LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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90210 (The CW) - Dustin Milligan ("Runaway") is the first to be cast on the much-ballyhooed project, a spin-off of the seminal 1990s FOX soap. He'll play Ethan Ward, who's described in the casting notice as follows: "Legal 18 to play 16. Though no one will confuse Ethan with a brainiac. He possesses other qualities highly valued in the 90210. Namely, he's beautiful. He's also likable, genuine, a star athlete. (Think Chris Klein circa "Election"). Not surprisingly, Ethan is extraordinarily popular. Or at least he's popular until minute 15 of the pilot when his girlfriend absolutely destroys him at her decadent Sweet 16 party. (She includes a bound tome of puppy-doggish emails sent from Ethan to the teacher he loves in each of the 500 gift bags she hands out at her party). It's in the aftermath of this bloodletting Ethan falls in with a new crowd - our crowd." Rob Thomas is behind the project, which is based at CBS Paramount Network Television.
ARMY WIVES (Lifetime) - Dee Johnson is the latest showrunner to exit the cable drama, which returns for its 18-episode second season this summer. Johnson will be succeeded by Nick Thiel ("Burn Notice"), the fourth person to assume said role (the others being Samantha Corbin-Miller and Jeff Melvoin). There he'll serve alongside creator Katherine Fugate and fellow executive producer Mark Gordon. Industry insiders suggest Johnson's departure is the result of creative differences however no specifics were given. ABC Studios and the Mark Gordon Co. are behind the series.
CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION (CBS) - William Petersen has inked a one-year deal with producer CBS Paramount Network Television to continue in his role as Gil Grissom on the veteran Thursday drama next season. It's understood he'll be paid roughly $600,000 per episode for his acting/executive producing services during the 2008-09 season however he won't appear in every episode. The gaps are designed to accommodate Peterson's non-TV projects, including the play "Dublin Carol" at the Upstairs Theatre in Chicago from November 13-December 21.
ELEVENTH HOUR (CBS) - "Sleeper Cell" creators Cyrus Voris and Ethan Reiff have been named the potential showrunners of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced drama pilot, which stars Rufus Sewell as a special science adviser to the government who, with his feisty female bodyguard Rachel (Marley Shelton) in tow, saves people from the worst abuses of science. The Eye gave a hefty series commitment to the Warner Bros. Television-based project - essentially 13 put episodes - late last year. Danny Cannon is directing the pilot from a script by Mick Davis. Bruckheimer, Cannon and Davis then are executive producing alongside Granada International's Robert Green and Jerry Bruckheimer Television's Jonathan Littman. As for Voris and Reiff, the pair previously teamed with Bruckheimer on an untitled hour that received a put pilot commitment back in August.
HARPER'S ISLAND (CBS) - Australian actress Samantha Noble, Ryan Merriman ("Final Destination 3") and Elaine Cassidy ("The Ghost Squad") are the first to be cast on the drama, a horror story that unfolds over the course of a season as a group of friends meet on an island off the Seattle coast for a destination wedding. Merriman and Noble will play the groom and the bride with Cassidy as the groom's childhood friend with a tragic past. Jon Turteltaub is directing and executive producing the CBS Paramount Network Television-based project from a script by Ari Schlossberg. Junction Entertainment's Dan Shotz and Karim Zreik also serve as co-executive producers.
THE MEANT TO BE'S (CBS) - Ioan Gruffudd ("Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer") is set to star opposite Amy Smart on the drama pilot, about a dead woman (Smart) sent back to Earth to help people improve their lives. He'll play "The Man," who's detailed in the casting notice as follows: "First seen as a homeless man loitering outside Janine's high-end art gallery and making cryptic remarks, he is condescendingly handed a twenty by Janine in the hopes he'll move out of her way. Later we discover him as The Man, Janine's tour guide and mentor in the limbo she's entered after death. Ageless; tall, dark, and handsome; playful yet old world; rugged yet wise, he has been trapped as a "Meant to Be" (elite group of souls who give people on earth a nudge in the correct direction for their respective fates) for decades, possibly longer, and yearns to move on, preferably to Heaven. After performing a "relap" on a teenage boy and thus averting the young man's death, The Man is given another 20 years penalty, so it looks like he'll be mentoring Janine for a long time in her new role." Glenn Gordon Caron is behind the hour, which is based at CBS Paramount Network Television.
THE MENTALIST (CBS) - Robin Tunney ("Prison Break") has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about Patrick Jane (Baker), a mentalist who uses his skills of observation to solve crimes as an independent detective working with the police. She'll play Teresa Lisbon, a career-focused lead agent. Amanda Righetti, Owain Yeoman, Shaun Toub and Tim Kang also star in the Warner Bros. Television-based hour, which David Nutter is directing from a script by Bruno Heller.
MYTHOLOGIAL X (CBS) - Elizabeth Reaser ("Grey's Anatomy") has been tapped for the lead role on the drama pilot, about a woman who discovers via a psychic that she has already dated and dumped the man she was supposed to marry. Her character, Michaela (who may be renamed Annabel), is detailed as follows: "30-35, a quick-witted, sexy, floral shop owner whose life is changed when a tarot card reader informs her that she must marry one of her ex-boyfriends within a year or she will remain single forever. Michaela is combination earth mother/sex kitten with a little Lucille Ball thrown in for good measure. Part ball-buster, part nurturer, she is a charismatic "girl next door" who easily makes the transition from being "one of the guys" to seducer. She's a romantic at heart but her talent for snark and sarcasm sometimes promotes a different perception." Rachel Boston also stars in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television, creator Diane Ruggiero and director Timothy Busfield.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters