LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Alexandra Cunningham, a consulting producer on the veteran soap, has inked a seven-figure overall deal with Universal Media Studios. The pact, financial details of which weren't released, calls for the writer/producer to develop new series projects for the studio. Cunningham was previously based at ABC Studios.
EPISODES (Showtime) - Mircea Monroe ("Drive") is the latest addition to the upcoming series, a single-camera comedy about a British couple (Claire Forlani, Stephen Mangan) whose hit UK show is turned into a dumbed-down American sitcom starring Matt LeBlanc (as himself). She's on board as "a 42-year-old actress who looks 24 after having a lot of work done." Kathleen Rose Perkins and Thomas Haden Church co-star in the project, which comes from co-creators David Crane and Jeffrey Klarik.
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS (NBC) - Ryan Hansen ("Party Down") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about "five twentysomething friends who, until they find 'the one,' are content to have 'friends with benefits.'" He'll play Ben, "an Everyman who, while waiting for Ms. Perfect, enjoys a relationship with Sara (Danneel Harris), a doctor trying to find Mr. Right." Hansen takes over for Patrick J. Adams, who was previously cast in the role. Fran Kranz, Ian Reed Kessler and Jessica Lucas also star in the half-hour, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television and co-creators Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter. David Dobkin is directing.
LUCK (HBO) - Ritchie Coster ("Virtuality") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, "a look at the worlds of horse racing and gambling through a group of characters surrounding a racetrack." He'll play Renzo, a track regular on disability who's "mentally less well-endowed" than the other betting degenerates. Dennis Farina, Dustin Hoffman, Ian Hart, John Ortiz, Kerry Condon, Kevin Dunn, Nick Nolte, Richard Kind and Tom Payne also star in the hour, which Michael Mann is directing from a script by David Milch.
TAX MAN (FOX) - Orlando Jones ("Rules of Engagement") has scored a role on the comedy pilot, about an Internal Revenue Service district office in Fresno, California. He's believed to be playing Fisher, a co-worker who always has Spencer's (David Krumholtz) back. Brent Forrester is behind the 20th Century Fox Television-based half-hour, which also stars Judy Greer, Kerri Kenney and Randall Park. Fred Savage is the director.
Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters