LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE GLASS SEAGULL (Hallmark, New!) - Lesley Ann Warren and Meredith Baxter are set to topline a new original movie for the cable channel about two lifelong friends struggling with the news that one has cancer. Said event forces one friend (Baxter) to make a decision over whether to tell her daughter she is really the daughter of the other (Warren), a Broadway star. David Cass Sr. is directing the project from a script by Darrell V. Orme Mann. Production is underway for a spring 2009 premiere with Larry Levinson, Randy Pope, Dan Gross and Michael Moran serving as executive producers and Lincoln Lageson and Traceigh Scottell producing.
MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) - Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, a supervising producer on the series, has inked a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Universal Media Studios. During the first year of the pact, Sanchez-Witzel will be loaned out to the 20th Century Fox Television-produced "Earl," where she'll be upped to co-executive producer next season. Additionally, she'll develop new series projects for the studio.
THE PHILANTHROPIST (NBC) - Executive producer Tom Fontana has departed the upcoming drama, which received a blind series commitment back in September. Fontana's exit is reportedly due to creative differences with the network over the show's direction. The Universal Media Studios-based project centers on a renegade billionaire who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need no matter what the risks or costs. Fontana penned the pilot script based on an idea by Original Media's Charlie Corwin. It's understood Fontana wanted to focus on social issues as immigration, drug addiction and the use of children soldiers in parts of world, while the network was looking for a more escapist and fantastical approach. In any case, the search is underway for a new showrunner. Fontana's producing partner Barry Levinson is also departing, leaving Corwin as the sole executive producer for the time being. It's not clear if the network plans to thrown out any of the show's six completed scripts.
THE WENDY WILLIAMS SHOW (Syndication) - Debmar-Mercury is set to launch a test run of the talk show in four markets beginning July 14. The participating stations - WNYW New York, KTTV Los Angeles, KDFW Dallas and WJBK Detroit, all Fox owned-and-operated - will carry a six-week, 30-episode run of the show with an eye toward a nationwide rollout in the fall of 2009. In addition, Rob Dauber ("Martha") has been tapped to co-executive produce the New York-based series - which will feature Williams's commentary on celebrity gossip and news events, as well as interviews, fashion and advice segments - alongside Williams and her husband/manager Kevin Hunter. Said stations will pay an unspecified cash license fee as well as hand over four minutes of ad time for national ad sales by Debmar-Mercury.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters