LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE BIG C (Showtime) - "Sex and the City" alums Jenny Bicks and Michael Engler have both joined the upcoming comedy, about a suburban wife and mother (Laura Linney) whose cancer diagnosis forces her to shake up her life. Bicks will serve as the half-hour's showrunner while Engler is set as a co-executive producer and in-house director. Darlene Hunt penned and Bill Condon helmed the pilot, which also stars Gabourey Sidibe, John Benjamin Hickey, Oliver Platt and Phyllis Somerville. Linney, Neal Moritz and Vivian Cannon also serve as executive producers for Sony Pictures Television.
THE JENSEN PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Muse Entertainment has booked another two-hour backdoor pilot at the Peacock, this time about "12 geniuses who move to an isolated spot in the Allegheny Mountains to spend their time inventing ways to fix the world's problems and then share their discoveries freely and anonymously with the world." Kellie Martin, Brady Smith, Patricia Richardson and LeVar Burton all star in the project, which picks up as "a few decide to take their latest invention, cash in and make names for themselves, launching a cross-country race as the others try to stop them." Monica Macer penned the script while Douglas Barr is attached to direct. Production then is set to begin on Monday in Montreal in a deal similar to Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart's time buy for the upcoming "Secrets of the Mountain." Joel Rice, Jeff Grant and Brian Wells are the executive producers.
LOVE BITES (NBC) - Becki Newton ("Ugly Betty") is the first to be cast in the drama pilot, which is billed as "an anthology of love and sex." She'll play Annie, "an optimistic, infectiously bubbly social worker who is a virgin." Cindy Chupack is behind the hour, which comes from Universal Media Studios and Working Title Films.
NEVERMIND NIRVANA (FOX) - Rachael Leigh Cook ("Psych") has joined the cast of the pilot, a comedy about "two grown Indian-American brothers who clash with their controlling immigrant parents as they assimilate American culture." She'll play Elizabeth Van Pelt, the girlfriend of one of them. Harish Patel and Utkarsh Ambudkar also star in the Ajay Sahgal-penned half-hour, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television.
SCOUNDRELS (ABC) - Neal McDonough ("Desperate Housewives") is the latest addition to the upcoming drama, about "the matriarch (Virginia Madsen) of a family of criminals who decides it's time for her brood to go straight after her husband is sentenced to a long prison term." He'll play Wolfgang "Wolf" West, said husband, in the hour, which comes from co-creators Lyn Greene and Richard Levine. Gary Cole originated the role in the project's previous incarnation, "Good Behavior." ABC Studios and South Pacific Pictures are co-producing.
STRANGE BREW (FOX) - Jere Burns ("Surviving Surburia") has scored a role on the comedy pilot, about "a family that owns a small regional brewery and struggles with working and living together." He'll play Ted, the patriarch of the Forrest clan, who was "once a weathered ourdoorsmen [however] the last 10 years has turned him into a withered indoorsmen." Also signing as Ted and Janie's (Laurie Metcalf) kids are Aya Cash, Skylar Astin and Mo Mandel. Cash will play "beautiful, highly-intelligent, highly-underachieving" Lizzy, the eldest sibling who works as Ted's secetary. Astin and Mandel then are believed to be playing fraternal twins Kyle, "the alpha twin," and Clay, "the sweeter, gentler one." David Kohan and Max Mutchnick are behind the Warner Bros. Television-based project, to be directed by Marc Buckland.
UNCLE NIGEL (TBS) - Charles Dutton, Lea Thompson and Jeff Davis are all the latest additions to the drama pilot, about Nigel Wells (Gary Cole), "a veteran Philadelphia homicide detective who takes on his inexperienced, incompetent nephew Ronnie (Matt Jones) as a partner." Dutton is set as Captain Elliot Mackey, "the tightly wound, immaculately dressed" deputy of detectives. Thompson then is playing Abby Wells - Ronnie's mom, Nigel's sister - a "single, beautiful, open-hearted" woman. Lastly, Davis is on board as Detective Frank Frankel, "a smug, resentful prick" who serves as Ronnie's nemesis in the squad. Andy Breckman penned the hour and is executive producing.
UNTITLED LARRY CHARLES/ANT HINES PROJECT (CBS) - Nicollette Sheridan ("Desperate Housewives") has joined the cast of the pilot presentation, about "a British lowlife (Paul Kaye) who moves to L.A. to reconnect with his daughter, a precocious teen superstar." She'll play "the girl's outrageous stage mother and the deadbeat dad's long-lost love." Larry Charles is helming the semi-scripted comedy, which was conceived by Ant Hines. Sony Pictures Television and Tantamount are co-producing.
UNTITLED RICHARD HATEM PROJECT (ABC) - Katee Sackhoff ("24") is set to topline the drama pilot, about "a beautiful female detective who teams with a disgraced ex-cop to solve crimes and untangle the conspiracy that sent him underground." She'll play said woman, Julia Scott, who's "strong in body and soul." Sackhoff's involvement would seem to indicate her run on the FOX drama will either be short-lived or reduced should it return for a ninth season. Gary Fleder is helming the ABC Studios-based hour from a script by Richard Hatem.
UNTITLED WYOMING PROJECT (The CW) - Sean Faris ("The Vampire Diaries") and newcomer Renee Smith are the first to be cast on the drama pilot, about a horse trainer who becomes the patriarch of a Wyoming ranch and responsible for his three younger sisters - Dinah (16), Maggie (13) and Bird (9) - after their parents die. Faris will play Gideon Thorpe, the aforementioned trainer, who's described as "rugged, a young John Wayne." Smith then is set as Dinah, the eldest sister, who's "short but sturdy, a sixteen-year old version of Holly Hunter in 'Broadcast News.'" Daniel Palladino and Amy Sherman-Palladino co-wrote the hour, which comes from CBS Television Studios and Warner Bros. Television.
WORTHY (FOX) - 20th Century Fox Television has pulled out of the drama pilot, about "an Arizona politician who is blackmailed by a mob boss following a hit-and-run accident." It's not clear how said development will affect the show's production status. Originally ordered to pilot back in October, no casting has since been announced. Davey Holmes penned the hour with Jake Kasdan attached to direct. Gavin Polone also serves as an executive producer.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters