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Channel Surfing: Forest Whitaker Circling "Criminal Minds," Macaulay Culkin Could Find "Big Love," "Damages" Twist, "Mad Men," "Fringe," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing.

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Forest Whitaker (The Shield) is nearing a deal to come aboard CBS' in-development spin-off of Criminal Minds as the series lead. The spinoff would air as a backdoor pilot as an episode of Criminal Minds this spring. "Whitaker would play Cooper, the new team’s fiercely loyal and intensely private leader," writes Ausiello. "A former star profiler in the BAU, Coop’s been off the grid for the last eight years — leaving only a trail of rumors in his wake." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck is reporting that Macaulay Culkin could be destined for a role on HBO's Big Love next season, should the drama be renewed by the pay cabler. Culkin, who is friends with Golden Globe winner Chloe Sevigny, visited the set recently and spent time with co-creator Will Scheffer. "He watches the show and we can see him fitting into either the compound or the Mormon world," Scheffer told Keck. Scheffer also said that the Culkin could be a part of the series' drive to "expand [the] show's youth franchise" and would "make a great young evangelist." (TV Guide)

Wondering just why the producers of FX's Damages decided to employ that particular plot twist in last night's shocking third season premiere? Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has a short interview with creators Todd A. Kessler and Glenn Kessler about the twist (which I won't put here.) But in brief: it ties into what Todd A. Kessler says is "the theme of the entire series being 'What price success?'" (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

It seems as though Mad Men's Bryan Batt--who played the closeted Salvatore Romano--won't be heading over to the new agency for Season Four of Mad Men, set to air this summer on AMC. While production is slated to begin on the new season in March, Batt has yet to hear anything from the producers, despite his notification period being up on December 31st. “"e don’t murder people on our show, but for there to be any stakes, there have to be consequences," said executive producer Matthew Weiner. "[Losing Bryan] was a tough moment for the show, but that’s where we are. I know how people felt about Bryan. I obviously love working with him, and he has been an indelible character since the pilot. But I felt it was an expression of the times that he couldn’t work there anymore. It’s the ultimate case of sexual harassment." (TV Guide)

SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has some clues about what's coming up on FOX's Fringe as the countdown to the season (and possibly series) finale gets underway. That finale will contain a showdown between John Noble's Walter Bishop and Leonard Nimoy's William Bell. "William and Walter will finally face off in the finale," consulting producer Akiva Goldsman, who is directing the two-part season finale, told Ausiello. "We’re going to be looking very closely into Peter’s [Joshua Jackson] identity, Walter’s choices in the past, and Walter’s choices in the future. And by the end of the season, we’re all going over to the other side." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

CBS has renewed comedy How I Met Your Mother for a sixth season. Move comes on the heels of series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas signing a three-year overall deal with studio 20th Century Fox Television, which will keep them overseeing HIMYM for another three seasons. (Hollywood Reporter)

Elsewhere at the Eye, CBS has renewed reality franchises Survivor and The Amazing Race, with Survivor on track for another two cycles (the series' 21st and 22nd) and Amazing Race to return for a 17th cycle. (Variety)

CBS has handed out pilot orders to two comedy pilots. Multi-camera comedy Hitched, from executive producers Josh Schwartz and Matt Miller (Chuck) and Warner Bros. Television, revolves around a newly married couple in their twenties who are still getting to know one another, while the untitled multi-camera comedy from writer Tad Quill and CBS Television Studios centers on a widower who attempts to get back into the dating world while raising a pre-teen son. Elsewhere, ABC gave a pilot order to superhero drama No Ordinary Family, from writer/executive producers Jon Feldman and Greg Berlanti (Dirty Sexy Money) and ABC Studios, about a family that suddenly discovers they have superpowers. Also at ABC: multi-camera comedy Freshman, about three newly minted members of Congress, from writer/executive producer Greg Malins, executive producer Arianna Huffington, and 20th Century Fox Television; and an untitled multi-camera comedy pilot, from Joe Port, Joe Wiseman and ABC Studios, about siblings trying to come to terms with their parents' divorce. FOX ordered a pilot for legal drama Pleading Guilty, based on Scott Turow's novel, from writer Jason Tracey, director Jon Avnet, and executive producers Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope. (Variety, Hollywood Reporter)

Pilot director alert! Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) will direct FOX drama Midland, about a polygamist in the oil industry. Over at ABC, Jeff Nachmanoff (The Day After Tomorrow) has will direct drama pilot 187 Detroit, about the top homicide division in Detroit. (Hollywood Reporter)

TV Guide's Will Keck talks to Harold Perrineau about his return later this season to ABC's Lost. "I was always open to returning because there was stuff I thought was unresolved," said Perrineau. "I’m hoping we can put Michael to rest in a way we haven’t done so far." (TV Guide)

The CW is developing a spinoff of its supernatural drama Supernatural but the project, entitled Ghostfacers, won't air on linear television but rather online. Project, which revolves around a group of ghost hunters who film their adventures, will run as ten three-minute episodes, at least initially. Ghostfacers--written by A.J. Buckley and Travis Wester and starring Buckley, Wester, Brittany Ishibashi, and Austin Basis--will premiere on TheWB.com and will also run on the CW's website. (Variety)

Syfy has announced that 1.6 million viewers tuned in to Friday's broadcast of the two-hour Caprica pilot while the premiere has already been viewed by "2 million viewers on various distribution platforms including Hulu, Syfy.com, DVD sales, free on demand offerings, Apple and Amazon downloads and film-festival screenings prior to its Syfy debut." (Broadcasting & Cable)

Over at Starz, 553,000 viewers tuned into the launch of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the best series debut numbers in the pay cabler's history, while another 460,000 watched on Encore. (Variety)

ABC Family is said to be close to ordering a pilot for drama Sasha Paley's young-adult novel "Huge," about two girls at a weight-loss camp who fall for the same guy. Project, from Alloy Entertainment and executive producers Leslie Morgenstein and Bob Levy, will be written by My So-Called Life creator Winnie Holzman and her daughter, Savannah Dooley. (Hollywood Reporter)

History has given a series order to Only in America with Larry the Cable Guy, in which the comedian will explore "the country, immersing himself in different lifestyles, jobs and hobbies that "celebrate the American experience.'" (Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

FOX's musical game show Don't Forget the Lyrics is returning, but this time to syndication. Twentieth Television has cleared the series, to be hosted by Mark McGrath, on first-run syndication on FOX owned and operated affiliates in the top 10 markets and the series will also be stripped weekdays on VH1. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Lauren9to5 said…
I could definitely see Macaulay Culkin on Big Love. They do such an incredible job with their casting. I think he would be great!
Josef said…
Sad to hear there's not going to be anymore Sal on Mad Men. I can understand why he wouldn't be a part of the new agency but also feel like his story was somewhat unresolved. Maybe they'll bring him back in some capacity in the future...

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