LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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EDDIE GRIFFIN: GOING FOR BROKE/UNTITLED SCOTT BAIO PROJECT (VH1, New!) - VH1 has commissioned two new "celebreality" projects for next season. First up is "Eddie Griffin: Going for Broke," which chronicles the comedian's life and how he juggles being a player and a family man at the same time. The Greif Co. ("Gene Simmons Family Jewels") is behind the project, which has an eight-episode commitment. Leslie Greif, Adam Reed and Griffin himself are the executive producers with Griffin's manager, Artistry's Dan Spilo, producing. Then there's an untitled effort from Scott Baio in which eight male teen idols of the 1980s and '90s get together to examine what life is like after idol-dom and what it will take to get their careers back on track. Jason Hervey, JD Roth, Eric Bischoff, Michael Swerdlick and Todd A. Nelson are the executive producers via their respective companies Bischoff Hervey Entertainment and 3 Ball Productions. Hervey and Roth, former child stars themselves, are also expected to appear on camera in some capacity in addition to Baio. Casting is underway for a winter 2009 premiere.
LOST (ABC) - Co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof has confirmed the series will produce 17 hours in 2009 and 2010. The additional installments are designed to "make up" for the two hours that were cut this season following the WGA strike. Said development means the series will produce the exact number of installments - 48 - as promised as part of its landmark three-season commitment last year (read the story).
MEDIA RIGHTS CAPITAL (The CW, New!) - The netlet is set to team with Media Rights Capital to outsource its problematic Sunday night lineup. The block, due this fall, will feature two comedies and two dramas developed in house by the indie studio/media buyer. The pact is likened to UPN's original arrangement with the WWE for its "Smackdown" franchise or NBC and FOX's Saturday morning time buys. As for specifics, The CW's sales team will still oversee said area with MRC taking home a percentage. Tribune Broadcasting, home to several major CW affiliates, will also serve as MRC's partner in handling the block, which will target adults 18-49 rather than the network's core base of adults 18-34. Not surprisingly exact details will be announced during the netlet's upfront presentation on Tuesday. MRC already has several series in the hopper, including ABC's "The Goode Family," Comedy Central's "Krod Mandoon" and HBO's "The Life & Times of Tim." On the pilot front, MRC has the Lifetime efforts "Rita Rocks" and "Libertyville" as well as "Outnumbered" at FOX.
HUNG (HBO) - Alexander Payne ("Sideways") has been tapped to direct and executive produce the project, about a well-endowed man who is plodding along in middle age as a struggling father and high school coach whose luck changes when he figures out a way to use his best asset. Colette Burson and Dmitry Lipkin penned the pilot script and are executive producing alongside Blueprint Entertainment's Michael Rosenberg, Noreen Halpern and John Morayniss. Casting is underway.
THE OAKS (FOX) - Various sources have confirmed the network has passed on the high-concept drama, about three different couples who inhabit the same house at three different times - a young couple who just lost a child in 1967 (Matt Lanter, Shannon Lucio), a family of four in 1987 (headed by Michael Rispoli and Romy Rosemont) and a pregnant couple in 2007 (Bahar Soomekh, Jeremy Renner) - but are connected by mysterious spirits that appear to haunt it. David Schulner penned the pilot, which was directed by Michael Cuesta. The pair also served as executive producers alongside Gina Matthews, Grant Scharbo and Shawn Ryan for 20th Century Fox Television. The studio reportedly is shopping the project around to other networks.
THE PHONE (MTV, New!) - The cable channel has ordered a new series from Justin Timberlake and "American Idol" producers FremantleMedia North America which pits two contestants in a race against time to accomplish a mission together and win a cash prize. The project, which is based on the Dutch format by Park Lane Productions, opens with two strategically hidden cell phones ringing at opposite ends of a major city. The two that answer then are given five seconds to decide if they wish to play said game, which is being likened to "The Amazing Race" meets "The Bourne Identity." Exact format details - including the length and number of episodes - are still being worked out. Timberlake, David Schiff and Cecile Frot-Coutaz are the show's executive producers with Tony DiSanto and Maira Suro overseeing the project for MTV. It's expected to bow this fall.
PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC) - Robert Rovner and Jon Cowan ("Bionic Woman," "Crossing Jordan") have been tapped as the day-to-day showrunners of the series, which returns for its second season this fall. The pair will take over for Marti Noxon who is now moving on to other projects. There they'll work alongside creator Shonda Rhimes, who will remain the lead creative voice.
UNTITLED VICTOR FRESCO PROJECT (ABC) - Portia de Rossi ("Nip/Tuck") has joined the cast of the single-camera comedy pilot, about a moral guy trying to do right in an amoral world. She joins the previously cast Andrea Anders in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and creator Victor Fresco.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters