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[03/17/05 - 12:00 AM]
Development Update: March 17
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 newly revamped "Series in Development" charts. Visitors can now filter our listings by network, genre and even development stage (ordered to pilot, cast-contingent, script, etc.). It's updated every day!

ADOPTED (ABC) - Christine Baranski ("Happy Family") and Jodi Lyn O'Keefe ("Nash Bridges") have both been cast in the comedy pilot, about a thirtysomething writer (Andrew Walker) whose life is turned upside down when his biological mom (Baranski) shows up on his doorstep one day, resulting in his adoptive (Bernadette Peters) and birth mothers comically competing for his attention. Baranski will play Judy Rabinowitz, said biological mother in the project, which comes from 20th Century Fox Television. Her character is described as: "48 plus. Lloyd's biological mother, she is Jewish, a child therapist and the single parent of beautiful 26 years old Rachel. While generous of spirit, with a warm heart, and cozy, lived-in house, Judy can turn on a dime, revealing her more frenetic, out of control nature."

O'Keefe then is set as Rachel: "26, incredibly beautiful. She is Judy's biological daughter and therefore Lloyd's younger half sister. Smart, dry, caustic, self-involved and not one to miss a good family feud, she grabs some wine and sits back to watch the fireworks as Judy does her best to entertain Lloyd and his strange family. She's also clearly attracted to Tucker [Lloyd's younger non-biological brother], and the two are soon making out." Kevin Abbott, Peter Principato, Paul Young are executive producing the project with Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, E. Brian Dobbins co-executive producing.

BEHIND THE CAMERA: MORK & MINDY (NBC) - The Peacock's latest entry in its "Behind the Camera" franchise is set to air on Monday, April 4 at 9:00/8:00c. Chris Diamantopoulos and Erinn Hayes star as Robin Williams and Pam Dawber respectively in the project, from director Neil Fearnley and former "Mork & Mindy" writer David Misch.

BLUE SKIES (NBC) - Jay Paulson ("Go") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about a 27-year-old former golden child (Anna Faris) who finds herself becoming a reluctant enabler to her crazy family. He'll play Matthew, the brother of Faris's character in the project, which comes from NBC Universal Television and creator Jhoni Marchinko. Missi Pyle also stars.

CONFESSIONS OF A DOG (NBC) - Bianca Kajlich ("Rock Me Baby") is the first to be cast in the comedy pilot, about a likable self-deprecating serial dater who has never been in a serious relationship and his two best friends. It's understood Kajlich will play one of the man's two best friends, a woman who, after playing the field for years, has fallen in love and gotten engaged. It's not clear if Kajlich's casting lifts the cast-contingency off the pilot's production. Nevertheless, the pilot is currently scheduled to tape on Thursday, April 21 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Bill Lawrence and Eric Weinberg ("Scrubs") are the executive producers.

DIRTBAGS (FOX) - The Melissa Joan Hart-led comedy pilot is set to tape on Friday, April 15 at Fox Studios. The 20th Century Fox Television-based project revolves a group of twentysomething friends in a blue-collar suburb of Boston, some of whom have never left and others who have ventured out and returned. Will Gluck is executive producing the pilot alongside creators Matt Boren & Doug Segal.

FILMORE MIDDLE (NBC) - Marc Buckland ("Scrubs") has signed a two-year, seven-figure overall deal with Touchstone Television. The pact calls for Buckland to develop original projects for the studio as well direct several of its pilots this season. Currently, he's set to helm NBC's "Earl" as well as "Filmore Middle." The latter pilot, about disillusioned teachers at a rundown public school, has been scheduled to tape on Tuesday, April 19 at Sony Pictures Studios despite its cast-contingency.

FOUR KINGS (NBC) - The comedy pilot, about four childhood friends in New York City (all yet to be cast), is currently scheduled to tape on Wednesday, April 13 at the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles. David Kohan and Max Mutchnick ("Will & Grace") are behind the Warner Bros. Television/KoMut Productions-based project, to be directed by James Burrows.

HOT PROPERTIES (ABC) - The comedy pilot, about four women (Sofia Vergara, Gail O'Grady, Nicole Sullivan and one yet to be cast) who run a real estate office in New York, is set to tape on Thursday, April 21 at the Warner Bros. Studios. Suzanne Martin created the project, which also stars Stephen Dunham.

KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (FOX) - Nicholas Brendon ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer") is the latest addition to the comedy pilot, about a bad-boy, down-on-his-luck chef who takes over at a top New York restaurant and must fight off all the urges of his former lifestyle. Brendon will play Seth Klein in the project, which also stars Owain Yeoman and John Francis Daley. His character is described in the casting notice as: "20s. A pastry chef extraordinaire, and is also a compulsive gambler, who�ll take odds on ANY bet! He is lured to Bistro Pino by a desperate Jack. Despite some misgivings, Seth joins the team." Darren Star is directing the single-camera pilot from a script by David Hemingson. Star, Hemingson, David Knoller and Jim Rosenthal then will executive produce the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Television, New Line Television and Darren Star Productions.

LAWS OF CHANCE (ABC) - Michael O'Neill ("Secondhand Lions") has landed a role in the drama pilot, about a feisty female A.D.A. (KaDee Strickland) in Houston who uses unconventional methods against the old-boy Texas defense attorneys. No details however were released about his character. Bruce McGill and Fran Kranz also star in the project, which comes from Grant Scharbo, Gary Glasberg and Gina Matthews and is set up at 20th Century Fox Television and Roundtable Ink.

PROJECT GREENLIGHT (Bravo) - A disappointing 311,000 viewers tuned into the show's third season premiere on the cable channel. Said number however was on par with the debut of "Project Runway" (354,000), which eventually went on to draw more than 2 million viewers for its two-hour finale.

THE SHIELD (FX) - A whopping 3.93 million viewers tuned into Tuesday's fourth season premiere of the cable drama, a growth of 37% from last year's opener (2.82 million). Among adults 18-49, "The Shield" fared equally as well, earning 2.34 million viewers (1.8 national rating/5 share) in the key demographic. The broadcast was also the second most-watched program on cable Tuesday, behind only a repeat of "Law & Order" on TNT (4.51 million) earlier that night.

THE SHOW WITH AJ CALLOWAY (UPN, New!) - UPN has added another comedy pilot to its roster, this time for a "Larry Sanders"-esque comedy about the host (BET personality AJ Calloway) of a fictitious broadcast network late-night talk show whose life is complicated by old flames, dysfunctional friends and ever-present family members. The project is set up at Sony Pictures Television and Handprint Entertainment with David Goetch ("Game Over") and Handprint's Benny Medina, Jeff Pollack and Evan Weiss executive producing. Calloway himself, Mike Brillstein and Adam Lublin are also attached as co-executive producers.

SHOWTIME ORIGINALS - The pay channel has confirmed premiere dates for several of is upcoming original projects. In addition to the previously announced "Reefer Madness" (Saturday, April 16), "Our Fathers" will premiere on Saturday, May 21 followed by the final season premiere of "Queer as Folk" on Sunday, May 22 at 9:00/8:00c. On Monday, June 13 look for the series premiere of the Mary-Louise Parker-led comedy "Weeds" with "The Cell" due in August (exact date TBA), "Barbershop" in the fall and "Brotherhood" in early 2006.

THICK AND THIN (NBC) - The comedy pilot, about an obese woman (Jessica Capshaw) who turns thin and struggles in her relationships with her still-large family and friends, has been scheduled to tape on Friday, April 22 at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The project, which is set up at NBC Universal Television and Broadway Video, comes from executive producers Paula Pell, Lorne Michaels and JoAnn Alfano.

UNTITELD BILL OAKLEY/JOSH WEINSTEIN PROJECT (FOX) - Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein's comedy pilot for FOX is set to tape on Wednesday, April 20 at Universal Studios. The workplace comedy, which will also feature single-camera elements, revolves around a police precinct in New York's Times Square. The pair are executive producing the NBC Universal Television/Broadway Video-based project along with Lorne Michaels and JoAnn Alfano. No casting has been announced.

UNTITLED DAVE FLEBOTTE PROJECT (NBC) - The comedy pilot, which stars Vincent Pastore as the head of an Italian-American family running a deli/coffee shop in Boston's North End, has been slated to tape on Friday, April 22 at the CBS Studio Center. James Burrows is set to direct the NBC Universal Television/Wolf Films-based project from a script by creator Dave Flebotte. Flebotte will also executive produce along with Dick Wolf and Nena Rodrigue.

UNTITLED JEFFREY LIEBER PROJECT (FOX) - Megalyn Echikunwoke ("Like Family") is the latest to be cast in the drama pilot, around a brother (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) and sister (Leslie Bibb) who manage a Las Vegas wedding emporium. She'll play Christina Chase in the Spelling Television-based project, which also stars Dagmara Dominczyk. Jeffrey Lieber created the pilot, which he's executive producing along with Aaron Spelling, E. Duke Vincent, Warren Littlefield. Thomas Carter directs.

UNTITLED MARTHA STEWART PROJECT (CBS, New!) - The Eye reportedly is fast-tracking a new original movie for May sweeps about the life of Martha Stewart and her recent legal troubles. The network is also understood to be in talks with Cybill Shepherd, who played the media mogul in the 2003 NBC original "Martha, Inc.," to reprise her role. The new effort, which will begin production on March 28 in Toronto, will also feature a more serious tone as well as spend more time on her trial, imprisonment and eventual release. Eric Bross (USA's "Traffic") will direct from a script by Charles Bohl ("Swimfan") with Tom Patricia ("Dawn Anna") executive producing and Frank Siracusa producing.

UNTITLED MICHAEL CALEO PROJECT (ABC) - Brian Benben ("Dream On") has joined the cast of the comedy pilot, about two feuding neighbors that are forced to contend with each other when their wives and kids become friends. He joins the previously cast Lenny Clarke in the project, which comes from Michael Caleo, Matt Gross and Touchstone Television. Taping on the pilot is scheduled to take place on Friday, April 15 at the CBS Studio Center in Los Angeles.

UNTITLED SUSIE ESSMAN PROJECT (CBS) - The Susie Essman-led comedy pilot, about a woman who becomes a surrogate stepmom of her boyfriend's four kids in the suburbs, has been slated to tape on Wednesday, April 13 at the Culver Studios in Los Angeles. Essman created the project, which is set up at 20th Century Fox Teleivison, Paramount Network Television and Brad Johnson's Watson Pond banner, with Tom Leopold, who wrote the pilot script.

Sources: Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters and Audiences Unlimited





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· ADOPTED (ABC)
· BARBERSHOP (SHOWTIME)
· BEHIND THE CAMERA: THE UNOFFICIAL STORY OF 'MORK & MINDY' (NBC)
· BLUE SKIES (NBC)
· BROTHERHOOD (SHOWTIME)
· BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (UPN)
· CONFESSIONS OF A DOG (NBC)
· DAWN ANNA (LIFETIME)
· DIRTBAGS (FOX)
· FOUR KINGS (NBC)
· GAME OVER (UPN)
· GOODY'S (NBC)
· HAPPY FAMILY (NBC)
· HITCHED (FOX)
· HOT PROPERTIES (ABC)
· KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL (FOX)
· LAW & ORDER (NBC)
· LAWS OF CHANCE (ABC)
· LIKE FAMILY (WB)
· MARTHA BEHIND BARS (CBS)
· MARTHA, INC.: THE STORY OF MARTHA STEWART (NBC)
· MY NAME IS EARL (NBC)
· NASH BRIDGES (CBS)
· NEIGHBORS (ABC)
· OUR FATHERS (SHOWTIME)
· PROJECT GREENLIGHT (HBO)
· PROJECT RUNWAY (BRAVO)
· QUEER AS FOLK (SHOWTIME)
· REEFER MADNESS (SHOWTIME)
· ROCK ME BABY (UPN)
· SCRUBS (ABC)
· SHIELD, THE (FX)
· SHOW WITH AJ CALLOWAY, THE (UPN)
· SLEEPER CELL (SHOWTIME)
· TEACHERS (NBC)
· THICK & THIN (NBC)
· TRAFFIC (USA)
· UNTITLED OAKLEY & WEINSTEIN PROJECT (FOX)
· UNTITLED SUSIE ESSMAN PROJECT (CBS)
· WEEDS (SHOWTIME)
· WILL & GRACE (NBC)





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