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Channel Surfing; HBO Renews "Big Love," Elizabeth Mitchell Talks "Lost," Cynthia Watros Heads to "House," "V" Adds Cast, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Break out the carrot and raisin salad (and mix up some fry sauce)! HBO has renewed drama series Big Love for a fifth season, with ten episodes set to air next winter. The long-running drama series has been on a roll of late, with ratings up 13 percent among viewers this season and some well-earned awards recognition, with Chloe Sevigny walking away with a Golden Globe for her performance as Nicki. "We've taken the show deeper and darker over the last couple of seasons," said executive producer Mark V. Olsen, "and we're overjoyed that HBO has come along with us." Production is expected to begin on Season Five in June or July. (Variety)

E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos and Jennifer Godwin have an interview with V and Lost star Elizabeth Mitchell. "I feel really bad for Juliet all the time," Mitchell told E! "I feel like, you know, karmically, maybe she's due, because when she was a prisoner, instead of being morally upright, she was Ben's (Michael Emerson) little henchman. But oh, she really has redeemed herself, so I feel like she's deserving of a lovely end. We'll see what happens. We've got another reality going on, and I'm sure she's probably tortured herself in that one, too, but hopefully in that reality we will get to see her happy and vibrant and excited. That to me, would be fun." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Cynthia Watros (Lost) has been cast in a multiple-episode story arc this season on FOX's House. Watros, who will first appear in April, is set to play the first ex-wife of Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard), "who comes back into his life as his new girlfriend." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck is reporting that Charles Measure (Crossing Jordan), Nicholas Lea (The X-Files), and Lexa Doig (The 4400) have been added to the back half of ABC's sci-fi series V. Mesure will play mercenary Kyle Hobbes, described as "an in-demand black ops expert who forms an unlikely alliance with the resistance when he’s hired by Erica (Elizabeth Mitchell), Ryan (Morris Chestnut), Jack (Joel Gretsch) and Georgie (David Richmond-Peck) to strengthen their fight against the Vs." Lea will play Eric's ex-husband in a two-episode story arc. Doig will play Dr. Leah Pearlman, "an OB/GYN treating Valerie Stevens (Lourdes Benedicto)." (TV Guide Magazine)

E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos is reporting that Rob Lowe (Brothers & Sisters) could be circling a role on CBS' untitled Criminal Minds spin-off, though reps wouldn't comment and publicists for CBS and ABC Studios shot down these rumors. However, citing an unnamed source, Dos Santos is reporting that Lowe would join the already cast Forest Whitaker in the spin-off series. "Lowe's casting would not be as a replacement for Whitaker, but as a costar," writes Dos Santos. "So maybe he could play the good-looking Thomas Gibson type to Whitaker's older and brilliant Mandy Patinkin type?" [Editor: in other words: take this rumor with a grain of salt.] (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Major changes afoot at AMC's upcoming drama series Rubicon, where creator/executive producer/co-showrunner Jason Horwitch has departed the production and has been replaced by executive producer Henry Bromell. Series, which stars James Badge Dale, revolves around an analyst at a national think tank who becomes enmeshed in a conspiracy. Project was ordered to pilot in August 2008 and is production on the series is set to begin in March and is scheduled to launch this summer. [Editor: I watched Rubicon's disappointing pilot last year. It definitely needed a lot of major work. Hoping Bromell can get this project back on track.] (Hollywood Reporter)

Virginia Madsen (Monk) has been cast as the lead in ABC's eight-episode series Scoundrels, based on Kiwi drama series Outrageous Fortune. She'll play the matriarch of a family of criminals who are forced to go straight after their patriarch ends up in prison. When ABC previously developed the project with executive producer Rob Thomas, the character was played by Catherine O'Hara. (Hollywood Reporter)

Elsewhere, Gary Cole (Entourage) has been cast as the titular character in TBS hour-long comedy pilot Uncle Nigel, where he will play Nigel Wells, described as "a veteran Philadelphia homicide detective who takes on his inexperienced, incompetent nephew as a partner." The attachment of Cole lifts the casting contingency on the project, written and executive produced by Andy Breckman (Monk). (Hollywood Reporter)

Former Scrubs star Sarah Chalke has been cast in ABC comedy pilot Freshman, about a bunch of newbie politicians who live together in Washington. Chalke will play Jane, a former businesswoman turned freshman congresswoman who is unlucky in love. Project, from 20th Century Fox Television, is written/executive produced by Greg Malins and executive produced by Arianna Huffington. (Variety)

ABC announced that supernatural/mystery drama series Happy Town will launch on April 28th at 10 pm ET/PT, assuming the Wednesdays at 10 pm timeslot currently occupied by Ugly Betty, which will wrap its run earlier that month. (HitFix)

CBS has ordered a pilot for multi-camera comedy Team Spitz, which will star Rob Riggle (The Daily Show) as a high school football coach. Project, from Sony Pictures Television and CBS Television Studios, is written by Bill Martin and Mike Schiff, who will executive produce alongside Peter Principato, Paul Young, Eric Tannenbaum, Kim Tannenbaum, and Mitch Hurwitz. (Hollywood Reporter)

FOX has given a pilot presentation order to sketch comedy Naked But Funny, which has begun casting. Project, from Peter Engel Prods. and New Wave Entertainment, is executive produced by Peter Engel, Barry Katz, and Eric Weinberg. (Variety)

Season Seven of dance competition series So You Think You Can Dance is set to launch with a two-hour season premiere on Thursday, May 27th on FOX. (via press release)

Mo'Nique will host Showtime comedy special Shaquille O'Neal Presents: All-Star Comedy Jam, set to air this summer on Showtime. (It will also be made available via pay per view, DVD, and online.) Special will include such comics as George Willborn, Mike Epps, Paul Mooney, Muchael Blackson, and Corey Holcomb. (Variety)

Reality shingle A. Smith and Co. is developing a series based on the life of Tad Skylar Agoglia, who founded First Response Team of America and a recipient of CNN's 2008 Top 10 Heroes of the Year kudos. Project, executive produced by Arthur Smith, Kent Weed, and Frank Sinton, will follow "Agoglia and his team as they travel to communities impacted by natural disasters." (Variety)

Mark Pedowitz, the former president of ABC Studios, has signed a producing deal with Warner Bros. Television. Terms of the deal are still being discussed and both sides declined to comment. (Variety)

Scott Free, the production company owned by Ridley and Tony Scott, is expanding its UK television operations and has added BBC Films development executive Jack Arbuthnott and BBC television drama script editor Surian Fletcher-Jones (Little Dorrit) to its ranks. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


Lucy said…
That's GREAT news about Big Love! Certainly worthy of one of Nicki's carrot and raisin salads!

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