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Channel Surfing: Benjamin Bratt Heads for "Modern Family," Amy Sherman-Palladino Sets Up Project at HBO, "Game of Thrones" Lures Another, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing.

Benjamin Bratt (The Cleaner) has been cast as a guest star on ABC's Modern Family, where he will play the ex-husband of Sofia Vergara's Gloria. Bratt is currently slated to appear in one episode of the ABC comedy series, where his character has been mentioned but not yet seen. Look for some friction between Bratt's character and Ed O'Neill's Jay. (Hollywood Reporter)

Great news for Gilmore Girls fans. Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino will write and executive produce an untitled dramedy project for pay cabler HBO about the "complicated relationship between three adult sisters, all writers sharing the same upper east side apartment building, and their mother, a domineering literary lioness who reserves most of her affections for their ne'er-do-well brother," according to Hollywood Reporter's Nellie Andreeva. The project marks the first time that Sherman-Palladino has worked in cable. (Editor: I am keeping my fingers crossed for this one!) (Hollywood Reporter)

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan is reporting that child actor Isaac Hempstead-Wright has been cast in HBO's fantasy pilot Game of Thrones, which starts production on October 24th. Ryan also notes that Jamie Campbell Bower (The Prisoner) is currently speculated to have been cast as the pilot's Waymar Royce but has not been able to confirm the rumor. (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

FOX has given a script order to an untitled drama pilot from writer/executive producer Ben Watkins (Burn Notice) about an undercover female investigator of mixed heritage who questions her own identity, having been adopted as a baby. "This is a character who has never truly felt like she belongs anywhere," the bi-racial Watkins told Variety. "The coping mechanism that she developed as a kid makes her able to fit in anywhere." Project, from 20th Century Fox Television, will be executive produced by Mike Tollin. (Variety)

SPOILER! E! Online's Jennifer Godwin talks to Melrose Place star Katie Cassidy about the upcoming "major character death" on the CW soap that will be a "turning point of the season so far." According to Cassidy, "Everyone's going to be surprised. [The death] is a shocker, but at the same time, it's really good." Cassidy also teases some scoop about what's coming up on Melrose. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Todd Stashwick (The Riches) has been cast in a recurring role on NBC's Heroes, where he will play Eli, a member of the traveling carnival who has "close ties to the carnival's evil ringleader Samuel (Robert Knepper)." (Hollywood Reporter)

In other Heroes-related news, E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos is hinting at the possible, er, departure of one of the series' regulars. No concrete information is provided but Dos Santos writes that the character is male. Read into that whatever you will. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Steve Harris (The Practice) has joined the cast of Friday Night Lights in a recurring role, according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. He'll play Vernon Merriweather, "an ex-football star and the father of East Dillon newbie Jess (Jurnee Smollett)," and is slated to appear in about seven episodes. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)'s Natalie Abrams has an interview with Scrubs star Sarah Chalke about the upcoming season of the medical comedy series, which is undergoing a transformation this season. Chalke is slated to appear in several episodes this season with her Elliot undergoing some transformations of her own... (

The Wrap's Josef Adalian is reporting that ABC has landed the untitled Matthew Perry/Jamie Tarses project that was announced yesterday. (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

FOX has announced a November 8th airdate for primetime special Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show, which will feature Seth MacFarlane and Alex Borstein stepping in front of the camera for a commercial-free half-hour special that will feature "marketing messages" for Microsoft's Windows 7. The special will feature both animated and live-action sketches. (Variety)

Bravo is getting back into the Jackie Warner business as it develops a new reality series entitled Thintervention with Jackie Warner, which will see the Warner help participants to lose weight in their "day-to-day environment rather than in a Biggest Loser-style fat camp." The cabler was originally developing a concept where Warner would help struggling gyms get back on their feet financially but the weight-loss concept has now replaced that project. Project, from Shed Media, will have Warner "kick butt and inspire drastic lifestyle changes for her overweight clients who are struggling to lose weight and get healthy for good." (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

20th Century Fox Television has signed a two-year overall deal with Family Guy executive producer David Goodman, under which he will remain on the animated series (while no longer serving as showrunner) and will develop animated and live-action projects for the studio, including an animated comedy pilot presentation from writer Jason Ruiz entitled Fathers and Son. (Variety)

SVP Christina Davis will oversee drama development at CBS following the departure of the department's co-head Robert Zotnowski. The Eye has also promoted Yelena Chak and Bryan Seabury. (Hollywood Reporter)

Australian viewers will get the chance to see BBC's period drama series Desperate Romantics, created by Peter Bowker (Blackpool), following a deal between BBC Worldwide and ABC TV. (Broadcast)

3 Ball Entertainment has hired Brant Pinvidic as EVP of development and promoted Dan Snook to VP of development. The former will report to JD Roth and Todd Nelson. (Variety)

Warner Bros. Entertainment has hired former Yahoo executive Dave Dickman as SVP of digital media sales for Warner Bros. Television Group. (Hollywood Reporter)

Annual market and conference NATPE will move its home from Las Vegas to Miami's South Beach in January 2011. "Miami Beach is easily accessible to our attendees from the U.S., Europe and Latin America," said NATPE President/CEO Rick Feldman. "The entire hotel with its new ocean view suites and a floor marketplace will be ours alone. NATPE will be under one roof in an environment that will provide unlimited possibilities for business being done in a most efficient and enjoyable manner." (Broadcasting & Cable)

Stay tuned.


Henley said…
I can totally see Benjamin Bratt as Manny's father. Great casting!

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