LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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DEXTER (Showtime) - JoBeth Williams has scored a four-episode arc on the pay channel drama, which returns for its second season in September. She'll play the mother of Dexter's girlfriend, Rita Bennett (Julie Benz), who's not fooled by his boyish charm. No other specifics were given about the role.
ELI STONE (ABC) - Matt Letscher ("The New Adventures of Old Christine") has been upped to series regular on the midseason drama, about a thirtysomething attorney (Jonny Lee Miller) who begins to have larger-than-life visions. He'll play the man's brother, a role he originated in the pilot as a guest star.
FOOTBALL WIVES (ABC) - Producer ABC Studios has quietly picked up the options on the cast of the drama pilot, which didn't make the cut for the Alphabet's 2007-08 season schedule. Gabrielle Union, Lucy Lawless, Kiele Sanchez, Ving Rhames and James Van Der Beek are among the show's ensemble, which revolves around the wives of professional football players. It's understood the project, which was written Marco Pennette and directed by Bryan Singer, is still under consideration for a potential midseason order with NBC and FOX also said to have expressed an interest should ABC ultimately pass on the hour.
JESSE STONE: THINK ICE (CBS, New!) - The Eye and Sony Pictures Television have greenlit production on a fifth installment in the Tom Selleck-led "Jesse Stone" franchise. Said film, subtitled "Thin Ice," sees Jesse trying to solve a kidnapping case that was supposed to have been solved years ago while trying to keep his job after the attempted murder of State Police Captain Healy (Stephen McHattie), his close friend and colleague. Robert Harmon is returning to direct the project, which is based on Robert B. Parker's best-selling series of novels. Selleck and Michael Brandman are also once again executive producing via the latter's Brandman Productions banner. Filming is set to begin next month for an air date next season. Separately, The Hallmark Channel has acquired the off-network rights to the four produced films to date. The first, "Stone Cold," will air Saturday, August 4 at 9:00/8:00c on the cable channel. No financial deals were released about the three-year deal.
THE LANDRY (Lifetime, New!) - V.C. Andrews' five-novel franchise "The Landry" is being developed as a mini-series by the cable channel. The books, published between 1994 and 1998, follow a poor Louisiana woman who realizes her father is actually part of a wealthy New Orleans family - and never knew that he had a daughter. It's understood "Ruby," the first book in the series, will serve as the focus of the potential project, which Janet Brownell ("Nora Roberts' Angels Fall") will adapt for the small screen. The Hatchery's Dan Angel, Margaret Loesch and Bruce Stein then are executive producing alongside telefilm gurus Michael Jaffe and Howard Braunstein via their Jaffe-Braunstein Films banner. In addition, Andrew Neiderman, who ghost wrote for Andrews after she died in 1986, is also on board as a consultant.
LIFE IS WILD (The CW) - D.W. Moffett ("Hidden Plams") has joined the cast of the upcoming freshman drama, about a New York veterinarian who moves his second wife and their two sets of children to a South African game preserve. He'll take over for Brett Cullen as said father, Danny Clarke. Producers reportedly are also planning to recast the wife role as well. No reason was given for the change.
LIFE ON MARS (ABC) - Jason O'Mara ("Men in Trees") has been cast in the lead role of the drama pilot, about a detective who finds himself transported back to the 1970s after his girlfriend is kidnapped. He'll play Sam Tyler, said detective, in the project, which is set to begin production on August 14. Rachelle Lefevre also stars in the hour, which Thomas Schlamme is directing from a script by co-creator David E. Kelley. 20th Century Fox Television, David E. Kelley Productions and Kudos Film & Television then are co-producing the pilot, with Kelley, Schlamme and Kudos' Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone executive producing. O'Mara spent the past development season toplining the ABC drama pilot "Marlowe," which wasn't ordered to series.
MOONLIGHT (CBS) - Sophia Myles ("Underworld"), Shannyn Sossamon ("Dirt") and Jason Dohring ("Veronica Mars") have all joined the cast of the freshman drama, which stars Alex O'Loughlin as a vampire who works as a private investigator. They'll replace Shannon Lucio, Amber Valletta and Rade Serbedzija respectively from the original presentation. In addition, their characters have been reconceptualized as follows: Myles's Beth Turner is now detailed as follows - "Beth is an attractive, blond, twenty-something woman with a great sense of humor. An investigative reporter, Beth travels around the city searching for breaking stories on crime, politics, and human interest which she then posts on a "DRUDGE-REPORT"-type website. Tenacious and hard-working, Beth has a deeplyrooted drive to seek out the truth in any situation. Although Beth has a complex and fulfilling professional life, her love life leaves something to be desired. In the course of covering a story on what appears to be a vampire-related murder, she meets Mick St. John, and is overwhelmingly attracted to him. Curious about his possible involvement in the murder, Beth ultimately realizes that Mick is the same man who rescued her as a child over twenty years ago."
Dohring's Josef Konstantin has been changed to - "400 going on 25, in his current incarnation, Josef is a wealthy hedge fund trader with a penthouse office in Century City. Hedonistic and full of life, Josef exemplifies the fun that can be had from being a vampire. He is constantly attempting to lure Mick from what he views as a dull, structured life into one of excess." - while Sossamon's Coraline remains - "As lovely as she is dangerous, Coraline is a woman in her early to midthirties with midnight black hair and blue-eyes. Though very contemporary, there is a timeless quality to her. Approaching the two hundred-year mark, Coraline is a quickwitted vampire who can cut you with words as quickly as with her teeth. She meets Mick St. John in 1947, and on their wedding night, in what she believes is an act of love, reveals her dark secret to him by turning her new groom into a vampire against his will. Scorned by Mick, Coraline crosses paths with him over the next 60 years, until her increasingly blood-thirsty behavior forces him to destroy her. In 2007, after a long absence, she returns scarred, disfigured, and bent on revenge."
NIP/TUCK (FX) - Portia de Rossi ("Arrested Development"), Oliver Platt ("Huff") and Lauren Hutton ("Central Park West") have all landed multi-episode arcs on the show's upcoming fifth season. De Rossi will play a manipulative lesbian mother whose teen daughter wants to have plastic surgery while Platt is set as the producer of a TV show on which Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon) serve as consultants. Hutton then will play a Hollywood publicist who will bring her star client to McNamara/Troy to get work done. Platt and Hutton's arcs are for at least five and three episodes respectively while de Rossi's commitment wasn't specified. Meanwhile, co-star Joely Richardson has agreed to appear in 15 of the 22 episodes set to be produced for the new season. The news spells the end of speculation that Richardson wouldn't return following a serious health scare with her teen daughter, who is now understood to be in good health. Richardson, much like Walsh and McMahon, has also received a significant pay bump for her duties this season as industry insiders suggest she'll earn nearly $100,000 per episode.
PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC) - Audra McDonald ("The Bedford Diaries") has signed onto the "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff, where she'll take over as Naomi Bennett, the best friend of Kate Walsh's character. She replaces Merrin Dungey, who was recast for unspecified reasons.
REAPER (The CW) - "Heroes" alum Missy Peregrym has been tapped as the new female lead on the drama pilot, about a 21-year-old slacker (Bret Harrison) who becomes a bounty hunter for the devil (Ray Wise). She'll play Andi, a co-worker of Harrison's character whom he has a crush on. Nikki Reed originated the role in the pilot. No specific reason was given for the change.
RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) - Creator Tom Hertz has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The pact coves his duties on the returning comedy as well as calls for him to develop new series projects for the studio.
SAMANTHA WHO? (A.K.A. SAMANTHA BE GOOD) (ABC) - "Help Me Help You" alum Alex Reid has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with ABC Studios. The pact calls for the writer/producer to join the Christina Applegate-led comedy as a co-executive producer. In addition, he'll develop new series projects for the studio. Separately, the project has undergone another name change, this time to "Samantha Who?" No reason for the change was given.
'TIL DEATH (FOX) - Alex Barnow and Marc Firek, both writers and producers on the series, have inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Sony Pictures Television. The pact calls for the duo to be promoted to supervising producers next season as well as develop new series projects for the studio.
TO LOVE AND DIE IN L.A. (USA) - The cable channel has given an 11-episode series order to the drama pilot, about a fun-loving thirtysomething (Shiri Appleby) with abandonment issues who becomes convinced that her dating problems would be resolved if only she could track down the father (Tim Matheson), who's revealed to be an assassin-for-hire, a job that might be her calling. Christine Adams, Frances Fisher, Kristin Datillo and Seymour Cassell also star in the hour, which comes from creator Sara Goodman and Lorne Michaels' NBC Universal Television-based Broadway Video Television. It's also understood negotiations are underway to keep Ivan Sergei, who guest starred in the pilot, on board for the series. Goodman, Michaels, Carla Kettner and JoAnn Alfano then are the executive producers with Andrew Singer producing.
THE TUDORS (Showtime) - Newcomer David Alpay has scored a role on the pay channel drama's second season. He's set as Smeaton, a promiscuous musician and dancer who loves to indulge in sex. No other details were given about his character.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters