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Channel Surfing: Sarah Wynter Gets "Damages," "Life on Mars" Creators Developing at ABC, "Party Down" in April, CBS Counts Down "Numb3rs," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Sarah Wynter (24) has joined the cast of FX's Damages in a recurring role on the series' third season, set to launch in early 2010. She joins the previously reported Reiko Aylesworth, Martin Short, Lily Tomlin, and Campbell Scott. Wynter will play a mysterious "'security specialist' helping a high-level assistant district attorney unravel" a financial scheme; Aylesworth will play the wife of Campbell Scott's character. [Editor: I've also just been informed that "Short's character is a high-powered attorney (family friend) who defends a prominent NY family accused of the financial scheme. Lily Tomlin plays the matriarch of the family."] (Hollywood Reporter)

Life on Mars creators Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham have been commissioned by BBC Worldwide new drama czar Jane Tranter to write the script for an ABC drama pilot described as a "California cop show with a British twist." Should the project--executive produced by Julie Gardner--go to pilot, it would be produced by BBC Worldwide's Los Angeles production team and Pharoah and Gardner would remain heavily involved, unlike their limited creative involvement with the US version of Life on Mars. (Broadcast)

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan is reporting that Starz comedy series Party Down will return for its second season in April. Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Martin Starr, Ryan Hansen, and Lizzy Caplan are set to return for Season Two and will be joined by new series regular Megan Mullally. Kristen Bell, Jane Lynch, J.K. Simmons, Joey Lauren Adams, Steve Guttenberg (playing himself), and Christopher Mintz-Plasse are all set to guest star this time around. (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

CBS has cut back the episodic order this season for procedural drama Numb3rs from a full 22 episodes to just 16. Many, including Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello, are viewing the decision as a sign that it might be the final season for Numb3rs and that Canadian co-pro Flashpoint might take over the Friday night timeslot. Elsewhere at the network, CBS increased the episodic orders for How I Met Your Mother, NCIS, NCIS: LA, CSI: Miami, and Two and a Half Men to 24 installments, while Criminal Minds, CSI: NY, The Big Bang Theory, The Good Wife, CSI, and The Mentalist, have all been bumped to 23 installments. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files, Variety)

FX is developing period Western Reconstruction, about a wealthy East Coaster shaken by war who takes refuge in a Missouri town during the post-Civil War reconstruction. Project hails from executive producers Joshua Brand and Peter Horton; Brand will write the script while Horton is attached to direct. (Hollywood Reporter)

HBO is developing a telepic based on Mark Bowden's nonfiction book "Guests of the Ayatollah: The Iran Hostage Crisis, The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam" about the 444-day hostage crisis involving 66 Americans seized and held hostage for over a year. Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center) has been attached to adapt the book and William Horberg will executive produce. (Variety)

Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice is reporting that ABC, Mark Gordon, and Roland Emmerich are developing a series-based sequel to their upcoming disaster film 2012. “The plan is that it is 2013 and it’s about what happens after the disaster,” Emmerich told Entertainment Weekly. "It is about the resettling of Earth. That is very, very fascinating. (2012 writer/producer) Harald Kloser and I came up with the idea and we have the luxury of having a producer on the film who is a big TV producer, Mark Gordon. We said to Mark, 'Why don’t you do a TV show that picks up where the movie leaves off and call it 2013?' I think it will focus on a group of people who survived but not on the boats... maybe they were on a piece of land that was spared or one that became an island in the process of the crust moving. There are so many possibilities of what they could do and I’d be excited to watch it." (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

NBC has signed a first look deal with Don Cheadle's production company Crescendo, which has several projects already set up at NBC, ABC, TNT, and FX, including an ABC drama based on feature film The Star Chamber with writer Zack Estrin attached and an NBC cop drama from The Shield's John Hlavin. (Variety)

TVGuide.com's Natalie Abrams talks to Arielle Kebbel, who guest stars in Thursday's episode of the CW's Vampire Diaries as vampire Lexi. "She is about as much fun as anyone who's 300-and-something years old," said Kebbel about Lexi, an ancient friend of Stefan's. "She's this burst of energy, a complete life force. It's safe to say she's pretty much been everywhere, seen everything, lived every moment and that makes her even stronger, even more confident, even more sarcastic because she has all of this life experience behind her." (TVGuide.com)

Grace Gummer has been cast opposite Gia Mantegna in TeenNick drama series Gigantic, where she will play the 17-year-old daughter of a celebrity couple. Project is set to debut in early 2010. (Hollywood Reporter)

TLC is continuing to make a push into wedding-themed programming, ordering several new projects including November 13th special Battle of the Wedding Planners, six-episode docudrama Happily Ever Faster, about Las Vegas' Chapel of the Flowers, ten-episode reality series Four Weddings, in which four brides attend and score each others nuptials, and Manhattan Marriage Project, which follows wedding planner Gino Filippone. (Variety)

More changes afoot at OWN as Oprah Winfrey Show co-executive producer Lisa Erspamer has been named chief creative officer; she'll assume the position beginning in January and will report to Christina Norman. (Variety)

Jennifer Beals (Lie to Me) has been cast in Hallmark Channel telepic The Night Before the Night Before Christmas, about a family whose home is the crash site for a very early Santa Claus. Pic is set to air next year. (via press release)

Stay tuned.

Comments

RT said…
Jace, the information given about Martin Short's character is incorrect. Short's character is a high-powered attorney (family friend) who defends a prominent NY family accused of the financial scheme. Lily Tomlin plays the matriarch of the family.
The high-level ADA is a different character.
Just to clarify...
Jace Lacob said…
Thanks for the tip, RT! I've adjusted it above to clarify and included the info you shared. Many thanks!
Rachelle said…
Regardless of who he's playing, I think it's fascinating that Martin Short is going to be in Damages. I am very interested to see how both he and Lily Tomlin fit into the show.
Elizabeth said…
I look forward to seeing the BBC's California Cop show. Julie Gardner rarely disappointed me in her time at BBC drama. I'm hoping their streak holds.

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