:00c with the Three 6 Mafia-led "Adventures in Hollyhood" assuming the 10:30/9:30c slot on January 31. Over on Thursdays, the long-delayed "Juvies" will finally make its appearance on February 8 while Sundays at 10:00/9:00c will be home to fellow newbie "I'm From Rolling Stone" starting January 7.
N.S.A. INNOCENT (FOX) - The drama, about an everyday family man - a midlevel employee at a Lockheed Martin-type company - who finds himself caught up against his will in the world of espionage when he is recruited by the National Security Agency to spy on his boss, has been ordered to pilot. "24" creator Bob Cochran and writer David Ehrman are behind the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Real Time Productions. The pair will executive produce alongside Cochran's Real Time partners Joel Surnow and Howard Gordon.
NASHVILLE (TNT, New!) - Les Bohem ("Taken") has booked a script order at the cable channel for a new drama about a young singer-songwriter who moves to Nashville to pursue his dreams and becomes embroiled in the ultra-competitive country music business. Bohem will write and executive produce the hour alongside DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
NEW AMSTERDAMN (FOX) - Allan Loeb ("Things We Lost in the Fire") and Christian Taylor's ("Miracles") drama for the network has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The Regency Television-based hour revolves around a man cursed with immortality who works as a homicide detective in New York. The pair penned the pilot script and will executive produce alongside Loeb's producing partner Steven Pearl via their Scarlet Fire Films.
THE ONES (ABC, New!) - Matt Harawitz ("Blue Collar TV") has landed a script commitment from ABC for a new comedy about five New Yorkers who interact via online chatrooms. He'll write and executive produce the 20th Century Fox Television-based project alongside Tagline Television's Kelly Kulchak, Ron West, Willie Mercer and J.B. Roberts.
OUT OF BOUNDS (Comedy Central, New!) - Ken Marino ("Veronica Mars") is set to topline a new "Office"-esque workplace comedy at the cable channel about "Ball Talk," a Long Island sports radio show. Marino and Joe Lo Truglio will play the hosts of the fictional show in the project, which has a pilot presentation order from the network. IMG's Barry Weintraub created the pilot, which Marino himself is penning. The pair will also executive produce alongside Hillary Mandel. In addition, IMG is expected to tap its star athlete roster for potential appearances as guests on the "show." Production on the pilot is set to begin early next year.
PAST IMPERFECT (NBC, New!) - Gardner Stern ("Las Vegas") has booked a script commitment from NBC for a new drama about two lawyers - a white male and black female - who are mysteriously transported back in time 50 years. Stern is writing and executive producing the NBC Universal Television-based hour along with DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
PLAN B (ABC, New!) - Feature writer/director Ol Parker ("Imagine Me & You") has booked a script order at ABC for a new drama about a group of thirtysomething friends in Portland who re-evaluate their lives after a friend dies. Parker will write and co-executive produce the hour, which is based at Touchstone Television and Sean Bailey's LivePlanet banner. No other details were given.
PUSHING DAISIES (ABC, New!) - Writer/producer Bryan Fuller ("Heroes") has landed a put pilot commitment from the Alphabet for a new romance-themed drama about a man who can touch dead people and bring them back to life. No other specifics were given about the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television. Fuller will write and executive produce the hour alongside Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen ("Traveler") via their Jinks/Cohen Co.
RAINES (NBC) - The Peacock has quietly shut down production on the series after seven episodes. The network originally ordered 13 installments of the series, which stars Jeff Goldblum as an L.A. cop who imagines he's interacting with dead people in order to solve crimes. No specific reasons were given for the decision. The NBC Universal Television-based hour is slated to air Fridays at 9:00/8:00c once "Las Vegas" wraps its fourth season in March.
THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES (A.K.A. UNTITLED AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO PROJECT) (FOX) - The network has greenlit production on Amy Sherman-Palladino's ("Gilmore Girls") comedy pilot, about two estranged sisters who reunite after one of them agrees to carry the other's baby. The multi-camera comedy is based at Regency Television with Sherman-Palladino writing, directing and executive producing.
RULES FOR ROOMMATES (The CW, New!) - Actor Ron Livingston ("Standoff") and writer Pete Goldfinger ("Come to Papa") are developing a new single-camera comedy at the netlet based on the pair's crazy antics as former Chicago roomies. CBS Paramount Network Television is behind the half-hour, which also comes from Kelly Kulchak, Ron West, Willie Mercer and J.B. Roberts of Tagline Television.
THREE GIRLS AND A BASTARD (The CW, New!) - Alyssa Embree, Jessica Koosed and Stacey Harmon are developing a new comedy about three maternally clueless twentysomething girls who deal with an unplanned pregnancy. CBS Paramount Network Television is co-producing the half-hour with DreamWorks Television. The trio are executive to executive produce alongside DreamWorks' Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
TWO DREADFUL CHILDREN (FOX) - Caroline Rhea and Sam Huntington are the latest additions to the animated comedy pilot, about a redneck family that discovers that their two horribly disobedient fraternal twins are geniuses. Rhea will voice the mother of the twins with Huntington voicing one of the twins. The pair join the previously cast Chris Kattan, French Stewart and Meredith Roberts in the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, which comes from creator David Hemingson.
UFC WIRED (Syndication, New!) - Trifecta Entertainment & Media ("Heartland Poker Tour") is set to team with the Ultimate Fighting Championship for a new weekly syndicated series. Comedian Joe Rogan ("Inside the UFC") is set to the host the hourlong series, which will produce 22 episodes for a fall 2007 start. No other specifics about the series were given. Participating stations are expected to pay no cash for the series, instead splitting half of its ad time with Trifecta for national ad sales.
UNTITLED DIABLO CODY PROJECT (Showtime, New!) - Feature writer/novelist Diablo Cody ("Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper") is developing a new single-camera project at the pay channel which is described as "domestic comedy with a high-concept twist surrounding the family's mother." The half-hour is based on an idea Steve Spielberg. DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey are also on board as executive producers.
UNTITLED GEOFF MOORE/DAVID POSAMENTIER PROJECT (ABC, New!) - Newcomers David Posamentier and Geoff Moore are developing a new comedy at the Alphabet about the kids of a divorced couple who are raised by their birth parents and their new spouses. The untitled half-hour is based at Touchstone Television with DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey also serving as executive producers.
UNTITLED JEFF KLINE/MARK PERRY PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Mark Perry ("What About Brian") and Jeff Kline ("That Was Then") are developing a new dramedy at the network. No details however were released about the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Tagline Television. Perry and Kline then will executive produce alongside Kelly Kulchak, Ron West, Willie Mercer and J.B. Roberts.
UNTITLED KARIO SALEM PROJECT (HBO, New!) - Emmy winner Kario Salem ("Don King: Only in America") is developing a new mini-series at the pay channel about the Third Crusade, the 12th century clash between Islam and Christianity, told through the eyes of their respective leaders, Saladin and Richard the Lionheart. Tony To ("From the Earth to the Moon") and Company Pictures' George Faber ("Elizabeth I") are on board to executive produce the project, a co-production between HBO and U.K.'s Channel 4, alongside Salem. The network has given a script order for eight one-hour installments, four to be penned by Salem with Don McPherson writing the other four. Salem, who set up the project thanks to a 100-page outline steeped in years of research, will also direct at least one of his hours should it be greenlit.
UNTITLED MARK REISMAN PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Writer/producer Mark Reisman ("Quintuplets") is developing a new comedy at the Peacock about a man who inspires everyone with his outlook on life after he wakes up from a 10-year coma. The untitled half-hour is based at NBC Universal Television with DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey executive producing alongside Reisman.
UNTITLED TUCKER MAX PROJECT (Comedy Central, New!) - Famed blogger/novelist Tucker Max ("I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell") is developing a new comedy at the network based on his life as a Duke Law School grad who runs a blog chronicling his boozing and womanizing. Pariah's Gavin Polone and Jamie Tarses are behind the half-hour, which is based at Sony Pictures Television. Max himself will pen the pilot script - which is expected to revolve around Max and his group of friends, all overachieving young professionals, as they begin the transition into mature adulthood - as well as serve as a co-executive producer alongside his producing partner Max Long.
VEGAS BABY (FOX, New!) - Steve Leff ("Good Morning, Miami") has landed a script order from FOX for a Las Vegas-based comedy about three friends who move to Sin City to pursue their dreams. Leff is penning the pilot script to the 20th Century Fox Television-based project as well as executive producing alongside DreamWorks Television's Darryl Frank and Justin Falvey.
WHAT ABOUT BRIAN (ABC) - Jessica Szohr ("House at the End of the Drive") has joined the cast of the series while "Dancing with the Stars" alum Stacy Keibler has booked a recurring role. The pair will play the new neighbors of Barry Watson's character. Keibler's involvement is the result of a talent holding deal with "Brian" producer Touchstone Television. It's not clear when their first episode will air.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters