Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sneaking in a NON-Oscar post.....TV News

Alums back for 'Wing' sendoff
Rob Lowe and eight other "West Wing" alums are set to return for the White House drama's final episodes.

After many rumours, whispers, hearsay and gossip, Variety has confirmed that Rob Lowe will indeed be returning to TV's "The West Wing", to see out the end of the series.

His character, Sam Seaborn, will appear in the final two episodes of the series. Lowe, who last played Sam Seaborn in the show's fourth season, has since then starred in the skeins "Dr. Vegas," "The Lyon's Den" and "Beach Girls."

Lowe initially left the series because he felt "that there was no longer a place for Sam Seaborn on The West Wing", stressing that he felt the network didn't consider his character very important in the scheme of things, and that he wasn't happy with the amount scribbled on his weekly paycheque (requests for a rise were also rejected). The series cast actor Joshua Malina (TV's "Sports Night") in his place.

Lowe isn't the only old face returning to the show. Mary-Louise Parker, Gary Cole, Tim Matheson and Annabeth Gish, will appear in one or more of the final five segs, adds the trade.

ABC schedule shifts include 'Alias,' 'Faith'
ABC unveiled some late midseason schedule shuffling that will send returning series "Alias" and "Hope & Faith" to new nights.

"Alias," which is in its final season, is moving from Thursday to Wednesday at 8 p.m.EDITOR'S NOTE: EST. AS USUAL. beginning April 19. The spy drama took a brief hiatus from its 8 p.m. Thursday slot beginning in January, when "Dancing With the Stars" made a successful run in its time slot. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO...DON'T CALL ON WEDNESDAYS FROM 7P TO 9P (CST)!

"Faith," which has struggled on Fridays, will move to Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m. beginning March 21, following "According to Jim."

ABC also said it has postponed the premiere of the new drama "What About Brian" for two weeks, slotting a sneak preview April 16 after "Desperate Housewives." The next day, it will settle into its regular time slot at 10 p.m. Monday.

In addition, ABC has scheduled its four-hour miniseries "The Ten Commandments" in successive two-hour installments April 10 and April 11. The network confirmed that the drama "Invasion," which is stepping out of its 10 p.m. Wednesday slot to give new hour "The Evidence" a try, will return to the schedule April 19. EDITOR'S NOTE: SO.....YA GOT ALL THAT? (MY HEAD HURTS....)

Ted Danson is in final negotiations to topline ABC's comedy pilot "Help Me Help You" and, separately, to do a seven-episode arc on NBC's upcoming dramedy series "Heist."

In other pilot castings, Hope Davis has joined ABC's drama "Six Degrees," Victor Garber has come on board Fox's drama "American Crime,"EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY! WE LOVE VICTOR! Michael Landes is set to star opposite Bonnie Hunt EDITOR'S NOTE: YAY! WE LOVE BONNIE! in her untitled comedy for ABC, and RonReaco Lee has joined NBC's untitled Willie Reale drama.

Additionally, Amanda Righetti and Bess Wohl have joined ABC's drama pilot "Enemies," Rachael Harris, Michael Weaver and Melanie Paxon have joined ABC's comedy "Notes From the Underbelly," Tamara Taylor has come on board the untitled Peter Ocko drama for CBS, and Sean Maguire has been added to CBS' comedy series "The Class." EDITOR'S NOTE: LOTS OF PEOPLE I'VE NEVER HEARD OF! (WOOHOO).

Cox dishes 'Dirt' role for FX pilot
Courteney Cox has lined up her next leading role, signing on to star in the FX drama pilot "Dirt," the project she is executive producing with husband David Arquette and creator Matthew Carnahan.

Additionally, Will McCormack has landed a role in the project, while Margo Martindale, Shannon Woodward, Aidan Mitchell and Noel Fisher have been tapped for roles in another FX pilot, the drama "Lowlife."

"Dirt," which explores the world of tabloid journalism, will revolve around Lucy Spiller (Cox), the editor in chief of two top tabloid magazines; a schizophrenic paparazzo; and a struggling actor trying to make a name for himself. McCormack will play Leo, the brother of Cox's character.

"From the start, as an executive producer on 'Dirt,' Courteney has shown tremendous passion for this project," said Nick Grad, executive vp original programming at FX. "We are absolutely thrilled that Courteney has chosen 'Dirt' for her return to series television."

Spencer in focus of 'Eyes'
Abigail Spencer has been cast as the lead in Lifetime Television's tentatively titled "Emily's Eyes," which has been given a 13-episode order by the female-targeted cable network, sources said. EDITOR'S NOTE: LIFETIME.....TELEVISION FOR WOMEN WHO AREN'T ME.

The hourlong procedural drama, from NBC Universal Television Studio, centers on a tough-as-nails FBI agent (Spencer) in her mid-20s who can sniff out liars. The series will follow the character as she seeks to right the wrongs of her parents, who are CIA operatives serving time in prison for treason. It's believed that the series is targeted to premiere in the summer. Dan McDermott and Scott Shepherd are writing "Eyes." They also are serving as executive producers along with Bull's Eye Entertainment principals Tom Nunan and Cathy Schulman

CBS' 'Shark' lands prey: Woods, Lee
James Woods has been tapped to star in CBS' drama pilot "Shark," lifting the cast contingency on the project, while Spike Lee has come aboard to direct the 20th Century Fox TV/Imagine TV pilot.

The recruitment of Woods and Lee marks a remarkable comeback for the project, about a celebrity attorney-turned-prosecutor, which was all but dead 10 days ago. With a cast contingency hanging over "Shark" and no lead cast by mid-February -- five weeks before the scheduled production start date -- CBS was quickly losing faith in the project's chances to land a star on time and was preparing to pull the plug. The network already was working on a deal for a late pickup of another drama pilot -- the Joe Pantoliano starrer "Waterfront," from "ER" veteran Jack Orman -- to fill the void left by "Shark" when, at an eleventh-hour breakfast meeting between Woods and Imagine's Brian Grazer and David Nevins on Feb. 17, Woods agreed to do the pilot

Spate of pilot castings, pickups
Julia Ormond is venturing into series television with CBS' drama pilot "The Way,"EDITOR'S NOTE: WOW. JULIA ORMOND! while Bobby Cannavale has landed the lead in Paul Reiser's untitled comedy pilot for CBS.

Meanwhile, "The West Wing" co-star Bradley Whitford has joined Aaron Sorkin's new show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," with Sarah Paulson and Timothy Busfield also coming on board the NBC drama. EDITOR'S NOTE: LET'S THINK.....WHITFORD, PAULSON, BUSFIELD....AND SORKIN. THINK THIS'LL BE ANY GOOD?!

In other pilot castings, Katheryn Winnick has landed a lead role opposite Matthew Lillard in Fox's drama pilot "13 Graves"; Luis Guzman and Nicole Sullivan have joined Jeff Goldblum in NBC's drama "Raines"; Jarrad Paul, Rhea Seehorn and Conor Dubin have been cast in NBC's comedy "The Singles Table"; William Baldwin has been tapped to star opposite Joe Pantoliano in CBS' drama pilot "Waterfront"; and Rebecca Mader has landed one of the leads in Jerry Bruckheimer's drama for Fox, "American Crime." EDITOR'S NOTE: OOO. MORE PEOPLE I DON'T CARE ABOUT.

In pilot pickups, the CW has ordered "Split Decision," a drama from former Revolution Studios partner Todd Garner and Aaron Spelling, with Simon West in negotiations to direct.

Baldwin makes a clean Break for it
Well, here’s more proof that there’s no relaunch of “Firefly” happening at the newly formed CW Network.

Adam Baldwin, Jayne in “Firefly”, has signed on to star in the new series “Day Break”, opposite former “Kevin Hill” star Taye Diggs.

The new ABC series will centre on a Los Angeles-based policeman, wrongfully accused of murder, who, whilst trying to figure out who framed him, must also race to stop another murder from happening.

Bradford fields ABC's 'Questions'
Jesse Bradford is the answer to "Twenty Questions" as the actor has been tapped as the lead in the ABC drama pilot, while Eddie McClintock has gotten the second lead in NBC's untitled Chris Sheridan comedy, lifting the contingency on the pilot.

Meanwhile, Colm Meaney EDITOR'S NOTE: OH, YAY! I LOVE HIM! and Sarah Jones have joined ABC's drama pilot "Sixty Minute Man," Gerald McRaney has joined CBS' drama pilot "Jericho," newcomer Kat Foster has landed one of the female leads in ABC's comedy pilot " 'Til Death," Justina Machado and Scott Holroyd have come on board NBC's comedy pilot "Alpha Mom," and Mo Collins has joined Patricia Heaton in her untitled comedy pilot at ABC.

Additionally, Michael Cassidy and Amber Heard have been added to the CW's untitled Kevin Williamson drama pilot, while Nichole Hiltz has joined USA Network's pilot "In Plain Sight."

Lorre's 'Theory' explodes at CBS
"Two and a Half Men" co-creator/executive producer Chuck Lorre is teaming with CBS for a new comedy.

CBS has given a pilot order to "The Big Bang Theory," a half-hour from Lorre and Bill Prady to be produced by Warner Bros. TV where Lorre is under an overall deal.

The project, named after one of the most popular theories on the origin of the universe, centers on two brilliant theoretical physicists who meet a woman who shows them how little they know about real life. EDITOR'S NOTE: CAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT SMART PEOPLE ARE TOTALLY CLUELESS ABOUT THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER AND CAN ALWAYS USE A HELPING HAND FROM BUBBLEHEADS. (GRRRR).

Prady, who had worked on Lorre's previous hit comedy series, ABC's "Dharma & Greg," approached Lorre about a possible collaboration in November. Working nights and weekends, the two shaped up the concept and penned the script for "Theory."

Meanwhile, iTunes Will Still Sell Ad-Free Versions of Same Programs

NEW YORK ( –- Walt Disney Co. is expanding the availability of its hit shows via as part of its plans to create the "network of the future." CEO Bob Iger detailed

Using an ad-supported model, ABC plans to make shows like 'Lost,' 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Grey's Anatomy' downloadable to consumers for free.

The soon-to-launch product called My ABC, which will provide consumers with the opportunity to download shows free of charge.

Bear Stearns conference“Mike Shaw [ABC's president ad sales and marketing] announced today we are going to take a product to market in May," Mr. Iger said at the Bear Stearns media conference in Florida this week. "Viewers will have the ability to access shows such as 'Lost,' 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Grey’s Anatomy' on They will be ad supported, free to the consumer.”

Ads that accompany the video offering would not necessarily be the same as those that appeared during the show's broadcast, he said.

Mr. Iger said Disney wanted to try a variety of business models for its product, whether subscription or advertising supported. ABC shows are also offered via Apple iTunes and iPod platforms for $1.99 a pop. Those shows come without ad involvement.

'New direct commerce opportunities'Mr. Iger said Disney was looking to create a number of revenue models but because the company did not wish to turn its back on the ad community, it would create new opportunities for them.

There is so much greater consumption of media, the opportunity for advertisers are greater; look at what Google has managed to do,” Mr. Iger said. “Our job is to create the new networks and new direct commerce opportunities.”

So far greater availability of ABC's shows via Apple’s iTunes does not appear to have dented the shows' ratings, something advertisers had feared might happen if consumers could find them elsewhere at anytime. For the week of Feb. 20, “Grey’s Anatomy” ranked No. 6 in the Nielsen Media Research ratings, watched by 24.7 million households, just behind coverage of the Winter Olympics Feb. 23.

Gary Carr, senior VP-director of national broadcast at TargetCast TCM, New York, said: “The one thing advertisers are worried about is whether people are watching the commercials and are they watching the shows?”

Not yet selling new platform
He said ABC not yet started selling the new platform, but noted that CBS, which has a deal to offer its hit shows via Comcast’s video-on-demand platform, does so with the advertising that runs on the linear network intact.

“Its good that they’re all trying different things. They’re testing a lot of models that can generate additional revenues,” he concluded.

NBC also offers many of its network shows on the iTunes platform -- "The Office" is one of the top performers -- while Fox is offering two network shows, "Prison Break" and "24," through satellite sibling DirecTV's VOD system for 99 cents.


Blogger Bob Andelman said...

You might enjoy this entertaining audio interview with Bill Prady, co-creator of "The Big Bang Theory." Prady's other writing and producing credits include "Gilmore Girls," "Muppets in Space," "Dream On," and even an episode of "Star Trek Voyager." You could also subscribe to Mr. Media's RSS feed.

11:09 AM  

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