Saturday, July 31, 2010

Elliott Gould to Guest-Star on CSI

Oscar-nominated actor Elliott Gould will guest-star in the second episode of CSI's upcoming season, has learned exclusively.

Gould will play an old-school casino mogul who crosses paths with the team when one of his casinos becomes the crime scene. The episode will be particularly important for Catherine (Marg Helgenberger), whose father, Sam Braun, was also a casino boss.

"We will find out more about the legacy Sam left Catherine in that episode," executive producer Carol Mendelsohn says.

Gould, 71, received an Oscar nod for 1969's swinging dramedy Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and has appeared in dozens of other films, including Robert Altman's M*A*S*H and the Ocean's Eleven trilogy, in which he also played a former casino kingpin. On the small screen, he starred in the 1980s sitcom E/R and recurred as Ross and Monica's father on Friends.

Season 11 of CSI premieres Thursday, Sept. 23 at 9/8c on CBS.

'Human Target' sets its sights on 'Entourage' beauty Janet Montgomery

The estrogenizing of Human Target continues.

The Fox action-drama has tapped Entourage‘s Janet Montgomery to join the season 2 cast in a recurring role, sources confirm to me exclusively.

Montgomery will play Ames, an experienced thief who ends up assisting Chance, Winston, and Guerrero on missions.

This marks Target‘s second major female hire. As I reported last week, the awesome Indira Varma has come on board as the new team leader.

Target kicks off its second season on Sept. 24.

Thoughts? Are you more apt to watch Target now that it’s a little more gender balanced? Hit the comments!

'Chuck' : Spoilers, silliness, and a surprise birthday serenade!

Despite the fact that we just chatted six days ago at Comic-Con, Chuck‘s Zachary Levi and I still had plenty to discuss at NBC’s press tour soiree last night. First up: Scoop on Old Spice hunk Isaiah Mustafa’s guest appearance in episode 2. And be sure to stick around for part 2 of the video with the rest of Chuck‘s wacky ensemble. The final 30 seconds are particularly magical, if I do say so myself. 

Scott Patterson on 'Gilmore Girls' reunion movie: 'It probably will happen'

Just as the buzz surrounding a Gilmore Girls reunion project starts dying down, something happens to reawaken the beast. In this case, it’s the interview I conducted last night with the show’s former leading man Scott Patterson. While our conversation was initially focused on his role in NBC’s new serial thriller The Event, it quickly shifted into Gilmore territory. In my defense, I did have the world’s perfect segue: Patterson’s Event son-in-law is none other than ex-Parenthood star Jason Ritter, whose May-December romance with Patterson’s ex-Gilmore love Lauren Graham was one of the high points of the show’s stellar first season… 

Regina Hall & Wanda De Jesus Join 'Law & Order: LA'; Cast Locked In For Monday Start

NBC's new series Los & Order: Los Angeles has locked in its cast, with one day to spare. CSI: Miami alumna Wanda De Jesus and former Ally McBeal co-star regina Hall have landed the last regular roles on the crime procedural, which starts production on Monday. De Jesus will play Lieutenant Arleen Gonzales, the cool and authoritative captain of the LAPD Robbery Homicide Division. Hall will play DDA Eva Price, a gorgeous and brainy bombshell with a strong sense of moral rectitude. The two join previously cast Skeet Ulrich, Alfred Molina, Terrence Howard, Corey Stoll. De Jesus, repped by Diverse Talent and manager Bob McGowan, appears on All My Children. One of Hall’s first acting gigs was a guest spot on New York Undercover co-created by Dick Wolf. The actress, repped by ICM and Principato Young, went on to work mostly in features (Scary Movie, Death At A Funeral). Molina and Howard will alternate as Deputy D.A.s, while Ulrich and Stoll play Detective Rex Winters and TJ Jaruszalski, respectively.

Friday, July 30, 2010

TCA: Is 'Outsourced' Funny Or Offensive?

At today’s TCA session on NBC's Outsourced, the producers and actors made the claim that the already controversial sitcom about a U.S. company that outsourced its call center to India, serves as a “point of departure” for what is essentially a comedy about character rather than ethnicity. One questioner asked pointedly: “If a person were to say that this show traffics in a very large number of Indian stereotypes, would that person be wrong?”

“I would say wrong,” replied a slightly testy Robert Borden, executive producer with Ken Kwapis. “I think where we approach this is certainly not a mean-spirited place. A third of the writing staff is Indian. We’re not wallowing in that kind of stuff that you are insinuating, but we are going to have a lot of fun with relatable characters in a workplace comedy.” Added Kwapis: We’ve all had experience talking to someone working at a call center. What we’re trying to do is put a face to the voice at the other end of the line.”

The producers also addressed questions about whether Americans, faced with massive unemployment stateside, would find outsourcing a less than amusing subject. Replied Borden, “That’s not what the show is about. It’s workplace comedy with a big fish-out-of-water component. If there’s a little bit of risk, is that good? Yeah, I think so. “

Earlier in the day, NBC’s president of primetime entertainment Angela Bromstad said that Outsourced which is set in Mumbai but filmed at Radford Studios in Studio City, will in the future “need to make it less like an office in the Valley and more like it's in Mumbai”. The pilot blended urban Indian exterior shots with local interiors. The producers were asked whether it would have been cheaper to shoot the series in Mumbai instead of LA. They said that perhaps in the long run – but start-up costs would have been much more expensive.

NBC: Mistakes a ’self-fulfilling prophecy,’ ‘30 Rock’ live, early premieres, ‘Idol’

Suddenly, NBC seems like the stable one.

With ABC rocked by entertainment president Steve McPherson's abrupt departure, and Fox in the midst of "Idol"-pocalypse as the network scrambles to play judges roulette, NBC's usually high-drama press tour executive session seemed downright serene.

"We're trying to rebuild, and we recognize some of the mistakes that we've made over the past several years," said entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin. ""We put a lot more money into development this year. We believe we have a lot more stability in the network than in quite some time."

Gaspin reflected on the changes at the network this past year, during which the network briefly turned its 10 p.m. hour over to Jay Leno and lost long-time talent Conan O'Brien to TBS.

"We made too many changes too quickly from a position of weakness," Gaspin said. "And so it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. The goal is to rebuild, get stronger. And then, if we need to make changes at that point, it will be several years down the line. We'll have more information, but we won't be working from such a position of weakness, which really jeopardized some of the decisions that we made."

After the panel, when asked about making any new late night changes, Gaspin said, "I'm done with late night for now. I'm going to focus on primetime."

Given Simon Cowell's departure from Fox's ratings titan "Idol," Gaspin said he said there may be an opportunity for rivals next year.

"I do think 'Idol' could pose an opportunity but I don't think it's specific to a music show," he said. "We don't have to be afraid necessarily to put a good show up against it."

One critic expressed some concern about NBC's most promising fall pilot, "The Event," which critics have worried might suffer the same fate as ABC's similarly ambitious "FlashForward."

"We are going to do everything in our power to guard against the 'FlashForward' [problems]," said entertainment president Angela Bromstad. "We take those lessons very seriously. Audiences and critics will be rightly be skeptical."

Critics also inquired about midseason superhero drama "The Cape" and whether the network learned any lessons from "Heroes."

"'Heroes' was a great show and we had four tremendous years with that and it was a very good business for us," Bromstad said. "One of the things that we found was so much about the discovery of their powers in the first year, this is really more of a procedural and this character in 'The Cape' doesn't have super powers."

Regarding Steve Carell leaving "The Office" at the end of next season, Bromstad said the writers have a plan in place to weave his departure into the show's storyline that will build a mystery around who his replacement will be.

Gaspin added that there's no plans to move another Thursday comedy, "Community," even though CBS' top-rated "Big Bang Theory" was going into its slot this fall.

"'Big Bang' is a great show, and it's going to do very well on Thursday night," Gaspin said. "I'm hopeful that there's room for two comedies. Their audiences are somewhat different, but 'Community' has been there for the year. The audience is accustomed to watching it there. We're going to wait and see what happens."

The executives were asked a couple times about McPherson's departure, with one critic awkwardly asking if the duo have any "experience" with sexual harassment.

"Me? No," said programming president Angela Bromstad, drawing laughs. "I have no inside information about anything going on at ABC."

"I've not had any experience with it personally, and not been involved in any case of it," said Gaspin.

Also, NBC made a few announcements:

-- With the traditional September premiere week turning into a particularly intense shoot-out this year with nearly every new program premiering during the same week, NBC is launching a couple shows early with a sneak preview of Jimmy Smits legal drama "Outlaw" after the Wednesday finale of "America's Got Talent." Also, the second season of "Parenthood" will launch early, Sept. 14, after the second-to-last episode of "Talent."

-- The "30 Rock" cast will perform a live episode on Oct. 14.

-- Terrence Howard will join the increasingly notable cast of "Law & Order: LA" alongside Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich and Corey Stoll.

-- Rob Lowe now a full-time cast member on "Parks & Recreation."

-- Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey's production company, renewed its overall development deal with Universal Media Studios. Deal includes a pilot for UK import "Prime Suspect."

Why ‘Undercovers’ cast two black leads

NBC's "Undercovers" creator Josh Reims said that when he sat down with executive producer J.J. Abrams about their new spy show, he got the "Alias" question out of the way.

I said, 'We're not doing 'Alias,'" Reims said. "And J.J., to his credit, would say, 'Yes, if I go too far in the confusing, mythological whatever, craziness, just stop me.' So that was the extent of our discussions about 'Alias.'"

Critics at press tour were particularly interested in how the show came about casting two black leads. Was it part of a master plan or completely by happenstance? Turns out, a little of both.

"We didn't go out of our way to say 'we're hiring two black people to be the leads of the show,' but we certainly did not ignore the fact that it would be great if we could do that and if we found actors who were great enough," Reims said. "And luckily, we found [them]. We don't consider that we're, you know, revolutionizing TV, but at the same time, we do realize it is a big deal. We all wish it wasn't such a big deal at this point ... but unfortunately that's the way it is right now."

Star Boris Kodjoe added: "It is important that we get a chance to be trailblazers or door openers or whatever you want to call it. On the other hand, let's inspire people to regard it as normal so that more and more people don't consider it taking a chance, but just being creative."

'Cougar Town': Former 'Friends' Cox and Aniston poised to reunite

Courteney Cox is cooking up something bigger than a title change to lure viewers to the undiscovered gem that is her ABC comedy Cougar Town: Jennifer Aniston!

After a year’s worth of will-she-or-won’t-she speculation, Aniston is nearing a deal to reunite with her former Friends costar (and real-life BFF) in an early episode of the show’s second season (premiering on Sept. 22), sources confirm to me exclusively.

ABC declined to comment, while Cougar Town executive producer Bill Lawrence would only say, “I would love for it to happen but there’s nothing to talk about yet.”

This would mark only the second time the pair have worked together on a scripted series since Friends went off the air in 2004. Their first reunion was in 2007, when they re-teamed for an episode of Cox’s FX dramedy Dirt.

Cox’s other female Friend, Lisa Kudrow, played a dermatologist during the show’s first season.

Thoughts? Psyched to see Cox and Aniston work their magic on CT? Hit the comments!

TCA: 'Event' Team Asks For Viewers' Trust

The panel for NBC's The Event often evoked 24 and Lost and understandably so as the new NBC serialized thriller about a government conspiracy is touted as a potential successor to the iconic dramas that bowed out in May. It also has 24 veteran Evan Katz as showrunner. “The show won't be as dark (as 24) but there will be the same intensity, the same roller-coaster ride that provokes visceral response to what you watch."

Producers fielded a lot of questions about how they will sustain viewers' interest in a dense serialized drama. The biggest questions in the pilot will be answered in the second episode, Katz said. (The received strong reaction at Comic-Con last week.) Creator Nick Wauters, who admitted to being influenced by Lost and 24, stressed that “we will try and reveal as many answers as we can as we go and set up more mysteries. "But you have to go on faith that we know what we’re doing," he said. "As a viewer myself and a fan of Lost, I ask for people’s trust."

Eddie Cibrian joins NBC's 'Chase'

Eddie Cibrian has rebounded from his CSI: Miami dismissal with a multi-episode arc on NBC’s new drama Chase, sources confirm to me exclusively.

The actor will play a bounty hunter in at least two episodes, the first of which will air in October.

Chase centers on a team of U.S. marshals that hunt America’s top fugitives.

Bones Scoop on New Serial Killer and More!

I was the first to tell you that Bones, in Season 6, will be introducing its third recurring serial killer (after Gormogon and Gravedigger). Now I have exciting new details to share about this baddie. He'll be a sniper — just like Booth was before he teamed up with Brennan!

"You have to be incredibly cold and calculated to be a sniper," says Emily Deschanel, who is already mourning the loss of one squintern whom series creator Hart Hanson says will be taken out by the sniper. "I don't want anyone to die."

The fourth episode of the new season sounds like a strange one — and of particular interest to fans of the supernatural. "It will appear to Brennan that she is solving her own murder," Hanson says. "She is looking at a body and slowly realizes it's her, which leads her to rethink her entire life." This is no dream, insists Hanson. "She'll try to keep it hidden from Booth for as long as she can, and will ultimately change how she approaches him."

The far-out concept appeals to Emily Deschanel, who tells me, "I'm intrigued by this. It sounds very creative. I'm sure they'll be some fear for Bones, which she'll try to overcome with scientific analysis."

The season premiere (Thursday, September 23) will open with glimpses of Booth in Afghanistan, Brennan and Daisy in the Maluku Islands and Angela and Hodgins in Paris. "Brennan and Daisy are looking for evidence of cross-breeding between two ancient species of man," says Hanson. Meanwhile in Afghanistan, "Booth is playing lifeguard. We see him training other people. And in Paris, Angela and Hodgins are having exactly the life they wanted. Why would they ever come back to solve crimes in D.C."

Expect Booth to brings back a souvenir from the battlefield in the form of new love interest, war correspondent Hannah Burley. David Boreanaz, who will be directing Episodes 10 and 16, says he read with three women up for this recurring, open-ended role, but it worked best with actress Katheryn Winnick. "There's good chemistry — a lot of trust and very relaxed," he says. "The network has final say, I just give my influence." As for what his character likes about Hannah, Boreanaz says, "she likes being out in the field and has a big sense of adventure. Things he sees in her he also sees in Bones. It'll be an exciting opening. One thing I'm promoting this year is getting some more action involved. In five seasons, I think they've used 10 percent of the action I'm capable of doing."

Of course the action fans most want is between Booth and Brennan. And in the premiere, it seems Brennan wants that too. "She's had a lot of time to think in the Maluku Islands and contemplate her future, and I think she regrets having said 'no' to Booth," says Deschanel. "I think him having a new girlfriend will complicate that, but she loves him and wants him to be happy."

Shonda Rhimes: Grey's Anatomy Docs All Grown Up in New Season

Normally, people who finish med school and save other peoples' lives for a living are considered adults — that is, unless they're Doogie Houser. Or on Grey's Anatomy. After six seasons, the show's creator, Shonda Rhimes, says her characters are finally becoming adults — and that their problems will only get more grown-up.

Private Practice's Caterina Scorsone heading to Grey's Anatomy What can you tell us about the upcoming season of Grey's Anatomy?
Rhimes: With both Grey's and Private Practice, we've got two really exciting seasons coming up. It's been really fun to sit down and plan them. Our characters are growing up on Grey's. They're really adults now and that's been a real challenge, in how to let them be grownups and figure out what that means for them. Meredith's miscarriage in the finale was heartbreaking. Now that she knows she wants to have a baby, will that be a focus for her this season?
Rhimes: It's possible. The theme for the entire season of Grey's this year is rebirth, so extrapolate from there. James Tupper is coming in as a trauma counselor for the first three episodes. Are there any characters in particular taking it harder than others?
Rhimes: I think they're all taking it pretty hard in their own individual ways. We talked about it a lot, and the fact that there's this group of people that's been extraordinarily damaged by this experience. That's what's going to be carrying them forward, and it will change how they view their jobs, view themselves and view their relationships with one another. A lot of them were about to die. I think they're all fairly damaged and trying to recover. Do you look at Lexie (Chyler Leigh) as the next Grey of Grey's Anatomy?
Rhimes: I have to be honest, I'm not really thinking of it that way. I don't think that's a conscious thought on my part, that we're trying to feed a new Grey of Grey's Anatomy. We have Meredith Grey, she is here and won't be going anywhere for the next two seasons. I haven't really been thinking about filling the shoes of somebody who's sitting right in front of me. The Lexie, Mark (Eric Dane) and Alex (Justin Chambers) love triangle definitely got complicated. What's ahead for them?
Rhimes: A lot of people like to see a lot of people with Mark. I get a lot of mail about why Callie [Sara Ramirez] isn't with Mark, why Addison [Kate Walsh] isn't with Mark. Mark is a very juicy, interesting character and we're going to try to explore what happens next for both of those characters in a really interesting and, hopefully, a very non-predictable way. After making sacrifices for each other in the finale, will we see a happy Callie and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) in the new season?
Rhimes: Callie and Arizona are going to be together; I don't know if happy is the right word. We're going to see them struggle with their relationship, where it's going and what that means for them. The reality of the situation is that they are two people who are trying to settle down together and figure out what that means. That's going to be really interesting to watch unfold

It’s official: Paul Lee is ABC’s new president

ABC officially just announced that ABC Family chief Paul Lee has been named president, ABC Entertainment Group.

Like former ABC entertainment chief Steve McPherson, Lee will have oversight of both the network and studio.

“Paul was hired six years ago because of his great creative instincts and his ability to identify an audience and develop programming that resonates with them, and those same strengths are why he was tapped for this new responsibility," said Disney-ABC TV Group president Anne Sweeney. "Paul’s success at ABC Family is as amazing as it is indisputable, and I’m looking forward to his continued success on ABC.”

Said Lee: “I’m proud of everything we achieved at ABC Family, and I’m looking forward to working with another great team at ABC Entertainment Group to bring even more compelling stories to viewers. ABC is a great network defined by creativity and known for delivering some of the best shows on television. I’m excited to be part of it, and deeply honored to be chosen for the unique opportunity to lead the network and the brand into the future.”

'Cougar Town' keeping its title

So much for my Family Jules idea.

The exhaustive search for a new title for ABC’s Cougar Town—one that better reflects the show’s evolution from single-woman-on-the-prowl sitcom to dysfunctional-family comedy—has been scrapped, exec producer Bill Lawrence confirms to me exclusively.

“I’m not changing the title,” Lawrence tells me. “We never thought of a good new one, which kind of sucks. And when you look at the modern landscape of television, changing the title means changing your DVR and all this other stuff.”

Lawrence says he’s hopeful the publicity surrounding the proposed title change will “get the message out” that Cougar Town has become a different (and vastly improved) show.

“It’ll be a funny burden to have,” he shrugs. “It might be the worst titled show of all time.”

Thoughts? Do you agree that it’s too late to fix the show’s broken title? Are you comfortable telling your friends that your favorite comedy is called Cougar Town? (I am!) Sound off below!

Terrence Howard To Join 'Law & Order: LA'

Terrence Howard is boarding NBC's upcoming Law & Order spinoff, Law & Order: Los Angeles, joining Alfred Molina, Skeet Ulrich and Corey Stoll.

Howard will play a new Deputy D.A. who will work alongside Deputy D.A. Morales (Molina). I hear Howard and Molina will be splitting the workload, each appearing roughly in the half of the episodes thus allowing the show to feature big feature names and the actors to stay active in movies.

Ulrich and Stoll play Detective Rex Winters and TJ Jaruszalski. Production on LOLA is slated to begin on Aug. 2 for a Sept. 22 premiere.

TNT Renews 'Closer', 'Rizzoli' & 'Leverage'
No surprise here: freshman Rizzoli & Isles and veteran The Closer have been on fire since getting paired on Monday earlier this month. Leverage also has been a solid performer for the network, showing growth in its new Sunday slot. No word yet on freshman Memphis Beat and Hawthorne. Here is TNT's release.

TNT has ordered new seasons of three of the network’s hit series. The Closer, which continues to rank as ad-supported cable’s #1 series of all time, will return for its seventh season. Rizzoli & Isles, which currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date, will return for a second season. Leverage, which is performing exceptionally well in its new Sunday timeslot, will be back for a fourth season. TNT has ordered 15 episodes each of The Closer and Leverage, along with 13 episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, with all three slated to start their new seasons in 2011.

“TNT has enjoyed tremendous success on Sunday and Monday nights with Leverage, The Closer and Rizzoli & Isles,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TNT, TBS and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). “All three shows feature terrific casts, sharp writing and top-notch production teams. We look forward to continued success with new seasons in 2011.”

The Closer

The Closer is averaging 7.1 million viewers in its sixth season, up 7% compared to last season. The July 12 season premiere was watched by 7.7 million viewers and ranks as ad-supported cable’s top scripted series telecast for the year-to-date. The Closer is produced for TNT by The Shephard/Robin Company, in association with Warner Bros. Television. The series was created by James Duff, who serves as executive producer with Greer Shephard, Michael M. Robin, Rick Wallace and Kyra Sedgwick.

Rizzoli & Isles
Rizzoli & Isles, which is based on the crime novels by best-selling author Tess Gerritsen, stars Angie Harmon (Law & Order) as Boston detective Jane Rizzoli and Sasha Alexander (NCIS) as medical examiner Maura Isles.

With 7.1 million viewers, Rizzoli & Isles currently ranks as cable’s #1 new series for the year-to-date. The July 12 premiere of Rizzoli & Isles was watched by 7.6 million viewers and holds the record as cable’s #1 commercial-supported series launch of all time. Rizzoli & Isles is produced for TNT by Warner Horizon Television, Janet Tamaro’s Hurdler Productions and Bill Haber’s Ostar Productions. Tamaro (Bones, Lost) and Haber (TNT’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, TCM’s upcoming Moguls and Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood) serve as executive producers, along with Joel Fields (Ugly Betty). Michael M. Robin (TNT’s The Closer) is a consulting producer.


Leverage is currently averaging 4.1 million viewers in its third season, showing growth among young adult demos when compared to the second season. For the first five episodes this summer, Leverage has grown its total audience by 60% when compared to live viewing (33% compared to Live + Same Day). Leverage is executive-produced by Dean Devlin (Independence Day, TNT’s The Librarian trilogy) and creators John Rogers (Transformers) and Chris Downey(The King of Queens). The series is produced for TNT by Devlin’s Electric Entertainment.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

HBO Develops 'Band' Comedy With Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Lizzy Caplan

HBO is teaming with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez and actress Lizzy Caplan to develop a comedy series project based on actress/writer Julie Klausner’s memoir I Don’t Care About Your Band. The project is eyed as a potential starring vehicle for Caplan, who is coming off Starz’s cult comedy series Party Down. The book, a gritty but comedic look at what it’s like to navigate the dating world in your 20s, chronicles Klausner’s experiences from her preadolescent sexual awakenings through the unsavory details of sleeping with a gallery of losers throughout her 20s.

Gary Sanchez’s Owen Burke brought the book to the company’s Jessica Elbaum, who recently received an Emmy nomination for executive producing Ferrell's You're Welcome America HBO special. (She also exec produced the one-man Broadway play the special was adapted from from.) Elbaum started developing the project with Caplan. Gary Sanchez’ Ferrell, McKay, Chris Henchy and Elbaum will executive produce Band, with Caplan and Burke producing.

Band expands Gary Sanchez’ relationship with HBO. The CAA-repped company produces HBO's comedy series Eastbound & Down, which is returning for a second season. HBO also owns a stake in Gary Sanchez’s successful comedy web site Funny or Die, which spawned a Funny or Die-branded sketch comedy series on the pay cable channel.

Caplan, repped by CAA and Benderspink, recently completed Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours and indie Queens of Country. She got a lot of praise for her guest starring stint on the CBS comedy pilot Mad Love but declined to stay on as a regular on the show, which was picked up to series for midseason.

Press Tour: Highlights from 'Gossip Girl' panel

In attendance: star Ed Westwick and exec producers Stephanie Savage, Josh Schwartz, and Joshua Safran.

* My French sucks, but the first-look trailer we were treated to of Blair and Serna’s Parisian adventure was très magnifique! (How’d I do?) The juiciest spoilers from the clip: Blair pushes Serena into a fountain and Blair and Chuck have a tense rendezvous inside some famous train station.

* Savage pitched Warner Bros. the idea for the pricey remote via a sizzle reel that intercut generic images of Paris with scenes from the show.

* Westwick was so “blown away” by new love interest Clemence Poesy that he had a hard time distinguishing fiction from reality. I hope Jessica Szohr isn’t reading this. On second thought, I think they broke up.

* The third episode of the season will feature a Fashion’s Night Out-themed plot.

* Asked about the extent of Michelle Trachtenberg’s commitment this season, Savage teased, “You will be seeing more of Georgina Sparks in more ways than one.” I smell nudity!

* Jenny’s return later this season will be full of “drama,” said Savage.

* When the show returns, Gossip Girl will be MIA. “[Her site] will be under construction” ahead of a major relaunch that will add “some new features she’s never had before,” revealed Savage.

* “We definitely have ideas about where we want things to end,” said Savage of the show’s eventual series finale, “but we tend to go season-to-season.” Elaborated Schwartz: “We know what the island is… Manhattan.” (Additional reporting by Vlada Gelman)

Corey Stoll Joins Cast Of 'Law & Order: LA'
Salt co-star Corey Stoll has landed the detective co-lead opposite Skeet Ulrich on NBC's upcoming Law & Order spinoff Law & Order: Los Angeles. He joins previously cast Ulrich and Alfred Molina. Stoll will play Detective Rex Winters' (Ulrich) partner TJ Jaruszalski, a confident Hollywood native with a cynical view of the entertainment industry, a health nut with an active social life. LOLA is scheduled to begin production Aug. 2. Corey guest starred on the mothership Law & Order series and did an arc on NCIS.

'How I Met Your Mother' shocker: Season 6 kicks off with 'game-changing moment'

The new season of How I Met Your Mother, executive producers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas tell us, will be more like early ones, less like the most recent one. Oh, and like nothing you’ve seen before.


“We’ll be, from the first episode on, exploring a new saga for these characters,” says Bays. “There’s going to be a big game-changing moment in [that] episode.“

Game-changing as in the rewind in the series’ mythology that we’ve all heard about? Nope, says Thomas. “We’re taking a little trip forward…to get a glimpse of a huge, huge day in Ted’s life. It’s actually going to make it like a whole new story.”

“And we’re going to have actual mythology,” Bays adds with a laugh. “There’s going to be a Minotaur…a griffin. It’s crazy.”

All kidding aside, the dynamic duo are looking ahead to the show’s inevitable conclusion. “We have an idea of where [the series] will end up,” insists Bays. “We’re just going to have to ask the audience to trust us.”

Adds Thomas: “If HIMYM is a three-act play, this is kind of the beginning of the third act. [In it, there’s] going to be…a huge push that will lead us into the last big chapter.”

Thoughts? Got a fresh theory re: the identity of HIMYM’s mother? And do you think returning guest star Rachel Bilson plays a part in the premiere’s “game-changing” event? Place your bets below!

TCA: Showtime's 'Dexter' To Depart From The 'One Bad Guy A Season' Formula

The cancer theme from Showtime's C Word panel carried over to the Dexter panel where star Michael C. Hall was asked about his cancer treatment. The actor, now back at work on Season 5, answered like a consummate professional: "I was thankful that the hiatus managed to coincide with my treatment, I didn’t have to miss beat."

Hall was very frank when asked whether he feels remorse for playing sympathetic antihero Dexter who may encourage people to kill. "I don’t lose sleep over the possibility that I’m advocating serial murder through my work," he said. "It’s undeniable he’s killing people.. most of us live in LA, we’ve been in traffic, we get that impulse... If I hear a comment like that and I’m in the room, I just nod and smile and say I hope this helps lessen the flames in you, that it’s therapeutic."

The producers of the Emmy-nominated drama discussed changes on the show following the climactic Season 4 finale. In Season 5, Dexter will undergo a process of “atonement,” stressing that it would be atonement, not a nervous breakdown, since he has now has to cope with the responsibilities of being a single father. The show will also depart from having a single guest “bad guy,” along the lines of John Lithgow this past season, in favor of having Dexter interact with several guests stars on his road to atonement.

Executive producer Sara Colleton called the showrunner transition from Clyde Phillips, who left at the end of last season, to Chip Johannessen “seamless” because he was a big fan and watcher of the show. She added that after four years it was “time for fresh blood.”

As for lingering speculation that Julie Benz, whose character was killed off, may return to the show, "we can say no, absolutely," Colleton said. "It would fundamentally harm the DNA of our show." But Johannessen didn't quite dismiss the possibility that the actress could appear in a flashback. ”You’ll be seeing her more than dead in the bathtub, for sure.“

'24' baddie Clayne Crawford joins Alan Ball's new HBO drama 'Death'

All signs point to Clayne Crawford landing a major role in Alan Ball’s HBO drama pilot All Signs of Death.

Based on Charlie Huston’s best-selling crime novel, Death revolves around a slacker-turned-crime scene cleaner (Ben Whishaw) who gets entangled in a murder mystery. Crawford—who recurred as Katee Sackhoff’s psycho stalker on the final season of 24—will play his BFF, a sexy greaser who runs a tattoo parlor. Crawford is currently appearing on A&E’s The Glades.

CBS President: Network Adding More Gay Characters to Its Shows

CBS will introduce more gay characters on its scripted programs in response to recently receiving a failing grade from GLAAD, CBS President Nina Tassler said Wednesday.

"I'm very disappointed in our track record so far," Tassler said at the Telvision Critics Association fall previews. "We know and we will do better."

Tassler said The Good Wife will introduce the gay brother of Julianna Margulies' Alicia in the new season. She also added that there would be a recurring gay character on S#*! My Dad Says and that Jeff and Audrey (Patrick Warburton and Megyn Price) will choose a lesbian surrogate on Rules of Engagement.

"Once you come out of your pilot development season disappointed with yourself, you go into the current series season and look for every opportunity we can to improve the numbers we have represented in the cast," Tassler said. "We're going to do that, and we'll continue to focus on that as we go into development season. We're not happy with ourselves."

"It is encouraging that CBS shares our disappointment in the network's lack of gay and transgender representation and we are hopeful that the new characters will help build awareness and understanding of our community among viewers," GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios said in a statement. "After two years of receiving a 'failing' grade and a commitment last year to be more inclusive, we hope that CBS President Nina Tassler makes true on this promise to bring the network more in line with the industry standard.'"

As for Good Wife's Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), who has been very private about her perceived bisexuality, Tassler said the show will keep viewers guessing. "As long as people keep talking about it, we don't want to spill the beans just yet," she said.

Other highlights from Tassler's executive session:

• Despite the network's success, Tassler said "we're restless and motivated and, as I like to say, paranoid" heading into the new season.

• Tassler applauded her network for a diverse development season. In addition to S#*! My Dad Says coming from a Twitter feed, Tassler said The Defenders was originally pitched as a reality show about two Vegas attorneys. The network decided to develop it as a scripted drama instead.

• Answering criticism about Hawaii Five-0's grittier look and feel, Tassler insisted that the show will feel more like the original as the series progresses. "You have to look at the audience that is going to remember the original show," she said. "You want to be respectful. ... It's still a small island. Everybody there knows each other — good guys, bad guys. Those story engines are still very much there."

• On adding network CEO Leslie Moonves' wife, The Early Show and Big Brother host Julie Chen, as a co-host of the network's new daytime talk show: "We talked about people with profile, and Julie has a terrific reputation," Tassler said. "The bottom line is the executive producer of the show, Sara Gilbert, said, 'What about Julie, would she be interested?'"

• Tassler said she's not worried about David Letterman leaving the network once his contract is up. "As long as Dave is happy, we're very happy to have him there," she said.

Vampire Diaries' Julie Plec: The Love Triangle Becomes a Square

Villain vampire Katherine, who once turned the Salvatore brothers into sexy undead fangers, has returned to Mystic Falls — and boy, is she ready to cause some trouble. Vampire Diaries executive producer Julie Plec reveals that while the boys will discover her true identity quickly — since there was that little mix-up in the finale when Damon kissed Elena, but it was really Katherine! — the love triangle will get even more complicated in Season 2. Get the scoop on the new season below: Nina Dobrev will be taking on two characters at the same time in the new season, playing both Elena and Katherine.
Plec: Nina is one of the nicest people in the world, and she makes the joke that Katherine is Nina on a Saturday night. Nina on a Saturday night is definitely feisty, but by no means an evil, manipulative, horrible troll. For her to be able to play both the moral center and soulful, compassionate character, and then the narcissistic, selfish, manipulative, naughty minx is big for her. What is Katherine's goal this season?
Plec: She sets her sights on basically making sure that the Stefan [Paul Wesley] and Elena love story hits a snag. It's going to be fun seeing Stefan and Katherine come up against each other. Obviously it's fun to see Damon [Ian Somerhalder] and Katherine because there's a lot of history there, too, but the triangle becomes the square. How long will it take Stefan and Damon to figure out it's not Elena?
Plec: They both know within the first 15 minutes of the first episode. Damon realizes he was duped, and Stefan comes face-to-face with Katherine. The fun of it is how Stefan responds to the moment, as opposed to how Damon responded to the moment. You spent all of Season 1 leading up to Founders Day. What is the arc of Season 2?
Plec: What I loved about what Founders Day gave us is that we had this small town that was building up to its big anniversary, and the long arc of the show is that history repeats itself. We're going to do something like that this year, but we haven't landed on exactly what it is. What came with the decision to kill off vampire Anna (Malese Jow) in the finale?
Plec: That is something, believe it or not, that Kevin [Williamson] and I never faltered on. We introduced the character knowing that her exit would [have] the most profound impact on Jeremy and Damon. For Damon, it was a glimpse of his humanity in that moment — he wanted to help her. We definitely knew she was there to make our heroes grow to a new level. We did it from a pure place and did it for a real reason. Jeremy (Steven R. McQueen) is now so immersed in the vampire world, so what will we see for him this season?
Plec: We refuse to say what happens to Jeremy other than the fact that he's "alive." Regardless of that, the most important thing for Jeremy is that he's going to come out the other side of this with a much, much deeper and much stronger sense of himself. He's going to be asking what his purpose is on this planet, so to speak. It's all because of all the loss: parents, Vicki, Anna, and then his own desire to end his own human life. How close will you stay to the novels as you carry on?
Plec: The deeper we get into the series, ironically, the more we're going to be taking from the books. That's cool because we strayed so far so quickly, just by definition of trying to shape a good story in the right way for television. To find ourselves naturally returning to the source material and the villains that you met, it's kind of awesome.

Hawaii Five-0 Creators: Don't Call Our Show a Remake

Hawaii Five-0 is not, we repeat, not a remake of the original series, the producers stressed at the Television Critics Association fall preview on Wednesday.

"For me, the word remake suggests we're doing exactly the same thing," said executive producer Alex Kurtzman. "What we felt like we really had to do was make sure we stay true to the original spirit of the show, but bring something new to the table that modern audiences would recognize. For us, that's why the word 'reboot' just feels more appropriate."

While the new series certainly pays homage to the original, star Alex O'Loughlin is confident that they'll stand apart from Jack Lord's McGarrett and Co. "I don't think we feel like we have to do anything, we will stand out from the original. It's 50 years later," he said. "We pay homage to the old show and we come at it with the grace, respect and integrity that we do so we can go off in different directions."

One difference the audience will notice is that Danno (Scott Caan) won't be playing second fiddle to O'Loughlin's Steve McGarrett, but rather the pair will be on more equal footing. "We felt that we needed McGarett to play off somebody," said executive producer Peter Lenkov. "The Danno character really felt like he'd be a good foil in some ways. By design, originally, it was that these two guys would be front and center on the show."

One of the things that won't change is that Hawaiian scenery will always be a prominent part of the show. "Hawaii is the fifth character on the show; Hawaii is the fifth Beatle," said Kurtzman. And as for the iconic Five-0 theme song, production sought out the musicians from the original recording to recapture the same essence. "Why mess with something that's perfect?" Kurtzman added.

Jennifer Grey makes a 'House' call

No one puts Baby in a corner…except Gregory House.

Dirty Dancing‘s Jennifer Grey will find herself in a no-win situation when she guest-stars on House this fall, sources confirm to me exclusively.

Grey—who begins work on the House set today—will play Abbey, the mother of an infant daughter who is displaying signs of a life-threatening illness. As House and Co. investigate her daughter’s developing symptoms, Abbey is faced with a treatment decision for her newborn that could affect not only her baby’s life but her own.

Her episode is scheduled to air in mid-October.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

'CSI: NY' boss promises 'a noble exit' for Stella

CSI: NY‘s former leading lady Melina Kanakaredes may not be returning to wrap up her storyline, but producers still plan to give Stella a dignified send-off.

“We’re giving her a noble exit,” says co-executive producer Zachary Reiter. “We chose not to go the route of killing her off or having her go missing. We felt that would weigh too heavily on the team.”

According to showrunner Pam Veasey, viewers will learn in the show’s Sept. 24 premiere—which picks up several months after the finale—that Stella relocated to New Orleans. “She left to run a lab there,” says Veasey. “And she picked that city because it’s the city of Katrina, the city of BP oil, the city where people are looking for someone to lend a hand.

“She’ll essentially be Mac in New Orleans,” she continues. “We wanted to do something that was respectful and made a lot of sense.”

As previously reported, Emmy winner Sela Ward has been taped to fill the void left by Kanakaredes.

'Medium': Season premiere will be Freaky

Medium will kick off its seventh season on Sept. 24 with its freakiest episode to date.

“The season premiere is basically Freaky Friday,” explains executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron, “which is to say Allison becomes her 13-year-old daughter Bridgette, and Bridgette becomes her thirtysomething mother Allison.”

Medium‘s 11th hour renewal last May came as quite a shock to Caron, who “killed” his leading lady off in the finale (she was, of course, resurrected in the end). “I did that because I thought it might be the end,” he says. “The problem with the way the business works is the decision to renew or not renew comes very late—well past when the script is due. So I wanted the episode to have some sense of finality.”

That begs the question: What does Caron have planned for this season’s potential (and likely) series finale? “I have no idea,” he shrugged. “I’m still trying to figure out episode 5.”

The Future of Big Bang, The Good Wife, Charlie Sheen and More...It's CBS' Day to Schmooze the Critics

We love us some Big Bang Theory. And hey, we know loads of people love Two and a Half Men too.

But lest there ever be a class-off between the stars of Chuck Lorre's two hit CBS comedies, you should hear what BBT's star Kaley Cuoco told reporters today.

CBS rolled out stars from its new and returning fall series in Beverly Hills today, as the 2010 Television Critics Press Tour kicked off, and here's what you need to know about what went down:

The Big Bang Theory: Everyone's beloved Big Bangers made their post Comic-Con appearance today, bringing along even more scoop for the masses. Like what, you ask?

Um, like the return of Wil Wheaton and Wolowitz's onetime ladylove Bernadette. "He's evil," Bill Prady teased of Wil. "He's Sheldon's mortal enemy." And Melissa Rauch makes a comeback, although it's still unclear as to what her relationship with Howard will be.

Speaking of Sheldon, someone braved the topic of Jim Parsons' character having some sexytime with returning love interest Mayim Bialik (Blossom!), and Jim responded: "I don't know the answer to it, but I wouldn't hold anything past anybody at this point. I might have said no for sure six months ago, but I never thought we'd even stumble upon a female that he communicated with. [And] we did that." And all Chuck Lorre would say is, "He'll have a very specific relationship with Mayim." Uh-huh. Sure.

And before you broach to subject of those much-talked about contract negotiations with Kaley or Jim, think again. This cast is far too classy and tactful to discuss such things. Unlike the most recent tactics of a certain Two and a Half star, it seems they'd prefer to keep their bargaining details out of the press.

"We have people that kind of help us with that and take care of it," Kaley responded. "I mean, I'm doing next season for free. I don't know about you guys. I just figure it would make things a lot easier." Like we said, class-ay!

CBS Executive Session: Head gal-in-charge Nina Tassler chatted with critics and responded to the recent failing grade from GLAAD (gulp!). Nina promises more sexually diverse characters on the way in the coming season. "We're very disappointed in our track record so far," Nina admitted. "[But] we know we will do better...You're going to meet Alicia's brother in The Good Wife, a gay character. We're also going to be adding a new character to Rules of Engagement. Jeff and Audrey's surrogate will be a member of Jeff's softball team, and she's a lesbian. We're also going to be recurring a character in $#*! My Dad Says, [played by] Tim Bagley."

Also exploring a new side of her sexuality in the coming year is The Good Wife's Kalinda (Archie Panjabi). "You [won't] see it in the first part of the season, but you will later on," Nina tells critics. "People love speculating about her personal life and her sexuality, so as long as people keep talking about it, we don't want to spill the beans just yet."

Nina also made known that Two and a Half Men fans need not fret over Charlie Sheen's availability despite his ongoing criminal case. "We happen to have a really wonderful relationship with [Warner Bros.] and there's been no indication that there will be any interruption to the delivery of the episodes or to production." According to sources, he will be able to make it on set when the show resumes production next week.

Hawaii Five-O: With Comic-Con survivors Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park hard at work back on the island, CBS fave Alex O'Loughlin and Entourage's Scott Caan chatted up critics Tuesday afternoon to talk about their new series—which is not a remake, just so you know!

"For me, the word 'remake' suggests we're doing exactly the same thing," explained show runner Alex Kurtzman. "And in our experience in Star Trek we felt like you have to find the spirit of what that original franchise was about, and you have to really be true to it, then you have to expand on it and bring it into the modern time with whatever rules will govern it."

Scott revealed that he did not go back to rewatch the original series in hopes to make his character Dano his own. Alex tuned in a bit, but only enough to get a sense of who MacGarrett was.

Fun fact: Peter Lenkov dubbed DDK "the unofficial mayor of Waikiki," thanks in large part to his Lost history in Hawaii.

Mike and Molly: Alright you guys, listen up. We all know you've seen the promos for Chuck Lorre's latest TV venture, but please, please do not mistake it for a show about being overweight (like, ahem, some critics in the room may have). Seriously.

"It's about real people with real issues trying to have a relationship," Chuck explained. "Television would normally have cast Chris O'Donnell and Courteney Cox as the people who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. But in this case we had the courage and the wisdom to cast people that are just people. They're trying to make their lives better, and find someone that they can love and be loved by." Well said, C.L.

But for the record, both Melissa McCarthy (Gilmore Girls!) and Billy Gardell (who couldn't be more endearing in real life) are still grateful. Says Billy: "These men are incredibly gracious to put someone who's not 'normal'-looking in the middle of the show, and I know Melissa feels the same way too. When you're a fat guy in Hollywood, you're the bad guy, the cop, or the neighbor. That's what you're doing."

The Defenders/Blue Bloods/$#*! My Dad Says: CBS' newest cop/legal drama-ramas (and Twitter operation) all showed up here today, too, with TV vets Jim Belushi (so funny), William Shatner and Tom Selleck in the house, plus two of our faves Donnie Wahlberg and Jerry O'Connell.

Like what you see? Hope so! Fill us in in the comments section, and stick around for coverage from your favorite shows all week.


'How I Met Your Mother': Rachel Bilson returns

Rachel Bilson will reprise her role as the titular mama’s roommate, Cindy, on CBS’ How I Met Your Mother, creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas confirm to me exclusively.

Bilson will appear in the show’s sixth season premiere this fall. Cindy shows up at MacLaren’s bar, the favored hangout of Mother‘s group of friends. Her presence will heavily inform the show’s first episode back, Bays and Thomas teased.

Are you excited for Bilson’s return? Are you hoping this means a return to Ted’s quest for his future wife?

USA Renews 'In Plain Sight' For 2 Seasons

USA Network has picked up drama series In Plain Sight for two more seasons, bringing the U.S. marshal show’s run on the cable network to five seasons. The main cast, including Mary McCormack, Frederick Weller and Paul Ben-Victor, are all set to return to IPS, which will continue to film in New Mexico. The series recently wrapped up its third season, which averaged 5.2 million viewers, 1.8 million in them in the adults 18-49 demographic. This is probably the first in a series of renewals expected at USA over the next few weeks, as the network's original series are once again performing strongly this summer. The two-year pickup for IPS mirrors a similar two-year renewal USA gave to its flagship drama Burn Notice earlier this year. 

TCA: Notes From The CBS Exec Session

CBS is first up at TCA, and the network's entertainment president Nina Tassler was the first to get the Steve McPherson question this morning. Asked to comment on McPherson's exit from ABC yesterday, she said: "Dammit, he got out of doing press tour." Tassler noted that she is looking forward to "a case of Chardonnay over the holidays," a reference to McPherson's wine business, before adding, "He is a great guy, a good friend, and I wish him the best." After the official presentation, Tassler was asked to compare McPherson's wine and the wine made by another TV bigwig, 20th Century Fox TV chairman Gary Newman. "I think Steve's is better," she said jokily. It's probably good that the network already completed negotiations with Newman for Chaos.

Tassler faced questions about casting Julie Chen, wife of CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, on the network's mom daytime panel talk show pilot and especially for CBS' recent decision to pick up the pilot to series over 3 other candidates. BTW, the show now has a title, The Talk (if there weren't enough parallels to The View already) Tassler said it was the the series' creator/executive producer Sara Gilbert who suggested casting Chen. As for the pickup to series, "I made the decision," Tassler said. "I don’t think Les is unhappy with it,... but show screened great and tested the best of all the pilots." Tassler went further after the Q&A session. "The elephant in the room is that Julie is on the show, but she happens to be terrific on the show," Tassler said. "She shouldn't be penalized for being married to the CEO."

CBS recently received another failing grade from GLAAD for the representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people on its shows. "We're very disappointed with our track record; we're not happy with ourselves," Tassler said, noting that there will be 3 gay/lesbian characters added to returning CBS series next season, including a gay brother to Alicia on The Good Wife.

Tassler also defended the lack of strong female representation on CBS' new series that feature predominantly male leads, pointing to the addition of Janeane Garofalo as a lead on the upcoming Criminal Minds spinoff.

'Has ever been a show more aptly named," Tassler said when asked to comment on the drama surrounding the midseason pickup of Chaos, stressing that it does not reflect the realities of business dealings between vertically integrated companies.

She also said that Two and a Half Men star Charlie Sheen's legal problems won't affect the production of the show and that CBS is planning to air episodes of the original Hawaii Five-0 on Spike leading to the premiere of the remake in September.

'Big Bang' Renegotiations Update: The Two Sides Are Talking But Nowhere Near Deal

One week before CBS’ hit The Big Bang Theory is scheduled to go back into production on Season 4, I hear the main cast is still nowhere near a deal in their salary renegotiations with producing studio Warner Bros. TV. But actors, at least most of them, are expected to report to work when filming starts next Wednesday as their contracts stipulate.

I hear the studio went to the 3 stars of the show, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, about a month ago with an offer for $100,000 an episode. While that is a sizable bump from what the trio most recently made (around $60,000 an episode), that number is way lower than the $250,000 per episode range that has been speculated about by industry insiders given Big Bang’s high ratings, its importance to CBS as a new Thursday 8 PM anchor and mostly because of the show’s recent record-breaking syndication sale by Warner Bros. of $2M+ per episode.

I hear the reps for the actors didn’t respond to the offer, leading to 3 weeks of radio silence between the two camps. The silence was broken a couple of days ago, following Comic-Con where the Big Bang cast was among the most popular attractions and heading into start of production next Wednesday and CBS’ TCA presentation today. I hear it was WBTV that reached out to the actors and there has been some back-and-forth but no new money offer is on the table. I hear complicating things is the fact that Parsons has separated himself from the others as he reportedly pursues a bigger paycheck. (He, Galecki and Cuoco continue to be represented by the same law firm, Hansen, Jacobson, Teller, Hoberman, Newman, Warren & Richman. (As I stated before when that was only a possibility, I believe the three actors can accomplish a lot more if they stick together the way the Friends cast did years ago.) From what I hear, while not specific, talks between the two sides are pretty civil and there could be a breakthrough before Aug. 4. If not, negotiations are expected to continue while the actors are working. That would be in contrast to the case with the Friends cast who demanded salary increases to about $100,000 each per episode after the first two seasons and threatened to boycott production of Season 3 episodes if they didn't get what they wanted. They eventually did.

The Big Bang cast took a light approach when asked about the state of renegotiations at the show's TCA panel today.

“I don't think any of us really even know what's going on,” Cuoco said. “We have people that help us with that and take care of it. I mean, I'm doing next season for free. I don't know about you guys. I just figure it would make things a lot easier,” she said, drawing laughs from the audience. “But, no, we all have people behind the scenes that we pay to take care of this so we won't have to deal with it. And I think it will all be find in the end. This is just the way it goes.”

Added Parsons: “My people work for free,” leading to another zinger, this one from co-star Kunal Nayyar: “I don't have any people." (Nayyar and Simon Helberg are also expected to renegotiate their deals, probably after Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco complete theirs.)

Also at TCA today, CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler was optimistic that “things will work out” the way they did on another WBTV-produced comedy series, Two and a Half Men, which recently went through negotiations with star Charlie Sheen. The Big Bang situation is actually less complicated because the actors are under existing contracts whereas Sheen's deal was up.

'The Mentalist' recruits 'FNL' grad to play Jane's brother-in-law!
This next casting scoop gets the Aushole seal of approval: Former Friday Night Lights scene-stealer Kevin Rankin (it’s Herc!) is joining CBS’ The Mentalist in the potentially recurring role of Danny Ruskin, Patrick Jane’s (Simon Baker) brother-in-law.

“He’s a hustler, a con artist, a ladies’ man—a cunning ne’er-do-well,” explains Mentalist EP/creator Bruno Heller. “Through his sister, he has an emotional hook in Jane that he’s not afraid to tug at when it serves his nefarious purposes.”

Rankin will debut in this season’s second episode, slated to air on Sept. 30.

In other Mentalist casting news, Van Pelt’s getting a new lover. Maybe. Click here for the deets.

'Parenthood': Season 2 spoilers from the set

The Television Critics Association Press Tour kicked off Tuesday with a visit to the set of NBC’s second- best drama (after Friday Night Lights, natch), Parenthood. The entire Braverman clan, save for Mae Whitman, who was at the premiere of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, was on hand to answer questions, including one about balancing story lines for the sprawling cast. “We’re planning on killing them off one episode at a time,” executive producer Jason Katims joked in response. “I wanted to start with the [premiere], but [NBC president of prime-time entertainment] Angela Bromstad wisely encouraged me to wait until sweeps.”

All joking aside, here’s some intel we gathered on the new season…
Adam, Sarah, and Gordon: Adam will be getting some new co-workers, as well as an expanded workplace set, next season. One of those new employees? His own sister, Sarah! “I’m sure she’s going to make a lot of mistakes and annoy her brother,” said Lauren Graham. Further complicating matters will be Adam’s boss, Gordon (the newly cast Billy Baldwin), who will begin to date Sarah. Graham described Baldwin’s character as an “appealing yet dangerous” playboy with a heart.
Sarah and Amber: As previously reported, Amber will be getting a new, upper-crust BFF, which brings out Sarah’s jealous side. “We’re doing a story line where Amber’s always at her friend’s house and Sarah’s trying to figure out a really cool thing to take the kids to,” Katims teased. But this new friend won’t be as perfect as she sounds. “There’s the question of whether this girl might wind up having some stuff going on that starts to challenge the friendship.”
Julia and Joel: A second child? They’ll consider it!
Crosby, Jasmine, and Jabbar: “What we want to explore in the second season is the challenges of a long-distance relationship,” Katims said of the trio. “Is it going to work out for this family?”
Haddie, Amber, and Steve: Steve won’t be back with Amber when the show returns. Haddie, meanwhile, will get a new love interest from the other side of the tracks.
Zeke and Camille: The heads of the Braverman clan will be working on saving their marriage, which starts comedically in marriage counseling.
The ex factor: There are no plans to bring back Sarah’s ex-boyfriends Jason Ritter and Mike O’Malley, who are busy with The Event and Glee, respectively, but the door remains open to them.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Starz aims to raise $1 bil for programming

It is called Operation Turbo.

Starz Entertainment CEO Chris Albrecht and his associates have been meeting with potential partners throughout the world to raise $1 billion of off-balance-sheet financing for original programming, sources said.

Starz parent Liberty Media gave Albrecht the task of raising the money needed to greatly increase original programming on the Starz pay services, as competitors HBO and Showtime have done.

As part of Operation Turbo, there have been meetings with Studio Canal in France and the BBC in London, among others, but the economic climate is making everyone careful.

"This has been met with great enthusiasm from potential partners, but so far no deals have closed," a source close to Starz said. "Negotiations continue."

Under the deal being pitched, the partners would create a new company that would license to Starz all domestic and some international rights, with the investor taking all other international rights. The programs created would have global appeal like this year's well-received Starz series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."

The maneuvers are the latest overseen by Liberty Media chairman John Malone and CEO Greg Maffei, who during the past year have rethought their corporate structure and especially their plans in the entertainment business.

Plans to plunge into the movie business, which seemed like a good idea in 2007, turned sour with the recession. Liberty since has mostly moved out of theatricals, and Malone has made comments indicating that his big push will be into global cable TV systems.

On Friday, Liberty/Starz unloaded Overture Films and its overhead -- employees, offices, etc. -- to Relativity, breaking up the bundle known as Starz Media that had been shopped this year. The bids apparently weren't what Liberty hoped, coming in at $150 million-$200 million. That not only was below the $225 million it was seeking but also far less than it had invested.

Liberty retains the 16 movies in the Overture library, which have contracts worth about $170 million in receivables. That will be used in part to cover nearly $80 million in leftover third-party and bank borrowing done by Overture.

With Overture gone, Starz Media consists of Anchor Bay, Film Roman and Starz Animation.

Anchor Bay is a home video distributor with a library of 3,500 titles, mostly exercise and self-help product along with some movies. Most of the films that have sold well during the past couple of years have come from Overture, which stopped making movies in January. Anchor Bay continues to do limited domestic releases for a handful of acquired theatricals each year, as it has done this year with "City Island."

Paul Lee to head ABC programming

A major exec shakeup is taking place at the Alphabet net, where ABC Entertainment Group prexy Stephen McPherson has been asked to resign. ABC Family topper Paul Lee is expected to move up to a top programming job at ABC.

Speculation is mounting inside Disney that ABC Family prexy Paul Lee will be promoted to a top programming job at ABC.

McPherson , who oversees the Alphabet's entertainment programming and the ABC Studios operations. had been rumored to be on the Disney hot seat for months, although most expected that the conglom wouldn't make a change until at least the fall. Rumors started to spread of McPherson's exit on Tuesday afternoon, as the exec -- who had been on vacation -- was scheduled to return to the office on Monday. When he hadn't returned by Tuesday, speculation about his departure began to mount.

The shuffle now threatens to overshadow this week's TV Critics Assn. press tour, which kicks off Wednesday with CBS. ABC's press tour segment takes place on Sunday, Aug. 1 -- and the Alphabet's executive session will now likely be the most-attended one of the tour.

McPherson was most recently president of the ABC Entertainment Group, having expanded his domain in January 2009. As part of his expanded duties, he oversaw both ABC Entertainment programming and ABC Studios. He had overseen ABC Entertainment since 2004.

It's unclear whether McPherson's replacement will inherit both, or if the studio and network will once again be divided.

McPherson served as one of the architects behind ABC's 2004 recovery, having headed up Touchstone TV as it developed megahits like "Desperate Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy." Later, after he took over ABC Entertainment, McPherson was credited with guiding the marketing campaigns that pushed "Housewives" and "Lost."

But McPherson's track record has been spotty more recently. He managed to launch a comedy block this year – something ABC had been lacking – thanks to the success of new hit "Modern Family." But ABC struggled to duplicate the success of "Lost." And as "Housewives" and "Grey's Anatomy" age, the net is in need of a few new femme-centric hits.

McPherson has also frequently clashed with Disney/ABC TV Group topper Anne Sweeney; the two held a shaky peace, but industry observers expected that relationship to eventually lead to McPherson's exit.

Nonetheless, McPherson's exit shocked Hollywood on Tuesday, as any potential ABC shuffle was expected to take place down the road, if at all. And definitely not a few days before TV Critics Assn. press tour, as reporters have now been given free reign to hype ABC's woes.

Stephen McPherson Resigning from ABC!

UPDATE 5:10 PM: Details to follow. The ABC Entertainment Group president overseeing both ABC network and ABC Studios has been in the job since January 2009 overseeing ABC Entertainment since 2004. Our understanding is that there is no immediate replacement. He had a little over a year left on his contract which expires in September 2011. His last negotiation was rife with rumors that he would resign if he were not given Touchstone (aka ABC Studios) which was then run by Mark Pedowitz, who found himself ultimately moved aside because of McPherson's manuevering.

To put it mildly, McPherson has been one of the most controversial network entertainment executives to fill the job. That's mostly because of his lack of interpersonal skills. It's no exaggeration to say he has spent a good deal of his tenure pissing off a lot of people, both internally like his boss Anne Sweeney (the president of Disney/ABC Television Group) and externally (like showrunners, agents, managers, etc.) But what kept him in the job was that he was considered creatively talented. However, under his watch, ABC has failed to launch a tentpole drama to succeed the departing Lost or the aging Desperate Housewives. After years of trying, he did find success on the comedy side this past season with Modern Family; however it's a show produced by 20th Century Fox Television and not by ABC Studios.

4:45 PM: Deadline has just heard "something's going on" involving ABC Entertainment Group President Steve McPherson who has been the subject of rumors for many months now. McPherson had been on vacation for several weeks and hasn't yet returned. More when we get it.

AMC Pilot 'Hell On Wheels' Finds Its Leads

Anson Mount has landed the lead in AMC's period drama pilot Hell on Wheels. Meanwhile, Irish actress Dominique McElligott has been cast as the female lead in the Western, set during the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. The project centers on Cullen (Mount), a former slave owner and a Confederate soldier determined to avenge the rape/murder of his beloved wife by tracking and killing the Union soldiers who killed her. Fearless, Cullen winds up working on the Nebraska prairie's Hell on Wheels' portion of the transcontinental railroad. McElligott will play Lily Bell, an intelligent woman taking care of her ill husband who is part of the team of surveyors mapping the railroad's course. In the pilot, Mount and McElligott join recently cast rapper-actor Common.

Mount, most recently seen in the feature Cook County, on which he also served as producer, just wrapped production on Straw Dogs and Burning Palms. On TV, he co-starred on the NBC/Dick Wolf series Conviction. McElligott recently wrapped The Guard and Blackthorn. Hell on Wheels was created and written by Joe and Tony Gayton and developed by Endemol USA. The Gaytons and Endemol USA's Jeremy Gold executive produce; Entertainment One's John Morayniss and Michael Rosenberg oversee production. David Von Ancken is directing the pilot, which is scheduled to begin production in August in Alberta, Canada.

'Battlestar Galactica' sets up a Young Adama spinoff

Those who've been hoping for a new chapter of the "Battlestar Galactica" story may get their wish.
An online series called "Blood & Chrome" is in the works, one that would follow the experiences of a young William "Husker" Adama in the first Cylon War.

According to Mark Stern, Syfy's executive vice president of original programming and the co-head of original content for Universal Cable Productions, "Battlestar Galactica" and "Caprica" co-executive producer Michael Taylor will write the the script for the new venture.
"Blood & Chrome" is "about a young man's initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media," according to Taylor.

"Blood & Chrome" would consist of nine or 10 episodes of nine or 10 minutes each, and it would make use of cutting-edge digital technology and special effects to depict the Cylon War. If it is greenlit to production, it will be filmed using green screens and virtual sets, not unlike Syfy's "Sanctuary" or James Cameron's "Avatar." Before "Battlestar Galactica" ended, high-tech scans were made of all the show's sets, so that the special-effects team will be able to re-create them (possibly even in 3D).

"I've seen the virtual, 3D version of CIC ['Battlestar's' Combat Information Center] and it's pretty damn cool," Taylor said. "And yet the movie isn't confined to Galactica. Far from it. It's a story that will take us to new corners of the 'Battlestar' world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I'm thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq--the reality of 'Hurt Locker,' Sebastian Junger's 'Restrepo,' and similar movies--as I am about about the largely implied past of 'Battlestar.'"

Though Taylor said he'll strive for the kind of emotional engagement that was the hallmark of "Battlestar," which ended in 2009, expect lots of of cliffhangers and visceral suspense as well. "We're not going to be shying away from R-rated blood and guts and sex," Taylor noted. "Because this is initially meant to air online, we pretty much have no restrictions in that department."
It's not known yet if "Blood & Chrome" would star Nico Cortez, the actor cast as young Adama in "Razor," a previous "Battlestar Galactica" movie. There may be one other character from "Razor" in the new online series, but it would feature a mostly new cast.

If "Blood & Chrome" is successful, it could be the first a series of similar projects, and if it's judged very successful, it could even act as a backdoor pilot for a TV show set in that war-torn "BSG" era.

Speaking of the Cylon War, "Caprica," a Syfy drama that depicts events that lead up to that conflagration, visited Comic-Con over the weekend.

Judging by the Season 1.5 clip shown at the start of the show's panel, when "Caprica" returns in January, it will have a lot more action, narrative tension and drive. The show, which was disappointingly uneven in its first set of episodes despite its strong cast, certainly needed all those things. 

Now that "Caprica's" world and characters have been established, the show's challenge is to "create situations and dramatic milieu as intense and riveting as what we did on 'Battlestar,'" executive producer David Eick said at the Comic-Con panel. That's the goal for the second half of the first season and for the second season, if the show gets one.

In Season 1.5, James Marsters will return as terrorist Barnabus Greeley, Scott Porter will be back as polygamist Nestor Willow and John Pyper-Ferguson will return as Tomas Vergis, a business rival of tech titan Daniel Graystone.

Barnabus is "looking out on a society that's eating itself alive as far as he's concerned. …. He's disgusted," said Marsters, who was on the panel (and who, by the way, confirmed that he'll reprise his role as Brainiac in the 200th episode of "Smallville").

"Caprica" will also return to New Cap City, a virtual game that was effectively showcased in Season 1's most compelling episode, "There Is Another Sky." That hour found Tamara, a character who was dead in the real world, trapped in a videogame in which she found she had special powers.

Virtual worlds like New Cap City will be important as the show moves forward, as will the robots that Daniel Graystone created in the wake of his family's personal trauma. Creating a slave class of robots will have serious consequences for Caprical going forward.

And in the second half of the season, viewers will see many more iterations of Zoe, the young woman who was instrumental in the creation of the Cylons. When it comes to what Zoe does in the second half of the season, "I don't think you're expecting what's going to happen," actress Alessandra Torresani said at the panel.
Will "Caprica" get a second season? Ronald D. Moore, "Caprica" co-creator and executive producer, said on the panel that he "firmly believes" it will. That decision will be made in coming weeks by Syfy executives.

One last tidbit related to the "Battlestar" world: Taylor is also developing a potential Syfy pilot for Scott Stuber's Stuber Productions. It's tentatively called "The Watchers," and it deals in the kind of contemporary social and political issues that "Battlestar" frequently explored.

It's set in the world of corporate espionage, and the characters at the center of the drama worry about the power they've been given to spy on the lives of ordinary citizens -- yet having such power also allows them to do good as well.

'Parenthood': Billy Baldwin to romance Lauren Graham!

With her insanely charming teacher beau (a.k.a. the awesome Jason Ritter) otherwise engaged on NBC’s The Event, Lauren Graham has been assigned a new boyfriend on Parenthood. And he’s rather famous!

Sources confirm to me exclusively that Billy Baldwin is nearing a deal to join the cast as Adam’s (Peter Krause) boss and a love interest for Graham’s Sarah.

NBC declined to comment, but an insider tells me that Baldwin—who recurred on Gossip Girl last season as Serena’s MIA dad—would appear in multiple episodes of the sophomore drama.

Thoughts? Does Baldwin have what it takes to fill Ritter’s shoes? Sound off below!

‘Community’ creator: We’re terrified over ‘Big Bang’

"Community" creator Dan Harmon says his team is "terrified and humbled" to go up against CBS' mega-rated "Big Bang Theory" on Thursday nights this fall.

"I hope I don't get destroyed," Harmon said. "I think there's room for both. I think we're like little containers of peas in that frozen dinner, but we're not quite the Salisbury steak." Full video interview below:

‘Sons of Anarchy’ season three trailer
A first-look at the third season of FX's acclaimed hit drama "Sons of Anarchy," which returns Tuesday, Sept. 7. FX showed this to fans at Comic-Con and got a great response from the crowd. "We're the good guys" ...

'Glee': Cheyenne Jackson is the new joins
30 Rock’s Cheyenne Jackson is joining the cast of Glee in a major recurring role, sources confirm to me exclusively. What role would that be? Keep reading for the scoop!

Jackson—who was a hoot and a half in Broadway’s Xanadu—will succeed Idina Menzel as the coach of Vocal Adrenaline.

Jackson has been on a bit of a roll as of late. In addition to 30 Rock, he also landed a guest stint on the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And now he’s on the hottest TV show on the planet.

Enrique Murciano off ABC's 'Map'

Enrique Murciano will be missing from ABC’s Off the Map when it premieres this fall.

The Without a Trace alum has been dropped from the cast of the Shonda Rhimes-produced doctors-in-paradise drama, sources confirm to me exclusively. I’m told Murciano was let go for creative reasons and the role will not be recast.

The news comes a week after Twilight‘s Rachelle Lefevre signed on to Map as a series regular.

'NCIS: LA': Eric Christian Olsen upped to series regular

This just in: CBS confirms that Eric Christian Olsen—who recurred on NCIS: LA last season as LAPD liaison Marty Deeks—has been promoted to a full-fledged series regular.

“We are thrilled to have Eric join the cast,” said executive producer Shane Brennan in a statement. “He has already proved himself to be a great asset and invaluable member of the team, and Eric’s fans will be delighted to see what we have in store for him.”

NCIS: LA‘s second season kicks off with a two-hour episode on Sept. 21.

Sons of Anarchy Takes On the IRA in Season Three

Irish eyes won't be smiling when SAMCRO rolls into Belfast.

Sons of Anarchy helmer Kurt Sutter revealed at Comic-Con Sunday that he's taking his show on the Ireland!

If you saw the devastating season-two finale, you know the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club isn't planning a riding tour of the Emerald Isle. So what is on the agenda? Sutter and stars Charlie Hunnam, Katey Sagal and Ron Perlman gave us a few clues...

"We are obsessively and unrestingly trying to find the kid and answer this horrific violation," Perlman told us about Clay and the club's focus this season, which picks up several days after the season-two finale.

"Our pursuit of Abel really breaks open the world," Hunnam said SAMCRO's journey to Ireland. "John Teller had a lot to do with Ireland and the origin of gun running and the Sons of Anarchy. So, it's through us going to Ireland, inevitably, we learn a little bit more" about Jax's father and founder of the club.

The SOA stars were less forthcoming about the fate of Jax and Tara, but it's not looking good: "I think it's a darker Jax than we've seen thus far," Charlie said.

Sutter confirmed that True IRA leader Jimmy O (Titus Welliver, aka the Man in Black) will appear in at least eight episodes, along with Kenny Johnson (Saving Grace and The Shield), Paula Malcomson and James Cosmo. Hal Holbrook will also be introduced this season as Gemma's dad, Katey said, "and we find out a little bit more about why a sweet girl like Gemma joined a motorcycle club."

While the boys are in Belfast, Gemma is running from the law: "I'm away from my family, which is exactly the thing [Gemma] hates the most," Katey told us. "The thing she loves the most is being with her family...I love how [fans] respond to the family nature of the show."

The show hits close to home for Katey: Kurt Sutter is her husband. "I really created this role not just for [Katey], but really as a result of her," Kurt told us, "and influenced by what a strong, maternal presence she has. And not that she's hittin' people with skateboards to protect my kids, but she's a pretty fierce mom."

Sons of Anarchy returns September 7 on FX. Are you revved up to see the return of Gemma and her fierce family?

CSI: Miami's Emily Procter is Pregnant!

CSI: Miami star Emily Procter, 41, is expecting her first child with musician Paul Bryan, 43, her rep confirms exclusively to TV Guide Magazine.

According to CBS, Procter's pregnancy will not be written into the upcoming season of CSI: Miami, premiering Sunday, Oct. 3 at 9/8c.

Common Cast In AMC Pilot 'Hell On Wheels'

Rapper-turned-actor Common is set for his first regular TV gig, landing a lead role in the AMC period drama pilot Hell on Wheels. Common has become the first actor cast in the Western, which centers on the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. He will play Elam, a freed slave who comes west seeking work on the railroad and his place in the world. As a half black, half white man he does not completely belong to either world.

“Common brings a layered intensity to a very complex role,” AMC's SVP programming Joel Stillerman said. “This part required someone who can transcend the stereotypes of the period and bring the character to life in a truly unique way, and he brings that."

Grammy winner Common most recently starred in the movies Just Wright and Date Night. His feature credits also include American Gangster, Wanted and Terminator Salvation. Hell on Wheels was created and written by Joe and Tony Gayton and developed by Endemol USA. The Gaytons and Endemol USA's Jeremy Gold executive produce; Entertainment One's John Morayniss and Michael Rosenberg oversee production. David Von Ancken is directing the pilot, which is scheduled to begin production in August in Alberta, Canada.

Monday ratings: Fox dramas, ‘Bachelorette’ dip

Monday night's ratings were led by a special "Men Tell All" episode of ABC's "The Bachelorette," a non-competition round that saw an expected ratings drop from last week.

"Bachelorette" (8.9 million viewers, 2.8 preliminary adults 18-49) was down 18%, while still leading the night. After, an ABC News "Stories Behind the Rose" special (6 million, 1.8) won its hour.

CBS dramas placed second. NBC's lineup included "Last Comic Standing" (4.5 million, 1.7), up 6%. "Dateline" (5.5 million, 1.7) climbed 21%.

Fox's "Lie to Me" (5.5 million, 1.6) and "The Good Guys" (3.6 million, 1.0) were down 11% and 9%, respectively.
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