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Channel Surfing: Conan O'Brien Officially Closes Deal, NBC Bumps Up Episodic Orders, J. August Richards and Sarah Paulson to "Grey's," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

And it's over... Conan O'Brien and NBC have reached a deal that is said to be worth roughly $44 million and which will enable O'Brien to leave NBC and Jay Leno to take over hosting duties on the 11:35 pm Tonight Show. Citing a Wall Street Journal report, The Hollywood Reporter is reporting that O'Brien will receive $32 million from NBC and his staff will receive $12 million in severance from the network. O'Brien's final Tonight Show telecast will air tomorrow night. Under the terms of his deal, NBC will retain ownership of characters O'Brien and staffers created while at the network while O'Brien will be able to return to television in September, likely to launch a new latenight franchise at a rival network. Let the speculation about just where he'll end up (cough, FOX, cough) begin... now. (The Hollywood Reporter, The Wrap's TVMoJoe, The Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

With their primetime schedule in flux, NBC has ordered additional episodes of several current series, ordering three additional installments of Law & Order and two more of Law & Order: SVU to fill the 10 pm timeslot left vacant by Jay Leno. Additionally, the Peacock picked up four more episodes of formerly cancelled Trauma, three more episodes of Community, and two more episodes of Parks & Recreation. [Editor: The move means the latter two comedies, along with The Office, will air 25 episodes this season.] (Hollywood Reporter, Futon Critic)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that J. August Richards (Angel) and Sarah Paulson (Cupid) will guest star in the February 18th episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, where they will play respectively the younger versions of James Pickens Jr.'s Richard and Kate Burton's Ellis. "The flashback-heavy hour, appropriately titled 'Time Warp,' will shed light on the beginnings of the affair between the Chief and Mer’s mom," writes Ausiello. "In separate sequences, we’ll see Bailey in her pre-'Nazi' days, and Callie shortly before she was introduced on the show." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

AMC has ordered pilots for The Walking Dead, based on Robert Kirkman's comic book, and The Killing. (Televisionary)

Wondering about just what happened on last night's episode of FX's Nip/Tuck? Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello talks to the cast member involved in last night's cliffhanger and reveals just what really happened. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos is reporting that Rob Estes will be leaving the CW's 90210... and that it might explain the reason behind Jennie Garth's departure as well. Citing unnamed insiders, Dos Santos is reporting that Estes' contract negotiations broke down for next season but that the series' producers will willing to let him go because they want to focus less on the older generation of characters and more on the teens. "They just don't want the old people on the new show anymore," Dos Santos quotes one CW insider, while another says that 90210's producers are "trying to establish a separate identity for the new show." Meanwhile, the CW confirmed Estes' departure: "This is Rob's last season on 90210. He's a talented actor and we couldn't have asked for a better Harry Wilson. But if fans tune in, they'll understand why Rob's character is leaving." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Comedy Central's Adult Swim has renewed animated comedy Robot Chicken for two more seasons, ordering a total of 40 episodes that will comprise the series' fifth and sixth seasons. (Variety)

Undercovers casting alert! Carter MacIntyre (American Heiress) has joined the cast of J.J. Abrams' NBC espionage drama pilot Undercovers, where he will play "a CIA agent with a drinking problem who goes 'missing' while trailing a Russian arms dealer." (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC gave the greenlight to three drama pilots: dramedy Generation Y, from writer/executive producer Noah Hawley (The Unusuals) and based on a Scandinavian series, about a group of people who remember their lives ten years ago as high school seniors; female-driven dramedy Cutthroat, from writers/executive producers Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters (Reaper), 20th Century Fox Television, and ABC Studios, about a single mom who runs a drug cartel in Beverly Hills in order to keep up financially with her neighbors; and Jerry Bruckheimer-executive produced legal drama The Whole Truth, from writer Tom Donaghy, which gives equal weight to both the legal defense and the prosecution. (Variety)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Michael McKean will will reprise his role as Perry White on the CW's Smallville. News comes on the heels of the announcement that Annette O'Toole, McKean's real-life wife, will return to the superhero drama. "We’re thrilled to have Michael back on the show and to be able to link it with the anticipated return of Martha Kent is just a phenomenal way to gear up to the end of the season," executive producer Brian Peterson told Ausiello. "We finally get to see the legendary introduction between Perry White and the intrepid Lois Lane." McKean and O'Toole will appear in the 21st episode of the season. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Madchen Amick (Californication) has been cast in a recurring role on CBS' CSI: NY, where she will play a romantic interest for Detective Taylor (Gary Sinise). (Hollywood Reporter)'s Natalie Abrams talks with Grey's Anatomy's Jessica Capshaw about what's coming up for Callie and Arizona. "When they have issues, they communicate," said Capshaw. "They have fights, but they're there for one another. Clearly it wouldn't be a one-hour drama if there wasn't some conflict around the corner, so I'm sure there will be challenges soon, but right now they're riding the little wave of being happy." (

FOX has given a pilot order to multi-camera comedy Strange Brew, from writer/executive producers David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace). Project, which hails from Warner Bros. Television, revolves around a family that runs a brewery. (Hollywood Reporter)

A&E has ordered ten half-hour episodes of an untitled docusoap that will follow David Hasselhoff as he raises two teenage daughters as a single dad and attempts to help them achieve their dreams of becoming singers. Series, from FremantleMedia North America, is slated to air later this year. (via press release)

ION has ordered unscripted series The Emeril Lagasse Show, which will "capture Emeril's passion for people, entertainment, music, food and celebration." Series, set to debut March 28th, will feature Lagasse interacting with celebrity guests and the studio audience and pre-taped field pieces shot in New York City. (Hollywood Reporter)

Steve Harvey will replace John O'Hurley as the host of Family Feud beginning this fall. O'Hurley will depart the syndicated series after four seasons and will next be seen in a touring show of Chicago. (Broadcasting & Cable, Variety)

Stay tuned.


Heatherette said…
Hurray for two more episodes of Parks & Rec!

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