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Channel Surfing: FOX Committed to Building "Dollhouse," "Sunny" Questions, "Fringe" Soars, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. I'm in fashion overload after back-to-back episodes last night of Top Model and Project Runway (more on the latter in a bit) but can't say that I am as enthused with either series as I was in the past.

Lest you worry about the fate of Joss Whedon's action drama Dollhouse--beset by multiple problems months before the series' launch--you can dismantle the shrine. FOX is said to be still deeply committed to the project. “With months before our broadcast premiere, we have the rare luxury of extra time,” a 20th Century Fox Television spokesman said. “We believe in this show and want to give it every opportunity to succeed.” Let's hope that's true, given the recent reports that the network was decidedly less than pleased with the series' creative direction. (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Meanwhile, FOX must be pleased as punch that its other cult drama Fringe performed so well in its second outing. Airing behind a new episode of House, Fringe improved 59 percent in the demo (5.1/13 vs. 3.2/9) and 45 percent in overall viewers (13.27 million vs. 9.13 million) from its series premiere a week earlier. FOX was quick to mention that no new drama on any network has improved so much from its first to second week since at least 1991.

HBO renewed Alan Ball's vampire drama True Blood after just airing two episodes. (Televisionary)

HBO and Playone's Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman have hired Kirk Ellis (John Adams) to write a series that will adapt James Ellroy's novels "American Tabloid" and "The Cold Six Thousand," following three men and their "shifting alliances with the CIA, the Mafia, and the Kennedys" in the turbulent 1960s. (Variety)

Jada Pinkett Smith will star in and executive producer TNT drama pilot Time Heals, about "a strong but caring director of nursing at Charlotte Mercy Hospital in North Carolina, a single mother who always puts the pain of others first." Project, from Sony Pictures Television, will be executive produced by Pinkett Smith and Jamie Tarses and written/executive produced by John Masius (Dead Like Me, Providence). (Hollywood Reporter)

Excited about tonight's season premiere of FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? (I am literally counting down the hours until 10 pm tonight.) Rob McElhenney answers EW reader questions and talks about Sunny, the gang's FOX comedy pilot Boldly Going Nowhere, and fields some script pitches. (Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch)

Fans of CBS' cancelled Moonlight will have to wait a little while longer for a DVD release of the series. Warner Home Video has announced that a US release of Moonlight is in the works, but likely not until around New Year's. (TV Guide)

USA has given a 90-minute cast-contingent pilot order to medical drama Operating Instructions from writers/executive producers Judd Pillot and John Peaslee (According to Jim) and executive producers Conan O'Brien and David Kissinger. Project, from Universal Cable Prods, will follow a female trauma surgeon who returns to the States after two tours of duty in Iraq and takes a job as the head of surgery at a military hospital. According to Jeff Wachtel, EVP of original programming at USA, "There is a truly dramatic underpinning [to the series], but the show also will be informed with comedic sensibilities." (Hollywood Reporter)

Sarah Carter (Shark) will guest star in two episodes of the upcoming season of ABC's Dirty Sexy Money as a "mystery woman who crosses paths with Darling matriarch Tish (Jill Clayburgh)." For the love of all things holy, Craig Wright, please do not resurrect that awful storyline from the original Dirty Sexy Money pilot with the journalist. You know which one I'm talking about. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Brian Burns has set up three projects at CBS and HBO. The two CBS projects will be developed with his brother Ed Burns; one will be an ensemble drama about arson investigators at the New York Fire Department and the other is a psychological thriller whose details are being kept under wraps. At HBO, Burns will team up with Dan Kennedy for a comedy inspired by Kennedy's memoir "Rock On: An Office Power Ballad," about a slacker who takes on a job at a record label. (Hollywood Reporter)

Jason Jones (The Daily Show) will guest star this season on CBS' How I Met Your Mother as the ex of Stella (Sarah Chalke) and the father of her son. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); America's Got Talent/My Name is Earl (NBC); Smallville (CW); Ugly Betty (ABC); Hole in the Wall (FOX)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); The Office (NBC); Supernatural (CW); Grey's Anatomy (ABC; 9-11 pm); Kitchen Nightmares (FOX)

10 pm: Flashpoint (CBS); ER (NBC)

What I'll Be Watching:

9 pm: Kitchen Nightmares.

Missing the softer side of Gordon Ramsay? Tune in to the US version of his reality series in which he pull back struggling restaurants from the brink of closure. On tonight's episode ("Guiseppi's"), Ramsay visits Guiseppi's Italian restaurant in Michigan and finds a family prone to squabbling and in-fighting rather than running a successful business together.

10 pm: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on FX.

Televisionary favorite It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia finally returns with brand-new episodes. On tonight's fourth season premiere ("Mac & Dennis: Manhunters"), Dee and Charlie develop a cannibalistic hunger after accidentally eating some of Frank's human meat, while Mac and Dennis take hunting to the next level. Afterwards, it's another brand-new episode ("The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis"), in which Mac, Dennis, and Charlie take advantage of high gas prices by investing in barrels of gasoline and selling them door-to-door, while Dee and Frank discover that Bruce plans to give money to a Muslim center.


Anonymous said…
That's great news about Fringe! I really loved the second episode and hope that the show continues to find support. I also hope that the Dollhouse issues truly are being smoothed over. I love the concept and, with Joss Whedon at the helm, it definitely has the potential to be a fantastic show.

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