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Channel Surfing: J.J. Abrams Back in Spy Game, Aylesworth Briefed for "Damages," FX Orders "Terriers," "Lights Out" to Series, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

The Wrap's Josef Adalian is reporting that J.J. Abrams is returning to the spy business with a new potential series project with writer/executive producer Josh Reims (Felicity, Dirty Sexy Money) and executive producer Bryan Burk that is the subject of a heated bidding war with several broadcast networks including ABC, NBC, and CBS. The untitled project, from Warner Bros. Television and Bad Robot, follows a husband and wife who work as spies. According to Adalian, the script is described as a "fun romp" in the style of classic television spy adventures. (The Wrap)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Reiko Aylesworth (24, Lost) has been cast in Season Three of FX's legal drama Damages in a recurring role. Details about who Aylesworth--who starred in the original pilot for ABC drama series The Forgotten--will be playing are being kept firmly under wraps. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

FX has given series orders to dramas Lights Out and Terriers, ordering thirteen episodes of each series. Fox21's Terriers, which stars Donal Logue as a former cop who launches an unlicensed private eye firm with his best friend (Michael Raymond-James), is set to debut in Summer 2010. It was created and will be executive produced by Ted Griffin and Shawn Ryan. Lights Out, from Fox Television Studios and FX Prods., stars Holt McCalleny as a former boxing champ who tries to support his wife and children. Series, from creator Justin Zackham, executive producer/showrunner Warren Leight, and executive producers Phillip Noyce and Ross Fineman, will launch in late 2010. That series will undergo some casting changes from the pilot episode, which had been tweaked by Leight. (Hollywood Reporter)

Rumors swirled yesterday that Comcast was in talks to acquire part or all of NBC Universal for $35 billion, but Comcast was quick to shoot down a report on The Wrap, saying that it was "inaccurate." (Editor: not untrue but inaccurate. Hmmm.) What is clear, however, is that the two companies are in talks of some kind as the deadline looms in the next few months for former Universal owner Vivendi to decide what to do with its remaining 20 percent ownership stake in the company, said to be in the neighborhood of $4 billion. Stay tuned on this one. (Broadcasting & Cable, Variety)

USA has given a cast-contingent pilot order to legal drama Facing Kate about a divorced lawyer in San Francisco who leaves her job as an attorney to become a mediator. Project, from Universal Cable Prods., is written by Michael Sardo, who will executive produce with Steve Stark and Russ Buchholz. (Hollywood Reporter)

E! Online's Megan Masters speaks with Modern Family star Ty Burrell about what's coming up on the ABC comedy series, including this little doozy: "Jay likes to fly model airplanes, so Phil goes out to fly [them] with him, and Jay gets fed up with Phil yacking on, so that goes sour." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Bravo is developing three new series around some of its most memorable stars, including Real Housewives' Bethenny Frankel, Project Runway's Christian Siriano, and Top Chef's Fabio Viviani. Frankel's as-yet-untitled series, from Shed Media, will follow her as she looks for love and grows her business as a natural foods chef. Siriano's series will follow the flamboyant designer as he opens a shop and promotes his clothing line. Viviani will star in Fabio: A Catered Affair, which will follow him and his business parter Jacopo Falleni as they look to "expand their restaurant and catering business in Los Angeles." The latter two projects hail from Magical Elves. (Variety)

Guest stars aplenty for ABC's Ugly Betty. E! Online's Megan Masters is reporting that Christie Brinkley will join the cast of the dramedy this season as rival fashion editrix Penelope Graybridge while Shakira will guest star as herself in a November episode of Ugly Betty that finds the Mode staffers overseeing a photo shoot in the Bahamas. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

ABC Family has given pilot orders to two comedies. The first, an untitled multi-camera comedy starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, will see the duo play a "a political dynasty wild child-turned-politician who takes in her teenage niece and pre-adolescent nephew when her sister goes to prison and her brother-in-law flees. She turns for help to Jack (Lawrence), who, desperate for a job, moves in and becomes the family's "manny.'" (Whew.) That project is from writers Bob Young and David Kendall, who will executive produce with Melissa Joan Hart, Paula Hart, and Joey Lawrence. The second greenlight went to an untitled single-camera comedy from writer/executive producer Michael Jacobs about a father who gets laid off from his architecture firm who "begins to mentor his underdog middle daughter, while his veterinarian wife shares a closer bond with their Type A older daughter." (Hollywood Reporter)

CBS Studios International has closed deals to bring several of its new series to the UK, with rights deals in place for NCIS: Los Angeles at Sky1 and The Good Wife and Accidentally on Purpose at Channel 4. Sky1 will launch NCIS: Los Angeles on October 21st while The Good Wife will bow on on More4 and Accidentally on Purpose on E4. (Broadcast, Variety)

R.J. Cutler's reality single Actual Reality has signed a co-production deal with Evolution Media under which Evolution will co-produce the nonscripted projects that the company has at MTV, Bravo, TruTV, and Sony Pictures Television and will have a first-look option at any new projects that Actual Reality develops. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Hammond said…
The new J.J. series sounds like it could be fun, especially if it truly embraces the classic spy genre.

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