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Channel Surfing: DirecTV Saves FX's Damages, David Cross to Join Running Wilde, Gregory Itzin Finds Big Love for HBO, and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing.

Many had given up hope that FX's brilliant and labyrinthine legal drama Damages would survive another season, given the low ratings for the series' fantastically taut third season, which wrapped its run earlier this year. Not so: DirecTV has come to the aid of the Sony Picture Television- and FX Productions-produced series and has renewed the Glenn Close-led series for two seasons of ten episodes apiece. The only problem: it won't be airing on FX anymore as DirecTV has the exclusive rights to the series on The 101 Network. "We're excited to partner with Sony Pictures Television as we breathe new life into this outstanding drama," said Patty Ishimoto, general manager of The 101 Network and vice president of entertainment for DIRECTV, in a statement. "It's a win for our customers because only they will be able to see these new episodes and another great step forward for DIRECTV as we continue to build our growing portfolio of exclusive, award winning programming." Season Four will launch in 2011, with the fifth season on deck for 2012. Additionally, DirecTV has secured the rights to air the first three seasons. "FX was very proud to have developed one of the best scripted series on television, but, in order to have a future, the show needed DIRECTV and we are thrilled they stepped in," said John Landgraf, President & General Manager, FX Networks and FX Productions, in a press release. "Sony Pictures Television is a great production partner and we at FX Productions are excited for these next two seasons." (via press release)

Is FOX's upcoming comedy Running Wilde turning into a massive Arrested Development reunion? Former Arrested Development star David Cross has been cast as a series regular on Mitch Hurwitz's Wilde opposite Will Arnett. He's set to appear in seven of the initial thirteen episodes, where he will play Andy, a radical environmentalist. [Editor: As well as the boyfriend of Keri Russell's character.] The role was originally filled by Andrew Daly in the original pilot. (Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

Deadline's Nellie Andreeva has the full story behind Cross' casting on Running Wilde, where he was the original choice to play Andy. "But just as filming on the Lionsgate TV-produced pilot was underway in April, Cross got stuck in the UK when the country's airspace was closed as air travel in Northern Europe was severely disrupted by the eruption of Iceland's now-infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano," writes Andreeva. "With Cross certain to miss the shoot, actor Andrew Daly was approached to step in and do the role in the pilot. Daly had just wrapped another comedy pilot, NBC's The Paul Reiser Show, where he was a regular, so for him Running Wilde would've been in second position at best." Daly, meanwhile, maintains that he was brought in as an "understudy" for the role, knowing that "a) if the show got picked up, David would come back to play Andy and b) if The Paul Reiser Show got picked up, I'd have a full time TV job and wouldn't have been able to play Andy anyway even if the Fox executives were so thrilled with my performance in the pilot that they were desperate to have me at any cost! (might've daydreamed about that scenario once or twice)" (Deadline)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that 24's Gregory Itzin has joined the cast of HBO's Big Love for its upcoming fifth season. Itzin will recur on the series, where he will play Senator Richard Dwyer, the Republican Majority Leader of the Utah State Senate. Yes, the same senate where Bill Henrickson (Bill Paxton) was elected at the end of last season. Production on Season Five of Big Love is slated to begin this week. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Deadline's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy is close to signing a massive four-year deal with 20th Century Fox Television that will keep him aboard Glee for the foreseeable feature as well as allow him to develop new projects for the studio. The price tag on the overall deal? It's said to be worth $24 million, though Murphy will also share profits from the music business generated from the FOX musical-comedy, including both sales and downloads, tours, and merchandising (and he'll be paid retroactively for the first season as well). (Deadline)

SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Michael Ealy (FlashForward) has been cast in a multiple-episode story arc on Season Two of CBS' The Good Wife, where he will play Derrick Bond, the head of the D.C. law firm that is merging with Lockhart & Gardner next season. Ealy will appear in at least ten episodes of The Good Wife. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Clifton Collins (Star Trek) has been cast in NBC's upcoming drama series The Event, where he will play Thomas, described as "a key player in the show's secret conspiracy who will come into conflict with the president of the United States (played by Blair Underwood)." (Hollywood Reporter)

Warner Bros. Television has signed a one-year deal with writer/producers Josh Appelbaum and Andre Nemec (Happy Town, Life on Mars), under which they will develop new projects for the studio from both their own scripts as well as work with other writers. The duo is expected to collaborate with JJ Abrams' Bad Robot shingle, which is also based at WBTV. (Variety)

Aussie actors Justin Clare (Underbelly), Jaime Murray (Dexter), and Marisa Ramirez (General Hospital) have joined the cast of Starz's Spartacus prequel, entitled Spartacus: Gods of the Arena. Clare will play Gannicus, the House of Batiatus' premiere gladiator before the arrival of Spartacus (Andy Whitfield). (via press release)

Rochelle Aytes (The Forgotten) has been cast in a recurring role on ABC's upcoming cop drama Detroit 1-8-7, reports Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. She'll play Alice Williams, described as "a smart, sexy, ambitious lawyer in the Wayne County prosecutor’s office." Series launches September 21st. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos talks to John Stamos about Glee, Entourage, the end of his extortion trial, and playing with the Beach Boys in concert. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Jon Kinnally and Tracy Poust (Will & Grace) have come on board NBC's midseason romantic anthology Love Bites as showrunners, under their two-year overall deal with Universal Media Studios. They will take over showrunning duties from creator Cindy Chupack, who has given up oversight on the series due to personal issues. "We worked with Jon and Tracy for many years on Will & Grace and feel they are perfect for this job on Love Bites," said Angela Bromstad, NBC's president of primetime entertainment. "Not only do they bring intelligence, passion and great experience, but they are one of the funniest writing duos working in television today. This is great news for an incredibly promising new show." (Hollywood Reporter)

Former Danity Kane singer Aubrey O'Day has landed her own series on Oxygen. The cabler has greenlighted The Aubrey O'Day Project, which "will chronicle her attempt to make a comeback in the music industry while working with a demanding team of industry professionals," according to The Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd. No launch date has been announced, nor an episodic order. (Hollywood Reporter)

Cartoon Network has ordered ten new episodes of reality competition series Hole in the Wall, which previously aired on FOX during the 2008-09 season but the format--based on a Japanese game show--will be retooled for a younger audience. "In the new version, the half-hour game show will pit two teams of families against each other," writes Variety's Michael Schneider. "But the gist of the show is the same: Contestants, dressed in spandex, contort their bodies in order to clear a series of moving barriers with various cut-out shapes." (Variety)

Syfy is teaming up with videogame maker THQ for two-hour backdoor pilot Red Faction: Origins, which would air in March 2011. "The story of Red Faction: Origins follows rebel hero Alec Mason and the Mason family and is set during a period between the Red Faction Guerilla video game and Red Faction," writes Deadline's Nellie Andreeva. "The screenplay for Red Faction: Origins screenplay was written by Andrew Kreisberg (Warehouse 13), based on a story developed by Paul DeMeo, THQ Director, fiction development." (Deadline)

Science Channel has renewed Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman for a ten-episode second season. (Variety)

ABC Studios has hired former 20th Century Fox Television executive Patrick Moran as the new head of drama, replacing Josh Barry, who will step down from his position after just a year. (Deadline)

Sarah Paulson, Karen Allen, and Emily Alyn Lind have been cast opposite John Corbett and Sam Elliott in Hallmark Hall of Fame telepic November Christmas, which will air Thanksgiving weekend on CBS. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Summer said…
Glad to see that Damages was saved! Let's hope we get two more seasons of the quality show produced in S1 and S3, with no reverting to S2.

The writers have a nice amount of time to sink some teeth into creating good stories and to flesh out the characters that will surround Patty and Ellen!
Piper Linn said…
Fantastic news about Damages! Sadly, I don't have DirecTV, but I will quickly become best friends with someone who does!

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