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 signature "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!
4 OZ. (FX) - Joseph Fiennes ("Running with Scissors"), Blythe Danner ("Huff") and Robert Wagner ("Hustle") are the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about a married man with two sons who undergoes the metamorphosis to eventually become a woman. Fiennes will play said man, Bob, with Wagner and Danner as his parents, Scotch and Bunny, respectively, the former of which Bob shares a gynecological practice. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are behind the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour, which Murphy is directing. Production is set to begin at the end of next month with Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner executive producing alongside the duo.
ALIENS IN AMERICA (The CW) - Adam Rose ("The Squid and the Whale") has signed onto the freshman comedy, which premieres on Monday. He'll play Dooley, a high school sophomore and the misfit friend of Dan Byrd's character.
BIG SHOTS (ABC) - Elisabeth Rohm (""Law & Order") and Ryan Devlin ("Veronica Mars") have both landed roles on the newcomer. The former will play Alex Mason, a TV stock analyst and love interest to Michael Vartan's character with Devlin as a new intern Reveal Cosmetics and love interest for Peyton List's character. It's not clear when their first episodes will air.
BIONIC WOMAN (NBC) - "Conviction" alum Jordan Bridges has landed a multi-episode arc on the Peacock drama. He'll play a new love interest for the title character - Tom, an unassuming teacher's assistant at a prestigious university who also works for the CIA.
FEAR ITSELF (NBC, New!) - Industry Entertainment is once again in the anthology business, this time teaming with Lionsgate for a reworked version of Showtime's "Masters of Horror" at NBC. The network has ordered 13 episodes of the series, which will roll out next summer. Like "Masters," the project will consist of 60-minute tales from the biggest names in the genre with Keith Addis, Andrew Deane and Mick Garris serving as executive producers and Adam Goldworm and Ben Browning producing. The Peacock reportedly is also paying a reduced license fee for "Fear" as a result of their early commitment with Lionsgate and Industry making up the cost through the international market and uncut versions on DVD. Lionsgate takes over for Starz Entertainment, who co-produced the Showtime version.
THE FBI/GHOST SQUAD (FOX, New!) - John Eisendrath, who's currently consulting on FOX's "K-Ville," has set up a new drama at the network based on the British series "Ghost Squad." FOX ordered a script to the project, with a penalty attached if it doesn't go to pilot. 20th TV-based Adelstein Productions is behind the Chicago-set hour, which revolves around a female cop working in a "ghost squad," an undercover unit whose existence is never acknowledged within the department. Company Pictures, the company behind the original series, is also on board as a producer with Eisendrath, Marty Adelstein and Michael Thorn serving as executive producers. Separately, Eisendrath has been tapped as the executive producer/showrunner on FOX's upcoming drama "The FBI." Said project, which centers on an Iraq War veteran who is appointed as the new head of the FBI's Critical Incidents Response Group, comes from creator Chap Taylor and fellow executive producers Brian Grazer and David Nevins of the 20th Century Fox Television-based Imagine Television.
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Drama guru Mark Gordon has inked a massive four-year, eight-figure overall deal with ABC Studios. The pact, which is retroactive to June, keeps his Mark Gordon Co. banner based at the studio until 2011 where he'll continue to develop new series projects. Gordon, like fellow feature-turned-TV mogul Jerry Bruckheimer, has five series on the air - "Grey's," CBS's "Criminal Minds," Lifetime's "Army Wives," ABC's "Private Practice" and the CW's "Reaper."
HEROES: ORIGINS (NBC) - Eli Roth ("Hostel") and Michael Dougherty ("Superman Returns") have both been confirmed as writers on the "Heroes" spin-off, which will introduce six characters as they discover their extraordinary powers in one-off tales. Each will pen their own installment with Roth attached to direct his. The pair join Kevin Smith, who was revealed as the first on board at the San Diego Comic-Con. Additional creators are expected to be announced in the coming months.
INVISIBLE (FOX, New!) - Ari Eisner ("The 4400") has landed a script commitment from FOX for a new drama about a criminal who can turn invisible after accidentally coming into contact with chemical compound, giving him a new lease on life. Warner Bros. Television and McG's Wonderland Sound & Vision are behind the hour, which Eisner will write and executive produce. The writer/producer rose to fame thanks to his popular spoof trailers "10 Things I Hate About Commandments and "Must Love Jaws" on YouTube.com.
JOURNEYMAN (NBC) - Paul Schulze ("24") and Brando Eaton ("Zoey 101") have both booked recurring roles on the freshman drama. The former will play Richard Garrity, an FBI agent, while Eaton is set as the younger version of Kevin McKidd's character.
KNIGHT RIDER (NBC, New!) - Doug Liman and Dave Bartis ("Heist") are shepherding a 21st century take on the 1980s staple about a man and his indestructible supercar. Dave Andron ("Raines") is penning the script to the planned two-hour backdoor pilot, which Liman will direct and executive produce with Bartis via their Dutch Oven Productions and Universal Media Studios. Andron then will serve as a supervising producer. No details about the project were released other than the Peacock hopes to strike a rich deal with a single automaker to serve as the exclusive auto brand for the new "Knight." The network is also eyeing a spring air date, meaning production would have to begin shortly.
LEVERAGE (TNT) - Timothy Hutton ("Kidnapped") has been tapped for the lead role on the drama pilot, about an investigator for big insurance companies-turned-modern day Robin Hood. Said character, Nate Ford, had his life spiral out of control when his son died after the same companies for which he had been recovering million-dollar stolen goods refused to pay for the boy's medical treatment. Now, armed with a team of the world�s best thieves, Ford stands up for the little guy and goes after the richest and greediest. Dean Devlin will direct the hour from a script by fellow executive producers John Rogers and Chris Downey.
LIFE (NBC) - Jennifer Siebel ("In the Valley of Elah") is set to appear on the newcomer in a multi-episode arc. She'll play Jennifer Conover, the ex-wife of Charlie Crews (Damian Lewis). Claudia Black played the role in the original pilot, which was subsequently reshot with Siebel as said character.
LIMELIGHT (ABC, New!) - The early life of hip-hop producer Pharrell Williams is set to be the focus of a new drama at the Alphabet from executive producers McG ("Chuck"), Leonard Goldberg ("Charlie's Angels") and David S. Rosenthal ("Gilmore Girls"). Said Warner Bros. Television-based project, which has a substantial, mid-six-figure penalty should it not move forward, revolves around the world of students and faculty at a performing arts school in New York, much like the one Williams himself attended while growing up in Virginia. Rosenthal will pen the pilot script, based on the original idea from McG and Goldberg, and executive produce alongside the pair. Wonderland Sound & Vision's Peter Johnson then will serve as a co-executive producer with Williams as a consulting producer.
LYNDA OBST/MARCH ROSEN PROJECTS (The CW/CBS, New!) - Lynda Obst and Marc Rosen ("Threshold") are developing a small screen take on the Obst-produced feature "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," about a female magazine columnist and her misadventures in love as she writes her how-to column. The news comes as the pair inks a first-look deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. David Newman and Keith Merryman are writing the one-hour project and will serve as co-executive producers with Rosen, Obst and Christine Peters executive producing. Also in the works at the netlet is "Undercover," which is described as an updated version of "21 Jump Street." Charley and Vlas Parlapanides are writing the hour and will likewise serve as co-executive producers alongside Nicole Rocklin. Obst and Rosen again will executive produce with John Stockwell ("Turistas"), who's also attached to direct. Obst and Rosen are also shepherding two projects at CBS - "Utopia," a procedural drama that deals with cyber crimes; and "Mind Fields," which focuses on a team that uses brain imagery to solve crimes. The former comes from Eric Heisserer ("Inhuman") with Alan Taylor ("The Sopranos") directing and executive producing. Ronnie Christensen ("Passengers") then is penning "Fields" with Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth") helming and executive producing. Heisserer and Christensen will serve as co-executive producers on their respective projects.
LITERARY SUPERSTAR (ABC) - "Dharma & Greg" co-creator Dottie Dartland Zicklin has been tapped as the showrunner/executive producer of the comedy pilot, which stars Jenna Elfman as a sexy and sassy literary publicist who is fighting for the rights of her authors while balancing a busy social schedule. ABC Studios has also come aboard to co-produce the pilot alongside Sony Pictures Television and Darren Star Productions. Matt Reilly penned the pilot script and will also executive produce alongside Star and Zicklin, who has an overall deal with ABC Studios.
LONG ISLAND CONFIDENTIAL (Lifetime) - Ruben Santiago-Hudson ("Lackawanna Blues") and Alison Elliott ("The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford") have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a detective (Elliott) who returns to her Long Island roots and learns that it's hard to escape one's past. Elliott will play said lead role with Santiago-Hudson as her boss, Lt. Calvin Burke. Jan Oxenberg is behind the hour, which is based at ABC Studios and Bender-Brown Productions.
MY NAME IS EARL (TBS) - The cable channel has upped its commitment to the show's off-network run, signing a deal with Twentieth Television for an exclusive window to the series 18 months before it becomes available to local stations across the country. The pact gives the network a double run of the series in primetime beginning April 1. "Earl" then, as previously announced, will expand to five nights a week in the fall of 2009 on both TBS and various local stations. TBS will fork over $625,000 per episode for said run however financial details about the early window weren't released.
THE PHILANTHROPIST (NBC, New!) - Drama gurus Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson have set up a new drama at the Peacock about a rebel billionaire who uses his money, connections and power to help people in need - no matter the risks. Original Media and Universal Media Studios are behind the hour, which Fontana is writing and executive producing with Levinson via their Levinson/Fontana Co. banner. Original's Charlie Corwin ("Half Nelson"), who has a first-look deal with the network, will also serve as an executive producer. NBC has given a blind series commitment to the project, which will be given an initial order of up to 13 episodes. Said decision will be made in December.
QUEEN B (FOX, New!) - "Nip/Tuck's" Ryan Murphy, Richard Levine and Lyn Greene have likewise landed a put pilot commitment at the network for a new workplace drama about a brilliant but ruthless woman who takes over a worldwide conglomerate as a CEO and corrupts a young girl with power by making her the exec's right-hand henchwoman. The trio penned the pilot script and will executive produce for 20th Century Fox Television, where Murphy has a rich overall deal.
RECOUNT (HBO) - Kevin Spacey, Tom Wilkinson, Denis Leary, Ed Begley Jr., Laura Dern, John Hurt and Bob Balaban have all been cast in the telefilm, which chronicles the turbulent events in Florida after the 2000 presidential election. Spacey will play Ron Klain, Al Gore's former chief of staff who headed the Democratic candidate's legal efforts in Florida as general counsel for the Gore-Lieberman Recount Committee, while Wilkinson is set as former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, who served as chief legal adviser for Bush during the 2000 election campaign and oversaw the Florida recount. As for the rest of the cast: Leary will play Michael Whouley, Gore's chief field operative; Begley is set as litigator David Boies, who argued Gore's case for him in front of the Supreme Court; with Dern as former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris; Hurt as former Secretary of State Warren Christopher; and Balaban as Benjamin Ginsberg, national counsel to the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004. Production on the Spring Creek/Mirage Productions/Tigger Street Productions/Everyman Pictures-produced project, which Jay Roach is directing from a script by Danny Strong, is set to begin in Florida in November for an air date sometime in 2008. Sydney Pollack, Paula Weinstein, Len Amato and Roach are the executive producers.
THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX) - Garret Dillahunt ("Deadwood") has scored a multi-episode arc on the midseason drama. He'll play a mysterious character named Cromartie. It's not clear if Dillahunt is replacing Owain Yeoman, who played a T-800 named Cromartie in the pilot, or playing a new incarnation.
SECTION 8 (ABC, New!) - Feature writer Zak Penn ("X-Men: The Last Stand") has been issued a six-episode order for a new drama about a team of everyday people with advanced neurological abnormalities who work for a secret government agency. Said moniker comes from the clause used for discharge from the U.S. Army because of mental issues. Penn co-created the hour with Michael Karnow and will executive produce alongside BermanBraun's Lloyd Braun and Gail Berman. Karnow then will serve as a producer with the project itself based at ABC Studios. It's understood Penn secured the order following a well received presentation which included special effects-enhanced video of what one of the characters on the show would look like: a guy with perfect balance who throws a roll of 10 quarters that land in 10 cups of water.
TALES FROM THE HOFF (E!, New!) - David Hasselhoff is set to star in a potential new "Curb Your Enthusiasm"-esque comedy for the cable channel from executive producer Ryan Seacrest. Said project would follow the fictional dark and twisted trials and tribulations of an international icon (loosely based on Hasselhoff) as he navigates Hollywood and the world of dating after divorce. Dan O'Keefe ("The Drew Carey Show") is attached to pen the pilot script with Chuck Russell directing. The pair then will executive produce alongside Seacrest. Eliot Goldberg, Seacrest's producing partner, will serve as a co-executive producer.
TRAVELER (ABC) - Creator David DiGilio confirmed to TVGuide.com on Friday the summer series will not be returning for a second season. As a wrap-up however, the writer/producer detailed his plans for the show's second and third seasons. Visit his blog on TVGuide.com for the breakdown.
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING (TNT) - Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace") and Tom Cavanagh ("Ed") have been tapped for the lead roles on the drama pilot, about the Chicago-based multimillion-dollar advertising agency Rothman, Greene & Moore, where executives must continually prove themselves as their jobs are on the line every day. McCormack will play Mason McGuire, an executive who is better at the corporate side of the biz but is unexpectedly promoted to creative director, while Cavanagh is set as a copywriter named Conner, McGuire's more emotional and creative counterpart. Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny penned the Warner Horizon Television-based hour and will executive produce alongside the Shephard/Robin Co.'s Michael M. Robin, who's directing, and Greer Shephard. Production is set to begin next month.
UNTITLED CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER PROJECT (ABC) - Regina Hall has been cast as the female lead in the comedy pilot, about a family man (Cedric the Entertainer) who has always been the proud breadwinner and has difficulty adjusting when his wife's (Hall) hobby turns into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. She'll play said wife, Darlene Stokes, who's further detailed in the casting notice as: "Preston's wife, she's a vibrant, funny, attractive African American woman whose life has recently been turned upside down. A year ago, Darlene was a simple stay-at-home mom whose biggest thrill was chaperoning school field trips. Now, almost overnight, she's become a sought-after "domestic diva" whose advice book, "Show Me What You Got - A Guide to Living Good on a Budget" - has become a runaway best-seller. But Darlene's success is causing some unexpected tension on the home front, especially where her prickly hubby, Preston, is concerned." Also signing on is Ken Whittingham ("Entourage"), who will direct the pilot from a script by Cedric, Michael Soccio and Rock Reuben.
UNTITLED CINDY CHUPACK PRJOECT (NBC, New!) - Cindy Chupack ("Men in Trees") is developing a new one-hour romantic anthology at the network. The project, which comes from fellow executive producer JoAnn Alfano, would feature between one and three stories each week, as well as an animated short, all connected by the same theme. It's not clear if the tales will use a regular staple of actors or use new ones each week. No studio was listed as being attached.
UNTITLED ROBIN SCHIFF PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Robin Schiff ("Romy and Michele's High School Reunion") has landed a script commitment from the Peacock for a new drama about young performers living together in New York, trying to find fame and success in their creative endeavors. Bill Condon and Laurence Mark ("Dreamgirls") are behind the hour, which plans to use actors who actually are struggling performers should it move forward. No other details were given.
ZIP (NBC) - The Peacock has given a cast-contingent pilot order for a revamped version of the pilot, about a drifter who ends up living the good life in Beverly Hills. Richard Shepard ("The Matador") is in talks to helm the new version, which also comes from co-creators Mark Rizzo, Marc Abrams and Michael Benson. Alex Kaluzhsky, Carlos Lacamara, Colby Paul, Dreama Walker, Rob Huebel, Shelby Young and Zach Mills all stared in the previous version, which was directed by Dan Attias. Original executive producers Ben Silverman and Teri Weinberg are also not involved on the production side of the new version due to their new gigs at NBC.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters