LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BEN HUR (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet is set to team with Alchemy Television Group and Spain's Drimtim Entertainment for a new mini-series about the renegade hero in ancient Rome. William Wyler's 1959 film about the subject took home 11 Oscars, including Best Picture. Steve Shill ("Rome") will direct the $22.5 million production from a script by Alan Sharp ("Rob Roy"). Casting is underway on the project, which will begin filming in May in Spain, Morocco and Canada. David Wyler, William Wyler's son, is executive producing alongside Alchemy's Simon Vaughan and Drimtim's Roger Corbi. It's understood ABC plans to air the project as a limited series however no air date has been set.
EMPIRE STATE (ABC) - David Call is the latest addition to the drama pilot, "a contemporary Romeo-and-Juliet tale about the love between the blue-collar Sam (Mike Vogel) and the wealthy Annabelle (Beau Garrett) whose fathers are nemeses." He'll play the man's younger brother in the project, which comes from writer Michael Seitzman, director Jeremy Podeswa and ABC Studios.
MASTERWORK (FOX) - Aussie Matt Passmore and Brit Tom Ellis have both landed lead roles on the drama pilot, a thriller about a race against time to recover the world's most sought-after artifacts. They'll join the previously cast Natalie Dormer. Passmore will play an FBI agent specializing in the acquisition of stolen art who teams with Dormer's character, an MI-5 agent. Ellis then plays her fiance, a special agent at Scotland Yard. Paul T. Scheuring penned the 20th Century Fox Television-based hour, which Jeffrey Nachmanoff is directing.
NEW YORK GOES TO WORK (VH1, New!) - Tiffany "New York" Pollard is set to topline another series for the cable channel in which she undertakes various jobs suggested by text-messaging viewers. The series, from reality house 51 Minds Entertainment - home to previous Pollard efforts "I Love New York" and "Flavor of Love," will launch on Monday, May 4 at 10:00/9:00c. Here's the network's official description: "Each week America will choose from a list of three possible job opportunities and vote via their mobile phones by texting which job they would like to see Tiffany try. Will she be a Cal Trans sewer worker, a mortuary beautician, or a fast food employee? It will be up to you. And don�t think it will be easy for Tiffany. She�ll be worked, in all aspects of the job! Why again is she doing this? For the money of course. If she can impress her new employers, she�ll receive a $5,000 bonus each week. But, if she quits, fails, or gets fired, she�ll get absolutely nothing." Mark Cronin and Cris Abrego are the executive producers.
STATE OF ROMANCE (NBC) - Stephen Rannazzisi ("Big Day") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about the "Pride & Prejudice"-esque relationship between Mike (Steve Howey) and Emily (Lindsey Broad). He'll play Mike's roommate in the project, which comes from Universal Media Studios and co-creators Barbara Wallace and Tom Wolfe.
VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: MY PERFECT LIFE (E!, New!) - The cable channel has acquired the rights to the rights to the U.K.-produced reality series, which tracks the life of the former Playboy Playmate of the Year. Set to roll out Thursday, April 2 at 8:00/7:00c, the project bowed on E!'s counterpart in the U.K. back in November.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters