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Channel Surfing: "Lost" Premiere Title Revealed; ABC "Maid" to Order, "Friday Night Lights," and More

Good morning and welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. (Is it really Wednesday already? Wow.)

Doc Jensen has the scoop on the title of the fifth season premiere of Lost: "Because You Left." Wowsers, that's a fantastic title, no? You'll have to brave reading through Jeff's write-ups of the Lost panel at Comic-Con and the new Dharma Initiative-based ARG (along with an important message about the upcoming Stand Up 2 Cancer television special on September 5th) but it's right there at the very end of Doc's latest treatise on the ABC drama. (Entertainment Weekly)

Sigh. Yet another feature film en route to the small screen: ABC has given a put pilot commitment to a series adaptation of the 2002 Jennifer Lopez feature film Maid in Manhattan, about a maid--not the Jennifer Lopez character but a different maid--and single mother who works at a posh Manhattan hotel and falls for a politician who mistakes her for a guest. (I guess those new maid uniforms must be pretty darn chic these days.) Project will be written by Chad Hodge (Runaway) and will be executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, Joe Roth, Simon Fields, and Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. (Hollywood Reporter)

IFC has acquired all three seasons of British comedy series The IT Crowd, which aired in Blighty on Channel 4. Move comes a year after NBC developed and then dumped (rather unceremoniously) a US adaptation of the hit series about two IT workers and their rather clueless female boss that starred the original's Richard Ayoade along with Joel McHale and Jessica St. Clair. Cabler plans to launch the original UK version of The IT Crowd on September 29th. Deal was brokered by distributor Fremantle, which has also sold BBC2 series Look Around You to Adult Swim/Cartoon Network and live-action/animated hybrid sketch comedy series Modern Toss to IFC. These deals make me wonder a little why these series aren't ending up on digital cabler BBC America, which clearly could use an influx of new comedy (besides for the upcoming--and rather fantastic--first season of Gavin and Stacey). (Variety)

NBC/DirecTV's drama Friday Night Lights, entering its third season in October, has found a new quarterback in the form of former Peter Pan/Clubhouse star Jeremy Sumpter, who will play J.D. McCoy, a freshman QB who moves to Dillon with his family and finds himself competing with Saracen (Zach Gilford) for the top spot on the team."J.D.’s a straight and narrow kid who’s been bred to be a football player by his father, and lives in the shadow of his father, who's a big personality," according to FNL executive producer Jason Katims. "There’s an interesting story about this kid feeling somewhat suffocated by his dad and starting to look more to Coach as a mentor." Casting comes on the heels of Janine Turner and D.W. Moffett joining the cast. (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

And speaking of Saracen, Kim Dickens (Deadwood, Lost) has signed on to play Matt's never-bef0re-seen mother. (TV Guide)

HBO has cast Jane Adams (Frasier) as the female lead opposite Thomas Jane in the one-hour dramedy pilot Hung, to be directed by Alexander Payne (Election). Adams will play Tanya, a local poet who helps sad sack high school basketball coach Ray (Jane) market his, er, unique skills as he enters a more lucrative field of work. (Hollywood Reporter)

In other casting news, Cynthia Stevenson (Dead Like Me's superlative Joy) will star opposite Bob Saget in comedy series Surviving Suburbia, launching Sunday nights in September as part of the CW's Media Rights Capital-controlled programming block. (Hollywood Reporter)

Next season's edition of America's Next Top Model features yet another first as it welcomes its very first transgender competitor in the form of Maryland contestant Isis, a former receptionist. (US Weekly)

Remember when sitcoms were fueled by superstar standup comedians? No longer as more and more comedy series are being populated with serious actors. What caused this change? "The nature of television comedy has shifted," The Office's Rainn Wilson said in an interview. "Over the past five or 10 years, the phenomenon of standup actors getting development deals, centered on his brightly lit comic personality, is not happening as much.Today you have more interesting setups for comedy, so you need actors to fill that. What you have in sitcoms right now are very funny character actors. Even Alec Baldwin, for example, is just a funny character actor who for years was trapped in a leading man's body. Steve Carell can do it all, from Little Miss Sunshine to really broad stuff." Read Wilson's take on this fascinating trend. (Variety's Award Central)

Finally, HBO's comedy Entourage is now available to download for $1.99 a pop via Apple's iTunes store, which is offering all episodes of Seasons One and Two beginning today, with Season Three turning up on August 18th and Season Four on August 26th... the perfect time to catch up before Entourage's fifth season launches on September 7th on HBO. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
A "Maid in Manhattan" TV show? Ugh. Wasn't it bad enough that we had to suffer through the film?
I think it's good that Brit shows are showing up on other networks but BBC America really needs to step up their game if they want to remain THE source for great British TV.
Jon88 said…
<< These deals make me wonder a little why these series aren't ending up on digital cabler BBC America >> so that they can have anywhere from 2 to 16 minutes per hour cut from them, and replaced with endless commercial breaks....

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