LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BIG LOVE (HBO) - Sissy Spacek has joined the cast of the show's fourth season, due to launch on Sunday, January 10. She'll play a Washington, D.C., lobbyist beginning with the show's third episode this season. Adam Beach and Bella Thorne are also on board for the show's fourth go around.
FAMILY GUY (FOX) - Executive producer David Goodman has inked a new two-year, seven-figure overall deal with producer 20th Century Fox Television. The pact calls for the writer/producer to supervise series projects in development at the studio as well as develop his own series, both live action and animated. Goodman is already in talks to supervise two such properties, both animated pilot presentations for FOX: "Fathers and Son," from Jason Ruiz, and the recently announced high school series from Seth Green, Matthew Senreich and Tom Root. As previously reported, Goodman and Chris Sheridan are stepping down as the day-to-day showrunners for the show's eighth production cycle, to be replaced by Mark Hentemann and Steve Callaghan.
PAST LIFE (FOX) - The network has quietly rolled back its commitment to the midseason drama to seven episodes, including the pilot. "Due to the return of 'American Idol, '24' and our other midseason programming in January, as well as the back order of 'Glee,' we have a wealth of material for midseason and can only accommodate seven episodes of 'Past Life' on our schedule," the network said in a statement. The Warner Bros. Television-based hour is currently slated to follow "American Idol" on Tuesday nights starting next year.
UNTITLED AMY SHERMAN-PALLADINO PROJECT (HBO, New!) - "Gilmore Girls" creator Amy Sherman-Palladino is developing a new dramedy at the pay channel which "chronicles the complicated relationship between three adult sisters, all writers sharing the same upper east side apartment building, and their mother, a domineering literary lioness who reserves most of her affections for their ne'er-do-well brother." The news marks Sherman-Palladino's first cable venture, which she'll write and executive produce.
UNTITLED BEN WATKINS PROJECT (FOX, New!) - Ben Watkins ("Burn Notice") has booked a script order from the network for a new drama about "a woman in her late 20s of mixed-race heritage who works for the Alameda County D.A.'s office" as an undercover investigator. 20th Century Fox Television is behind the hour, which Watkins will write and executive produce alongside Mike Tollin. As for specifics, the woman "having been adopted as an infant... is dogged by questions about her own identity."
UNTITLED MATTHEW PERRY PROJECT (ABC, New!) - The Alphabet has booked a hefty series commitment to a new single-camera comedy featuring "Friends" alum Matthew Perry about "a self-involved manager of a second-rate sports arena who begins to reevaluate his life on his 40th birthday." Perry himself is co-writing the half-hour with Alex Barnow and Mark Firek ("'Til Death") for Sony Pictures Television. Thomas Schlamme is on board to direct the project while Jamie Tarses is attached to executive produce alongside Schlamme, Perry, Barnow and Firek. It's understood ABC will have to pay a significant penalty to the studio should it not land on its schedule, virtually guaranteeing a pilot will be greenlit.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters