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Channel Surfing: Shonda Rhimes Talks "Grey's" Twists, FOX Delves into "Past Life," CW Staffing on "Melrose Place" and "Vampire Diaries," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

Still reeling from last night's season finale of ABC's Grey's Anatomy? Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has an exclusive interview with series creator Shonda Rhimes about some of the shocking plot twists in last night's season ender. Responding to rumors about whether Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight wanted off of Grey's Anatomy and how this impacted their characters' fates, Rhimes said simply, "I don't think there are any coincidences. I think Katherine's stated publicly that she's happy to stay. I think that there have been lots of rumors about TR, but TR's never said anything. Take from it what you will." Rhimes also discusses the fates of Izzie and George, Mer and Der's wedding day, Jessica Capshaw, and a host of other Grey's related issues. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

FOX has given a series order to supernatural drama Past Life (formerly known as The Reincarnationist), about a psychologist and a former NYPD homicide detective who assist people in solving "their past-life traumas and present-day crimes." Project, from Warner Bros. Television, is written and executive produced by David Hudgins. Cast includes Kelli Giddish, Nicholas Bishop, Richard Schiff, and Ravi Patel. (Variety)

The CW has reportedly locked Melrose Place and Vampire Diaries into its fall schedule. Both series were given the go-ahead yesterday to bring staffing, which points rather strongly to both projects getting ordered to series. Meanwhile, Beautiful Life, Life Unexpected, and Privileged continue to battle it out for the last remaining slot on the schedule and the Gossip Girl spin-off is said to still be in contention for a midseason bow. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC is said to be considering making some rather big changes to bubble comedy Samantha Who? and is reportedly even debating whether to change the series' format into a traditional multi-camera comedy, albeit it one that follows a similar format to 20th Century Fox Television's How I Met Your Mother, which shoots over four days on a soundstage with multiple cameras but without a live audience. The network still has seven unaired episodes of Samantha Who?, which would mean that it's unlikely ABC would renew it for a full 22-episode order. (Variety)

Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke have
signed on to appear in six episodes of Scrubs, should ABC opt to renew the series for a ninth season. Additionally, John C. McGinley, Donald Faison, and Neil Flynn are set to return full-time for a potential ninth season if their pilots aren't ordered to series. The short-term return of Braff and Chalke would help the series set up new storylines for the younger doctors. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Meanwhile, ABC is said to be high on Patricia Heaton comedy vehicle The Middle, along with Bill Lawrence's Cougar Town (starring Courteney Cox), and The Law. Network was said to be less than pleased with the pilots for Romantically Challenged and Awesome Hank yet may still order one or both of them to series. On the drama front, The Forgotten has the best chances of landing on the schedule but the net is also considering such projects as V, Inside the Box, Eastwick, and Happy Town. (Variety)

Janeane Garofalo will not be returning for Day Eight of FOX's 24 next season. "I think the secret of this show is knowing when characters have had their story," executive producer Howard Gordon told Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. "And to transpose everybody [from D.C. to New York] starts feeling very coincidental. Even getting Chloe there ... you have to explain how she got from Washington to New York and what happened. You can't do that for everybody." (
Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

NBC has renewed Last Call with Carson Daly for the 2009-10 season, a move which solidifies NBC's latenight strategy. Series, entering its ninth season, will return with a significantly lower budget next season. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Pushing Daisies' Anna Friel is set to star as Holly Golightly opposite Joseph Cross (Milk) in an upcoming stage adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany's, set to preview beginning September 9th for a September 29th launch at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London. (Variety)

Hilarie Burton has told Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello about her departure--which she says was "not a rash decision"--from
CW's One Tree Hill at the end of the current season, which wraps on Monday evening. "There really wasn't a lot of turmoil," said Burton about her departure. "It was a fabulous six-year run, which is how long my contract was for, and I feel really lucky to have been a part of the show. So when I hear that there's turmoil or negotiations based on money it kind of hurts my feelings, because it's not what's been going on at all. I think my fan base in particular knows that money isn't necessarily a big motivator for me, that's why I work in the world of independent film... I've known for a little while. For me, it was definitely an emotional decision. And a professional decision as well. I got really, really lucky. One Tree Hill was my very first television audition; it was a fairytale. I feel really lucky to have that level of success right out of the gate." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Confirming a rumor swirling several weeks ago, Warner Bros has acquired screen rights to ITV series Primeval, which airs in the US on BBC America and Sci Fi, with the aim to adapt it into a feature film, set in the US, under the aegis of Akiva Goldsman and Kerry Foster. "There is a solid mythology to the series, but the movie has the dinosaur element of Jurassic Park and the time travel element of Lost, and it just feels like the kind of big movie that Warner Bros. does well," said Foster. (Variety)

UK network Sky1 has scored the world premiere of two Prison Break episodes that are being billed as a special event movie entitled
Prison Break: The Final Break. The network will air the two-hour movie on Wednesday, May 27th at 10 pm, a week after airing the fourth season finale which marks the end of the series. (Digital Spy)

Comedy Central has ordered seven episodes of animated comedy Ugly Americans, about an alternate universe where mythological creatures live among everyday people. Project, from writer David Stern (The Simpsons), will feature the voice talents of Matt Oberg, Randy Pearlstein, Mike Britt, Kurt Metzger, Rebekka Johnson, and Pete Holmes. The cabler also announced several projects in development, including: Judah Friedlander and Jordan Rubin's animated comedy Gypsy Cab, about a taxi driver in Manhattan who looks to pick up celebrity fares; single-cam workplace comedy The Sklar Brothers Sports Comedy Show; Midwest Teen Sex Show; The Boys and Girls Guide to Getting Down; procedural cop comedy The Fuzz, where police are played by humans and puppets; buddy comedy Workaholics; Ghost/Aliens; and several others. (Variety)

Cabler The N (which will be rebranded as TeenNick this fall) has ordered thirteen episodes of half-hour dramedy Gigantic, described as a "a coming-of-age story set in the world of the Hollywood elite packed with parties and privilege" which will feature "testimonials by real-life Hollywood teenagers as well as celebrity cameos." Project, from Reveille, is executive produced by Marti Noxon and Dawn Parouse. (Hollywood Reporter)

Former Survivor executive producer Tom Shelly has signed an overall deal with Endemol USA, under which he will serve as executive producer on ABC's upcoming reality series Dating in the Dark as well as develop format ideas. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Anita said…
The CW drives me batty! I expected Melrose Place and the Vampire Diaries to be picked up, whether or not the scripts were great, but how is 'Life, Unexpected', along with Privileged (that barely breaks 2 million viewers) mentioned as contenders for the last spot when Body Politic doesn't get any mention, positive or negative? You have a fantastic cast, a script that some people have said was their favorite outside of 'Flash Forward' on ABC or one of their top three picks overall, but Body Politic still doesn't even rate a mention?? No wonder the only show I still watch on The CW is Supernatural now.

Can someone at least say why TBP isn't being mentioned? Was the presentation horrible? (That's not what the few people who had seen it, have said..but who knows?)
Jace Lacob said…

I haven't seen the pilot for Body Politic but I did read the script and was not impressed. It's a project that has been in development at the CW and previously the WB for the last four years or so. Was the cast great? Sure. But the script was painfully average and I don't think that the project entirely fits in with the rest of the CW's lineup.
Anita said…
Maybe it's because I read the rest of the CW's scripts, except for Melrose Place or 'The Valley', but I definitely thought it was the best of the bunch. While it was about 20-somethings that have moved to DC, because they all believe in something, at the heart of it, it's still about gorgeous 20-something yr olds, trying to make it in life, figure out who they are, while establishing their careers, developing friendships, plus sharing and creating secrets and romantic entanglements that categorize almost every show on the CW.

Melrose Place is about sexy 20 somethings in LA that are just starting out their lives and live in the same apartment complex.

Body Politic is about sexy 20 somethings in DC that are just starting out and live in the same brownstone.

While it may have previously been in development, when you get people like Kal Penn that quit House to go work for Obama or college students and 20 somethings that are actually using things like Twitter to promote social activism, now is absolutely the perfect time for this show.

It's just frustrating, because I used to watch Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars, Smallville, Supernatural, ANTM, etc, but now with what the CW is programming and the quality of it, the only show I still watch is Supernatural.

Their 18-34 yr old female marketing keeps trying to tell me I'm their ideal viewer, but they're not getting why two years ago, most of the shows I watched were on the CW and now I only watch one. I couldn't care less about spoiled, rich teenagers and the drama in their lives and they're just programming more of the same, it seems.
derby said…
"Grey's Anatomy" has dropped off such a cliff it leaves me amazed. The show should be canceled is what should happen -- but then where would we be able to songs from The Fray?

The show hit the pop culture zenith for a about 5 minutes and then... boom! Drivel. Not sure what people still see in the show, but oh well. It will be gone soon enough.

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