Tuesday, December 13, 2005

TV News

Madness of the eye: Free online games

It's the fourth year that CBS Sports has offered the mostly regional games, ones that wouldn't appear across the whole network, beginning March 16.

There will be as many as 56 NCAA men's basketball tournament games available on the Web, beginning with the first games and continuing through the regional semi-finals.

For the first three years, including last year with CSTV.com, it was a premium service. But this year, CBS has shifted NCAA March Madness on Demand to an ad-supported service in an effort to gain more viewers. It's also in line with CBS' online strategy in news and elsewhere.EDITOR'S NOTE: EVERYONE JOIN IN ON A ROUSING CHORUS OF "HARK THE SOUND OF TARHEEL VOICES"! (RAH RAH CAROLINA, LINA, RAH RAH....OH NEVER MIND.....)

March gets Wolf's 'Conviction'
After two years in the witness-protection program, Alexandra Cabot is returning to Dick Wolf's TV universe.

Stephanie March, who left "Law & Order: SVU" after her character, Assistant District Attorney Cabot, was shot and sent away with a changed identity in an October 2003 episode, is joining Wolf's new series for NBC, "Conviction." EDITOR'S NOTE: A NIFTY ACTRESS. GLAD TO SEE HER COMING BACK TO TV.

Rounding out the cast of the Wolf Films/NBC Universal Television Studio's upcoming legal drama are Jordan Bridges and J. August Richards. They join previously cast Anson Mount, Eric Balfour, Julianne Nicholson and Milena Govich. EDITOR'S NOTE: ERIC BALFOUR? OH DEAR. HE'S HAD MORE FAILED TV SHOWS THAN JUST ABOUT ANYONE. MAYBE DICK WOLF CAN BREAK THE BALFOUR CURSE.

Created by "Law & Order" chief Wolf, "Conviction" is described as a fast-paced, character-driven series focusing on young ADAs in New York who often tackle tough high-profile cases EDITOR'S NOTE: AND THIS IS DIFFERENT THAN MOST OF THE OTHER DICK WOLF SHOWS BECAUSE THE ADAs ARE YOUNG? I LIKE MOST OF THE DICK WOLF OEVRE, BUT YOUNG ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE ARE BORING. WHAT WE NEED ARE OLD, FUNKY-LOOKING PEOPLE. LIKE US!


Wolf lightens legal load
"Law & Order" chief Dick Wolf is taking a lighter approach to the legal system, teaming with "My Wife & Kids" co-creator Don Reo for a comedy project for NBC.

Former prosecutor Marcia Clark of O.J. Simpson trial fame and writer-producer Cathy LePard (WB Network's "7th Heaven") also are attached to the show, produced by Wolf Films and NBC Universal Television Studio. EDITOR'S NOTE: I'M A GOVERNMENT PROSECUTOR...BUT WHAT I REALLY WANT TO DO IS PRODUCE?

The half-hour, which has received a script commitment, is set at a small courthouse in the Los Angeles area and centers on a hot up-and-coming prosecutor sent there by the district attorney who perceives her as threat and a public defender who has seen better days EDITOR'S NOTE: AGAIN...I'M A DICK WOLF FAN. BUT THIS PLOT SOUNDS.....UMM....TIRED, PREDICTABLE, DONE-TO-DEATH...OH, HECK. INSERT YOUR OWN PEJORATIVE.

ABC takes 'Nine' pilot to bank
ABC has given the green light to production of a drama pilot about a bank robbery and its aftermath from "Without a Trace" creator/executive producer Hank Steinberg and Warner Bros. Television.

"Nine Lives," which Steinberg is co-creating with his sister, writer-actress K.J. Steinberg, revolves around the experiences of a group of strangers who are caught in a 52-hour hostage crisis stemming from a bank robbery that goes bad a la "Dog Day Afternoon."

The series would follow the lives of nine of the people involved in the standoff as they struggle with postsiege traumas and re-evaluate their lives after the incident.

There also is a great deal of mystery about the events that unfolded during the standoff that are designed to be revealed slowly throughout the course of the season, Hank Steinberg said.EDITOR'S NOTE: NOW WE'RE TALKIN NEW AND DIFFERENT! SOUNDS INTRIGUING.

Dramatic FX moves: two pilots
After long consideration, FX has selected its class of 2006 drama pilots: "Low Life," starring Eddie Izzard, and "Dirt," from writer Matthew Carnahan and executive producers Courteney Cox and David Arquette.

On the broadcast side, ABC has given the green light to "Hollis and Rae," a drama from producer Steven Bochco, Oscar winner Callie Khouri and Touchstone TV, while Fox has ordered "Happy Hour," a comedy pilot from producer Tom Werner and Warner Bros. TV.

It's been more than a year since FX last picked up drama pilots, and the network's executives took their time in developing a large number of scripts from which to choose.

'Ed' duo sets up Logue with ABC comedy
ABC has given the green light to a comedy pilot from Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman, the duo behind NBC's "Ed," to star Donal Logue.

The untitled project, from David Letterman's Worldwide Pants and Touchstone Television, centers on a group of blue-collar guys in New York City who decide to rob a celebrity. (The project had been shopped around with the cheeky title "I Want to Rob Jeff Goldblum.")

In addition to writing, Burnett and Beckerman are executive producing the pilot with Letterman. Burnett is set to direct.

Mr Smith sees Ring
Former “Dawson’s Creek” heartthrob Kerr Smith – most recently seen in a guest role on “Charmed” – has secured a permanent tube role.

The thirty-something actor has joined the cast of “E-Ring”, joining Benjamin Bratt and Dennis Hopper.

Smith plays Bobby Wilkerson, a gung-ho member of the Pentagon's Special Ops team. The actor played the character in three earlier episodes this Fall.

Wilkerson is a close friend of JT (series star Benjamin Bratt) and carries out dangerous missions in secret foreign operations EDITOR'S NOTE: CUTE AND SCRUFFY...MY FAVORITE! (THE SHOW HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE...THE BUFF ONE, THE SCRUFFY ONE, AND THE SCARY OLD ONE....OH, AND SOME PRETTY CHICKS, TOO, IF YOU ARE INTO THAT)

Delany nabs 'Kidnapped' pilot on NBC
Emmy winner Dana Delany has been tapped to star in NBC's drama pilot "Kidnapped" from Sony Pictures Television and studio-based 25C Prods.

Delany joins Linus Roache, Mykelti Williamson, Delroy Lindo, Carmen Ejogo and Boris McGiver, who previously were cast in the project penned by Jason Smilovic and to be directed by Michael Dinner. EDITOR'S NOTE: GOOD CAST. AND ANYTHING WITH DANA DELANY IS ALWAYS WORTH A LOOK-SEE.

Described as a blend of suspense thriller and family drama, "Kidnapped" revolves around a wealthy New York family whose 15-year-old son is kidnapped and held for ransom, with the story being told from multiple points of view


NBC Kidnaps Sisto
NBC has signed Jeremy Sisto and Timothy Hutton as part of the cast of KIDNAPPED. They will join Dana Delany, Linus Roache, Mykelti Williamson and Delroy Lindo. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. SUPER CAST!

The series centers on private kidnapping/retrieval expert (Sisto), with each season chronicling his efforts to bring home a different kidnapped victim. EDITOR'S NOTE: LOOK WHAT "24" STARTED, HUH? (AND NOW WITH THE SUCCESS OF "PRISON BREAK"). NOVELS IN TV-SEASON FORM.

KIDNAPPED is written by Jason Smilovic and will be directed by Michael Dinner.

Fierstein, Brandy net TV projects
Storyline Entertainment has recruited "Girlfriends" creator-executive producer Mara Brock Akil to write a comedy vehicle for WB Network starring Brandy while veteran comedy writer David Richardson has been tapped to pen a half-hour for Fox starring Harvey Fierstein. EDITOR'S NOTE: ONE OF THE RARE MOMENTS WHERE I WISH MY TV SET WAS SMALLER; I JUST DON'T THINK I WANT A LIFE-SIZED HARVEY FIERSTEIN IN MY TV ROOM. EEK.

Both shows hail from Touchstone Television and Craig Zadan and Neil Meron's studio-based Storyline banner. The Brandy project will explore the life of a young woman after she hits the pivotal age of 25, Akil said. EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. THAT OLD, HUH? It will star the singer-actress as a die-hard New Yorker who moves to Los Angeles to take a job as an entertainment editor.

Warmup for primetime Olympics
NBC and its affiliates will produce a nightly half-hour program daily during February's Winter Olympics that will focus on local athletes and preview the night's telecast.

"Olympic Zone" is based on the "O-Zone," a joint online initiative of NBC and its affiliates, as well as a half-hour show that KCRA-TV in Sacramento, Calif., and other stations did during the Summer Olympics in Athens in July 2004.

NBC Olympics president Gary Zenkel said Friday that the new show will air nightly on NBC affiliates. "Olympic Zone" will be different in each market that it airs, with about half of the content provided by NBC Sports and the other half produced by the stations that participate EDITOR'S NOTE: OLYMPIC SCHMALTZ ON A STICK. LOCALIZED. GOODIE. (SMIRK)

Bravo sets 'aggressive' slate
Bravo is set to announce what it is calling the "start of the network's most aggressive development slate in its 25-year history," with orders for six nonscripted pilots ranging from a pop-culture talk show, a comedic news broadcast and a docu-soap featuring high-end divorcees.

Also on the slate are a project that gives people a chance to start their lives anew based on a roll of dice, EDITOR'S NOTE: SOUNDS A WEE BIT LIKE THE PAST YEAR IN MY LIFE. (SIGH....) another in which individuals are thrown a surprise party to celebrate a nontraditional milestone and a competition project that pits two sets of husbands and wives against each other.

Bravo senior vp programming and production Frances Berwick said the ramped-up development slate is an effort to build on such recent successes as "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," "Project Runway" and "Blowout" as well as "continuing to innovate (with new shows) that can really complete the schedule."

MacFarlane, Blitt team for 'Glen'
"Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane is venturing into live-action comedy series. McFarlane has teamed with writer-producer Ricky Blitt, a "Family Guy" alum, to resurrect Blitt's 2002 comedy pilot "Becoming Glen."

The reworked project has become a hot item, with CBS, NBC and Fox vying for it.

The show, from 20th Century Fox Television, is expected to fetch a pilot order with a series penalty. Blitt said he has been "warmed by the three networks' reception of the project." "They all called me and are all very passionate about it," he said. "I get very few calls, so they gave me an instant social life." EDITOR'S NOTE: GIGGLE.

Fox pilots via scribe Helm, 'Guy' stuff
Fox has given a put pilot commitment to a drama from hot young feature writer Zach Helm, from Imagine Television and 20th Century Fox Television.

Additionally, the network has given a put pilot commitment to another project from 20th TV, a single-camera comedy based on the short film "The Adventures of Big Handsome Guy and His Little Friend."

The untitled Zach Helm project is described as a psychological family drama with a major twist. "It is a family drama in the vein of 'In the Bedroom' and 'A History of Violence' in a sense that there are elements of normalcy in it but countered with some dark elements," Helm said EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS ALSO SOUNDS LIKE MY LIFE. EXCEPT FOR THE NORMALCY PART.

Fox commits to 'Worst Week' pilot
Fox has said yes to "The Worst Week of My Life," a comedy pilot from Regency Television based on the 2004 BBC limited series about a young engaged couple's hellacious week leading up to their wedding.

Ed Decter and John Strauss, who co-wrote "There's Something About Mary" with the Farrelly brothers, are on board to adapt the project, which Regency TV will co-produce with the British company Hat Trick Prods., producer of the original series.

Like the British show, each episode of the U.S. version of "Week" will chronicle one day in the life of the young couple.

Dobkin Deals With CRISIS
Director David Dobkin (WEDDING CRASHERS, SHANGHAI KNIGHTS) will take on CRISIS next for Fox TV.

The show written by Darren Lemke is an hour long real-time thriller that a terrorist takeover of a luxury resort in Miami's South Beach district. EDITOR'S NOTE: HMMM...WHERE HAVE I HEARD THIS REAL-TIME CONCEPT BEFORE? TV PEOPLE ARE SO FUNNY. SO MUCH ME-TOO'ING. AND THE FIRST ONE OR TWO OF ANYTHING ARE ALMOST ALWAYS THE ONLY ONES THAT MAKE IT. SILLY SILLY TV PEOPLE.

Sandy Grushow will executive produce.

4400's Peters Plans REVISIONS for Touchstone
Touchstone Television has signed a deal with THE 4400's Co-Creator, Executive Producer, and Writer Scott Peters for a new show titled REVISIONS.

The time-travel themed drama centers on a man who finds himself returning to the past in order to prevent disaster in the future. The man is a government special ops agent named David Guthrie, who's recruited to head time travel missions after an incident forces the fed to use the time travel technology. EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS SOUNDS A BIT TIRED, TOO. BUT "THE 4400" ROCKS, SO THE PEDIGREE IS GOOD AT LEAST.

Peters is writing the pilot script. Scott Peters and Warren Littlefield will executive produce.


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