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Channel Surfing: BBC America Snags Five "Doctor Who" Specials, Freddie Prinze Jr. on "24," Whedon Wants Summer Glau on "Dollhouse," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

BBC America has acquired the US premiere rights to five Doctor Who specials, featuring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor, and plans to air "The Next Doctor," the 2008 Christmas Special, on June 27th at 9 pm ET/PT. The first of this year's specials, entitled "Planet of the Dead," will follow in July with the three others airing in late 2009 and early 2010. “The outstanding quality of the Doctor Who scripts from Russell T. Davies and the on-screen dynamic that David Tennant brings to the role are a magic combination for our viewers," said BBC Worldwide America president Garth Ancier. "Russell’s spin-off series Torchwood is already our highest rated show on the channel and I know the fans will follow these new specials with equal passion and support. We’re thrilled to bring this iconic show to BBC America, home of the best British sci-fi programming on television." Meanwhile, Doctor Who spin-off Torchwood will kick off its five-episode event third season (Torchwood: Children of Earth) in July. (via press release)

In an unexpected casting twist, Freddie Prinze Jr. (who recently shot the ABC comedy pilot No Heroics) has been cast in Day Eight of FOX's 24, where he will play Davis Cole, a "recently returned Marine who runs CTU Field Ops and wants to follow in Jack Bauer's (Kiefer Sutherland) footsteps." (Also on board: Nazneen Contractor, who will play the daughter of the Middle East leader played by Anil Kapoor.) The casting comes on the heels of that for Chris Diamantopoulos, John Boyd, and Jennifer Westfeldt. (Hollywood Reporter)

With FOX's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles canceled, Joss Whedon hopes to bring former Terminator star Summer Glau over to his FOX drama series Dollhouse. "If anybody thinks [bringing Summer onto Dollhouse] hasn't occurred to me already then they have not met me. I mentioned it to her before [T:SCC] was canceled. I was like, 'You know, we should get you in the 'house.' But first we have to come up with something that works," Whedon told Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. "Summer would be perfect to play an active, but she's done that [type of role] a lot. I'd rather see her play someone who talks too much. The most fun I have is when I get somebody who's good and comfortable at doing something, and then I make them do something else. Summer said to me, 'I would like to play a normal girl before I die of extreme old age.'" (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

The recasting is already beginning. Just the week after network upfronts, several series have already begun to quietly replace some of their lead actors. ABC's The Forgotten will recast the roles played by Rupert Penry-Jones and Reiko Aylesworth in the pilot episode, the biggest changes likely to be seen on any network project. Other projects that will see cast changes include CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles, which will see the the departure of Louise Lombard as the female lead (which will be recast); CBS' Three Rivers, which will see Julia Ormond not stay on past the pilot installment as the hospital's head of surgery (likewise, Joaquim De Almeida will not return); Richard Coyle's role on NBC's Trauma will be recast; Gillian Jacobs' role on CBS' The Good Wife will be recast now that the actress is booked on NBC's Community; and Amir Talai's role on NBC comedy 100 Questions is also being recast. (Hollywood Reporter)

John Lithgow has been cast in twelve episodes of Season Four of Showtime's Dexter, where he will play Walter Simmons, a.k.a. The Trinity Killer, one of America's deadliest murderers who kills in threes and masquerades as an "unassuming mild-mannered suburbanite." (Televisionary)

Kristin Chenoweth (Pushing Daisies) has been cast as the lead in Lifetime romantic comedy telepic Twelve Men of Christmas, based on Phillipa Ashley's novel "Decent Exposure," about a "down-on-her-luck PR exec (Chenoweth) who uses her media savvy to generate sizzle in a Montana town." (Hollywood Reporter)

Bravo is launching six-episode reality series Miami Social, following the lives of seven interconnected Miami socialites, on July 14th at 10 pm ET/PT. The Miami denizens depicted in the Pink Sneakers-produced series include former Apprentice contestant Katrina Campins and Big Brother contestant Hardy Hill. (Variety)

E! Online's Watch with Kristin catches up with Three Rivers star Alex O'Loughlin to talk about his new CBS medical drama series, launching this fall. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Following allegations that local AT&T employees offered Kris Allen fans free text-messaging services and may have demonstrated how to power vote (a practice strictly forbidden by American Idol voting regulations), FOX has issued a statement in which they stand by the results of the latest American Idol crowning. "Kris Allen is, without a doubt, the American Idol,” said FOX, FremantleMedia North America, and 19 Entertainment in a joint statement. "We have an independent third-party monitoring procedure in place to ensure the integrity of the voting process. In no way did any individuals unfairly influence the outcome of the competition." AT&T, meanwhile, said that the Arkansas employees' actions were not corporately mandated and that these individuals were "caught up in the enthusiasm of rooting for their hometown contestant." "Going forward we will make sure our employees understand our sponsorship celebrates the competition, not individual contestants," said AT&T in a statement. (New York Times)

RHI Entertainment has set up a Los Angeles office as it looks to embark on a push into primetime series. Tom Patricia and Elizabeth Stephens will oversee the Los Angeles office and report to Jeff Sagansky, the non-executive chairman of RHI. Patricia will serve as EVP of movies and miniseries, while Stephens has been named EVP of series. "We're a big company," said RHI founder Robert Halmi. "We see this as a great time to strike in this marketplace and take more market share from our competitors. Under Jeff's leadership, we expect to be a player in dramatic TV series." (Variety)

Granada America, the studio behind such hits as Hell's Kitchen, will rename itself ITV Studios, in order to "better reflect the nonscripted shingle's relationship with its U.K. parent." The studio is about to launch NBC's I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, which will be hosted by Damien Fahey and Myleene Klass. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC movies and mini-series maven Quinn Taylor will see his oversight expand to include programming acquisitions, formats, as well as international co-productions that could be acquired and aired on ABC. (Variety)

Travel Channel president and general manager Patrick Younge will leave the channel in January in order to return to London to be with his family. "As tough as I will find it to leave my team at Travel Channel Media, I'm fulfilling a promise I made to my two children, who remained in the U.K. when I joined TCM in 2005," said Younge in a statement. "I have a terrific team here at TCM, and despite these unprecedented economic conditions we are enjoying record ratings, audience delivery and Web traffic. We are also recognized as leaders in social-media marketing, and through innovative programs like the Travel Channel Academy and mobile products like Travel Channel GO, we are extending our reach and revenue into new arenas." (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


Bella Spruce said…
Happy to hear that BBC America had the smarts to get Doctor Who back. I can't wait to see the specials and am really looking forward to Torchwood in July!
wooster182 said…
Even though I'm honestly not thrilled that Dollhouse is coming back next season, it will be cool to see Summer again.

One question though: Why the hell does Whedon never book Charisma Carpentar???
The CineManiac said…
So I guess with The Doctor heading to BBC America, I won't be watching him on Sci-Fi. Glad I don't rely soley on TV to get some shows.

Wooster - Whedon probably doesn't hire Charisma because their relationship supposedly didn't end well on Angel. They've since made up publicly, but that doesn't mean they want to work together.
cydoniax said…
I've already seen the first 2 Doctor Who specials and they're pretty darn good. I can only shudder though at what kind of cuts BBCA will make in them to make room for all the commercials.

Regarding Rupert Penry Jones - I was looking forward to seeing him but I'm kind of glad he was recast. I love him in his British shows and would hate to see him stuck in some generic show over here. I loved him in Whitechapel, MI-5, Persuasion and The 39 Steps.
Unknown said…
Amir Talai is NOT the one that needs to be re-cast off 100 Questions.... whoooo...

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