LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BIG LOVE (HBO) - The pay channel has commissioned a fifth season of the drama, just four episodes into its current season. It's understood 10 new episodes will roll out early next year with co-creators Mark Olsen and Will Scheffer returning as showrunners. "Love" opened to 1.7 million viewers last month, up 49% from its season three bow. To date, the series up 13% year-to-year. Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, David Knoller and Bernadette Caulfield also serve as executive producers for Playtone and Anima Sola Productions.
FRESHMEN (ABC) - Sarah Chalke ("Scrubs") has snagged the female lead in the comedy pilot, about "the friendship of three freshmen members of Congress - two men and a woman - who live together in D.C." She'll play the woman, Jane Keathly, "a beautiful, smart and funny freshman Congresswoman who was the VP at a multi-billion dollar company when she was just 28, and who won her district with the largest margin of any candidate since 1977, however, when it comes to men, Jane is a disaster waiting to happen." Greg Malins penned the 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour and is executive producing alongside Arianna Huffington and Roy Sekoff.
HAPPY TOWN (ABC) - The Alphabet is set to announce the midseason drama will launch on Wednesday, April 28 at 10:00/9:00c. Geoff Stults, Sam Neill, Lauren German, Steven Weber, Amy Acker, Sarah Gadon, Robert Wisdom, Jay Paulson and Ben Schnetzer all co-star in the series, about a small town still haunted by a number of unsolved kidnappings. ABC has ordered eight hours of the series, including a two-hour pilot which is now expected to air as two separate installments ("In This Home On Ice" and "I Came to Haplin for the Water"). Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg are the executive producers for ABC Studios.
MIKE & MOLLY (CBS) - Billy Gardell ("My Name Is Earl") has booked one of the title roles in the comedy pilot, about "an overweight, charming police officer and a pretty and plump woman, who meet at Overeaters Anonymous." He'll play Mike Biggs, said officer, in the half-hour, which comes from Chuck Lorre Productions and Warner Bros. Television. Katy Mixon and Reno Wilson also star in the half-hour, penned by Mark Roberts.
NAKED BUT FUNNY (FOX, New!) - The network has added another improv project to its roster, this time from Peter Engel and Barry Katz. Said effort has a pilot presentation order, however no specifics about the format were given. Casting is underway with Engel and Katz executive producing via their respective companies, Peter Engel Productions and New Wave Entertainment.
NEVERMIND NIRVANA (FOX) - Harish Patel ("The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about "grown-up Indian-American brothers and their immigrant parents." He's set as Arjun Mattoo, the boys' doctor father. Ajay Sahgal is behind the half-hour, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.
SCOUNDRELS (ABC) - Virginia Madsen ("Monk") has been tapped to star in the upcoming family drama, about the matriarch of "a clan of criminals who decides that it's time for her brood to go straight after her husband is sentenced to a long prison term." She'll play said woman, Cheryl West, in the project, which is slated for an eight-episode run this summer. Catherine O'Hara played the role in its previous incarnation, "Good Behavior," which didn't make the cut for the 2008-09 season. Richard Levine and Lyn Greene are behind the hour, which is set up at ABC Studios and South Pacific Pictures.
TEAM SPITZ (A.K.A. UNTITLED ROB RIGGLE PROJECT) (CBS) - "The Daily Show" alum Rob Riggle is set to topline a potential new comedy for the network about a bombastic high school football coach. Said half-hour, which is the result of a talent holding deal the actor signed back in 2008, comes from CBS Television Studios, Principato-Young Entertainment, Sony Pictures Television and the Sony-based Tantamount. Bill Martin and Mike Schiff co-wrote the multi-camera project, which has a pilot commitment, and are executive producing alongside Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, Mitch Hurwitz, Peter Principato and Paul Young.
UNTITLED BEN SCHWERIN PROJECT (HBO, New!) - "Entourage's" Stephen Levinson, Mark Wahlberg and Doug Ellin are set to reteam for a new series about "a young political aide and his relationship with his idol - the former President of the United States." Ben Schwerin is penning the effort, which is in the script stage, and will serve as a co-executive producer. Levinson, Wahlberg and Ellin then will executive produce via their Closest to the Hole Productions and Leverage banners.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters