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Channel Surfing: NBC Cuts "Chopping Block" from Schedule, Wesley Sinks Teeth into "Vampire Diaries," Katic to Return to "Big Love," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. I had a fantastic evening last night at a WGA event for the writers of ABC's Lost, which included Team Darlton, Adam Horowitz, Edward Kitsis, and Elizabeth Sarnoff.

After just three episodes, NBC has cut culinary competition series The Chopping Block from its schedule, effective immediately. In lieu of the Marco Pierre White-fronted reality competition series, which landed a 0.9/2 share among adults 18-49 and 2.6 million viewers overall, NBC will air repeats of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and NBC said that Chopping Block could return at a later date. (But don't hold your breath.) (Variety)

Paul Wesley (24) will star opposite Nina Dobrev (Degrassi) and Ian Somerhalder (Lost) in the CW supernatural drama pilot Vampire Diaries, from writer/executive producer Kevin Williamson. Wesley will play Stefan, a "gloriously, amazingly, epically beautiful young man" who is a 200-year-0ld vampire locked in a battle with his brother Damon (Somerhalder) for the love of a young girl named Elena (Dobrev). (Hollywood Reporter)

Branka Katic will reprise her role as Ana when Big Love Season Four launches in early 2010. "I'll be back to cause some trouble," Katic told Michael Ausiello. "I think she's somewhere out there licking her wounds. I think she divorced out of pure compassion because the damage she was causing the family was something she certainly didn't want to happen." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

FOX has announced its plans for summer, which include the launch of medical drama Mental on Friday, May 22nd at 9 pm ET/PT, the return of So You Think You Can Dance on Thursday, May 21st, and the launch of a new season of Hell's Kitchen on July 21st. (via press release)

Aussie actor Matt Passmore (The Cut) has been cast as the lead in FOX drama pilot Masterwork, from Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring. He'll star opposite British actress Natalie Dormer (The Tudors) and Brit actor Tom Ellis (Suburban Shootout). What's with all of the foreign casting on the project? It's just the tip of the iceberg, according to Hollywood Reporter's Nellie Andreeva, who looks at the sheer numbers of non-US actors scoring roles in this season's pilots. In fact, pilots Flash Forward, Maggie Hill, Inside the Box, and untitled US Attorney each have three non-US actors in major roles. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC has acquired US rights to four-hour mini-series Ben Hur, from Alchemy Television Group, who will co-produce with Spain's Drimtim Entertainment and Antenna 3, Canada's Muse Entertainment, ABC, and Germany's Akkord Films and ProSieben. Project, which has no airdate, was written by Alan Sharp (Rob Roy) and will be directed by Steve Shill (Rome). (Variety)

Pilot casting alert: Stephen Rannazzisi (Paul Blart: Mall Cop) has joined the cast of NBC comedy pilot State of Romance, where he will play the roommate of romantic lead Mike (Steve Howie). Elsewhere, David Call (Canterbury's Law) has been added to ABC's drama pilot Empire State, where he will play the younger brother of blue-collar Romeo Sam (Mike Vogel). (Hollywood Reporter)

Production has begun in New Orleans on HBO drama pilot Treme, from The Wire creator David Simon. "This is an American story," said Simon. "This is about an American city trying to pick itself up and doing it without a great deal of help." Project, directed by Agnieszka Holland, stars Wendell Pierce, Peter Clarke, Steve Zahn, Kim Dickens, Khandi Alexander, Melissa Leo, and Rob Brown. (Associated Press)

In a rather unusual twist, 1st Call Equipment has signed on to be the exclusive provider of heavy equipment for Universal and all of its productions... as it segues into TV programming development, specifically daytime television. Under the new leadership of former King World executive Erni Di Massa Jr., the company will use its revenue to finance development efforts. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Ally said…
Ana's back!! Yay!
Unknown said…
Sadly, I was one of the 2.6 million who watched Chopping Block. After your less than stellar review of the show, I felt like I had to watch driving by the multi-car pileup on the 405.

Yes, it was like Last Restaurant Standing meets Hell's Kitchen. And yes, Marco Pierre White's overly formal attire in or out of the kitchen gave me cause to think that this man is a serious ego maniac, but aren't most of the TV chefs?

I hope I can avoid having the outcome spoiled before the last episodes air.

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