LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The latest development news, culled from recent wire reports:
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THE FRANCHISE (Showtime) - The pay channel is trimming the show's second season by one week, with the finale now set for this Wednesday, August 22 at 10:00/9:00c. To date its sophomore run, featuring the Miami Marlins, has averaged a very modest 77,000 viewers and a 0.0 rating among adults 18-49. Last summer's inaugural season, showcasing the San Francisco Giants, averaged 106,000 viewers and a 0.0 adults 18-49 rating. (Sun-Sentinel.com)
PAGING DR. FREED (USA) - Kyle Howard and Joel David Moore have booked the lead roles on the long-in-the-works single-camera comedy pilot, about David (Howard) and Jonathan (Moore) Freed, two gynecologist brothers who inherit their father's thriving medical practice after he suffers a heart attack during an attempt at "playing" doctor with his young secretary. Their casting lifts said contingency on the half-hour, which comes from Fox 21, Universal Cable Productions and Watson Pond Productions. Marc Buckland is attached to direct from a script by Michael Feldman with Katy McCaffrey and Brad Johnson also serving as executive producers. (Deadline.com)
RED WIDOW (ABC) - Goran Visnjic ("ER") has joined the cast of the midseason drama, about a woman, Marta Walraven (Radha Mitchell), who must take over her late husband's illegal drug business to protect her three young children. He'll take over for Thomas Kretschmann as mob boss Christian Schiller in the project, from writer Melissa Rosenberg. Clifton Collins Jr., Erin Moriarty, Jaime Ray Newman, Jakob Salvati, Lee Tergesen, Luke Goss, Rade Serbedzija, Sterling Beaumon, Suleka Mathew and Wil Traval also star in the ABC Studios-based project. (Deadline.com)
UNTITLED DIGGY SIMMONS PROJECT (BET, New!) - 17-year-old rapper/blogger Daniel "Diggy" Simmons III, son of Joseph "Reverend Run" Simmons, is set to star in a new original movie at the cable channel about Blake, a blogger with a "close group of loyal friends who hold him down on his rise to the top." Also cast in the project, a backdoor pilot for a potential series, are Allen Maldonado as Blake's best friend Manny; Teyana Taylor as Manny's twin sister/Blake's ex-girlfriend Tae; Chris Brew as tech geek/fellow pal Dot; Bria Murphy as Manny's girlfriend Nia; and Stephanie Charles as Dot's ex-girlfriend Sheri. Salim Akil ("Sparkle") will direct from a script by Kenya Baris with Mara Brock Akil, Chris Lighty, Laurie Dobbins and James Dubose also among the executive producers. Simmons and Kevin Liles will also serve as co-executive producers. Production is set to begin later this year. (Deadline.com)
UNTITLED JONATHAN SHAPIRO PROJECT (FX, New!) - Jonathan Shapiro ("The Firm") has booked a potential drama at the cable channel about a former police detective who now works as a fixer. Ryan Seacrest Productions and The Weinstein Co. are behind the hour, which Shapiro will executive produce presumably alongside Seacrest, Harvey Weinstein, Bob Weinstein, Nina Wass and Adam Sher. No other details were given. (Deadline.com)
AND IN OTHER NEWS... - "Saturday Night Live" will kick off its 38th season on Saturday, September 15 (NBC.com); Sundance Channel has commissioned a second season of its summer series "Push Girls" (Deadline.com); Bryan Cranston is set to direct an episode of "The Office" this season (@RainnWilson); Nicki Minaj is the latest name being tossed around as a judge for "American Idol" (THR.com); Rob Corddry will guest on FOX's freshman entry "Ben & Kate" (EW.com); Ed Skrein and Jacob Anderson have been cast as Daario Naharis and Grey Worm, respectively, on "Game of Thrones" (WinterIsComing.net); Marco Pennette has been tapped as the new showrunner of "Animal Practice," succeeding Gail Lerner beginning with the show's fourth episode (Deadline.com); Jayson Blair has been upped to series regular on "The New Normal" as Goldie's (Georgia King) cheating husband Clay (Deadline.com); Chuck Lorre is finalizing a new four-year overall deal with Warner Bros. Television, which includes a feature component (Deadline.com); Rob Huebel will drop by "Up All Night" as "Chris's (Will Arnett) annoying roommate from college that he can't seem to get rid of" (TVGuide.com); and Super Bowl XVII winner Joe Theismann will make a cameo on "Necessary Roughness" as himself (THR.com).