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Channel Surfing: Idris Elba Tackles Brit Mystery, ABC Encodes "FlashForward," Vincent Kartheiser Dances Around "Mad Men," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

The Wire's Idris Elba (last seen on the small screen in a multiple-episode story arc on NBC's The Office) has landed the lead in new BBC One crime thriller Luther, where he will play John Luther, a "near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can’t always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions." Series, which has been commissioned for six episodes, is written by Neil Cross (Spooks) and each episode will invert the familiar tropes of crime drama on its head: the murderer will be revealed at the beginning of each episode and the focus will be the dynamic between Luther and his perpetrator, who aren't quite so different from one another. "Luther is a challenging and exciting character because he’s so complex," said Elba. "While he’s capable of great kindness and loyalty, sometimes he steps over the edge of madness – simmering with anger and rage." Luther will air in autumn of 2010 on BBC One. (Broadcast)

Taking a page out of its Lost handbook, ABC is turning to some rather unique marketing opportunities for its upcoming ensemble drama series FlashForward. The network has begun including codes in its most recent print ads for the ABC Studios-produced series. According to Variety's Michael Schneider, "When users hold the black-and-white codes up to a webcam, the picture on their computer screen turns into a 3-D ad for FlashForward, featuring photos from the show. And if clicked, the pics turn into minute-plus clips from the show." Those ads will be placed in niche publications that, er, shall we say cross over with the series' intended audience, such as Wired, Popular Mechanics, and several gaming publications. And if you're not a subscriber to one of those magazines, fret not: you can download the ad here. (Variety)

Vanity Fair has a fantastic interview with Mad Men's Vincent Kartheiser, who plays the petulant Pete Campbell on the AMC period drama series. "I think one of the things Matt [Weiner, the show’s creator] really wanted with Pete was someone who didn’t villainize him from the inside out," Kartheiser tells Vanity Fair's Bruce Handy. "Take the pilot, that scene with Peggy, where Pete’s kind of dressing her down—he really thinks he’s being helpful and actually we had to do that scene quite a few times just to get that tone right for me. It was something that Matt and [director] Alan Taylor kept trying to finesse with me, to get to that point where it is rude but it’s really said from this helpful place. But I’m constantly reminding myself with Pete Campbell that the words kind of do the work for me. I don’t have to add any sort of emphasis to it—it’s there... the characters are written with such humanism. So even though, like you say, Pete comes from this place of being a villain, that’s something Matt carefully writes away from." (Vanity Fair)

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan waxes enthusiastically about the fun and loopy charms of HBO's vampire drama series True Blood, which she says isn't "a carefully assembled feast," but rather an "enjoyable jambalaya packed with every thing the chef had close at hand. It's a jam-packed, all-you-can-eat buffet served with a side of crazy." You know you want to sink your teeth into this piece. (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

FOX has given a script order to multi-camera comedy Extended Family, about a blue-collar woman who raises foster children. Project, from Sony Pictures Television and Apostle, is written and executive produced by According to Jim's John Beck and Ron Hart. The duo have also sold a pilot script for multi-camera comedy Many Wives of Jon to TV Land; that project is about a young couple whose lives change when the wife's family moves in. (Hollywood Reporter)

Recasting alert! Bella Thorne (My Own Worst Enemy) will replace Jolean Wejbe on HBO's Big Love, where she will recur as Tancy (a.k.a. Teeny) Henrickson. Thorne was originally cast as Christie, the anger-prone daughter of Barb's sister Cindy (Judith Hoag). It's not immediately clear whether that part has been scrapped or will be recast as well. (Hollywood Reporter)

BBC Two has ordered two spin-off series from its culinary competition series The Restaurant, which airs Stateside under the title Last Restaurant Standing. The first, Plate Expectations, will follow Season Two contestants James Knight-Pacheco and Alasdair Hooper as they launch their own catering company. The second, Step By Step, will show Raymond Blanc demonstrating his own recipes. Both are set to launch on the UK channel in October to coincide with the launch of the third season of The Restaurant. (Broadcast)

Food Network has renewed daytime cooking series Ten Dollar Dinners, which features The Next Food Network Star's fifth season winner Melissa d'Arabian, for a second season. The series will tape thirteen additional episodes in December and the network will launch the series' second season in early 2010. (via press release)

Documentary shingle Ten Alps, owned by Bob Geldolf, has signed a three-year distribution deal with BBC Worldwide. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


rockauteur said…
Will Plate Expectations be coming to BBC America next year?
Jace Lacob said…
Good question. I'll have to check with BBC America.
Farrah said…
I'm really looking forward to the new Idris Elba project. Sounds like the perfect role for him. He was amazing in The Wire but I have to admit that his character in The Office didn't quite work for me (although, most likely, it was the writing and not his performance). Either way, I'm happy to see him back in a dramatic show and the premise of Luther sounds really interesting.

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