LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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ACE IN THE HOLE (CBS) - Newcomers Skylar Astin and Darien Provost have joined the cast of the Adam Carolla-led comedy pilot, which stars Carolla as a husband and father who works as a driving instructor. Provost will play his nine-year son while Astin is set as his teenage stepson. Carolla and Kevin Hench co-created the half-hour, which is set up at CBS Paramount Network Television.
DIAMONDS (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has picked up the broadcast rights to a new four-hour mini-series from Alchemy Television. The ensemble drama, featuring Judy Davis, James Purefoy, Derek Jacobi, Louise Rose and Joanne Kelly, tells five storylines linked to the "personal and political effects of the blood diamond trade on a global scale." Sienna Films is behind the $15 million production, which was originally filmed in South Africa and Canada for the CBC and the U.K. It's understood it will turn up here in late May following the sweeps period. As for specifics, Davis stars as "a U.S. senator who travels to Africa to find out why her daughter was killed at a diamond mine in Sierra Leone." Andy Wilson helmed the project from a script by David Vainola wrote.
HAPPINESS ISN'T EVERYTHING (CBS) - Mary Steenburgen ("Joan of Arcadia") is returning to the small screen, this time on the comedy front. She's been cast as Audrey Veill, the mother of Jason Biggs's character in the comedy pilot, about adult siblings (Biggs, Ben Schwartz) and their parents (Dreyfuss, Steenburgen) who are overly involved in one another's lives. James Vallely and Mitch Hurwitz are behind the project, which comes from the Sony Pictures Television-based Tantamount banner.
THE SHARK TANK (ABC) - The network has ordered seven episodes of the series, in which aspiring entrepreneurs pitch their business ventures to five multimillionaire tycoons each week. Mark Burnett is behind the project, which is based on a Japanese format. BBC America currently airs its U.K. incarnation, "The Dragon's Den." Production was completed on a pilot last fall, which featured such beefed up elements as "a huge auditorium and placing the investors behind an intimidating desk." Burnett however admits said changes took away from "the interpersonal tension between ambitious entrepreneurs struggling to convince five strangers to part with their money" and will now be dialed down. On board as "the sharks" then are Robert Herjavec (focus: internet), Kevin Harrington (infomercials), Barbara Corcoran (real estate), Kevin O'Leary (venture capitalist) and Daymond John (clothing). No air date has been set.
STATE OF ROMANCE (NBC) - "Mad TV" alum Bobby Lee has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, which is described as a modern day "Pride and Prejudice" set in Chicago. He'll play Andrew, an unspecified character. Barbara Wallace and Tom Wolfe are behind the half-hour, which is based at Universal Media Studios.
UNTITLED JUSTIN ADLER PROJECT (NBC) - Leslie Bibb ("Kings") and John Michael Higgins ("Kath & Kim") have both joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about adult siblings and their controlling mother. Bibb is set as Vanessa, the eldest child, a perfect domestic goddess. Higgins, whose casting is in second position to "Kath & Kim," then will play Charles, her husband, a wealthy professional polo player. Justin Adler penned the half-hour, which comes from the Sony Pictures Television-based Tantamount.
UNTITLED ANITA RENFROE PROJECT (ABC) - "The Drew Carey Show" alum Ryan Stiles is set to star opposite Anita Renfroe in the comedy pilot, about a couple raising kids. He'll play her husband Paul, the pastor of their town. Amy Welsh and Rob Hanning are behind the project, which likewise comes from the Sony Pictures Television-based Tantamount.
WAITING TO DIE (CBS) - T.J. Miller ("Carpoolers") and comedian Nick Thune have been tapped for the lead roles on the comedy pilot, about two simple guys who are happy with their lives - no matter how bad things might look from the outside. They'll play Lonnie Ponce and Jeff Helmut, respectively. Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen co-created the half-hour, which again comes from the ever-busy Sony Pictures Television-based Tantamount.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters