Desperate times call for Desperate. . . rip-offs. Eager to create the next Desperate Housewives the most watched new series this season ABC, CBS, Fox, and UPN already have at least 20 prime-time soaps in development for fall 2005. ''When you see Housewives growing in the ratings each week, it shows the entire community there is an appetite for female, character-driven shows,'' says Endeavor TV agent Richard Weitz. Here's the scoop on the soaps and on other trends that have emerged now that the nets have finished buying their dramas for the 2005-06 season.
SOAP'S ON! Fox has one from North Shore's Kevin Falls about a female sports agent, while CBS is working with Nip/Tuck producers Greer Shephard and Michael Robin on a drama about three women who manage a hedge fund.
MESS WITH TEXAS At least two nets are looking deep in the heart of Texas for hits. ABC has two epics: Crude, from producer Ken Solarz (The Handler), and The Brand, from writer Malcolm MacRury (Deadwood). And Fox has a show about an oil family, called Lone Star, from O.C. exec producer Doug Liman.
CRIME TIME With four procedural dramas in the top 10 this year, it's no mystery why the nets are developing more. NBC has a series about a police precrime division starring Ray Liotta; ABC has bought one called The Evidence from West Wing producer John Wells; and CBS is developing Hollywood DOA, featuring a pair of L.A. detectives, from director-producer Brett Ratner (Rush Hour).
ALL THE NEWS THAT'S FIT TO AIR Several series about members of the fourth estate are in development at ABC, including a remake of Kolchak: The Night Stalker from X-Files scribe Frank Spotnitz, a series called Flirt Worthy about an on-air airhead and his hardworking counterpart, and a drama from Legally Blonde producer Marc Platt about a fashion reporter who solves crimes. Oooh, we got one! How about tracking down the perp who's responsible for the horrible return of moccasins?
(Additional Reporting By Scott Brown)