LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BREAKING BAD (AMC) - The cable channel is reportedly close to ordering the drama pilot to series. The project stars Bryan Cranston ("Malcolm in the Middle") as a middle-aged New Mexico high school teacher who becomes a crystal-meth dealer after he learns he has terminal cancer. Vince Gilligan is behind the hour, which is co-produced by Sony Pictures Television and Mark Johnson�s Gran Via Productions.
CARPOOLERS (ABC) - Sitcom veteran Marsh McCall ("20 Good Years") has been tapped as the executive producer/showrunner of the upcoming comedy, which follows the lives of four men (Fred Goss, Jerry Minor, Jerry O'Connell, Tim Peper) who carpool to work together each day. Said involvement is tied to McCall's overall deal with producer ABC Studios. Creator Bruce McCulloch, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank and David Miner also serve as executive producers on the half-hour.
CASHMERE MAFIA (ABC) - Writer/producer Jeff Rake ("Bones") is set to join the midseason drama as its executive producer/showrunner. Rake recently reupped his two-year overall deal with producer Sony Pictures Television. It's understood he'll stay focused on "Mafia" for the next two years, turning to development after that. Darren Star, Gail Katz and creator Kevin Wade also serve as executive producers on the project, which stars Lucy Liu, Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Bonnie Somerville as four successful female executives, friends since college, who rely on one another as they juggle the demands of career, family, hard choices and high ambitions in New York.
DATELINE NBC (NBC) - The Peacock has opted not to renew the contract of its veteran anchor Stone Phillips, who has been with the series since its launch in 1992. It's understood he won't be replaced when it expires in June. Co-anchor Ann Curry then will instead serve as the main anchor of the newsmagazine, which will return next season on Saturday nights in the fall and Sunday nights after football wraps.
GAY ROBOT (Comedy Central) - The comedy pilot, about a robot who discovers after an unfortunate incident involving a wine cooler and his circuit boards that he is gay, is reportedly being redeveloped as an animated project by Comedy Central and Sony Pictures Television. Nick Swardson co-wrote the original pilot (as well as voiced the title character) with Tom Gianas and executive produced alongside Happy Madison's Adam Sandler, Jack Giarraputo and Doug Robinson. Said development is apparently the result of positive feedback from the pilot and various clips being available on such sites as MySpace (where Gay Robot has his own page), BitTorrent and Sony-owned Grouper.
THE LAST LARRY (Comedy Central, New!) - Dana Gould ("The Simpsons") is developing a "Shaun of the Dead"-esque sitcom at the cable channel set in a post-apocalyptic world in which the few remaining survivors are trying to get on with their lives. The network has commissioned a script for the project, which Gould will write, executive produce and potentially star in. Tom Lassally and Dave Becky of 3 Arts Entertainment will also serve as executive producers. Gould most recently served as co-executive producer on the FOX comedy, exiting after the show's 18th production cycle last fall.
LAW & ORDER (NBC) - Rene Balcer, who has been attached to the franchise since its first season (not to mention developed spin-off series "Criminal Intent"), is moving back to the mothership for the show's 18th season. The veteran returned to the drama this past spring, helping shape the last batch of episodes. This season he'll take over for Nick Wooton as showrunner, a role which he previously served from 1996-2001.
LIFE (NBC) - "House" mainstay Daniel Sackheim has come aboard the freshman drama as an executive producer. The move comes as the director/producer inks a new two-year overall deal with NBC Universal Television Studio, the producer of both "House" and "Life." There he'll serve alongside creator Rand Ravich and fellow executive producer Far Shariat.
OCTOBER ROAD (ABC) - Co-creators Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec have landed a seven-figure, multiyear overall deal with ABC Studios, the show's producer. The pact will cover their duties on the show's sophomore season as well as any future development. It's understood the deal was signed prior to ABC renewing the series for a second season, a sure sign of the studio's faith in the duo.
UGLY BETTY (ABC) - Bill Wrubel ("Will & Grace") has inked a two-year overall deal with ABC Studios. The pact calls for the writer/producer to come aboard "Betty" as a co-executive producer as well as develop new series projects for the studio. Wrubel's addition comes as "Betty's" writing staff goes through a heavy turnaround. At least five writers have been let go to date. On the flip side, Dawn DeKayser ("The Geena Davis Show") has joined the staff as a producer.
THE WATCH (NBC) - Charles McDougall, who helmed ABC's drama pilot "Big Shots" this past development season, has signed on to direct the hour, about a suburban Neighborhood Watch group gone awry. His involvement lifts the director-contingency off the pilot's production. Ed Decter and John J. Strauss are behind the Sony Pictures Television/Pariah-based project, which is also executive produced by Gavin Polone and Jamie Tarses.
WEEDS (Showtime) - Andy Milder, who plays Dean Hodes, the husband to Elizabeth Perkins's character, has been upped to series regular for the show's third season. Look for the show's junior go around to launch on Monday, August 13 at 10:00/9:00c.
WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB (ABC) - "ER" alum R. Scott Gemmill has come aboard the drama as its showrunner while Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts ("Pepper Dennis") have also signed on as co-executive producers. The group, each of which has an overall deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television, will serve alongside executive producers Liz Craft, Sarah Fain, James Patterson, Brett Ratner and Joe Simpson. "Club" stars Angie Harmon, Laura Harris, Aubrey Dollar, Paula Newsome as four girlfriends who solve tough murder cases in San Francisco.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters