LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL (The CW) - Multi-hyphenate Tyra Banks has inked a new overall deal with Warner Bros. Television. The pact calls for her Bankable Productions to develop everything from film to TV series to direct-to-DVD projects for the studio and its siblings. On the TV side, the deal includes a series development deal with the CW, home to her long running reality competition series "America's Next Top Model." In addition, former Endemol USA executive Laura Armstrong has joined the company as its senior VP of development and production.
CAPTAIN DRAKE (Sci Fi, New!) - Adrian Paul, Temuera Morrison, Wes Ramsey and newcomer Sofia Pernas are all set to star in a new pirate-themed fantasy-action film for the cable channel. The project stars Paul as the title character, real-life English pirate/admiral/adventurer Frances Drake, who sets out on a quest to find the legendary Tree of Life to save the life of his daughter (Pernas). Ramsey will play Peter, Drake's first mate and Pernas' love interest, with Morrison as Drake's real-life adversary, the Spanish pirate Sandovate. David Flores is directing the project from a script by Rafael Jordan. Production is underway in the Black Sea and Eastern Europe for a late 2008 premiere on the network. Jeffery Beach and Phillip J. Roth of UFO Films are producing.
CRIBS/PIMP MY RIDE (MTV) - Litton Entertainment is looking to offer MTV mainstays "Cribs" and "Pimp My Ride" into the syndicated marketplace. Both series are being targeted for a fall 2008 launch however no clearances have been announced.
DOG THE BOUNTY HUNTER (A&E) - The cable channel has dropped all airings of its signature series following Duane "Dog" Chapman's now infamous racist rant about his son's girlfriend that was captured in two phone calls obtained and published earlier this week by the National Enquirer. Repeats of "CSI: Miami" are set to replace the show's regular Tuesday airings for the time being. Production has also been halted on the show's upcoming fifth season, which was set to roll out early next year.
DOLLHOUSE (A.K.A. UNTITLED ELIZA DUSHKU PROJECT) (FOX) - "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" creator Joss Whedon is returning to television where he'll reteam with former "Buffy" co-star Eliza Dushku. The project, which has a blind seven-episode commitment from the network (with a license fee of $1.5-$2 million per installment), follows a top-secret world of people programmed with different personalities, abilities and memories depending on their mission. The title "Dollhouse" refers to the futuristic dorm/lab where said agents have their memories wiped clean, reducing them to a child-like state. Dushku will play Echo, an agent who slowly begins to develop some self-awareness, which impacts her missions. Other characters include the people who run the mysterious "dollhouse" and two other "dolls," a man and woman who are friendly with Echo as well as a federal agent who has heard an urban myth about the dolls, and is trying to investigate their existence. Dushku will also serve as a producer on the project, which is a result of a talent holding deal she signed with the network and 20th Century Fox Television earlier this year. Whedon then will executive produce the hour via his Mutant Enemy banner.
KNIGHT RIDER (NBC) - Justin Bruening ("All My Children") has scored the lead role in the network's "Transformers"-inspired sequel to the 1980s series. He'll play the son of Michael Knight, the character played by David Hasselhoff in the original series. Dave Andron is behind the Universal Media Studios-based project, which Steve Shill is directing and co-executive producing. Dutch Oven's Doug Liman and Dave Bartis are the executive producers while Andron serves as a supervising producer.
MR. UNTOUCHABLE (Showtime, New!) - The life of flashy Harlem heroin dealer Leroy "Nicky" Barnes is being eyed as the focus of a potential drama series at the pay channel. Forest Whitaker is shepherding the project, which has no official connection to Ridley Scott's recent film "American Gangster," which features Cuba Gooding Jr. as Barnes. "Untouchable" will instead use Marc Levin's just-released Magnolia documentary of the same name as its basis with Levin and Whitaker executive producing. David Burke ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") then will pen the resulting pilot script and executive produce.
PRISON BREAK (FOX) - Executive producer Matt Olmstead has inked a new two-year overall deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television. The seven-figure pact, which has an option for a third year, covers his showrunning duties on the veteran serial and its potential spin-off "Cherry Hill" as well as calls for him to develop new series projects for the studio.
PRIVATE LIVES OF PUBLIC PEOPLE (CBS, New!) - Jonathan Groff has landed a put pilot order - valued in the mid- to high-six-figure range - for a new hybrid single- and multi-camera comedy about three adult siblings who are pillars of the community in their town but are decidedly less in control of their lives at home. The project is based at 20th Century Fox Television, where Groff has an overall deal. He'll write and executive produce the half-hour.
QUEEN SIZED (Lifetime) - Annie Potts ("Any Day Now") is set to star opposite Nikki Blonsky in original movie, which premieres January 5. She'll play the mother of Blonsky's character in the project, whose overweight character is elected homecoming queen by the mean high school clique. Peter Levin will direct from a script by Rodney Johnson while Bob Sertner and Frank Von Zerneck are the executive producers.
SPACED (FOX, New!) - Adam Barr ("The New Adventures of Old Christine") is developing a U.S. version of the Simon Pegg/Edgar Wright/Jessica Stevenson U.K. comedy of the same name that ran from 1999 to 2001. The single-camera project, which has a put pilot commitment, revolves around a young man and woman (played by Pegg and Stevenson in the U.K. version) who pose as a married couple in order to rent a cheap apartment. Warner Bros. Television, Wonderland Sound and Vision and Granada Television are co-producing the hour with McG, Peter Johnson and Robert Green executive producing. It's not clear if Pegg, Wright or Stevenson will be involved in the U.S. version.
UNTITLED ABRAHAM HIGGINBOTHAM PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Niecy Nash ("Reno 911") is set to topline a new multi-camera comedy from Abraham Higginbotham ("Arrested Development") for the network and 20th Century Fox Television. The project, which likewise has a put pilot commitment, revolves around the less-than-glamorous staffers at a glamorous New York hotel. Higginbotham, who's based at 20th, will write and executive produce.
THE VERDICT (Lifetime, New!) - "Cane" executive producer Jonathan Prince has landed a pilot presentation order from the cable channel for a new drama about the trial of a female celebrity who has been accused of having her lover murdered. Mark Piznarski ("Gossip Girl") is attached to direct the Lionsgate-based project from a script by Jon Maas. Jon Maas then will executive produce alongside Prince and Howard Klein. Production is set to begin later this month in Philadelphia.
WE NEED GIRLFRIENDS (CBS, New!) - The web-based series from Steven Tsapelas, Angel Acevedo and Brian Amyot is being developed for the small screen by "Sex and the City" creator Darren Star. The Eye has given a script commitment to the project, which chronicles the adventures of Tom (Patrick Cohen), Henry (Seth Kirschner) and Rod (Evan Bass), recent college graduates struggling to understand the complex world of the New York dating scene after they are simultaneously dumped by their long-term college girlfriends. Tsapelas, Acevedo and Amyot are all penning the TV version with Star executive producing via his Sony Pictures Television-based banner. Dennis R. Erdman and Clark Peterson will also serve as co-executive producers. To date, 11 episodes of "Girlfriends" have been streamed online via YouTube.com.
WISEGAL (Lifetime) - James Caan has signed onto the original movie, about the true story of Patty Montanari, a woman (Alyssa Milano) who becomes a trusted confidante to the Mafia only to confront the heartbreaking reality that her romance with the captain (Jason Gedrick) of a Brooklyn crime family has put her children in jeopardy. Caan then will play a mob boss who, impressed with Patty's moxie, persuades her to work for the organization as a courier transporting millions of dollars from Canada into the U.S. Jerry Ciccoritti is directing from a script by Shelley Evans with Daniel H. Blatt, Joe Pistone, Leo Rossi and Anthony Melchiorri executive producing.
ZIP (NBC) - Richard Shepard, who helmed the pilots to both "Ugly Betty" and "Criminal Minds," has signed a seven-figure deal to direct at least one pilot (and quite possibly a second) for producer ABC Studios next year. The prolific director is currently working on the NBC/Universal Media Studios comedy pilot "Zip," starring Steven Weber.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters