- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 4, 2004

Jones a ‘Catch’ for ABC


Former 7-Up pitchman and FX talk-show host Orlando Jones is, in ABC’s eyes, a “Catch.”

Mr. Jones has signed to star opposite Greg Grunberg in the network’s bounty-hunters pilot “The Catch,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

“The Catch” will star Mr. Grunberg (“Alias”) and Mr. Jones as bounty-hunting partners. “Alias” creator J.J. Abrams, who also worked with Mr. Grunberg on “Felicity,” is writing and executive producing the show, which is targeted for midseason next year.

The show is Mr. Jones’ second of this pilot season; he’s also doing voice work on NBC’s animated “Father of the Pride,” which already has a spot on the fall schedule. Other recent credits include the films “Runaway Jury,” “Drumline” and “Biker Boyz.”

Hallmark’s mini magic

Hollywood Reporter

Hallmark Channel announced its original programming slate, which includes three miniseries and two movies, at its upfront presentation last week in New York.

The miniseries — each featuring two episodes that clock in at two hours apiece — include “King Solomon’s Mines,” starring Patrick Swayze in a romantic action-adventure set in 19th century South Africa. “Mines” airs in June.

“La Femme Musketeer,” also scheduled for June, is a twist on the 17th century French story. The cast includes Gerard Depardieu, Michael York and Nastassja Kinski.

Up, up and away

Reuters News Agency

Fired by Donald Trump? Maybe Sir Richard Branson will hire you.

Mixing a bit of “Around the World in 80 Days” with Mr. Trump’s hit reality series “The Apprentice,” Fox says it has signed a deal with Mr. Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, for a new TV series tentatively called “Branson’s Big Adventure.”

The new series featuring the flamboyant billionaire impresario, best known to the American public for his attempts to circle the world alone in a balloon, is expected to debut later this year.

Fox said Mr. Branson will take “a select group of America’s best and brightest” around the world, reliving his experiences and dealing with business dilemmas. Each week, the network said, one contestant will be left behind while the others continue to globetrot.

But Fox was quick to distance itself from Mr. Trump’s series, which has charged its players with projects such as running a lemonade stand and representing an artist at a gallery show.

“This isn’t about selling a glass of lemonade,” Fox’s top reality executive, Mike Darnell, said in a statement. “In six weeks, these people will experience challenges and adventures beyond their wildest imagination.”

Casting calls

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

Keith Carradine, currently starring as Wild Bill Hickok on HBO’s “Deadwood,” has been tapped to star in “Savages,” an ABC comedy pilot loosely based on Mel Gibson’s family life.

Mr. Carradine will play a fireman who takes care of his five teen sons. Mr. Gibson’s Icon Productions banner is developing the project.

Mr. Carradine won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for the song “I’m Easy,” which he wrote and performed in the 1975 film “Nashville.”

In addition to his “Deadwood” arc, Mr. Carradine also narrates the History Channel’s “Wild West Tech.”

Elsewhere in TV pilot casting developments:

• Steve Hytner has landed a lead role in NBC’s comedy pilot “D.O.T.S.,” which centers on a team of meter maids. Mr. Hytner (“The Haunted Mansion,” “Forces of Nature”) will play the team’s lieutenant.

• Sam Page has nabbed the male lead in Fox’s drama pilot “Point Pleasant,” which centers on a beachside community that turns upside down when a girl (Elisabeth Harnois) washes ashore.

Mr. Page — who also played Meg Pryor’s love interest on NBC’s “American Dreams” —will star as a lifeguard who sees Miss Harnois floating in the sea and dives in to save her.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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