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Channel Surfing: Dark Tower Comes to TV (And Cinemas), Chuck Lands Freddie Krueger, TNT Mines Dallas, The Event, and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Deadline's Mike Fleming broke the news yesterday that Universal has landed the rights to Stephen King's massive multiple-novel series "The Dark Tower," and is developing an adaptation that will comprise both a feature film franchise as well as a television series element, an unprecedented use of the two platforms. Ron Howard will direct the first film as well as the first season of the television series that would follow on its heels; likewise both elements will be written by Akiva Goldsman, with Universal Media Studios attached as the studio. The first season of the series would use the same actors and focus on gunslinger Deschain after the events of the film, while the second season would revolve around Deschain's past. “What Peter [Jackson] did [with Lord of the Rings] was a feat, cinematic history,” Howard told Fleming. “The approach we’re taking also stands on its own, but it’s driven by the material. I love both, and like what’s going on in TV. With this story, if you dedicated to one medium or another, there’s the horrible risk of cheating material. The scope and scale call for a big screen budget. But if you committed only to films, you’d deny the audience the intimacy and nuance of some of these characters and a lot of cool twists and turns that make for jaw-dropping, compelling television. We’ve put some real time and deep thought into this, and a lot of conversations and analysis from a business standpoint, to get people to believe in this and take this leap with us. I hope audiences respond to it in a way that compels us to keep going after the first year or two of work. It’s fresh territory for me, as a filmmaker.” (Deadline)

[Meanwhile, JJ Abrams--who had previously been attached to The Dark Tower--is said to be shopping yet another television project, this time a crime thriller created by Jonah Nolan (The Dark Knight, The Prestige) that could start a bidding war at several networks, according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello.]

Is it just me or is the Chuck casting team on a roll this season? Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Freddy Kreuger himself--make that Robert Englund--is set to guest star on Chick's Halloween-themed episode, set to air in October. "Englund will play Dr. Stanley Wheelwright, an evil scientist who can make your waking life a nightmare," writes Ausiello. "He’ll appear in this season’s sixth episode, titled 'Chuck Versus Aisle of Terror.'" (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

TNT announced a slew of pilot pickups, including a remake of nighttime soap Dallas from writer Cynthia Cidre (Cane) and Warner Horizon that will focus on the rivalry between brothers J.R. and Bobby Ewing. Other projects include ABC Studios' Perception (formerly known as Proof), from writers Biller and Mike Sussman, about a neurosurgeon who solves crimes using his unique way of viewing the world and an untitled Allan Loeb drama from Lionsgate Television about a widowed cop whose partner has just gotten married (which is based on Marshall Karp's novel "The Rabbit Factory"). TBS, meanwhile, ordered a pilot for comedy Brain Trust, from Dean Devlin and Marco Schnabel, about a detective who gets a second shot at life. (via press release)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Hal Holbrook (Sons of Anarchy) has signed on to NBC's upcoming thriller The Event in a multiple-episode story arc, where he will play "a mysterious character by the name of Dempsey." A press release from NBC that hit the wire shortly thereafter expanded upon the description of Holbrook's character: "Holbrook will play Dempsey, a businessman with shadowy intentions, who will be revealed as an antagonist to President Martinez (Blair Underwood) beginning with his first scheduled appearance on October 11." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files, press release)

It's officially official: America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan will headline his own talk show on CNN, replacing Larry King in the 9 pm timeslot beginning in January. (Variety)

Former Battlestar Galactica and 24 star Katee Sackhoff is finally heading to CBS' CSI three years after producers tried to cast her as Jorja Fox's replacement on the CBS crime procedural, according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. Sackhoff has been cast in a "potentially recurring role" as Detective Reed, described as "a smart, tough, and feisty investigator with an acknowledged lack of sensitivity." She'll make her first appearance in November. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

There's still more Jersey Shore on tap for MTV: the cabler has ordered two specials that will air after the second season finale on October 21st; the first will be a reunion special slated to air a week later, while the second will be a behind-the-scenes special. No air date has been announced for the latter. Season Three of the reality juggernaut will air next year. (Hollywood Reporter)

Former House star Jennifer Morrison is said to be in the running to join the cast of CBS' How I Met Your Mother as a "major new love interest for Ted," according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. She's not the only one, however, as Minka Kelly and Jacinda Barrett are also said to be in contention. "I don’t know if she’s the mother we’ve been waiting to meet," writes Ausiello. "However, I do know that the character—a quick-witted, rabble-rousing activist who initially clashes with Ted over the planned demolition of a historic New York hotel—will appear in as many as 13 episodes this season." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

The Watch with Kristin team at E! Online rounded up a ton of information about Season Two of FOX's Glee directly from the horse's mouth as it were, talking to the cast on the red carpet of the premiere party earlier this week and revealing information about duets, romances, Rocky Horror and more. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Deadline's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that Diane Farr and Peter Tolan have separately received script orders for two one-hour dramas at FOX. Farr's project, based on her upcoming semi-autobiographical novel "You Can't Love One of Them," is said to focus on "several interracial couples living in the South in a post-Obama world." Project, from 20th Century Fox Television and Generate, will be written and executive produced by Farr alongside Pete Aronson and Jordan Levin. Tolan, meanwhile, has sold a script for an untitled Glen Mazzara drama with Sony Pictures Television attached as the studio; it will revolve around "a burnt-out doctor who joins a neighborhood medical clinic." (Deadline)

Showtime has ordered a second season of The Green Room with Paul Provenza, with six episodes on tap for 2011. (via press release)

Epix has hired Jill Burkhart as the director of documentary development for the pay cabler. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


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