LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER? (FOX) - Twentieth Television and Mark Burnett Productions are reportedly close to moving forward with a syndicated version of the successful FOX game show in the fall of 2009. The project, like NBC's "Deal or No Deal," would feature a condensed half-hour version of the parent hourlong show. Jeff Foxworthy is expected to host both the FOX and the syndicated incarnations.
CONFESSIONS OF A CONTRACTOR (CBS, New!) - Richard Murphy's upcoming book, about Henry Sullivan, a blue-collar Los Angeles contractor who oversees high-end renovations for wealthy clients, is heading to the small screen. Shawn Ryan ("The Shield") is on board to shepherd the project, which has a put pilot commitment from the network and 20th Century Fox Television. Murphy will pen and co-executive produce the pilot with Ryan supervising and serving as its executive producer via his MiddKid Productions banner. Said hour is loosely on Murphy's own experience remodeling homes in L.A. off and on for 12 years. As for specifics, the book has Henry falling for two of his female clients, who happen to be former best friends. Anonymous's Jeff Okin, Murphy's manager, and Paul Green will also receive executive producing credits.
GARY UNMARRIED (CBS) - Ed Begley Jr. ("Recount") has joined the cast of the freshman comedy, which stars Jay Mohr as a newly divorced dad. He'll take over for Larry Miller as Dr. Krandall. His character is detailed in the casting notice as follows: "50-60, Male, intelligent, educated but a bit of a pompous blowhard. Dr. Krandall is the family therapist, who has been counseling Gary and Allison during their divorce. He is now engaged to be married to Allison, and comes to Gary's house to offer his services as a therapist to help Gary process his feelings about this awkward situation. Basically a decent guy who wants to help, Dr. Krandall mediates as Gary, Vanessa and Allison vent a few grievances." Producers are also recasting Louise, the daughter of Mohr's character. Laura Marano played the role in the original pilot. No reason for the changes were given.
HARPER'S ISLAND (CBS) - "Supernatural" alum Katie Cassidy has joined the cast of the midseason drama, about a group of friends who meet on an island off the Seattle coast for a destination wedding - to terrifying results. She'll play Trish Wellington, whom the casting notice describes as: "Mid 20s, Caucasian female. The bride. Radiant, dignified, intelligent, and perfectly put-together, with her charm and lovely personality she almost seems too good to be true. The heiress to the Wellington family fortune, she has fallen in love with Henry Dunn, a local boy who used to work on her daddy's boats during the summer. Intent on having the perfect wedding, she has invited dozens of friends to spend a perfect weekend on Harper's Island. But Trish has at least two surprises in store for her." Samantha Noble originated the role in the project's initial pilot presentation. Christopher Gorham and Elaine Cassidy also star.
HYPER-CHONDRIAC (NBC, New!) - Brian Frazer's memoir, subtitled "One Man's Quest to Hurry Up and Calm Down," is being developed as a potential single-camera comedy at the network. Jason Dean Hall ("Grand Theft Auto") is on board to pen the 20th Century Fox Television-based project, with the ever-busy Ryan Murphy executive producing. Frazer's tome details his journey to resolve the stress that was causing all of his unusual ailments. The adaptation then will center on Brian, a pharmaceutical salesman who's forced to sell his wares at hospitals and, as a result, consistently thinks he's suffering from a wide range of maladies. Murphy then is on board to direct from a script by Hall, who will serve as a co-executive producer.
RISE OF THE GARGOYLE (Sci Fi, New!) - Eric Balfour ("24") is set to topline a new original movie for the cable channel about an ancient gargoyle monster whose terror is unleashed in modern-day Paris. He'll play Jack Richmond, a struggling author whose outlandish theories on pagan architecture make him the laughingstock of the academic world. Caroline Neron, Jason Salinger, Nick Mancuso and Tanya Clarke also star in the project, which is currently in production at Romania's Mediapro Studios. Muse Entertainment's Michael Prupas and RHI Entertainment's Robert Halmi Sr. are executive producing with Bill Corcoran as director, Pierre Jodoin as the director of photography and Francois Sylvestre and Andreea Stanculeanu producing.
TRIVIAL PURSUIT: AMERICA PLAYS (Syndication) - Actor/reality staple Christopher Knight has been tapped to host the upcoming game show, based on the iconic Hasbro board game. Production on the series begins this week for a September 22 launch on stations across the country, including FOX affiliates in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Baltimore. Wheeler-Sussman Productions is producing the half-hour with Debmar-Mercury distributing.
UNTITLED POLITICAL THRILLER (AMC) - Jason Horwitch and Joshua Maurer's drama for the cable channel has been given the green light to produce a pilot. The untitled hour revolves around a secret society that pulls the strings on the world political stage and an analyst at a national think tank who discovers that his employers are not who they seem to be. Horwitch penned the pilot and is executive producing alongside Maurer. Production is set to begin in October.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters