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Channel Surfing: Breaking Bad Won't Return Until July 2011, Nigel Lythgoe Closes Idol Deal, Zombies Vs. Vampires at NBC, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Could it be almost a year before Breaking Bad heads back to AMC? According to a Deadline interview with series lead Bryan Cranston, Season Four of Breaking Bad may not launch until July 2011, over a year after the end of last season. "I think what AMC is thinking here is there will be less competition for us -- particularly from the broadcast networks -- if we launch our season during the summer than if we come back again like we did this time in March," said Cranston. However, AMC and Sony Pictures Television will produce 3-4 minute mini-episodes of Breaking Bad that will run on AMC's website during the break. "The idea is to keep people aware and interested in the show during the long time away,” Cranston told Deadline. “But I, for one, am eager to make these little interstitials important. I don’t want them to be simply filler or recap, but something that actually moves the storyline forward. If we’re going to do it, it ought to be a real part of the larger show." (Deadline)

Well, at least FOX confirmed something: former American Idol executive producer Nigel Lythgoe will return to the musical competition series, where he will serve alongside Simon Fuller Cecile Frot-Coutaz, and Ken Warwick for Season Ten of Idol, which launches in January. "Since we launched the original Pop Idol in England, I’ve remained close with Simon Fuller," said Lythgoe in a statement. "Working as executive producer on American Idol for its first seven years not only was an inspirational journey into the heart of American pop culture, it opened my eyes to the untapped potential of the incredibly dynamic young people in this world. I have been able to continue discovering raw talent on So You Think You Can Dance, which I co-created with Simon. American Idol became a juggernaut of epic proportions, but to me it was always like home. I am elated and honored to be rejoining childhood friend and fellow executive producer Ken Warwick, and look forward to creating more magic." (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Variety's Michael Schneider has a Q&A with Lythgoe about his return to American Idol in which they discuss his return to the series and his criticisms of the musical competition series. "I think some of my concerns were that over the last couple of years we've lost sight of the fact that the most important people in the production are the young artists," Lythgoe told Schneider. "And it's revolved around the judges, it's revolved around Kara coming in to make four judges, which often left them no time for them to talk at any great length. Certainly there are times I watched the show where Simon didn't even get a chance to say anything. Then it was about Paula leaving. Then it was all about Ellen joining. And somewhere in all of that muddle of judges the show was losing sight of the actual contestants. And I think we were also losing chemistry between the judges. And I will go back now and hopefully point out now that it isn't about stars, or what people did in the past of might do in the future that makes a good judge. It's about chemistry and it's about a team." (Variety's On the Air)

Could NBC be taking a page from AMC's playbook and going after the zombie-loving crowd? Deadline's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that NBC has signed a script deal for Austin Winsberg's spec script Zombies Vs. Vampires, described as a "fun buddy cop procedural" with supernatural overtones. Project, produced by Warner Bros. Television and Wonderland, is executive produced by McG, Peter Johnson, and Winsberg. "It is set in a world where zombies are a part of society, controllable with medication," writes Andreeva. "The show's two leads (one secretly a vampire) are cops assigned to a squad specifically formed to deal with 'zombie crime.'" (Deadline)

E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos has a series of video interviews with Chuck's Zachary Levi and the rest of the cast in which they tease details about Season Four, including the return of Nicole Ritchie, the casting of Linda Hamilton, Chuck and Sarah's relationship, and much more. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

AMC is said to be thisclose to handing out a series order to crime drama The Killing, based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen. (The US version is written by Veena Sud and directed by Patty Jenkins.) Project, from Fox Television Studios, stars Mireille Enos, Billy Campbell, Michelle Forbes, Brent Sexton, Kristin Lehman, Eric Ladin, Jamie Anne Allman, and Joel Kinnaman. [Editor: I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this pans out as I loved the pilot script and would watch Enos in anything.] (Deadline)

MAJOR SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has details on just who Timothy Olyphant (FX's Justified) will be playing on NBC's The Office when he drops by Scranton next year. Ausiello reports that Olyphant will be playing "a rival paper salesman with a deep, dark secret: He used to date Pam!" Watch out, Jim... (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Variety's Michael Schneider is reporting that former United States of Tara showrunner Jill Soloway has signed on to executive produce Zooey Deschanel's HBO comedy I'm With the Band, as well as Season Two of How to Make It in America. (Variety)

Russell Brand will play himself on the upcoming season of The Simpsons, reports TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck. Brand's episode, entitled "Angry Dad -- The Movie," is slated to air in early 2011 and will see him join Halle Berry and Ricky Gervais in the installment, which will feature "Bart and Homer [heading] to Los Angeles after they're nominated for an Academy Award for their animated short based on Bart's cartoon webseries, Angry Dad." (TV Guide Magazine)

NBC has pulled its self-help reality series Breakthrough with Tony Robbins from the schedule, effective immediately. The network will slate repeats of Minute to Win It in the timeslot. (Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed)

Warner Bros. Television International has signed a package deal with UK's Five, under which the channel will receive exclusive terrestrial and digital right to Season Three of The Mentalist, while Five USA gets rights to Dark Blue and Blade, and Fiver gets Human Target. (Variety)

In other news, the studio is also set to acquire indie production company Shed Media (the makers of Supernanny and The Choir), in a deal said to be worth nearly £100 million. (Broadcast)

Stay tuned.


Jeanne Hill said…
OMG!!!I need Breaking Bad way waaay before July 2011. Please see what you can do okay?!? I'm their biggest fan.

Big Fan,
Jeanne Hill
Evette Cecena said…
Yes - July 2011 is way to long to wait. Just like Weeds... these shows get a good following and then go off the air for a long time. At least they aren't skipping a season though.
Need my fix haha bring it back sooner

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