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Whitaker developing drama series for FX

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New Whitaker series about arms dealers
Following his acclaimed run as an internal affairs detective on FX’s The Shield, Forest Whitaker is re-teaming with the network on a new drama series he will executive produce and direct. The untitled project is being described as a Sopranos-like drama set in the world of arms dealers. It is currently being written by Jeremy Martin and Matthew Donlan, who previously teamed for Joan of Arcadia. Whitaker, who entered his first TV commitment since The Shield with this new series, will executive produce with Emmy-winning producer Cary Brokaw (HBO’s Angels in America, Wit) and veteran drama writer-producer Eric Overmyer (Law & Order), who will also oversee the writing. Whitaker’s upcoming features include Vintage Point, Winged Creatures, and The Night Watchman. (Hollywood Reporter)

USA doing Thank You For Smoking series
USA Network is doing a TV adaptation of the 2006 movie Thank You For Smoking. The as-yet untitled show, which will probably go by a different name, will pick up where the film left off with Nick Naylor, having kicked some of his more evil lobbyist habits, using his rhetorical skills to help people more deserving of aid. James Dodson is writing the script, which Room 9 Entertainment’s David Sacks is executive producing via Universal Media Studios. Sacks produced the movie. (Variety)

Rhames, Koechner join Piven in The Goods
Ving Rhames (Mission Impossible) and David Koechner (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, The Naked Trucker and T-Bones Show) will appear alongside Jeremy Piven in The Goods: The Don Ready Story, directed by Neal Brennan for Paramount Vantage. The story is about a used car liquidator who is hired to save a struggling dealership over the Fourth of July. The movie is the first comedy to result from Paramount Vantage’s deal with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Prods. Production is set to begin in December. Rhames next will be seen in Steve Miner’s Day of the Dead and Evil Angel, written and directed by Richard Dutcher. Koechner’s upcoming movies include Get Smart and Jake Kasdan’s Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. (Hollywood Reporter)

NBC, Kwapis doing Outsourced TV adaptation
NBC has made a script commitment to a new, half-hour comedy series based on the indie feature Outsourced. Ken Kwapis (The Office, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants) is set to direct and executive produce the show, which is about a customer service manager from Seattle who is sent to India to train a group of call-center employees. The ShadowCatcher Entertainment-produced Outsourced movie, directed by John Jeffcoat, who will write and produce on the TV adaptation, premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. Kwapis is currently directing the ensemble comedy He’s Just Not That Into You for New Line. He directed the pilot of The Office along with last season’s ”Gay Witch Hunt” episode, which earned him an Emmy nomination. (Variety)

Friday Night Lights debut gets decent ratings
The second season premiere of NBC’s Friday Night Lights tied CBS’ first-season drama Moonlight for its hour’s lead on Friday (Oct. 5) among young adults. Lights averaged a 2.2 rating/7 share in adults 18-49 and 6.5 million viewers overall, tying in the demographic with week two of vampire detective drama Moonlight on CBS (2.2/7 in 18-49, 8.3 million). Competition for both shows will pick up this week when ABC premieres its new crime drama Women’s Murder Club. (Variety)

Latifah doing cameo in Vegas
Queen Latifah will make a cameo appearance in the Fox feature comedy What Happens in Vegas … , starring Ashton Kutcher and Cameron Diaz. The romantic comedy is about two people who discover after a night of debauchery in Vegas that they’ve gotten married, with one of them hitting a jackpot after playing the other’s quarter. The nature of Latifah’s role is being kept under wraps. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stranger Than Fiction writer doing ABC drama pilot
Writer Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction) is setting up Rockville 2020, a one-hour drama project at ABC. He will produce with partner Jim Garavente via their Gang of Two production company. The show is about a midsize town in Oregon that tries to get a bid for the 2020 Olympics. (Variety)

Mitchell tapped for Code
Rahda Mitchell (Finding Neverland) will star opposite Morgan Freeman and Antonio Banderas in the drama The Code, which Mimi Leder is directing for Nu Image’s Millennium Films. The story is about a veteran thief who recruits a younger crook to help him pull off one final job in order to repay his debt to the Russian mob. Shooting will get underway later this month. (Variety)

Vega, King join Miller’s Spirit
Spanish actress Paz Vega and Jamie King have joined the cast of Frank Miller’s (300) adaptation of Will Eisner’s The Spirit, co-produced by Lionsgate and Odd Lot Entertainment. The story is about a rookie cop who returns from the dead to fight crime from the shadows. Vega will play the knife-wielding Plaster of Paris, and King will portray Lorelei, a phantom siren. Already cast are Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Samuel L. Jackson, Gabriel Macht, Sarah Paulson, Dan Lauria, Stana Katic, Johnny Simmons, and Louis Lombardi. Production begins this week for a scheduled Jan. 16, 2009 release. Vega is also in pre-production for The Six Wives of Henry Lefay. (Variety)

Deal or No Deal heading to syndication next fall
NBC Universal confirms that its game show Deal or No Deal will head to syndication in fall 2008 with Howie Mandell as host. The syndicated version will enable contestants to win up to $250,000, as opposed to the $1 million offered in primetime, and each episode will be self-contained and faster-paced. (Hollywood Reporter)

CELEBRITY NEWS

People.com: Pamela Anderson married Rock Solomon on Saturday (Oct. 6) night in Las Vegas at the Mirage Hotel before Anderson’s children and members of her family. It is her third marriage.

Billboard: Lil Wayne was arrested in Boise, Idaho, on a felony fugitive charge after authorities in Georgia accused him of possessing a controlled substance. The 25-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., was arrested after his Friday concert at Qwest Arena and booked into the Ada County jail.

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