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Channel Surfing: Julie Benz Lands on Wisteria Lane, Kim Raver Upped to Regular on "Grey's," "True Blood" Nabs "Southland" Star, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing... and welcome back to work (sorry!) and as 2010 gets underway.

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that former Dexter star Julie Benz has been cast in a recurring role on ABC's Desperate Housewives this season. She'll play Debbie, described as "a stripper with a heart of gold and a Masters degree in education," according to Ausiello, who says that "when Susan offers her the chance to transition into a more legitimate career, Deb jumps at it." Benz's first appearance is set for February and she will appear in at least three episodes of Desperate Housewives this season. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Former Lipstick Jungle star Kim Raver has been promoted to series regular on ABC's Grey's Anatomy, shortly after joining the cast of the medical drama as a recurring character. Raver plays surgical cardiologist Teddy Altman and is slated to appear in nearly every remaining episode of Grey's Anatomy this season. (Hollywood Reporter)

The Hollywood Reporter's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that Kevin Alejandro (Southland) has been cast in Season Three of HBO's True Blood, where he will play Jesus, described as "a Latino orderly who is taking care of Ruby Jean Reynolds (Alfre Woodard) at her care facility and becomes involved with her son, Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis)." But Southland fans needn't worry: Alejandro remains a series regular on the now TNT-based cop drama series. (Hollywood Reporter

Luke Wilson and Diane Ladd will star opposite Laura Dern in HBO single-camera comedy pilot Enlightened, from writer/executive producer Mike White. Also cast: Charles Esten (who will recur) and Amy Hill. Dern stars in the project as Amy, a woman who, following a meltdown, becomes spiritually enlightened. Wilson will play Levi, Amy's druggie ex-husband; Ladd will play Amy's mother/roommate; Hill will play a HR executive at Amy's office; Esten will play Amy's boss/former lover. (Hollywood Reporter)

All's right with the world: Comedy Central has canceled The Jeff Dunham Show, which will not be returning for a second season. The cancellation, however, won't affect Dunham's overall deal with the cable channel, which will still produce a stand-up special, live tour, and DVD for the ventriloquist-comedian. (Variety)

Recasting is underway on FX drama series Lights Out. Catherine McCormack (28 Weeks Later) has replaced Melora Hardin (The Office), who played a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and the wife of an aging boxing champion (Holt McCallany) attempting to support his family after he is diagnosed with a rare neurological condition. Meanwhile, Stacy Keach (Prison Break) has replaced Kevin Conway on the Fox Television Studios-produced project; he'll play the father of McCallany's Leary. (Hollywood Reporter)

Syndicated talk show The Tyra Banks Show will wrap its run up this spring, following Banks' decision to focus more of her attention on her production company. The CW will keep the daytime talk show on the air through the 2010-11 season by airing best-of repeats. (Variety)

Johnathan McClain (24), Casey Wilson (Saturday Night Live), Jessica Walter (Arrested Development), and Christine Ebersole (Royal Pains) will star opposite George Segal in TV Land's multi-camera comedy pilot Retired at 35, about a businessman who leaves New York and moves into his father's retirement community in Florida. (Hollywood Reporter)

Shonda Rhimes' ABC Studios-based production shingle, Shondaland, has hired former Paramount Vantage executive Rachel Eggebeen as a development executive; she'll work with Rhimes and Betsy Beers to develop new programming. (Variety)

According to Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice, NBC is said to be in talks to resurrect canceled reality series Last Comic Standing. "NBC’s reality guru Paul Telegdy is looking to re-launch the franchise with a new host (so long, Bill Bellamy!) and some format changes so it can air as part of the network’s summer lineup, which includes America’s Got Talent and (possibly) the new Losing it with Jillian, featuring The Biggest Loser’s Jillian Michaels," writes Rice. (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Food Network has renewed culinary series Alex's Day Off, featuring chef Alexandra Guarnaschelli, for a second season of thirteen episodes, which will launch on the cabler in April. (Variety)

Ashley Tisdale and Jessica Horowitz's Blondie Girl Prods. has signed a multiple-year producing deal with RelativityReal, the reality television division of Relativity Media. Under the terms of the deal, Tisdale will develop and executive produce new series for both broadcast and cable. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Sue said…
Excited about Julie Benz on Housewives. I don't watch Dexter (yes, I know - sacrilege!), but I loved her in Angel.

Not so excited about Kim Raver on Grey's. She acts the same in every role that she takes on. Kind of a one-trick pony to me.
True Blood said…
We think he will be a great addition to the cast and think that Kevin Alejandro will be very popular on the show.

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