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[03/21/11 - 10:59 PM]
Development Update: Monday, March 21
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:

Looking to keep track of all the various projects in development? Click here to visit our signature "Devwatch" section. There visitors can view our listings by network, genre, studio and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!


ANGLER (HBO, New!) - Barton Gellman's book of the same name - about former Vice President Dick Cheney - is being developed as a potential mini-series at the pay channel. Rick Cleveland ("Six Feet Under") is penning the adaptation, which will track Cheney's life from "his early days as Donald Rumsfeld's protege in the Nixon administration, to the nation's youngest Chief of Staff under President Ford, to serving as Secretary of Defense under George H.W. Bush, through two controversial terms as Vice President under President George W. Bush." Spring Creek Productions and Fair Catch Productions are co-producing with Paula Weinstein, Jeffrey Levine, David Kennedy and "Frontline's" David Fanning and Michael Kirk executive producing.


DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) - Jonathan Cake ("Six Degrees") is set to join the cast of the long-running soap. He'll play Aaron, "a handsome, sexy, college-educated police detective with strong family values who becomes involved with Bree (Marcia Cross) when he comes to Wisteria Lane to investigate a case," in an upcoming four-episode arc before returning as a regular next season.


EATING WITH THE ENEMY (HBO, New!) - James Gandolfini ("The Sopranos") is set to star in and executive produce a potential docudrama at the pay channel about the true story of Bobby Egan, the owner of a Hackensack, New Jersey rib joint who became involved in back channel negotiations with North Korea to stop producing nuclear weapons. Said project is based on Egan and Kurt Pitzer's book of the same name, subtitled "How I Waged Peace With North Korea from My BBQ Shack in Hackensack." Egan improbably made inroads with the North Korean government after showing up at the doorstep of their consulate near the U.N. and offering his friendship. He subsequently made several trips to North Korea itself, where he was approached by the State Department to be their conduit in backdoor nuke talks. As for the film, Mark Armstrong, Nancy Sanders, Jane Rosenthal, Brandon Brito and Megan Lyvers will executive produce for Tribeca Productions and Gandolfini's Atta Boy Productions with Pitzer and Kimberly Levin co-producing. No other auspices were given.


FREE AGENTS (NBC) - Kathryn Hahn ("Hung") is set to star opposite Hank Azaria in the comedy pilot, about "the attraction between two quirky PR executives working together - Alex (Azaria) and Helen (Hahn) - who both are on the rebound, Alex from a divorce and Helen from the loss of a fiance." Todd Holland is directing the Universal Media Studios-based half-hour, from creator John Enbom. Mo Mandel also stars.


LOSING IT WITH JILLIAN (NBC) - Network sources have confirmed the Jillian Michaels-led series, in which "The Biggest Loser" trainer travels across the country to transform one family at a time, won't be returning for a second. Said effort was absent from the Peacock's summer lineup, which was revealed earlier today.


MORE AS THE STORY DEVELOPS (A.K.A. UNTITLED AARON SORKIN PROJECT) (HBO) - Jeff Daniels is reportedly in talks to topline the Aaron Sorkin-penned drama pilot, set behind the scenes of a nightly cable news show. He'd play Will McCallister, "a famous cable newsman of the Anderson Cooper/Brian Williams mold who is smart and talented guy but just a pain in the ass to work with and for." Sorkin and Scott Rudin are the executive producers.


PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC) - Benjamin Bratt ("The Cleaner") is on track to join the cast of the veteran drama. Details about his role are being kept under wraps, however it's understood he'll be introduced in the season finale. Said casting is designed to fill the void left by Audra McDonald, who's departing the series at the end of the season.


R.E.M. (NBC) - Cherry Jones ("24") and Michaela McManus ("The Vampire Diaries") have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about Mark Britten (Jason Isaacs), a police detective living in two different realities following a horrible car accident: one in which his son Rex (Dylan Minnette) lives, another in which his wife Hannah lives - each with their own partner and psychiatrist. In addition, co-star Laura Allen has been recast as Hannah ("stunning, warm"). The actress was previously attached as Tara ("long, slender, like someone who not only plays a sport for a living, but does it well"), Rex's tennis coach and trusted confidante. Said role will now go to McManus. Jones then is set as Stephanie Evans, Mark's psychiatrist in the reality where Rex lives. The previously cast B.D. Wong conversely is Mark's psychiatrist in the reality where Hannah lives, while Steve Harris and Wilmer Valderrama play Mark's respective partners. David Slade is directing the Kyle Killen-penned hour, from 20th Century Fox Television.


SECRET CIRCLE (The CW) - Natasha Henstridge ("Eli Stone") and Australian actor Louis Hunter have both landed roles on the drama pilot, about Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson), a California teen who moves to her mom's hometown of New Salem, Maine and discovers that she comes from a family of witches. She'll play Dawn Chamberlain ("a strikingly beautiful woman in her late 30's"), the vice principal at Cassie's school and an old friend of her mother's; while Hunter is on board as Nick Armstrong ("good physique, and he knows it"), Cassie's new neighbor, another member of the circle, a coven of young witches. Jessica Parker Kennedy, Phoebe Tonkin, Shelley Hennig and Thomas Dekker also star in the hour, which Liz Friedlander is directing from a script by Andrew Miller.


TITANIC (ABC, New!) - Simon Vaughn's long-in-the-works mini-series has found a U.S. broadcast home at the Alphabet. Said effort will chronicle the famous ship's maiden and final voyage through multiple points of view, using both fictional and historical characters. Production is set to begin in Hungary shortly for a premiere in April 2012 - the 100th anniversary of the boat's sinking. Oscar-winner Julian Fellowes ("Gosford Park") penned the project with ITV Studios, Lookout Point, Deep Indigo Productions, Sienna Films and Mid Atlantic Films co-producing.


VINCE UNCENSORED (CBS) - Elizabeth Perkins ("Weeds") has booked the female lead on the comedy pilot, about Vince Donohue (Michael Chiklis), "a man who decides to take a more honest approach to life after a life-altering experience." She'll play his Wife, Janet, a middle school teacher and mother to their three daughters. Kelsey Grammer is directing the Warner Bros. Television-based half-hour, from creator Phoef Sutton.






  [march 2011]  
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· 24 (FOX)
· ANGLER (HBO)
· AWAKE (NBC)
· BIGGEST LOSER, THE (USA)
· CLEANER, THE (A AND E)
· DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC)
· DEVELOPMENT UPDATE (TFC)
· EATING WITH THE ENEMY (HBO)
· ELI STONE (ABC)
· FREE AGENTS (NBC)
· FRONTLINE (PBS)
· HUNG (HBO)
· LOSING IT WITH JILLIAN (NBC)
· NEWSROOM, THE (HBO)
· PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC)
· SECRET CIRCLE, THE (CW)
· SIX DEGREES (ABC)
· SIX FEET UNDER (HBO)
· SOPRANOS, THE (HBO)
· TITANIC (ABC)
· VAMPIRE DIARIES, THE (CW)
· VINCE UNCENSORED (CBS)
· WEEDS (SHOWTIME)





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