Tori kisses Frog laffer

Nets prep for fall development

Primetime vets Tori Spelling, Tiffani Thiessen and Kelly Rutherford are plotting their returns to the small screen via projects for Fox and the WB, while martial arts thesp Russell Wong (“Romeo Must Die”) has signed on to play the title character in the Tollin/Robbins-produced Frog actioner “The Black Sash.”

Meanwhile, Oscar-winning feature thesp Martin Landau (“Ed Wood”) has signed on for scribe-producer Larry Gelbart’s untitled ABC sudser, Mary Stuart Masterson is joining Paul Attanasio’s Eye copper “R.U.S./H.,” and Fox has found its “Keen Eddie.”

Here are the latest pilot signings:

  • Spelling (“Beverly Hills, 90210”) will star in the tentatively titled WB laffer “Way Downtown,” an ensemble female buddy comedy from scribes Amy Engelberg and Wendy Engelberg. She’ll play an aspiring writer struggling to make a living.

    Skein is from Brad Grey Television in association with Turner Television.

    Spelling, currently onstage with “Maybe Baby, It’s You,” is repped by UTA and Joan Green Management. Thesp’s recent feature credits include “Trick” and “Scream 2.”

  • Thiessen, fresh off a guest stint on “Just Shoot Me,” will play Billy Chambers, the female lead in the Warner Bros. TV-produced Fox actioner “Fast Lane.” Bill Bellamy stars in the pilot, being helmed by McG (“Charlie’s Angels”).

    Thesp, who’s repped by WMA, began her career on “Saved by the Bell” and then starred on “90210.” She’s since transitioned into a comic thesp and will next be seen in Woody Allen’s May release “Hollywood Ending.”

  • Rutherford, an alum of “Melrose Place,” will play a witch in Warner Bros. TV’s “Eastwick,” a drama pilot for Fox based on pic “The Witches of Eastwick.” WMA-repped thesp recently starred in the TBS pic “Acceptable Risk.”

    Newly cast as the sons-of-witches in “Eastwick” are fresh faces Chris Evans (“Not Another Teen Movie”) and Jonathan Bennett (“All My Children”).

  • Landau will play a key adviser to the media family at the heart of Gelbart’s untitled Touchstone Television-produced drama for ABC. Skein is expected to have a knockout cast, with several major parts still to be finalized.

  • Masterson has made detective for the Gary Fleder-helmed CBS pilot “R.U.S./H.,” an hourlong drama from Studios USA centering on an elite squad of the LAPD. Project was penned by Attanasio, who will exec produce with producing partner Katie Jacobs. Masterson, repped by CAA, is currently lensing the pic “Leopold Bloom.”

  • Wong is set to topline the WBTV/Tollin-Robbins pilot “The Black Sash.” Hourlong martial arts drama for the Frog net follows the life of Tom Ballard (Wong), who returns to San Francisco to reclaim his life and family after being released from jail in China, having been wrongfully accused of drug trafficking.

    Robert Kamen is the scribe-exec producer. Dylan Sellers also exec produces, along with the folks at Tollin-Robbins.

    “Getting Russell Wong to do this project is like infusing it with jet fuel — his energy, vibrancy onscreen and martial arts talent make him one of today’s most exciting and athletic performers,” said Tollin/Robbins TV prexy Joe Davola.

    Also joining the “Sash” cast is Ray J (“Moesha”).

  • Mark Valley (“Pasadena”) has snagged the lead role of Eddie in the Paramount TV dramedy pilot “Keen Eddie.” Simon West is helming the pilot, produced by the Littlefield Co. and Wychwood Prods.

    Project revolves around an American cop who goes to London and ends up staying put there. West, scribe J.H. Wyman (“The Mexican”) and Warren Littlefield will exec produce the hour, which will be shot on location in the U.K. Jib Polhemus is also on board as a producer.

  • Newcomer Alexa Davalos has nabbed the role of the U.S. vice president’s daughter, Eliza Randolph, in Jeff Rake’s Secret Service pilot. Character is a law student at Georgetown who, by virtue of her father’s position, is a major part of the Secret Service detail. Untitled project, produced by 20th TV for Fox, follows the lives of Washington, D.C.-based Secret Service agents.

  • It’s gonna be “The Pitts” for Dylan Baker, who is set to headline the 20th Century Fox laffer of that name. Pilot, from Mike Scully and Julie Thaker, revolves around an incredibly unlucky family that seems to face a new disaster every week. Baker stars in HBO’s “The Laramie Project.”

  • Rebecca Gayheart, previously cast on Fox’s Joss Whedon actioner “Firefly,” has bowed out of the two-hour pilot. Search is on for a replacement.

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