LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE 16TH MINUTE (ABC, New!) - "How I Met Your Mother" executive producer Greg Malins has set up a script at the Alphabet for a new multi-camera comedy about a group of former stars-at-the-moment who are reunited on the set of a newsmagazine's "Where Are They Now?" special and become friends. The group includes a former med school prodigy, a child actor best known for uttering a commercial's well-known catchphrase, a guy who made headlines as a kid for surviving in the woods for five days and another who was once struck by lightning and declared clinically dead. The project is set up at 20th Century Fox Television, where Malins has an overall deal. He'll pen the pilot and executive produce.
24 (FOX) - Carly Pope ("Dirt") has landed a role on the show's seventh season. She'll play Samantha Roth, the girlfriend of the president's (Cherry Jones) son who might be connected to his disappearance. No other details about her character were released. Separately, series star Kiefer Sutherland has reached a plea agreement with The Los Angeles City Attorney's Office on Tuesday over his September 26 DUI arrest. The actor will serve a 48-day sentence in two installments - 18 days for his probation violation beginning December 21 and 30 days for the DUI charge to be completed by July 1 - as well as complete an 18-month alcohol education program and to attend weekly alcohol therapy sessions for six weeks. The split sentence was designed to not interfere with production on "24," a request that actually led to Sutherland serving more time that he would have if he served it consecutively. In a statement to the press, Sutherland said: "I'm very disappointed in myself for the poor judgment I exhibited recently, and I'm deeply sorry for the disappointment and distress this has caused my family, friends and co-workers on '24' and at 20th Century Fox. I appreciate the support and concern that has been extended to me these last weeks both personally and professionally."
BA'AL/RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX (Sci Fi, New!) - Casting has been completed on two upcoming Sci Fi originals. The first is "Ba'al," about a rogue Smithsonian archaeologist, dying of cancer, who will stop at nothing to retrieve the ancient amulets of the storm god, which could cure him or make him a god. Jeremy London ("7th Heaven"), Stefanie von Pfetten ("Dragon Boys") and Lexa Doig ("Stargate SG-1") all star in the project, which comes from director Paul Ziller ("Swarmed") and producer by CineTel Films. The latter then is "Riddles of the Sphinx," about a father and daughter who find themselves in a series of battles of mind and body with the deadly Sphinx as they attempt to decode seven riddles in an effort to save humankind. Director George Mendeluk ("Her Fatal Flaw") and producer Plinyminor are behind the effort, which stars Dina Meyer ("Saw") and Lochlyn Munro ("Deck the Halls"). Production on both films is underway at Insight Film Studios in Vancouver for air dates in late 2008.
THE BEAST (A&E) - Patrick Swayze and Travis Fimmel ("Tarzan") have been tapped for the lead roles on the drama pilot, about an unorthodox but effective FBI veteran (Swayze) who trains a new partner (Fimmel) in his hard-edged, psychologically clever style while being pursued by a secret Internal Affairs team. Their castings lift said contingency off the pilot's production. Co-executive producers William Rotko and Vincent Angell penned the pilot script while Scarlet Fire Films's Allan Loeb and Steven Pearl and Fuel Filmworks's Cory Concoff are the executive producers. A director is set to be named shortly.
BLUE BLOOD (NBC) - Logan Marshall-Green ("Traveler") and Vincent Piazza ("Rescue Me") are the first to be cast on the drama pilot, an ensemble show about NYPD rookie cops assigned to street patrol. The former is set as the lead character, Ed Conlon, who's further detailed in the casting notice as follows: "25-30, Caucasian. Ed's one of our rookie cops, born and raised in The Bronx, and handsome in that neighborhood kind of way. And oh yeah� Ed is a Harvard graduate, English lit � whose Dad, Uncle, and grandfather were NYPD cops. It's a complex mix; the Harvard/NYPD cop legacy thing makes him wise beyond his years on some levels and utterly na�ve on others. The smartest guy in the room, who underplays his brilliance. He's got your back in any brawl, no matter the numbers. In fact, you may want to climb aboard his shoulders. He's as tough as they come -- He's assigned to work in the South Bronx for pennies, where he joins four other rookies, all of them on their first shift. He's partnered with Andre Crowder, a guy who (like the other cops) mercilessly ribs Ed about his Harvard education. But in fact, his university has given him a few areas of social entree that the other officers don't have, and on his first day on the job, Ed uses every little trick in his arsenal to survive the deception and humiliation inflicted on him by a duplicitous crack addict."
Piazza then is set as Bobby Moran: "Early 20s, Caucasian. Brooklyn born, Bobby is the fifth of the rookie NYPD cops; he's almost handsome, the kind of guy who would get the girl if he didn't try so hard. And he's probably ADD! A guy whose self-confidence level has been nurtured by the �hood, and an obsession with classic cop movies. Bobby is asking for a takedown of his puffed-up ego, and when he makes the error of parking in Sergeant Vargas's spot, Bobby gets his comeuppance, a full eight-hour shift of humiliation and abuse. His fortune changes, however, when he's sent to unclog the Vargas family toilet -- and Bobby wastes no time in exploring Mrs. Vargas's neglected pipes as well. Delighted at having evened the score, Bobby has a fresh problem to deal with: The sergeant's wife becomes his new stalker." Brett Ratner is directing the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour from a script by Neil Tolkin. The network has also ordered two additional scripts for the project, which based on Edward Conlon's memoir of the same name and is executive produced by Tolkin, Ratner and Little Engine's Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo.
BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) - Chevy Chase has landed a multi-episode arc on the Sunday drama. He'll play Stan Hirsh, the high school boyfriend of Nora Walker (Sally Field). It's not clear when his first appearances will air. And in related news, creator Jon Robin Baitz has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with producer ABC Studios. The pact will cover his duties on the series as well as call for him to develop new projects for the studio.
THE CHURCH OF REGGIE (FOX, New!) - Chuck Tatham ("Back to You") has landed a put pilot order from FOX for a new hybrid single/multi-camera comedy about Reggie Fender, a young man who has kept an optimistic look on life even after experiencing a number of personal struggles who finds himself preaching his own religion. The project, which is based on an idea by "Arrested Development's" Ron Howard, is based at 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television. Tatham, who has an overall deal at 20th, will write the script and executive produce alongside Howard, Brian Grazer and David Nevins.
CSI: NY (CBS) - Gary Sinise has reupped his deal to star on the junior "CSI" series through 2011. The pact, valued in the $200,000 per episode range, brings his salary to about $5 million per year. The actor, who also serves as a producer on the series, had previously been locked in through the 2009-2010 season.
THE DOCTORS (Syndication, New!) - CBS Television Distribution is developing a spin-off of the syndicated talk show "Dr. Phil" in which a staple of five "Phil" regulars discusses a range of health issues in a panel format. Dr. Travis Stork, a former star of ABC's "The Bachelor," and "Phil" executive producer Carla Pennington are two of the quintet featured on the sales tape currently being circulated to potential stations however casting decisions haven't been finalized. In either case, it's understood the current season of "Phil" will showcase potential talent similar to how Dr. Phil McGraw himself was featured on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" before his show launched. McGraw's son, Jay McGraw ("Decision House"), reportedly will also be involved with the spin-off. The company had previously been developing a court show featuring Florida judge Larry Seidlin however it appears that project has been placed on the back burner.
FOREVER SAM CROW (A.K.A. CHARMING, CA) (FX) - Kurt Sutter's ("The Shield") drama script, about the world of biker gangs in Northern California, has been issued a pilot order. Sutter then will executive produce alongside Art Linson Productions's Art and John Linson. As for specifics, the project revolves around 33-year-old Jackson "Jax" Teller, the vice president of Samcro - The Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, Redwood Original - and son of the late club founder who's at a crossroads in life and figuring out his place in both his blood family and his brotherhood family.
FOX ANIMATED PROJECTS (FOX, New!) - The network and 20th Century Fox Television are developing a trio of potential animated projects, including an animated version of the network's short-lived 2003 comedy "The Pitts," about the unluckiest family in the world. FOX has commissioned two scripts for the project, which comes from creators Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully. Also in the works: "Mothballs," from "Drawn Together" creators Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser, about the Westings, a dysfunctional family who lives in the nursing home they own and operate; and "Relative Insanity," from creator Justin Roiland and executive producer Jack Black, about a twentysomething guy who is trying to establish his life but is constantly sidetracked by the mishaps and adventures of his crazy family. Both half-hours have script commitments (plus penalty in "Motherballs's" case") with Silverstein and Jeser executive producing the former and Roiland, Black and Electric Dynamite's Ben Cooley, Black's producing partner, executive producing the latter.
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - Seth Green ("Family Guy") has been tapped for a two-episode arc on the drama. No details about his character were released other than he'll play a patient in the installments.
HEROES (NBC) - The show's off-network run, purchased by G4 and Mojo on Thursday (read the story), is reportedly valued at the relative bargain price of $300,000 an episode. TNT, A&E, Spike and Sci Fi all were said to be in the hunt to land the rights, which ultimately went to the lesser known duo. In addition, G4 has slated "The Post Show," a half-hour "post-game" show focused on that week's "Heroes" episode. The series, hosted by "Attack of the Show's" Kevin Pereira and Blair Butler, will follow "Heroes's" repurposed run on the channel on Saturday nights at 11:00/10:00c starting November 3. As for its five-night-a-week run, due in the fall of 2010, it's understood G4 will use its "2.0" branding for the series (a la its current broadcasts of "Star Trek" and "Cops"), which includes DVD-style extras that run on the screen and online.
INTELLIGENCE (HBO, New!) - Bradley Cooper and Patton Oswalt are set to topline a potential workplace comedy about an elite counter-intelligence unit whose cover is that of disgruntled civil servants. Michael Patrick Jann ("Flight of the Conchords") created the project and will executive produce alongside Cooper and Oswalt as well as direct.
LEVERAGE (TNT) - Christian Kane ("Close to Home") and Aldis Hodge ("Friday Night Lights") have both been cast in Dean Devlin's drama pilot, about a former investigator for big insurance companies (Timothy Hutton) who stands up for the little guy and goes after the richest and greediest. The former will play Eliot Spencer, a young specialist in Internet and computer fraud, while the latter is set as Alec Hardison, a retrieval specialist who's hired beat up those who have stolen items.
LIPSTICK JUNGLE (NBC) - Paul Blackthorne ("Big Shots") has signed on to play husband to Brooke Shields's character - a movie studio president and a harried wife and mother of three - in the upcoming NBC dramedy. He'll take over for Christopher Wiehl, who played the role in the original pilot.
LONG ISLAND CONFIDENTIAL (Lifetime) - Amber Benson ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") and newcomer Anthony Carrigan have signed onto the drama pilot, about a detective (Alison Elliott) who returns to her Long Island roots and learns that it's hard to escape the past. They'll play the sister and brother, Liz and Jake respectively, of Elliott's character. They join the previously cast Jeffrey Pierce, Lorraine Bracco and Ruben Santiago-Hudson. Guy Bee is directing the ABC Studios/Bender-Brown Productions-based hour from a script by creator Jan Oxenberg.
LOST (ABC) - Fisher Stevens ("Early Edition") is the latest to sign onto the drama's fourth season. He'll play Minkowski, the man behind the voice on the other side of the satellite phone found by the "Lost" gang. No other details about his character were given, other than speculation ties his namesake to German mathematician Hermann Minkowski, whose concepts were used in Einstein's theory of special relativity.
MEDIUM (NBC) - Glenn Gordon Caron, the show's creator, has reupped with overall deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. The two-year, seven-figure pact keeps the prolific writer/director/producer and his company Picturemaker Productions at the studio through May 2009 where he'll continue to work on "Medium" as well as his drama pilot "The Meant to Be's," which has a put pilot commitment at CBS. Casting is underway on "Bes" - about a young woman who dies, but in order to "pass over," she must return to Earth and help people improve their lives - which Caron wrote and plans to direct.
THE MIDDLEMAN (ABC Family) - Matt Keeslar, Natalie Morales and Mary Pat Gleason are the first to be cast in the drama pilot, about Wendy Watson, a twentysomething struggling artist recruited by a secret agency to fight comic book-type villains. Keeslar will play the title character, a superhero who serves as the guide to said girl, to be played by Morales. Gleason then will play Ida, the robotic gatekeeper and veteran assistant to Keeslar. Javier Grillo-Marxuach is behind the hour, which is based on his graphic novels for Viper Comics on the same name, illustrated by Les McClaine.
OUTSOURCED (NBC, New!) - Ken Kwapis ("The Office") has landed a premium script commitment from the Peacock and Universal Media Studios for a new single-camera comedy based on the 2006 feature of the same name about a customer service manager in Seattle who's sent to India to train his replacement when his department is outsourced. George Wing and John Jeffcoat, the screenwriters of the film, are on board to pen the TV version and executive produce alongside ShadowCatcher Entertainment's Tom Gorai and David Skinner as well as Kwapis, who's also attached to direct should it move forward. Alexandra Beattie, Kwapis's producing partner, will also serve as co-executive producer via their In Cahoots banner.
OVERBROOK ENTERTAINMENT PROJECTS (Various, New!) - Overbrook Entertainment, the production company headed by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, James Lassiter and Ken Stovitz, has set up a handful of series projects around town. In addition, they're developing a small screen take on Will Smith's hit feature "Hitch" and a comedy starring OutKast's Big Boi, both of which are expected to begin pitching shortly. Already in the works are a trio of projects - "Raw Materials," from Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, a single-camera comedy for ABC and ABC Studios that explores the state of dating today and why men and women are not getting together; "Almost," from Peter Mattei, a supernatural drama at A&E set in a roadside motel in the middle of nowhere that doubles as purgatory, where the recently deceased are given a chance to revisit episodes from their past as a way of finding closure and paying off their karmic debts before moving on; and an untitled project at FX from Robert Munic ("Runnin'"), based on an idea by Jada Pinkett-Smith, about a faction of "straight edge" punks called Courage Crew. As for the Sony Pictures Television-based "Hitch," Ben Wexler ("Still Standing") is on board to pen the pilot script to the potential single-camera comedy while no writer is currently attached to "Uncle Rudy," the family comedy starring Big Boi.
ROCKVILLE 2020 (ABC, New!) - Feature writer Zach Helm ("Stranger Than Fiction") has snagged a script commitment from the Alphabet for a new offbeat dramedy about the mayor of a fading Oregon town who makes a bid for the 2020 Olympics. Helm will pen the pilot and executive produce alongside his Gang of Two partner Jim Garavente in association with ABC Studios. It's understood the project is the result of a blind script commitment Helm received from the network earlier this year.
SAMURAI GIRL (ABC Family) - Newcomer Jamie Chung has scored the lead role in the drama pilot, about a teenage girl who straddles the worlds of her life as the adoptive daughter of a wealthy family and the ancient Samurai traditions of her blood ancestors. Her character, Heaven Kogo, is further detailed in the casting notice as follows: "19. A delicately beautiful American-Asian Japanese girl. She's the adopted daughter of billionaire businessman Konishi Kogo, with whom she shares an apparently loving rapport. In deference to her father's wishes, Heaven agrees to an arranged marriage, but when her Stateside nuptials are rudely interrupted by murderous Ninjas who leave her beloved brother, Ohiko, dead, Heaven goes on the run to find out who was behind the attack on her wedding. Refusing to follow Ohiko's dying instructions and flee to another country, Heaven is determined to track Ohiko's killers, even if it costs her own life. She enlists the assistance of Ohiko's old friend Jake Stanton, a former Yakuza who reluctantly agrees to teach Heaven martial arts and finds her an amazingly quick pupil. While unraveling the mystery of her brother's murder, Heaven has a shock in store when she discovers the true architect of the crime. Unable to trust even those nearest and dearest to her, Heaven realizes that her once well-ordered, sheltered world will never be the same again, but she's ready to shoulder the burden and fight on, as long as she can." The project, from ABC Studios and Alloy Entertainment, is based on the first novel in the young-adult series of the same name.
STORYLINE ENTERTAINMENT PROJECTS (CBS, New!) - Feature and television producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have ramped up their television presence, inking a three-for-one pilot deal with CBS as well as reupping their TV movie pact with Sony Pictures Television, setting up four projects at Lifetime in the process. The former deal with CBS calls for the duo's Storyline Entertainment to develop three scripts, one of which will ultimately receive a pilot order. Storyline had been based at ABC Studios as of late, but is now free to base the projects at any studio. As for the latter, the renewal will keep Storyline's telefilm and mini-series efforts at the studio through mid-2009. Already in the works are a quartet of projects at Lifetime: "HER 2," from scribe Vivienne Radkoff, tells the story of the doctor who pioneered a groundbreaking breast cancer treatment; Liz Egloff and co-executive producer/director Maggie Greenwald are behind a biopic of Jane Aronson, who helps engineer adoptions of orphans internationally; "Going the Other Way" (previously at Showtime), which comes from writer Larry Andries ("Six Feet Under") and director Alan Poul, revolves around the life of gay baseball player Billy Bean; and "Blue Lagoon" (previously at the WB), is a small screen take on the 1980 cult film of the same name from writers Matt Heller and Heather Rutman.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING (USA) - The cable channel is taking another stab at developing the 2005 feature/Christopher Buckley novel for the small screen. Rick Cleveland was behind the original effort, which was set up at NBC. James Dodson then is set to pen the new version and executive produce alongside Room 9 Entertainment's David O. Sacks for Universal Media Studios. As for specifics, the project is still expected to track the post-film exploits of Aaron Eckhart's character Nick Naylor as he, having kicked some of his more evil lobbyist habits, uses his rhetorical skills to help people more deserving of aid.
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING (TNT) - Monica Potter ("Boston Legeal") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about the executives at a multimillion-dollar advertising agency. She'll play Sarah Krajicek-Hunter, a recently divorced, award-winning copywriter who is a new hire at the agency. There she'll join the previously cast Eric McCormack and Tom Cavanagh. Hunt Baldwin and John Coveny are behind the Warner Horizon Television/The Shephard-Robin Company-based hour, which Michael Robin is directing.
UNTITLED CEDRIC THE ENTERTAINER PROJECT (ABC) - Charles Malik Whitfield, Melissa Peterman and Peter Mackenzie have all been cast in the comedy pilot, about a proud breadwinner (Cedric the Entertainer) who has difficulty adjusting when his wife's (Regina Hall) hobby turns into a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Mackenzie will play Grant Wittman - "Preston's new neighbor. He's an affluent white guy who can typically be seen fast-walking with his wife Marci. Anxious to please but a bit clueless, he's excited about making a "black friend," but he's a bit nervous about acting the right way and saying the right things around the acerbic Preston and his pal the Wiz, who promptly nicknames Grant "Powder"." - with Peterman as Marci Wittman - "Grant's wife, and the one who wears the pants in the relationship. She's a funny, offbeat woman who has recently had a nose job. In fact, her new proboscis tends to whistle on unexpected occasions. She and Darlene soon bond closely - especially after they uncover the men's plot to impose a "sexual embargo" on their unsuspecting wives." And finally, Whitfield is playing Thomas "The Wiz" Osgood, who's likewise detailed in the casting notice as: "Late 30s, African American. He's Preston's oldest friend, who works evaluating damaged vehicles at Preston's claims adjusting company. A real character, the Wiz is always hatching some hare-brained scheme that's guaranteed to get the gullible Preston in trouble. Worried at his pal's "bitchlike" tendencies recently, the Wiz urges Preston to take back control of his domestic situation by imposing a "sexual embargo" on his wife Darlene. Of course, like all of the Wiz's schemes, this one is bound to backfire."
UNTITLED FOREST WHITAKER PROJECT (FX, New!) - Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker, Emmy-winner Cary Brokaw ("Angels in America") and TV veteran Eric Overmyer ("Close to Home") are set to team for a new drama at the cable channel described as "The Sopranos" set in the world of arms dealers. Whitaker is attached to direct the Fox TV Studios-based hour, should it move forward, from a script by Jeremy Martin and Matthew Donlan as well as executive produce alongside Brokaw and Overmyer.
UNTITLED HAYES MACARTHUR PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Multi-hyphenate Hayes MacArthur ("The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend") has scored a script commitment from the Peacock for a new comedy about a recently divorced father who moves in with his two sons in an attempt to put his life back together. The project, which is loosely based on characters from MacArthur's life, is set at Universal Media Studios with MacArthur himself set to write, executive produce and star. Flutie Entertainment's Brady McKay, MacArthur's manager, will also receive an executive producer credit.
UNTITLED LUKE REITER PROJECT (NBC) - Alan Tudyk ("Firefly") and Brit Andrew Lincoln ("Love Actually") have both joined the cast of the pilot, a drama about the unapologetic lawyers at a prestigious New York civil firm, who will do whatever it takes to win their high-profile cases and outmaneuver one another. They'll play Charlie - a slick, gregarious lawyer who wants to make it to the top and will work all the angles to get there - and Joe - a soulful lawyer who has a true sense of justice and a hidden past - respectively, whose characters are in love with the same woman. Luke Reiter is behind the Universal Media Studios-based hour, which Barry Sonnenfeld is directing.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters