LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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AGAINST THE WALL (Lifetime) - Australian actress Rachael Carpani ("McLeod's Daughters") has scored the lead role on the pilot, a drama set in Chicago about a policewoman who causes a rift with her three cop brothers when she decides to join the department's Internal Affairs division. She'll play said woman, Abby Kowalski, in the project, which Dean Parisot has signed on to direct from a script by Annie Brunner. Universal Cable Productions is the studio attached.
THE AMANDA KNOX STORY (Lifetime, New!) - Hayden Panettiere ("Heroes") is set to topline a new docudrama at the cable channel from Pilgrim Films and Television based on the true story of Amanda Knox, a U.S. exchange student convicted by an Italian trial jury of brutally murdering her roommate. 20-year-old Knox, her boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito, and Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede were arrested in November 2007 and ultimately convicted for the killing of 21-year-old Meredith Kercher. The salacious details about Knox and company made headlines in the U.S. with Senator Maria Cantwell of Knox's home state of Washington decrying the verdict as the result of anti-Americanism in Italy. Robert Dornhelm is directing the project from a script by Wendy Battles while Craig Piligian, Battles, Trevor Walton and Craig Anderson executive producing and Randy Sutter producing.
EXTREME MAKEOVER: WEIGHT LOSS EDITION (A.K.A. OBESE) (ABC) - The Alphabet has rebranded the upcoming series "Obese" as "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition." 3 Ball Productions is behind the hour-long series, which "follows morbidly obese individuals through a year of their life as they work to lose at least half of their body weight." It's understood casting is already underway for a second six-episode cycle due to the lengthy lead time needed to produce the series while the show itself may expand to two hours as a result of the abundant footage available. J.D. Roth and Todd A. Nelson are the executive producers while Chris Powell (TLC's "The 650-Pound Virgin") serves "as their coach, moving into their homes with their families."
HOMELAND (A.K.A. PATRIOTS) (Showtime, New!) - Howard Gordon's drama, an import of the Israeli series "Prisoners of War," has found a home at Showtime with Ben Affleck ("The Town") in talks to direct. The "24" alum co-wrote the pilot alongside Alex Gansa and Gideon Raff, the creator of the original series. Said hour will revolve around an American solider who's rescued after going missing 10 years ago in Iraq and a female CIA operative who investigates the circumstances surrounding his return, after receiving a tip he may actually be part of an upcoming terror plot. Gordon, Gansa and Raff are executive producing with Avi Nir and Ron Telem for Fox 21 and the Keshet Broadcasting Group.
LAW & ORDER: LOS ANGELES (NBC) - Peter Coyote ("FlashForward") has been tapped as the District Attorney on the upcoming spin-off. He'll serve as the supervisor to Alfred Molina and Terrence Howard's characters, both ADAs who will alternate their services each week. Skeet Ulrich, Corey Stoll, Megan Boone, Regina Hall and Rachel Ticotin also star in the hour, which launches next week.
LEGENDS (NBC, New!) - Howard Gordon ("24") has booked his third project this development cycle, about a "CIA operative with an uncanny gift for 'legends' - aka false identities - who is sent on a variety of missions, while simultaneously coping with the possibility that his own identity may be a 'legend' itself." The project, which has a put pilot commitment, is based on a book by Robert Littell. Mark Bomback ("Live Free or Die Hard") is penning the hour and executive producing alongside Gordon and Jonathan Levin for 20th Century Fox Television.
NECESSARY ROUGHNESS (USA) - Callie Thorne ("Rescue Me") has been cast in the lead role on the drama pilot, about "a tough, sexy Long Island divorcee (Thorne) who, to make ends meet, becomes the therapist for a professional football team and quickly becomes sought after by other athletes, musicians, politicians and those living in the spotlight." Elizabeth Kruger and Craig Shapiro co-wrote the 90-minute pilot, production of which was casting said role. Sony Pictures Television is behind the project with Kruger and Shapiro executive producing alongside Donna Dannenfesler, Joe Sabatino and Kevin Dowling, the latter of which will direct.
PAN AM (ABC, New!) - Jack Orman ("Men of a Certain Age") and Thomas Schlamme ("Mr. Sunshine") are set to team for a potential new drama about the defunct air carrier. Said hour, which comes from Sony Pictures Television and has a pilot commitment, will be set in the mid-1960s and focus on "the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly." Schlamme will direct the project from a script by Orman with Nancy Ganis executive producing alongside the duo. Sid Ganis is also attached as a co-executive producer. Pan Am formally closed in 1991 following a much-ballyhooed bankruptcy.
SHARK TANK (ABC) - Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks and chairman of cable channel HDNet, is the latest addition to the show's second season. He'll appear in three episodes as a guest venture capitalist. Cuban joins Jeff Foxworthy, who's likewise set to appear in three installments during the upcoming sophomore run. Cuban previously was the centerpiece of the Alphabet's short-lived reality competition "The Benefactor" in 2004.
UNTITLED MO MANDEL PROJECT (NBC, New!) - Comedian Mo Mandel ("Chelsea Lately") has set up a new comedy at the Peacock which "chronicles what a group of 20 somethings do in the last five years of their lives before the Earth is destroyed by a meteor." Mandel is writing the half-hour and may co-star in the pilot, should it move forward. 3 Arts Entertainment is producing.