LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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ALCATRAZ (FOX) - Sam Neill ("Happy Town"), Parminder Nagra ("ER") and Robert Forster ("Heroes") have all joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of missing Alcatraz prisoners and guards who reappear in the present day and the efforts of a team of FBI agents to track them down and unravel the mystery behind their disappearance 30 years prior. Neill will play Emerson Hauser, "the head of a government agency who radiates authority and piercing intelligence"; with Nagra as his lab technician, Lucy; and Forster as Ray Archer, "a retired detective who is now owner/bartender of a cop hangout bar." Sarah Jones, Jorge Garcia, Jonny Coyne and Jason Butler Harner also star in the hour, which comes from the Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot Productions. Bryan Burk, Elizabeth Sarnoff and J.J. Abrams are among the executive producers. Danny Cannon directs.
AMERICAN WORK PROJECTS (NBC, New!) - Scot Armstrong and Ravi Nandan's American Work has booked six new projects at the Peacock via their first-look deal with the network. The group joins previously announced efforts "Life Is Good" and "I'm with Russell," also at NBC, as well as "Ambulance Chasers" at FX and "Single at 40" at FOX. The new additions include "A Lot Like Us," from Liz Feldman, about "an alternative LA family, centering around an expectant lesbian couple and their donor who lives with them"; "Join the Club," from Thomas Moffett, about "a disenchanted 30-year-old joins his step-grandfather's men's club and finds an unlikely group of friends where he least expected"; and "Shanked It," from Mike Arnold, about "three couples, their lives, and the golf course in the middle of it all."
Rounding out the lineup is "Brothers," from John Blickstead and Trey Kollmer, about "three brothers from three different mothers who try to avoid their father's mistakes"; an untitled effort from Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair, about a woman (St. Clair) who "moves back in with her best friend (Lennon) only to find out he's now living with her boyfriend"; and another untitled project from Sonny Lee and Patrick Walsh about "a self-centered, once-hot internet entrepreneur and his would-be think tank as he tries to maintain the illusion he's a Sean Parker-like CEO." All six are presumably co-produced by Universal Media Studios.
BRAXTON FAMILY VALUES (WE tv, New!) - The cable channel is set to roll out a new reality series about personal and professional foibles of Atlanta-based singer Toni Braxton and her four sisters - Toni, Tamar, Trina, Towanda. It's understood the newcomer, which also feature their mother Evelyn, will air on Tuesday nights in April following the runs of "Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best?" and "A Stand-Up Mother," both of which launch Tuesday, January 25 starting at 9:00/8:00c.
BIRD DOG (TNT) - Eric Mabius ("Ugly Betty") has landed a role on the drama pilot, about Gail McGrath (Ashley Williams), "a patrolling officer whose new partner is her cop dad Sam McGrath (Gerald McRaney)." Mabius will play Tim Burke, "the boyishly handsome County Sheriff who is secretly attracted to Gail." Suzy Nakamura, William Ragsdale and Wynn Everett also star in the Mike Robe project, which comes from Warner Horizon Television.
DANNI LOWINSKI (The CW) - Carla Gallo ("Men of a Certain Age") is the latest addition to the drama pilot, about "a scrappy hairdresser (Amanda Walsh) who graduates from law school but is brushed off by law firms and sets up her own practice in a shopping mall kiosk." She's on board as "her best friend Kaz who is brassy, a little slutty and fiercely protective of Danni." Jennie Snyder Urman is behind the CBS Television Studios-based hour, to be directed by Richard Shepard. Neal Bledsoe also stars.
PLAYBOY (NBC, New!) - Chad Hodge ("Runaway") is developing a period drama at the Peacock about "a group of women working as Playboy bunnies in the [now defunct] New York club" in the 1960s. 20th Century Fox Television and Imagine Television are behind the hour, formerly known as "Bunny Tales." Imagine's Brian Grazer and Francie Calfo will executive produce alongside Hodge. It's understood said effort was rolled from last season when a different writer was attached.
THE SEARCH FOR JUSTICE (Investigation Discovery, New!) - The cable channel has ordered a new three-episode series detailing the FBI's Civil Rights Unit and its chief, Cynthia Deitle. Filmmaker Keith Beauchamp is behind the project, due to launch in February. Each installment will "reopen cold cases from our country's past, and seeks to solve the crimes once and for all."
TWO BROKE GIRLS (CBS, New!) - "Sex and the City" writer/director Michael Patrick King and comedian Whitney Cummings are set to team for a potential multi-camera comedy at the Eye about "two 22-year-old girls who tackle life in New York: two broke girls, one expensive city." Warner Bros. Television, where King's overall deal is based, is behind the half-hour, which has a pilot production commitment following a heated bidding war. King and Cummings, who also have separate projects at NBC, co-wrote the script on spec with King executive producing and Cummings serving as a co-executive producer.