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!
99 STORIES (AMC, New!) - James Middleton ("The Sarah Connor Chronicles") and Steven Banks ("Women in Law") are developing a new sci-fi/horror drama at the cable channel about a group of strangers invited to tour a newly constructed multipurpose 99-story building only to find themselves trapped in it, where they're at the mercy of a technological brain that electronically controls every element of the building. Feature writer David Seltzer is penning the script to the hour, which has yet to be set up at a studio, and will executive produce alongside Middleton and Banks.
BETWEEN THE DYING AND THE DEAD (HBO, New!) - Neal Nicol and Harry Wylie's book, subtitled "Dr. Jack Kevorkian's Life and the Battle to Legalize Euthanasia," is being developed for the small screen by the pay channel. Adam Mazer ("Breach") is set to write the script to the project, which would focus on the development of Kevorkian's controversial methods and subsequent actions involving physician-assisted suicide. The project also marks the first to be authorized by Kevorkian, who has assisted in at least 130 suicides and was subsequently convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 by the Michigan court system. Steve Jones and Glenn Rigberg are executive producing, while Nicol is serving as a consultant with Troy Powers, Stephen Markey III and Drew Gallagher as associate producers.
BIONIC WOMAN (NBC) - Jason Cahill ("Cane") has been tapped as the new showrunner of the freshman drama where he'll officially take over for Glen Morgan. Jason Katims had been handling said duties in the interim. Cahill then will serve alongside fellow executive producers Jason Smilovic and David Eick.
BLUE BLOOD (NBC) - Larenz Tate ("Rescue Me"), April Lee Hernandez ("ER"), Kate Levering ("Cashmere Mafia") and Alex Fernandez ("Prison Break") have all been cast in the pilot, an ensemble drama about NYPD rookie cops assigned to street patrol. Tate will play Andre Crowder, who's detailed in the casting notice as follows: "26, African-American, tall and poised. Andre has a police uniform that looks like he picked it up and had it fitted at Barney's. He�s a proud man. Confident, possibly too confident. Can easily be seen as arrogant. Somewhere along his difficult upbringing, or perhaps his tour in Iraq, he developed a large chip on his shoulder that makes it difficult for him to accept Ed Conlon and his Ivy league pedigree. Andre walks out the door onto the streets during his first night on the job, and in his first chase discharges his weapon, killing a pigeon. Treated by Sergeant Quarry like a screwup who needs a lesson, Andre spends the rest of the night filling out paperwork and answering questions from shrinks and Internal Affairs cops -- but in fact, it's all part of Quarry's plan to teach Andre a badly-needed lesson in thinking before firing. Hours later, on his second trip on the streets, he's too slow in reacting and is shot... This is a life changing experience he will have great difficulty dealing with."
Hernandez then is set as Sofia Pujols - "26, Hispanic and/or Dominican. Sofia is a small NYPD rookie cop, fluent in Spanish. A devout Catholic, Sofia comes from the streets, maybe Harlem, and takes no shit from anyone, which in the South Bronx is both good and bad. She had a brief torrid affair with Andre while they were in the Academy, creating an underlying tension between the two of them that is classic hate-love. Both are emotionally handicapped. Partnered with Colt McDowell on her first night on the job, Sofia has her doubts about her new partner -- especially when Colt tries to keep her from getting physical with a suspect. Deeply convinced that keeping the peace involves asserting police authority at all times, Sofia is rattled when Colt thinks she's too aggressive to be a good cop. But when she and Colt both go looking for Rory MacLean, a fish who slipped through the net too easily, Sofia shares her shaky partner's nausea when they find the dead body of a 19 year old girl. Hardened by her life, she has trouble dealing with her emotions. She can get there, but it is difficult. Her human side forever struggles with her street side."
Next up is Levering as Colt McDowell - "Mid 20s, Caucasian. Hot and athletic, another of the five rookies. Colt is a ski bum gone straight. A product of a liberal middle class upbringing, she was raised with five older brothers, and thinks she's used to competitive masculine jockeying for position. An adrenaline junkie of some sort, having jumped off a cliff with a parachute on her back, she's sure she�s tough enough to hit the streets as an NYPD cop. She's partnered with Sofia Pujols, who sees Colt as too soft, too quick to negotiate, and too slow to back her partner's play. When Colt and Sofia find a dead teenaged girl in a trash drum, Colt (short for Coltrane, as in John Coltrane) thinks that Sofia might just be right. At her core, Colt is a deeply sensitive and empathic person. The heart of our group of rookies."
And finally, Fernandez's role is that of Sergeant Vargas - "35 years old, maybe 40, Hispanic. He is a veteran imposing cop in charge of supervising the night shift in the South Bronx. He's much feared among the precinct, famous as a man who rides his rookies with glee. Simply stated, he�s a dick! When rookie Bobby Moran makes the error of parking in his space, Vargas spends the rest of his shift putting Bobby in his place, and wrongly believes that by sending Bobby to unclog the toilet at his home, that he's taken the rookie down a peg. But in fact, Vargas gets cuckolded by Bobby during his pipe-cleaning trip, and it might be that these two headstrong men are on a collision course, with Mrs. Vargas in the middle." The quartet joins the previously cast Logan Marshall-Green and Vincent Piazza. Brett Ratner is directing the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour from a script by Neil Tolkin based on Edward Conlon's novel of the same name. The pair are also executive producing alongside Gina Matthews and Grant Scharbo.
BONES (FOX) - Executive producer Hart Hanson has reupped his overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. The three-year, eight-figure pact, which has an option for a fourth year, calls for him to continue with his duties on the FOX drama as well as develop "Lies and Promises," a drama based on Harlan Coben's eight-book Myron Bolitar series. Said project revolves around Myron Bolitar, a former basketball player who becomes a sports agent and winds up solving murder mysteries. FOX has given a script commitment to the hour, which Hanson will executive produce via his Far Field Productions banner.
BUDDIES (ABC, New!) - The ever-busy Barry Sonnenfeld has added another project to his plate, this time a single-camera buddy comedy set in the world of '80s cops. Josh Lobis and Darin Moiselle (FOX's "That Guy") penned the pilot script, which is set up at Sony Pictures Television and Tantamount, the newly formed production company of Mitch Hurwitz, Eric Tannenbaum and Kim Tannenbaum. Sonnenfeld then will direct and executive produce the half-hour, should it move forward, alongside the trio with Lobis and Moiselle serving as co-executive producers.
GREY'S ANATOMY (ABC) - "Dawson's Creek" alum Joshua Jackson has landed a multi-episode arc on the popular drama. He'll play an unspecified doctor beginning with this season's 11th episode.
HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) - Chris Harris, a co-executive producer on the series, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television. The pact, which also has an option for a third year, covers his duties on the comedy as well as calls him to develop new series projects for the studio. Harris joined "Mother" as a producer during its freshman season.
KNIGHT RIDER (NBC) - "Kill Point" director Steve Shill has been tapped to helm the two-hour backdoor pilot, a "Transformers"-inspired redo of the 1980s series of the same name. Executive producer Doug Liman had previously been pegged to direct the project however his feature schedule prevented him from doing so. Dave Andron penned the script to the Universal Media Studios-based "Rider" and serves as a supervising producer. Liman's Dutch Oven Productions partner Dave Bartis is also executive producing.
THE MORE THINGS CHANGE (ABC, New!) - "Old School" helmer Todd Phillips and "New Amsterdam" co-creator Allan Loeb are set to team for a new single-camera comedy about four male pals whose friendship endures several life-altering changes. The Alphabet has given a pilot order to the project, which is based at Regency Television. As for specifics, one of the guys just got married and is adjusting to his newfound commitment, another is a successful alpha male, a third suffers through a disastrous dating life and the last one undergoes an "identity crisis" in the pilot. Loeb penned script on spec while Phillips is on board to direct. The pair will also executive produce via Phillips's Green Hat Films and Loeb's Scarlet Fire (alongside partner Steven Pearl). Production is set to begin in December.
NAME THAT TUNE (CMT/MTV/VH1, New!) - Viacom siblings CMT, MTV and VH1 have each signed on for a 21st take on the classic game show "Name That Tune." Each network has committed to six episodes of the series, all of which will share the same format however be targeted at their own specific genres (i.e. hip-hop/rap on MTV, country on CMT and pop on VH1). The project, due in the first half of 2008, will also feature an online component where viewers could potentially download tracks and play along. Sandy Frank (VH1's "Name That Video") and Media Rights Capital are behind the series, which was previously set up at CBS with Donny Osmond as host. The Eye eventually passed on the project, allowing Frank and company to move on to the cable networks. Casting is currently underway for hosts and showrunners for each edition. Tony DiSanto and Liz Gateley will executive produce for MTV with Michael Hirschorn handling said duties for VH1 and Bob Kusbit for CMT's take.
THE OAKS (FOX) - Jeremy Renner has joined the cast of the drama pilot, which tells the intertwined stories of three families - a young couple who have just lost a child in 1968, a family of four in 1988 and a pregnant couple in 2008 - who live in the same house and are haunted by a restless spirit. He'll play Dan, the expectant father in the present day couple. His character is further detailed via the casting notice as follows: "Early-Mid 30s. Present Day. Attractive, and very much in love with his newly pregnant wife Hollis, Dan has recently moved back to his hometown The Oaks and bought a house in which to raise his family. Though he's comforting and sweet toward Hollis when she expresses doubts about the massive renovations taking place on their new home, the couple disagrees on almost everything having to do with the baby, including its name and whether or not to test it for possible disabilities. Dan is curiously tense when the next door neighbor, Jessica, stops by to say hello. She knows him well from childhood, but he claims not to remember her, and it's clear he's hiding something from Hollis about his past." Bahar Soomekh, Gina McKee, Matt Lanter, Shannon Lucio and Sienna Guillory also star in the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour, which Michael Cuesta is directing from a script by David Schulner. Gina Matthews, Grant Scharbo and Shawn Ryan are the executive producers.
PLAY OR BE PLAYED (A.K.A. UNTITLED LUKE REITER PROJECT) (NBC) - Kurtwood Smith, Frankie Faison, Megan Dodds and Christina Vidal are the latest additions to the drama pilot, a legal thriller about unapologetic lawyers at Mason & Kent, a prestigious New York civil firm who will do whatever it takes to win its high-profile cases and outmaneuver one another. Smith will play Gene Whitacre, a ruthless but likable lawyer who takes the reins of the firm. Faison then is set as Detective Lyle, a veteran homicide cop who is investigating a murder connected to Mason & Kent. As for Dodds, she'll play Hannah, the elegant daughter of one of the most senior partners, who's also the object of affection of the two leads - the gregarious Charlie (Alan Tudyk) and the soulful Joe (Andrew Lincoln). Finally, Vidal is playing Gail, a feisty third-year law student who works as Joe's assistant and has her own ambitions and secrets. Luke Reiter is behind the Universal Media Studios-based hour, which Barry Sonnenfeld is directing. Both serve as executive producers.
PRETTY/HANDSOME (A.K.A. 4 OZ.) (FX) - Carrie-Anne Moss ("The Matrix") has been tapped to play wife to Joseph Fiennes in the drama pilot, about a man (Fiennes) who realizes he's a transsexual and undergoes a sex-change operation. Also singing on is Jake Cherry ("Desperate Housewives") as Oliver. They join the previously cast Blythe Danner and Robert Wagner, who play the man's parents. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk co-created the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour which the former is directing. The duo are also executive producing alongside Brad Pitt and Dede Gardner of Plan B Productions.
PRISON BREAK: CHERRY HILL (FOX, New!) - Matt Olmstead and Zack Estrin are developing a potential spin-off to the third-year series set in a women's prison. The project, dubbed "Cherry Hill," would revolve around Molly, a new regular character that will be introduced on "Prison" later this season. It's understood Molly is an upper-middle-class wife who, after a family tragedy suffered at the hands of the Company, is sentenced to life in prison after extracting her vengeance. She then must break out of prison after learning some of her loved ones are still alive. Olmstead, Estrin and fellow "Prison" executive producer Dawn Parouse are all on board for the spin-off, which would also be set up at 20th Century Fox Television. It's understood if "Cherry" doesn't move past the script stage, Molly will continue as a regular on the parent series.
THE PITTS (FOX) - Dylan Baker and Lizzy Caplan are set to reprise their roles for the animated revival of the FOX comedy, about the unluckiest family in the world. They'll play Bob and Faith, the dad and daughter, respectively. Also signing on is Andy Milonakis as Petey, the son. David Henrie played said role in the live action version. FOX has committed to two scripts of the series, which will (or won't) be ordered directly to series following a table read. Mike Scully and Julie Thacker-Scully are behind the half-hour, which is based at 20th Century Fox Television.
SAMURAI GIRL (ABC Family) - Brendan Fehr, Kenneth Choi, Saige Thompson, Anthony Brandon Wong, Kyle Labine and Steven Brand have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a teenage girl (Jamie Chung) who straddles the worlds of her life as the adoptive daughter of a wealthy family and the ancient Samurai traditions of her blood ancestors. Fehr will play Jake Stanton, who's described in the casting notice as follows: "24. An American military brat who grew up mostly on the streets of Japan near his father's navy base, this ruggedly handsome and fit was close friends with Ohiko, whom he is shocked to learn has been killed. Smart, but not book smart he is blue collar cool. Anxious to protect the headstrong Heaven, who is on the run from a group of mysterious goons, Jake urges her to flee the country. When she refuses, he reluctantly agrees to teach her martial arts. A master himself, Jake was once in the employ of the dread Japanese Yakuza, but despite his checkered past, he embraces Heaven's battle as his own - and we sense that he would like to embrace Heaven herself as well."
Choi then is set as Sato - "30s-40. Konishi's right hand man. He's a bespectacled man who seems to be the power behind the Kogo family's throne. When Heaven goes on the run, Sato sends his armed and deadly goon squad in pursuit. As we later learn, however, Sato may not be calling the shots. In fact, he may be taking orders from a shockingly unexpected source." - with Thompson as Cheryl - "24. A sweet, smart, attractive, funny girl. She's an offbeat, charming willo'- the-wisp who has tried many careers, but is still trying to decide what she wants to do when she grows up. She meets Heaven when Heaven crashes her Echo Park Halloween party. Immediately sensing Heaven's distress, Cheryl befriends the girl and takes her under her wing. However, she has no idea that Heaven is actually a millionaire's daughter who is fleeing a network of criminals intent upon her capture. She just knows that Heaven's a cool new friend, and Heaven feels much the same about Cheryl who is the kind of women that others feel safe to share their secrets with and has the warm qualities of a good friend and men would want to date her."
Next up is Wong as Konishi Kogo - "Mid 40s-50. A quietly powerful, confident Japanese man. He's the billionaire head of a powerful Asian multiconglomerate. Konishi adopted Heaven, the sole survivor of a tragic plane crash, and seems to enjoy a close and loving rapport with his daughter. When Heaven's stateside nuptials are interrupted by armed Ninjas, Konishi is terribly wounded in the fracas and hovers between life and death. However, as we later learn, he may not be the innocent victim he appears, but a corrupt crime lord with a shocking hidden agenda - one that very much involves his adopted daughter." - while Labine is set as Otto - "22. Cheryl's roommate and platonic friend. He's an eccentric, likeable, computer wizard who seldom leaves the apartment during daylight hours and is prone to marathon video game sessions. Otto makes a living as a legal hacker for Fortune 500 companies. Immediately smitten with the beautiful Heaven, Otto helps her track down a mysterious computer clue. Attractive, but is geeky and funny and has bizarre pockets of knowledge and occasionally inappropriate social skills."
And finally, Brand is playing Severin - "Mid-30s-50. He's a weathered, cool, mysteriously elusive individual who passes himself off as a police officer to investigate the scene of Ohiko's slaying. He has several cryptic communications with Heaven, and later reveals that he is a CIA agent who has been investigating the Japanese Yakuza. Ohiko was helping him in his investigation, but now that he's dead, Severin is hoping that Heaven will prove useful in putting away some of the most notorious killers in recent history. He inevitably will become a father figure to Heaven." Luke McMullen is behind the project, which is executive produced by Bob Levy and Leslie Morgenstein.
UNTITLED MARIA SHARAPOVA PROJECT (The CW, New!) - Tennis star Maria Sharapova is developing a new sports-themed drama at the netlet. Jacob Epstein ("Shark") is on board to pen the pilot script to the project, which would be set inside the world of professional women's tennis. CBS Paramount Television is on board to produce the hour, which has a script commitment from the CW. Epstein then will executive produce with Sharapova serving as a co-executive producer.
UNTITLED SCOTT BURNS PROJECT (HBO, New!) - Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt have settled on their first joint producing effort - a drama series at HBO. Scott Burns ("The Bourne Ultimatum") is writing the script to the project, which chronicles the lives of humanitarian workers assigned to dangerous zones and the people in need they assist. The trio then will executive produce the hour with Jolie's longtime manager, Media Talent Group's Geyer Kosinski, also receiving a co-executive producer credit. No other specifics were released.
UTOPIA (CBS) - Alan Taylor ("Mad Men") has signed a one-year overall deal with CBS Paramount Network Television. The pact calls for him to develop new series projects for the studio as well as helm the drama "Utopia" for CBS. Said project, from Lynda Obst, Marc Rosen and writer Eric Heisserer, is a procedural drama that deals with cyber crimes.
ZIP (NBC) - Steven Weber ("Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip") has been cast in the lead role of the pilot, a comedy about a guy with no money living in Beverly Hills who, with the help of his Latino partner, Hugo, and a colorful cast of accomplices concocts one scheme after another in the hopes of making it big and securing the glamorous Beverly Hills lifestyle for his three children. Weber's involvement lifts the cast-contingency off the pilot's production. Rob Huebel toplined the half-hour in its previous incarnation. Marc Abrams, Mark Rizzo and Michael Benson all co-created the project, which Richard Shepard is directing for Universal Media Studios and the Reveille-based Catapult.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters