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Channel Surfing: J.J. Abrams to Direct "Undercovers," Eric Dane and Kate Walsh Up for "Grey's" Crossover, Comedy Central Peels "Onion," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

J.J. Abrams is in talks to direct his NBC espionage drama pilot Undercovers for Warner Bros. Television, marking the first time that he has directed a pilot since the series premiere of ABC's Lost. Details of Undercovers, said to be about a husband-and-wife team of spies, have been kept tightly under wraps but several have described it as a cross between Mr. and Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity. Project is written by Josh Reims (Felicity, Dirty Sexy Money), who will executive produce with Abrams and Bryan Burk. (Hollywood Reporter)

SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Shonda Rhimes' next Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice crossover will revolve around Eric Dane and Kate Walsh. "Mark summons Addison to Seattle Grace to perform a surgery on [a patient] (a.k.a. Leven Rambin)," writes Ausiello. "The storyline spills over into Private when, according exec producer Shonda Rhimes, 'complications arise and Mark ends up taking [her] back down to Los Angeles to get more surgery.'" (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Comedy Central is producing a half-hour pilot based on The Onion's Onion Sports Network website. The potential series "is designed to appeal to both casual and hardcore fans of sports as well as the Onion's well-defined style of humor," according to Variety's Jon Weisman. Project will be executive produced by Julie Smith and Will Graham. (Variety)

HBO is developing half-hour drama series T, about a woman who is transitioning into a man via gender resassignment. Project will be written and executive produced by husband-and-wife team Dan Futterman and Anya Epstein, who have just been made executive producers on HBO's In Treatment. Ira Glass and Alissa Shipp will also executive produce. (Variety)

ABC is developing six projects with David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman's Mandeville, the shingle behind USA's Monk, including: workplace comedy Kegs, about a family that runs a beer distribution company from writers Jason Filardi and Mark Perez; drama Tarrytown, about a single mom who moves in with her brother and his daughter when they inherit their father's rundown house in Tarrytown, Texas, from writer R. Lee Fleming; crime drama 1-8-7 Detroit from writer Jason Richman; drama Dorchester Heights, about five friends in Boston whose friendship is put to the test when secrets spill out following the death of one of their close friends, from writer Nikki Toscano; and an untitled drama about a man in his forties who begins to live the life of a twenty-something after suffering a head injury, from writer Joy Gregory. Mandeville has a first-look deal with ABC. (Variety)

Cartoon Network has ordered its first two live-action scripted drama series, with action mystery Unnatural History and thriller Tower Prep getting the greenlight for thirteen episodes apiece. The first project revolves around a high schooler who, along with his charismatic cousin, finds himself caught up in mysteries surrounding the national museum; project was created by Mike Werb and will be produced by Warner Horizon. The latter, Tower Prep, follows a rebellious teen who awakens to find himself trapped at a mysterious prep school for students with "unique potential." Project is written and executive produced by Paul Dini for Cartoon Network Studios and Dolphin Entertainment. (Hollywood Reporter)

A&E has given a pilot order to crime drama Sugarloaf, about a former Chicago cop who is "kicked off the force after being shot by his ex-captain, who wrongfully accused him in having an affair with his wife. After receiving a payout, Longworth, an observant detective with a sly sense of humor, moves to a small Florida town and joins the state police." The titular cop will be played by Aussie actor Matt Passmore. Project, from Fox Television Studios, is written by Clifton Campbell, who will executive produce with Gary Randall, and will be directed by Peter O'Fallon. Elsewhere at the cabler, Jeffrey Nordling (24), John Heard (Southland), and Michael Arden (Kings) have been cast opposite Radha Mitchell in drama pilot The Quickening. (Hollywood Reporter)

Syndication news: CBS' crime procedural The Mentalist, produced by Warner Bros. Television, has been sold its off-network rights to TNT, who will begin airing the series weekly beginning in fall 2011 and then increase to a full syndication run the following year; price tag was said to be in the region of $2.2-2.3 million per episode. Elsewhere, USA locked up off-network rights to CBS' new series NCIS: LA for roughly the same price; the cabler will begin airing the series weekly in September 2011 and then in a daily strip in 2013. (Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood Reporter)

Former CBS Television Distribution executive Kathy Samuels has been hired as executive producer at Hasbro Studios, the TV production division of the toy manufacturer. (Variety)

Joe Schlosser has been promoted to SVP of NBC Entertainment Television Publicity. He'll report to Rebecca Marks. (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

Former NBC Entertainment topper Warren Littlefield has signed a deal with Doubleday for a memoir about his time at the Peacock, during which he had a hand in overseeing the development of "Must See TV" Thursdays. (Variety)

Scripps Networks Interactive have reached a deal with Cox Communication acquire a 65 percent stake in the Travel Channel, with the companies forming a joint venture that will act as an umbrella for Travel. Deal is expected to close by January. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Cassie said…
Very excited about Undercovers. Should be fun. Especially with J.J. directing the pilot!
Undercovers said…
LOVED Alias, can't wait to see what this is gonna be like!!

There's some casting sides out already:

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