LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Production on the Emmy-winning drama's seventh season has been postponed to Monday, September 10. Said decision is designed to give the show's writing staff enough time to complete enough scripts for the new season. The news marks the second production delay for the series, the first coming earlier this summer after producers opted the shelve an Africa-set story line in favor of a D.C.-based one.
ABCD CAMP (HBO, New!) - "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini is back in business with the pay channel as he's set to topline a docudrama about Sonny Vaccaro, a corporate sports scout who's credited with launching the sponsorship careers of dozens of NBA stars, from Michael Jordon to LeBron James to Tracy McGrady. Gandolfini will also executive produce the project via his Attaboy Films banner with partner Alexandra Ryan. "Friday Night Lights" screenwriter David Aaron Cohen is penning the script, which will chronicle everything from his infamous youth basketball camps to his battles with the NCAA over restricting compensation of amateur athletes. Dan Halsted will also executive produce alongside Verso Entertainment's Baron Davis and Cash Warren.
BACKYARDS & BULLETS (NBC) - Lou Diamond Phillips ("NUMB3RS") is the latest addition to the pilot's ensemble cast. He'll play the police chief on the drama, which revolves around a suburban Neighborhood Watch group gone awry. Sony Pictures Television and Pariah are behind the hour, which comes from creators Ed Decter and John J. Strauss as well as director Charles McDougall.
CHASING THE DEVIL (LMN, New!) - Telefilm guru Stanley M. Brooks ("Broken Trail") has booked the cable channel's first mini-series, a four-hour event that marks his 50th TV production. Tom Cavanagh ("Ed") is set to star in the project, which explores the case of Seattle's notorious Green River Killer as told through the eyes of two young runaways, one of whom we know won't make it. Sharon Lawrence ("Hidden Palms"), James Russo ("Broken Trail") and Amy Davidson ("8 Simple Rules") also star. Norma Bailey then is directing from a script by John Pielmeier ("Agnes of God") based on David Reichert's (who's played by Cavanagh) book of the same name. Brooks will executive produce alongside Juliette Hagopian with Scott Anderson serving as a co-executive producer.
CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS) - Following his exit as series regular, various sources have confirmed Mandy Patinkin will return for two episodes designed to explain his character's departure. The actor spent just one day on the "Minds" set shooting his scenes which will then be split across said installments.
DEAL OR NO DEAL (NBC) - A syndicated, half-hour version of the popular game show is moving forward at NBC Universal Domestic Television. Howie Mandel will continue as host on the abbreviated take, which will see a reduced number of suitcase models and a smaller top prize of $250,000. It's understood said version is all but assured clearances on NBC-owned stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Miami as a potential companion piece to Merv Griffin's "Crosswords." The series however likely won't launch until the 2008-09 season as "Crosswords" plans to churn out 225 half-hour episodes during the 2007-08 season, more than enough to fill double runs on the participating stations.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Tuc Watkins ("One Life to Live") and Kevin Rahm ("Judging Amy") are set to join the cast of the show's fourth season. They'll play a gay couple that moves to the show's famed Wisteria Lane.
ENTOURAGE/FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS (HBO) - The pay channel confirmed this week both series will return for new seasons next summer. The news marks "Entourage'"s fifth go around as well as "Conchords's" second. No specific episode order however has been determined. Each will wrap their current 12-episode runs over the Labor Day weekend. Doug Ellin, Mark Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson and Rob Weiss are behind the former while Stu Smiley, James Bobin and Troy Miller are the executive producers of the latter.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) - Benny Ciaramello ("Filthy Gorgeous") has scored a recurring role on the show's second season. He'll play a new love interest for Minka Kelly's character however no other details were released.
HEROES (NBC) - Janel Parrish ("Bratz: The Movie") is set to appear in at least three episodes of the popular drama's sophomore season. She'll play May, the head cheerleader at the new school attended by Hayden Panettietre's character.
JOHN FROM CINCINNATI/UNTITLED CLARK & MILCH PROJECT (HBO) - Bad news however came down on the pay channel's other newcomer as HBO executives have announced the series will not return for a second season. Co-creator David Milch however is expected to stay in business with the network via his overall deal, which is being extended through August 2008. It's understood he's already hard at work with fellow "Cincinnati" alum Bill Clark on an untitled hour about a Vietnam veteran who returns to the U.S. in the early 1970s and joins the New York City police force. Said project has been in the works since October of 2005, but was shelved in favor of "Cincinnati."
LIFE ON MARS (ABC) - Colm Meaney ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine") and Lenny Clarke ("Rescue Me") are in final negotiations to join the cast of the drama pilot, about a detective (Jason O'Mara) who finds himself transported back to 1972 after his girlfriend is kidnapped. Meaney will play Gene Hunt, the gruff, funny head of the homicide unit in 1972 who clashes violently with Sam, while Clarke's role wasn't specified. The pair join the previously cast Rachelle Lefevre. Thomas Schlamme is directing the hour from a script by creator David E. Kelley. Kelley then will executive produce for 20th Century Fox Television alongside Kudos Productions's Stephen Garrett and Jane Featherstone.
LOVE SICK (Lifetime, New!) - "Army Wives" co-star Sally Pressman and "Close to Home" alum David James Elliott are set to topline a new original movie for the cable channel, a small screen take on Sue William Silverman's memoir, subtitled "One Woman's Journey through Sexual Addiction." Grant Harvey is helming the project from a script by Maria Nation ("Ice Bound"). Pressman then will play Sue, an attractive married woman with a seemingly normal life who has a dirty little secret - she is a sex addict. Elliott will play Rick, a guy with whom she has secret rendezvous at a seedy motel every Thursday. Executive producing are Tim Johnson and Jean Abounader.
THE MAN (CBS) - The Eye reportedly has issued the LL Cool J-drama, about an undercover Los Angeles cop who takes care of an orphaned boy, a six-episode order for midseason. The CBS Paramount Network Television-based project however will go through a major revamping as the majority of its supporting cast, save for Domenick Lombardozzicq, is not expected to return. Pam Veasey and Peter Lenkov then are in talks to shepherd the new version where they'll work alongside creator Anthony Zuiker. Simon West directed the original presentation however it's not clear if he'll stick around for the new pilot.
MANEATER (Lifetime, New!) - The cable channel is developing a small screen take on Gigi Levangie Grazer's ("The Starter Wife") bestselling novel of the same name. The project, which has received a script commitment from the network, centers on a thirtysomething "It Girl" who, using her good looks and charm, beguiles and manipulates her way to the top echelons of Beverly Hills to land the hottest producer in town until she realizes that he's much less than she bargained for. Grazer herself will executive produce the potential four-hour mini-series alongside her manager, Stephanie Davis of 3 Arts Entertainment.
MATTERS OF LIFE & DATING (Lifetime, New!) - Ricki Lake, Holly Robinson Peete and Rachael Harris are set to star in a new original for the cable channel, about a successful single woman in Boston (Lake) who resumes dating after surviving breast cancer. Production has already been completed on the project, which will air Monday, October 22 at 9:00/8:00c as the centerpiece of the network's annual "Stop Breast Cancer for Life" public awareness campaign. Nina Colman penned the script with Peter Wellington directing and Lake, Barbara Lieberman and Salli Newman executive producing. Peete then plays a childhood friend who reconnects with Lake's character at a support group while Harris's character wasn't specified.
MEDIUM (NBC) - Anjelica Huston has signed on for a six-episode arc on the drama series. She'll play Cynthia Keener, an investigator for a company called Ameritips, who enters into an unusual business relationship with psychic mom Allison (Patricia Arquette). No other specifics about her role were released.
THE PACIFIC (HBO) - Graham Yost, Tony To and Jeremy Podeswa are set to join Tim Van Patten and Carl Franklin as directors on the mini-series, which is currently in production in Australia. To and Yost already serve as co-executive producers on the HBO Films/Playtone/DreamWorks Television-based project, which comes from executive producers Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman. In addition, co-star Jon Seda has been upped to regular on the effort. He'll take over for Val Lauren as John Basilone, one of the three leads (the others being James Badge Dale and Joe Mazzello).
PAINKILLER JANE (Sci Fi) - The cable channel has pulled the plug on freshman drama, 16 episodes into its planned 22-installment run. The news comes as little surprise considering the series hasn't cracked the network's top 10 since the week of 6/18/07-6/24/07 where it posted a subpar 1.0 household rating. "Jane" opened to nearly twice the audience (1.9 household rating) on April 13. Episodes nevertheless will continue to run in the Friday, 10:00/9:00c slot through its finale on September 21.
PUSHING DAISIES (ABC) - Brooke Kennedy ("NUMB3RS") has been confirmed as an executive producer on the freshman drama. There she'll serve alongside creator Bryan Fuller and fellow executive producers Barry Sonnenfeld, Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen.
SIDE ORDER OF LIFE/STATE OF MIND (Lifetime) - The network has quietly announced the series will flip time periods for the foreseeable future. "Mind" will now kick off the channel's Sunday lineup at 8:00/7:00c followed by "Life" at 9:00/8:00c and "Army Wives" at 10:00/9:00c.
STAR STORIES (VH1, New!) - The network is looking to import the U.K. celebrity-spoof series for U.S. audiences. Men of Science's David Rosen and Cheryl Van Ooyen are writing and directing the project, which has a cast-contingent pilot order. The sketch comedy series sends up the foibles of the famous, targeting a different celeb or celeb couple in each half-hour episode. RDF USA division Pangea and All3Media's Objective Productions are co-producing with Objective's Andrew O'Connor and RDF USA's Chris Coelen serving as executive producers. Pangea's Karrie Wolfe and Brian Lenard will produce.
UNTITLED CYRUS VORIS/ETHAN REIFF PROJECT (CBS, New!) - "Sleeper Cell" creators Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff are set to team with Jerry Bruckheimer for a new drama series at the Eye about a globetrotting team of freelance treasure hunters, led by an ex-Navy SEAL turned archaeologist. The network has given a put pilot order to the project, which is set up at Warner Bros. Television and Jerry Bruckheimer Television. Voris and Reiff, who have an overall deal at the studio, then will write the pilot and executive produce alongside Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman.
VIVA LAUGHLIN (CBS) - Executive producers Hugh Jackman and John Palermo have inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. The pact calls for the duo to develop new series projects for the studio via their Seed Productions banner. CBS Paramount currently co-produces the company's newcomer "Viva Laughlin" with Sony Pictures Television.
WOMEN'S MURDER CLUB (ABC) - Former "Commander-in-Chief" co-stars Ever Carradine and Kyle Secor have both booked recurring roles on the freshman drama. Carradine will play the fiancee of Rob Estes's character while Secor will play a charming and charismatic lawyer who has a secret romantic history with Laura Harris's character. It's not clear when each will make their first appearances.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters