[03/22/11 - 11:11 PM] Development Update: Tuesday, March 22 By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)
LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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BIRD DOG/THE RABBIT FACTORY (TNT) - On the heels of ordering the Eric McCormack-led drama "Perception" to series, the cable channel has reportedly passed on the other two drama pilots from said development cycle. "Bird Dog," from writer/director Mike Robe and Warner Horizon Television, revolved around an unlikely partnership between two cops (Gerald McRaney, Ashley Williams) who happen to be father and daughter. "The Rabbit Factory," from writer Alan Loeb and Lionsgate Television, tracked a recently widowed police detective (Steven Weber) and his newly married partner (D.L. Hughley) as they delve into a world of mystery, intrigue and occasional hijinks. Currently in the pipe at TNT are the "Dallas" reboot as well as the cast-contingent "Generations."
BOSS (Starz) - Connie Nielsen ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") has joined the cast of the upcoming drama, about Thomas Kane (Kesley Grammer), "the mayor of Chicago who is diagnosed with a degenerative mental condition that only he and his doctor know about." She'll play his wife, Meredith ("suited, immaculately groomed"), whom his marriage has disintegrated to the point they only speak in public. Gus Van Sant is directing the pilot to the Lionsgate Television-based hour, from writer Farhad Safinia.
DAMAGES (DirecTV) - Judd Hirsch ("NUMB3RS") is the latest actor set to recur on the show's upcoming fourth season. He'll play a former mentor of Patty's (Glenn Close), "a man who took her under his wing during her first job out of law school," but now spends his time "at the bottom of a bottle." Other new additions this season include Chris Messina, Dylan Baker and John Goodman.
FREE AGENTS (NBC) - Natasha Leggero ("Last Comic Standing") has been cast in the comedy pilot, about "two quirky co-workers - Alex (Hank Azaria) and Helen (Kathryn Hahn) on the rebound who are attracted to one another." She'll play Emma, Alex's opinionated executive assistant. Mo Mandel co-stars in the Universal Media Studios-based half-hour, which Todd Holland is directing from a script by John Enbom.
MAD MEN (AMC) - Matthew Weiner is reportedly on track to sign a new deal with producer Lionsgate Television to continue as showrunner of the Emmy-winning series. Said negotiations will likely push the start of production by several weeks, potentially bumping its usual summer debut into the fall or beyond. No other details were given.
THE RIVER (ABC) - Daniel Zacapa has scored a role on the drama pilot, about the search in the Amazon for Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood), a missing TV explorer, led by his wife Tess (Leslie Hope) and son Lincoln (Joe Anderson). He'll play Emilio Valenzuela, who along with his daughter Jahel (Paulina Gaitan), run the engine room of the S.S. Hopewell, the vessel spearheading the search. Eloise Mumford, Paul Blackthorne, Shaun Parkes and Thomas Kretschmann also star. Meanwhile, Zack Estrin ("No Ordinary Family") has joined the project as part of an overall deal with producer ABC Studios. There he'll serve as an executive producer alongside showrunner Michael Green and ultimately take over said post for the back nine of its presumed freshman run. Green, who's based at 20th Century Fox Television, will then transition back to development. Should the pilot not get ordered to series, Estrin will join another ABC Studios-based property.
UNTITLED SUSANNAH GRANT PROJECT (CBS) - "Law & Order" alumnus S. Epatha Merkerson has joined the cast of the drama pilot, about Michael Halstead (Patrick Wilson), an ultra-competitive surgeon whose life is changed forever when his ex-wife, Anna Lindberg (Jennifer Ehle), dies and begins teaching him what life is all about from the hereafter. She'll play Rita, Michael's "don't cross her" assistant. Afton Williamson and Julie Benz also star in the CBS Television Studios-based hour, to be directed by Jonathan Demme.