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Channel Surfing: Leonard Nimoy Beams Down to "Fringe," ABC Sets Returns for "Daisies," "Dirty," and "Eli," HBO Down with More "Eastbound," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Talk about perfect casting. Star Trek legend Leonard Nimoy will beam down to FOX drama series Fringe, where he will play none other than the enigmatic William Bell, the former lab partner of Walter Bishop (John Noble) and the founder of Massive Dynamic. "It was a delight to work with Mr. Nimoy on Star Trek," executive producer J.J. Abrams told Michael Ausiello. "The idea that he will play the mysterious, much-referenced William Bell is a thrill. I know I sound like a goofy fan boy, but I can't help it: Leonard is an icon of the genre and such a wonderful actor. To have him come on board Fringe is a mind-blowing honor." Nimoy is expected to first appear in the season finale of Fringe and then appear in Season Two in an extended story arc. (Entertaiment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

E! Online meanwhile checked in with Star Trek and Fringe writer/executive producer Roberto Orci about the casting of Nimoy whom he says will be "an active part of the story, not just backstory. He interacts with our players." (Whew.) "Several answers will come outside of William Bell, and then William Bell will be the beginning of the answers to even bigger questions," said Orci. "[Walter and William] have not only different approaches to the Pattern, but different interpretations of what the Pattern is. The Pattern is slightly in the eye of the beholder, you're going to find out. And sometimes what you think is real can become real. In a way, these two are the top minds in the world attempting to figure out the Pattern and how to react to it, based on their world view." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

It's official: ABC has finally ended months of speculation and announced when it would burn off remaining episodes of scripted dramas Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money, and Eli Stone, following an earlier report that had the network returning Daisies to the schedule on May 30th. The network has now confirmed that Pushing Daisies will air its final three episodes beginning Saturday, May 30th at 10 pm over three weeks; Eli Stone will return in the same timeslot beginning June 20th with four episodes; and Dirty Sexy Money, which has four installments remaining, will likewise wrap its run starting July 18th. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Elsewhere at ABC, the network has shored up its summer schedule, announcing launch dates for all of its off-season series: The Bachelorette will launch on May 18th; Here Come the Newlyweds' second season kicks off on May 25th; Wipeout returns May 27th; animated comedy The Goode Family will launch on May 27th; I Survived a Japanese Game Show will return July 8th; The Superstars kicks off June 23rd; and Dating in the Dark launches on July 20th. (Variety)

Pilot casting alert: Xander Berkeley (24) has been cast as a regular in NBC sci-fi pilot Day One, where he will play Clark, a man who is "seriously injured in an explosion and whose daughter goes missing." Berkeley will also recur in ABC drama pilot Inside the Box, where he will play the network EVP and boss to Indira Varma's Washington news bureau chief. (Hollywood Reporter)

HBO has ordered a second season of comedy Eastbound and Down, starring Danny McBride as a washed-up pro baseball pitcher who returns to his North Carolina hometown. No episodic order was given, though the second season will be comprised of at least six episodes and possibly more, but all scheduling and episode counts will need to be worked around McBride's feature commitments. "We're really excited about the cult following this show has taken on," said executive producer Adam McKay. "Next year we'd like to see this cult develop into a full-flung religion. and we can start judging people and telling them that they're gonna go to hell." (Variety)

Could NBC replace Law & Order: Special Victims Unit leads Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni? That's what Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting, claiming that multiple unnamed sources have told him that the Peacock is threatening to replace the duo if Hargitay and Meloni don't back down from demanding salary increases. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Russell T. Davies has revealed that Bernard Cribbins will reprise his role as Wilfred "Wilf" Mott, the grandfather of Donna Noble (Catherine Tate) and take on the role as the Doctor's companion in the two-part Doctor Who Christmas special that marks the end of David Tennant's tenure on the series. (Digital Spy)

Meanwhile, David Tennant has admitted to BBC Radio One that he cried when he read the final script for his run on Doctor Who. "I might have had a little cry," said Tennant. "They were brilliant scripts and very moving. It was quite a big deal really. I sort of turned the phone off and made sure I could read it straight through without too much interruption. Filming is now always out of schedule, so I don't know if I'll be sadder on the last day or filming the final scenes. That remains to be seen. It's weird because it's been four years. It's been so all-consuming and so life-changing. It's been such a big thing." (Digital Spy)

Lionsgate Television has signed a first-look deal with Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci's Olive Prods., under which the production company--overseen with producer Wren Arthur--will develop scripted series for both broadcast and cable networks. The studio has a relationship with Buscemi, who just directed four of Showtime comedy Nurse Jackie's twelve episodes. (Variety)

Sam Linsky has been promoted to SVP, current programming at both TNT and TBS. He will continue to report to Michael Wright and has now assumed current duties at TBS in addition to his TNT current oversight. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.

Comments

I love that Leonard Nimoy will be playing the mysterious William Bell. Great casting!
CL said…
Leonard Nimoy. Woot!
CrazyCris said…
Ummm... the final Eli Stone episodes have already aired on the Sci Fi channel! I for one enjoyed them, although they are a bit less zany than the previous ones and there is a definite lack of musical visions.
Haven't decided if I like the series ending on that final episode or not though.
Jace Lacob said…
CrazyCris,

They haven't yet aired in the US as ABC canceled Eli Stone in December and shelved the remainder of the unaired episodes, which will finally see the light of day in the US this summer.

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