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Channel Surfing: AMC Orders "The Walking Dead," Elizabeth Mitchell Talks "V" Return, Big Bucks for "Lost" Finale Ads, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing.

AMC has ordered six episodes of zombie drama series The Walking Dead, based on the Robert Kirkman comic book series of the same name. Production on the six-episode first season of The Walking Dead is set to begin in June in Atlanta, with Kirkman serving as executive producer alongside writer/director Frank Darabont, Gale Ann Hurd, David Alpert, and Charles "Chic" Eglee. News comes as cabler AMC begins to cast the production, with Jon Bernthal (The Pacific) attached to star as Shane; the cabler has targeted an October 2010 launch date for The Walking Dead. "AMC strives to make original shows that play like movies and The Walking Dead is a perfect complement to the network's celebrated movie franchise, Fearfest, which has always been an important destination for our audience," said Charlie Collier, AMC President, in a statement. "With its depth of story and the remarkable talent attached, The Walking Dead gives us an opportunity to raise the bar significantly within this popular genre, and continue our commitment to being the home of premium programming on basic cable." (via press release)

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan has an insightful interview with V star Elizabeth Mitchell, who talks about the return of the ABC sci-fi series and her role as Juliet Burke on Lost (as well as whether she will be returning to the series before it wraps up). "In a way, it was such a crazy thing to come into doing [V] after working on Lost," Mitchell told Ryan. "I think it was wonderful for me to be able to take a step back and figure out what I really wanted to do and how I would create this person. I don't feel like we lost momentum -- it was more like, we built excitement to go back to work and we were rested and ready and really charged up." (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

That's a lot of Dharma-brand mac and cheese: A single 30-second spot during ABC's series finale of Lost will cost roughly $900,000 when the serialized drama wraps its run on Sunday, May 23rd, according to a report in Advertising Age, a huge leap in price from the $213,000 offered at May's upfront presentation. "There are many advertisers willing to pay a reasonable premium for inventory in programs that generate such a highly passionate and rabid fan base," Kris Magel, exec VP-director, national broadcast at Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Initiative, told Advertising Age. "There is definitely value in that." (via Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

NBC has announced that Season Four of Friday Night Lights will launch on Friday, May 7th at 8 pm ET/PT, a week later than originally indicated. No reason was given for the change in scheduling on the series, which has already aired on DirecTV's Channel 101. (via press release)

Tyler Labine (Sons of Tucson) has been cast in CBS multi-camera comedy pilot True Love opposite Jason Biggs and Minka Kelly. Project, from Sony Pictures Television and CBS Television Studios, revolves around Henry (Biggs), a lawyer in a relationship, who falls for a stranger (Kelly). Labine will play Henry's best friend, replacing Dan Fogler. Casting is in second position to Sons of Tucson for Labine. (Hollywood Reporter)

Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) has dropped out of the untitled Will Ferrell-executive produced Comedy Central series that he was attached to, in which he was originally going to play a man who moves back in with his parents (Chris Parnell and Horatio Sanz). No replacement was named and the search is underway to recast the role for the series, which had received a ten-episode order from the network. "Comedy Central, Gary Sanchez Productions and Jon Heder have mutually decided to part ways over creative differences with the character," said Heder's rep in a statement. "Jon wishes the show nothing but success, and is very grateful for the opportunity." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files, Variety)

Pilot casting roundup: Nick D'Agosto (Heroes) has joined the cast of NBC comedy pilot This Little Piggy opposite Brooke Bloom and Ben Koldyke; Jessica Lucas (Melrose Place) has been added to ensemble comedy pilot Friends With Benefits; and Ashley Madekwe (Secret Diary of a Call Girl) has been cast opposite Katharine McPhee and Michael Cassidy in Josh Schwartz's NBC comedy pilot The Pink House, where she will play Jamie, a husband-hunting neighbor. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC Family has announced launch dates for its new original series Pretty Little Liars, Huge, and Melissa and Joey. Pretty Little Liars--a mystery series revolving around a missing teenage girl and a group of former friends who come together when they begin to receive eerie messages--will launch on June 8th at 8 pm ET/PT. Nikki Blonsky-led drama Huge, from creators Winnie Holtzman and Samantha Dooley, will launch on June 28th at 9 pm ET/PT. Comedy Melissa and Joey, starring Melissa Joan Hart and Joey Lawrence, will launch in August. (Variety)

BBC Two has commissioned another season of political comedy The Thick of It. [Editor: my heartfelt pleas go out to BBC America to air the batch of episodes that we have still not had a chance to see Statside.] (Broadcast)

FOX is said to be close to issuing a pilot order for comedy prank series My Parents Are Gonna Love You, in which everyday people bring home a celebrity to introduce to their parents as their significant other... but the celeb is utterly obnoxious. The longer they can string the parents along, the more money the marks will win. Project, based on a Banijay Entertainment format, is executive produced by Jean Michel Michenaud and Chris Cowan. (Hollywood Reporter)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck is reporting that Demi Lovato (Sonny With a Chance) will guest star in an upcoming episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy. Lovato will play "a patient at Seattle Grace/Mercy West who will be treated by Alex (Justin Chambers) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) for possible schizophrenia" in an episode slated to air in May. (TV Guide Magazine)

Season Seven of FOX's reality competition series So You Think You Can Dance will undergo some format changes, with Mia Michaels set to return as a judge and a choreographer, and 10 dancers would be picked from the contestant pool... who will then be paired with past all-star participants, with one dancer getting eliminated each week. So You Think You Can Dance is set to launch on May 27th. (Hollywood Reporter)

HBO has cancelled sports talk show Joe Buck Live after three episodes. (Broadcasting & Cable)

ABC Studios has signed a two-year overall deal with David Zabel (ER), under which he has come aboard drama pilot 187 Detroit as executive producer/showrunner. Should the project be picked up to series, he'll remain in that role while also developing new projects for the studio. (Hollywood Reporter)

Susan Rovner has been handed oversight of both comedy and drama development at Warner Bros. Television, following the departure of Len Goldstein, who is now heading up television at Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage's shingle Fake Empire. (The Wrap's TVMoJoe)

Disney Channel has renewed preschool comedy Imagination Movers for a third season. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


AskRachel said…
I'm thrilled that there will be another season of The Thick of It but can't believe that they haven't shown all of the episodes here yet! Do we really need hours and hours of Top Gear instead of brilliant shows like The Thick of It?

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