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Channel Surfing: Vinnie Jones Spies "Chuck," Lip-Lock Causes Sparks on "Fringe," Showtime Could Unleash "The Borgias," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

British actor and former footballer Vinnie Jones (Loaded) will guest star on an upcoming installment of NBC's action-comedy series Chuck, which returns with its third season next year. Jones will play Karl Stromberg, "an expert hit man with a soft side," on the Warner Bros. Television-produced series. Jones has also been attached to an untitled new series based on a comic book by Howard Chaykin about an "international spy who teams with his long-lost daughters he never knew existed." That project hails from Elevate Entertainment and Prodigy Pictures, the Canadian production company behind NBC mini-series XIII. (Hollywood Reporter)'s Natalie Abrams has the scoop behind "that kiss" in the second season premiere of FOX's Fringe last night. According to Abrams, the lip-lock didn't come as a surprise to the two stars of the FOX drama, as they claim that a romantic past between the two characters was part of the subtext between the two over the last season. (Yes, I'm being pretty vague here but I don't want to spoil the show for anyone who didn't see it last night.) (

Showtime is said to be circling Neil Jordan's period drama The Borgias, which revolves around the scandals and vendettas of the murderous Italian Renaissance family. Project, from DreamWorks Television and ImageMovers, is written and executive produced by Neil Jordan (The Crying Game) and executive produced by Justin Flavey, Darryl Frank, Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke, and Steve Starkey; it's being viewed as a likely successor to The Tudors, which will wrap its fourth and final season this spring. (Variety)

ABC has ordered a pilot script for an untitled one-hour comedy about the lives of Las Vegas magicians Penn Jillette and Teller that will star the duo as versions of themselves who are magicians at night and "reluctant detectives" by day. Project, from Warner Bros. Television, will be written and executive produced by Leonard Dick (House) and Jillette and Teller. The network also ordered a pilot for an untitled multi-camera relationship comedy, from former Friends scribe Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Warner Bros. Television, about two sisters, one of whom is in a long-term relationship but unwed, the other who becomes pregnant and quickly marries her boyfriend. They also gave out a script order to another untitled multi-camera comedy, this time from ABC Studios and writers Brett Paesel and Marsh McCall, about a recent divorcee who attempts to rebuild her life by taking an unusual job. (Variety)

Elsewhere at ABC, the Alphabet has released the first seventeen minutes of its new drama series FlashForward, which is available for streaming viewing on Hulu. Coincidence that the network opted to release such a lengthy look just after the entire pilot leaked on Bit Torrent? Hmmm... (Hulu)

USA is said to be overhauling drama series In Plain Sight, hiring John McNamara (Jericho) as the series' new showrunner. McNamara, who signed an overall deal with studio Universal Cable Prods., will replace former showrunner and series creator David Maples, who will now step into the role of consultant, as will executive producer Paul Stupin. According to Variety's Michael Schneider, "the show will probably add a few new characters to the mix as viewers get to know more of McCormack's backstory and more of the other marshals in the office," and "more of the Witness Protection Program participants' stories may also be examined, and Wachtel said the show will likely take more advantage of the stark, desert New Mexico landscape." (Variety)

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan investigates the weakness of will-they-or-won't-they television couples, discussing "whether shows should constantly tease a couple possibly getting together and never actually do it," after expressing her frustration with the Booth/Brennan non-coupling on FOX's Bones. (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

Thora Birch (Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story) and Nancy Travis (The Bill Engvall Show) have been cast in Lifetime telepic Pregnancy Pact, which is inspired by actual events involving a teen pregnancy boom at a Massachusetts high school. Project, which will air next year, is written by Pamela Davis and Teena Booth and will be directed by Rosemary Rodriguez. (Hollywood Reporter)

In other MOW news, Billy Ray Cyrus has been cast in Hallmark Channel telepic Christmas in Canaan, about the unlikely friendship that develops in 1960s Texas between DJ (Zak Ludwig), who is white, and Rodney (Jaishon Fisher), who is black. Cyrus will play DJ's father in the telepic, which is based on a novel written by Kenny Rogers and Donald Davenport and is slated to air in December. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


The CineManiac said…
Usually pilots "leak" onto bit torrent a lot earlier, but this season it doesn't seem like many have.
But with only a week to go until the premiere, you'd think people could wait to watch it in HD on their TV rather than downloading it.
Dave said…
The somewhat surprising kiss paled in comparison to all the other amazing and wonderful plot twists on the season premiere of Fringe. Jace, your advance review was right on the money in terms of the new proactive direction for the Fringe Division and this season's high potential.
Holly-Go-Lite-Lee said…
The kiss certainly wasn't the most exciting moment of the episode but I was just thrilled that they're finally giving those two characters a little bit of back story. Very promising!
Tempest said…
Is it just me, or is Chuck getting some amazingly cool guests?

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