'Middle' on road


ABC is back in "The Middle." The network is bringing back the quirky WBTV-produced single-camera comedy and eyeing Patricia Heaton for the lead.

"Middle," written by DeAnn Heline and Eileen Heisler, tells the story of a middle-class Midwestern family seen through the eyes of the mother. It was developed during the 2006-07 development cycle when it was picked up to pilot starring Ricki Lake but narrowly missed the cut for a series order.

Now ABC is said to have given the project a new cast-contingent pilot order, possibly tied to landing Heaton as the lead.

Picking up a pilot contingent on a specific actor is rare but not unprecedented. Five years ago, CBS picked up the pilot for "Two and a Half Men" contingent on the producers securing Charlie Sheen. (Nellie Andreeva)