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NBC Steps into "Studio 60" While "7th" is Sent to Heaven

NBC has announced that it has picked up drama series Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and placed in on its fall 2006-2007 schedule. The series, which explores the behind-the-scenes drama at an SNL-type late night sketch show, comes from The West Wing's Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme.

"Aaron Sorkin and Thomas Schlamme's work is TV at its best and Studio 60 lives up to that standard," said Kevin Reilly, President of NBC Entertainment, who made the announcement. "I'm thrilled they are back on NBC for the Fall."

The show's ensemble cast includes Matthew Perry (Friends), Amanda Peet (Syriana), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Sarah Paulson (Deadwood), D.L. Hughley (The Hughleys), Evan Handler (Sex and the City), and Steven Weber (Wings), among others.

NBC's publicity machine had the following to say:

Sorkin returns to television with this crackling take on the drama behind the humor of producing a popular, late-night comedy sketch show, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip." He lays bare the backstage politics, romances and delicate balance between creative talent, on-air personalities and network executives in an instant text-messaging world.

Prominent are Jordan McDeere (Peet), a savvy new network entertainment chief who inherits a massive public relations disaster on the series -- even before she starts her first day - and Matt Albie (Perry) and Danny Tripp (Whitford), a brilliant creative team that she wants to resurrect the program.

No word on what this means for Tina Fey's currently untitled yet similarly themed comedy pilot about the backstage shenanigans at a late-night sketch show, which is also is contention for next season at NBC. While NBC has yet to comment about any other orders before their upfronts, the prognosis is not looking too good for the Untitled Tina Fey Project, which stars Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Rachel Dratch, Scott Adsit, and Tracy Morgan.

In other program news, long-running family drama 7th Heaven won't be returning next season when the WB morphs into new netlet the CW. Contrary to earlier rumors that the CW was considering resurrecting the show, sources close to the network have now definitively said that the 7th Heaven finale scheduled for later this month will be a series finale. Furthermore, there are no plans for a spin-off series.

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