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Channel Surfing: ABC Renews "Castle," "Fringe" Producers Talk Parallel Universe, "30 Rock" Lands Matt Damon, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing.

Nathan Fillion fans, rejoice! ABC yesterday announced that it had ordered a full third season for procedural drama Castle, picking up the Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic-led series for a full season of 22 episodes. The pickup came a day after Castle hit a ratings high (14.5 million total viewers and 3.7/10 in the key demo) and as well as broke a record for scripted series at ABC on Mondays at 10 pm ET/PT and its best key demo ratings in the timeslot since 2001. (via press release)

Meanwhile, The Wrap's Josef Adalian has a quick Q&A with ABC chief Steve McPherson about Castle's renewal. "We all believed, on both the production side and the network side, we believed in the creative on this show from the get-go," McPherson told Adalian. "We loved the casting, we loved Andrew (Marlowe, executive producer) and the work he was doing on the story-telling. It's a great story of patience. It's good to see the ability of broadcast networks to be patient when they can." (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

Entertainment Weekly talks to Fringe producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman about what's coming up on the FOX sci-fi drama, which returns with new episodes on Thursday. [Editor: you can read my advance review here.] "We want them to come away compelled and absolutely ready to see where we’re going next year," said Wyman when asked about what fans will take away from the end of the season. "We will open up a new chapter at the end of this season like we did last year. That will be entirely satisfying, I hope, for those who stuck with it and could be entirely engaging for a whole new crop of viewers." (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Matt Damon is set to guest star on an upcoming episode of NBC's 30 Rock. Series creator/star/executive producer Tina Fey had previously indicated her desire to snag the Green Zone star for a guest appearance on 30 Rock . "Although the specifics of his appearance are being kept hush-hush, I hear the Oscar winner’s episode will be one of the season’s last," writes Ausiello. "If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Ben Affleck’s other half would follow in James Franco’s footsteps as another fleeting love interest for Jenna (Jane Krakowski)." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Good news for NBC, bad news for Party Down. Former Veronica Mars star Ryan Hansen--currently part of the ensemble cast of Starz's Party Down--has landed one of the leads in NBC comedy comedy pilot Friends With Benefits. Hansen will play Ben, described as "an Everyman who, while waiting for Ms. Perfect, enjoys a relationship with Sara (Danneel Harris), a doctor trying to find Mr. Right." He replaces Patrick J. Adams, who was originally cast in the role, which is said to be in second position to Party Down, which has yet to be renewed for a third season. (Hollywood Reporter)

One thing stands in the way of NBC's Law & Order coming back for a record-breaking 21st season: TNT. The cable network, the home of the off-net syndicated run of the procedural drama, isn't under obligation to pick up any additional seasons past the 20th season... and NBC can't take Law & Order anywhere else, under the terms of their deal. But NBC needs the syndicated coin in order to defray production costs and make up the deficit. Which leaves TNT with all of the leverage, it would appear. Neither side would comment on the negotiations. (Hollywood Reporter)

SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has details about a major upcoming plot on the CW's Smallville, which I won't reveal here. But if you're into that sort of thing, head on over and see what Ausiello has to say about the May 14th season finale. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Pilot casting roundup: Orlando Jones (Rules of Engagement) has been cast as one of the leads opposite David Krumholtz and Martin Short in FOX IRS comedy pilot Tax Man; Mircea Monroe (Drive) has joined the cast of Showtime's upcoming comedy series Episodes, where she will play "42-year-old actress who looks 24 after having a lot of work done," in the project, which stars Matt LeBlanc, Claire Forlani, and Stephen Mangan; and Ritchie Coster (Virtuality) has scored one of the leads in David Milch and Michael Mann's HBO horse-racing drama pilot Luck. (Hollywood Reporter)

Irritated by last night's on-screen bug during Lost trumpeting the return of sci-fi series V? You're not alone. The Wrap's Josef Adalian takes a look at the fallout from running on-screen clutter during one of the final episodes of Lost and offers reactions from critics, viewers, and pundits alike. (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

Universal Media Studios has signed an overall deal with Desperate Housewives writer/producer Alexandra Cunningham, under which she will develop projects for the studio. As a result, she will depart Wisteria Lane to focus on her new development deal. "I've been wanting to work with Alex since the first play I read by her," said Laura Lancaster, EVP of drama at NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios. "She's an incredibly gifted and versatile writer (who is) able to draw complicated, complex characters and situations within both drama and comedy genres." (Variety)

UK's ITV is looking at several series to replace the long-running but now axed cop drama The Bill, including a UK remake of FOX supernatural series The Oaks, a series which never actually made it to the air in the US. (Broadcast)

WeTV unveiled its new slate of reality programming yesterday at its network upfront in New York, including Downsized, Sunset Daze, Mother Knows Best?, Girl Meets Gown, and You're Wearing That? (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Erin Bell said…
Oh no! All of the Party Down cast are moving on to other shows. I guess it probably won't be coming back.

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