LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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24 (FOX) - Jon Voight has been tapped for his first series role in nearly 40 years. He'll play the show's seventh season "big bad" that's introduced in the upcoming prequel event and subsequently turns up later in the actual season. Details about his character however remain under wraps. Production is underway in South Africa on the prequel, which is set to air on November 23. Voight's last TV series role was a three-episode arc on "Gunsmoke" in the late 1960s.
FOURPLAY (ABC) - Ayda Field ("Back to You") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about two men - Derek (Josh Cooke), who is straight, and Drew (Alan Tudyk), who is gay - who are lifelong best friends and business partners. She'll take over for Sarah Lafleur as Audrey, Derek's stylish but emotionally messy girlfriend. Said recasting was made following the pilot's table read. It's understood Lafleur will move onto another ABC project as a result of her talent deal with the network. Rizwan Manji and fellow "Back to You" alum Ty Burrell also star in the half-hour, which comes from Warner Bros. Television and co-creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick.
LAPD (NBC, New!) - John Wells has booked his first post-"ER" project, a drama centering on the Los Angeles Police Department. "ER" veteran Christopher Chulack is set to direct the project - which has a put pilot commitment from the network - from a script by feature writer Ann Biderman ("Primal Fear"). Wells, Biderman and Chulack then will executive produce via Wells's Warner Bros. Television-based banner.
SIT DOWN, SHUT UP (FOX) - The writers of the upcoming animated series have walked off the show in pursuit of WGA representation. Said event was reportedly the result of Sony Pictures Television informing them they were covered by the Writers Guild when if fact they had made arrangements with another union, IATSE. The news marks the latest spat over which union should cover primetime animation. Under IATSE, writers do not receive get new-media revenues or residuals of any kind - a key strike point for the WGA earlier this year. Nevertheless with Sony's animation division, Adelaide Productions, having a deal with the IATSE in place for the past 10 years, industry insiders suggest the "Sit Down" staff doesn't have much leverage. Nevertheless their rallying cry is that all the other FOX-aired/20th Century Fox Television-produced animated shows fall under the WGA umbrella. ("Sit Down" is a co-production with 20th however Sony is the production lead.) It's not clear how long production will be delayed on the series, which is being targeted for midseason, as the result of the walkout.
UNTITLED OFFICE SPIN-OFF PROJECT (NBC) - Aziz Ansari (MTV's "Human Giant") is the first to be cast on the much-ballyhooed spin-off. No details about his character however were released other than he'll be part of a larger ensemble. Greg Daniels and Michael Schur are shepherding the project, which remains a hot topic of speculation. It's not clear if any of the parent show's characters will be part of the spin-off or if the sibling characters will initially be planted in the mothership before heading to the new show. In any case, Ansari has inked a one-year talent deal with producer Universal Media Studios as part of his involvement while Tucker Cawley, Dan Goor, Paul Feig, Charlie Grandy and Alan Yang have been tapped to be part of the writing staff. And separately, "Office" alum Rashida Jones has likewise inked a talent holding deal with the studio - leading many to speculate about her involvement with the show - while Paul Lieberstein, who doubles as Toby on the show, has been upped to executive producer on "The Office" proper.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters