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Channel Surfing: HBO Renews Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order: Criminal Intent to Return, Lone Star DOA, Fringe, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing.

Break open the moonshine! HBO has renewed period drama Boardwalk Empire for a second season, after airing just one episode of the Terence Winter/Martin Scorsese crime drama, which averaged 4.8 million viewers in its premiere broadcast. “All the ingredients aligned for this one, from Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson’s initial pitch, to Martin Scorsese’s enormous contributions as director and executive producer, to the genius of Terry Winter and the expertise of Tim Van Patten, to a stellar cast led by Steve Buscemi,” said Michael Lombardo, President of HBO Programming, in a statement. “The response from the media and our viewers has been nothing short of amazing.” (via press release)

In other renewal news, USA has finally closed a deal to renew Law & Order: Criminal Intent for a tenth and final season of eight episodes, with original series lead Vincent D'Onofrio set to reprise his role as Detective Robert Goren, while producers are said to be in talks with Kathryn Erbe and other former stars to return. “We have been the fortunate caretakers of this legendary series, and we plan to give it the world-class farewell it so richly deserves,” said Jeff Wachtel, USA's president of original programming and UCP's co-head of original content. The cabler has also given executive producer Dick Wolf a pilot commitment for a new project at USA. New episodes of Law & Order: Criminal Intent are set to launch next year. (Deadline)

After the deadly ratings encountered by FOX's new fall drama Lone Star, the 20th Century Fox Television-produced drama is already said to be on death watch, according to The Hollywood Reporter's Andrew Wallenstein. "No one in TV should be happy about this," Wallenstein quotes one agent with a client on Lone Star as saying. "This is going to have a chilling effect on networks taking chances on anything but cookie-cutter shows." xxx "Though Fox declined comment, it's possible the network is delaying the announcement of a decision, perhaps waiting for the cover that will be provided today by its announcement of the American Idol judges," wrote Wallenstein. "That Star will be canceled is being treated in industry circles as fait accompli, a matter of when, not if. Tellingly, while most underwhelming TV debuts are often followed by entreaties from counter-spinning execs magnifying glimmers of hope in the ratings data -- "did you see that uptick in the last quarter-hour among women 25-34?" -- the back-channel phone calls from network and studio execs never came." (Hollywood Reporter)

More Bubbles! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Andre Royo (The Wire) will reprise his role on FOX's Fringe after his first appearance in tomorrow night's season premiere, where he plays a cab driver that Anna Torv's Olivia Dunham encounters "over there." [Editor: Having seen the episode in question, I can say that it was a no-brainer than Royo would be back at some point.] (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

It's official: Bravo has finally confirmed what has been floating about the internet for quite some time now. The next season of Top Chef will be an all-stars edition, with 18 runners-up from previous seasons returning to compete for another shot at the title. While the full cast has been available at various web sites for the last few weeks, Bravo will officially unveil the cast on tonight's Top Chef reunion special. [Editor: Also, Anthony Bourdain will return as a regular judge this time around, alternating with Gail Simmons.] (

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Jorge Garcia (Lost) will guest star in an upcoming episode of ABC midseason comedy Mr. Sunshine, starring Matthew Perry. Garcia will play "a staffer at the second-rate San Diego sports arena that Perry’s character manages" and will appear in the retooled pilot episode. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Elsewhere, Entertainment Weekly's Mandi Bierly reported that Lyle Lovett will be guest staring on an upcoming episode of ABC's Castle this season, where he will play Agent Darryl Shafer, described as "a shadowy government figure who detains and interrogates Castle (Fillion) and Beckett (Stana Katic) as they investigate the death of a prominent astrophysicist whose body was found in her car—a victim of explosive decompression." Lovett's appearance is slated for the ninth episode of the current season. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

The Hollywood Reporter's Allison Hope Weiner has an interview with No Ordinary Family star Michael Chiklis about his role on the ABC superhero family drama. "The big question for me was tone, and how do I pull this off in terms of tone," said Chiklis when asked about any concerns about being on network television rather than cable. "As you know, network television, television in general, has become very niche-oriented. It's very targeted toward a certain audience. Now we're embarking on a show that is all too rare on television: It's one of those kinds of shows that tries to appeal to a broad audience and, in order to do that, the things that are successful don't take themselves too seriously. This is pure entertainment and it's witty and fun, yet soulful and heartfelt. But you also have those great adrenal moments. The threat there is if you go too far in any direction, you go over the top comedically or be too melodramatic and you can fail. Yet if you aren't bold in any direction, you can become vanilla. Tonally, we felt it had to be crisp and smart and fun -- yet not taking itself too seriously." (Hollywood Reporter)

SPOILER! E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos is reporting that Dave Annable's real-life fiancee Odette Yustman will guest star on an upcoming episode of ABC's Brothers & Sisters as a new interest for Annable's Justin. Yustman, set to appear in one episode, will play a "nurse who starts to fall for Justin, as he's still mending his broken heart from his split with Rebecca." Rebecca, of course, is played by Annable's ex-girlfriend Emily Van Camp, who is set to depart the series after just a handful of episodes this season. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck is reporting that Will Forte will return to CBS' How I Met Your Mother, where he will reprise his role as Randy. "Marshall will wrestle with whether or not to fire Randy, who is as hopeless as a paralegal as he is with the ladies," co-creator Craig Thomas told Keck. "There is also a shocking twist as it starts to become clear that Robin — in a moment of weakness — may or may not have hooked up with Randy on Halloween night." (TV Guide Magazine)

ABC has given a put pilot order to a drama inspired by Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner's book "The Lost Girls Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World," which will be adapted by Idly Modrovich (Californication). Project, from Warner Bros. Television, will be executive produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and Jonathan Littman. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Jason said…
Regarding Weinstein's comments about Lone Star – Why is it that when a boring, sucky show gets canceled it always indicates the end of anything but reality TV or "cookie cutter" shows? If it's true that Lone Star is considered some kind of entertainment trial balloon and it's failure indicates that people only want Jersey Shore... then there's a massive problem in the tv entertainment industry. Regular Joes like me can see crappy bombs like Lone Star coming a mile away. Why can't network executives? Pssst! Hey, executives... watch a little AMC, would ya? Perhaps you'll get a clue as to what entertaining television should be.
I suspect that Lone Star is very expensive. That usually means network brass would be quicker to cut it out than let it flounder.

Lone Star would have made a great movie. I didn't want to spend more time with it than that, though.
ecuamerican said…
I really like the premise of Lone Star but the execution was just bad and condescending to the audience. The art of the con and the professionals are somethings that we don't regularly see on network TV (a lot of legal, medical and police dramas only).

It needed to be more stylized, with more edge (a lot more edge). James "Sawyer" Ford told as much, that a con man has to be hello! confident and smart. This show was too sugary.

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