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The Daily Beast: "11 Best TV Politicians: Parks and Rec, The West Wing, 24 & More"

In honor of July 4, I picked my 11 most beloved politicos on television, from Leslie Knope ( Parks and Rec ) and Clay Davis ( The Wire ) to David Palmer ( 24 ) and Sigourney Weaver’s Elaine Barrish in USA’s upcoming miniseries Political Animals . Over at The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "11 Best TV Politicians: Parks and Rec, The West Wing, 24 & More," in which I pick out 11 of the best, most memorable, or all-around unforgettable fictional politicians on television (plus one out there bizarre choice). While Garry Trudeau and Robert Altman’s short-lived mockumentary Tanner ’88 may have been one of the first television shows to focus squarely on the democratic process in action, shows as diverse as The Wire, Parks and Recreation, 24, Veep, and The Good Wife have dived into political action at its best and worst. With the Fourth of July upon us, it’s time to look back at some of television’s most memorable politicians, from Parks and Recreation’s new

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

Channel Surfing: Jason Lee Mired in "Delta Blues," Fred Willard Drops By "Modern Family," Gretchen Mol Strolls on HBO's "Boardwalk," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Jason Lee ( My Name is Earl ) has been cast as the lead in TNT drama pilot Delta Blues , where he will play Dwight Hendricks, a Memphis cop who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator and lives with his mother. Pilot, from Warner Horizon and Smokehouse Pictures, is written by Liz M. Garcia and Joshua Harto and will be directed by Clark Johnson, who will executive produce with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. ( Hollywood Reporter ) Proving that the series' casting directors have inherited the comedy casting mantle from Arrested Development and 30 Rock , Fred Willard ( Back to You ) has signed on to guest star on an upcoming episode of ABC's Modern Family , where he will play the father to Ty Burrell's Phil. [Editor: look for Willard to turn up, oh, before the end of the calendar year.] ( Fancast ) Gretchen Mol ( Life on Mars ) has joined the cast of HBO's upcoming period drama Boardwalk Empire in the recurring role

Comic-Con Update: 20th Century Fox Announces Panels, Talent For SDCC Next Month

After weeks of anticipation (and speculation), 20th Century Fox has finally announced which series they will be bringing down to San Diego Comic-Con next month. The unusual suspects-- 24, Bones, Dollhouse, The Simpsons --are all going to be on hand to present cast and producer panels throughout the weekend but the studio has also announced panels for Glee, Cleveland Show, American Dad , and Futurama to boot. Meanwhile, such boldface names as Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Anil Kapoor, Freddie Prinze, Jr. Katee Sackhoff, Joss Whedon, Eliza Dushku, David Boreanaz, Emily Deschanel, Matt Groening, Seth MacFarlane, Seth Green, Mila Kunis, and the cast of Glee will be on hand as well. The full press release from 20th Century Fox Television can be be found below, along with dates and times (and descriptions) of each of their panels. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX TELEVISION BRINGS NINE SHOWS TO COMIC-CON Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Anil Kapoor, Freddie Prinze, Jr. Katee Sackho

Channel Surfing: "Hex" Star Lands FOX Pilot, First "Melrose Place" Casting, Seinfeld Sells Reality Series to NBC, Cassar Quits "24," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. Former Hex star Christina Cole has been cast as the lead in FOX's untitled Ian Biederman drama, where she will play a female surgeon who suffers from adult-onset schizophrenia; Cole Hauser ( K-Ville ) will star in CBS drama pilot Washington Field , where he will play the squad's supervisor; Michael Nouri ( Damages ) has been cast in ABC drama pilot Empire State, where he'll play the wealthy father of a girl involved in a star-crossed romance with a blue-collar worker; and Anthony Carrigan, Michelle Borth, Bob Stephenson, and Rochelle Aytes have been cast in ABC's untitled Jerry Bruckheimer drama pilot (formerly known as The Unknown ). ( Hollywood Reporter ) NBC has ordered reality/comedy hybrid series The Marriage Ref , from executive producers Jerry Seinfeld and Ellen Rakieten, in which celebrities offer advice to real-life couples battling "classic marital disputes." So far there is no launch date for

Yellow Fever: "The Simpsons" Gets New Opening Titles

In honor of The Simpsons ' very first transmission in high-definition this weekend, everyone's favorite animated family are getting a fresh new coat of paint: in this case, a brand-new opening title sequence. The Simpsons ' new opening title sequence, which replaces the nearly twenty-year old original sequence, will launch this weekend with "Take My Life Please," airing at 8 pm ET/PT on FOX. But if don't want to have to wait until Sunday to see it, you're in luck. Those Simpsons -obsessed fans among you can check it out right below. What do you think of the new credits? Me, I'm pleased as punch that Ralph finally made it into the credits and, although I have a certain fondness for the old credit sequence, I'm already entranced by these new titles. This week on The Simpsons ("Take My Life, Please"), Mayor Quimby inducts Vance Connor into the Springfield Walk of Fame, leading Homer to recall how he ran against Vance for high school c

Unleash Your Yellow with FOX's The Simpsons Poster Contest

An edible Milhouse? FOX has invited fans of The Simpsons , celebrating its twentieth (yes, twentieth!) anniversary with a fan-based initiative called “Unleash Your Yellow” that runs between now and January 2010. I'm already completely enchanted by The Simpsons Poster Contest, which has asked fans of everyone's favorite animated family to discover The Simpsons in their everyday life: "Whether it’s a cob of corn that reminds them of Marge, a billowing cloud that looks like Homer or a picket fence that resembles the spikes of Bart’s hair, inspiration can be found anywhere!" Fans, who must be older than 18, can design and submit posters using their original art, which can also be combined with digital assets that can be found online at thesimpsons.com . The deadline to submit your entries is 11:59 PM ET on March 4th. But that's not all. The Top Ten finalists, decided by FOX and producers of The Simpsons , will be posted on thesimpsons.com . The winner to be reve

Channel Surfing: "Melrose Place" Could Happen at CW; Lionsgate Looks for New Showrunner on "Mad Men," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" Delayed, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. I did end up watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown last night, along with an absolutely hysterical episode of Gavin and Stacey ... and a snooze of an episode of 90210 , which literally put me to sleep last night. (A storyline involving wisdom teeth? Really?) CW and CBS Paramount Network TV are going ahead with the development of an updated version of Beverly Hills 90210 spin-off Melrose Place . The studio has not attached any writers or executive producers and original series creator Darren Star will not be involved with this adaptation. Personally, I like my Melrose Place where it belongs: in the past. (And is it just me or is it odd that Rob Estes starred on the original Melrose Place as a different character than he one he currently plays on 90210 ?) What do you think though: is Melrose Place 2.0 a fantastic idea or a foolhardy one? ( Variety ) Lionsgate is said to be exploring the possibility of finding a ne

"The Simpsons" Reaches 400th Episode Milestone

I'll admit that I've kind of tuned out The Simpsons in recent years, as its once witty humor has turned predictable and tired. What was once the most well crafted, intelligent series on television has buckled under the weight of 400 episodes, each with zany plotlines and characters that steadfastly refuse to change or age. So imagine my surprise when I tuned in to catch the series' 399th and 400th episodes and discovered that The Simpsons , while nowhere near the standard it set for itself years before, can still manage to tickle my funny bone. The 399th episode, "24 Minutes" brought the audience a parody of fellow FOX series 24 , in which Lisa and Bart work for CTU, the Counter Truancy Unit, and must work together to defuse a terrorist situation involving a bully-made stink bomb and a school bake sale. (It's all the more funny for the fact that it's more amusing and engaging than the current season of 24 (which wraps its sixth season tonight) has consi

Ricky Gervais Serenades "Simpsons" Viewers

I was more than a little impressed by how much I enjoyed last night's episode of The Simpsons . But then again, considering it was written by (and guest starred) comedy legend Ricky Gervais, I shouldn't have been all that surprised. He is, after all, the man who brought us David Brent, HBO's Extras , and a certain Guinness Record-holding weekly podcast. (First off, I have to take a moment and just gush about the live-action opening that Fox used last night for The Simpsons . In an episode featuring one of Britain's top comedians, it's only fitting that producers used the live-action opening sequence created by a bunch of Brits for a promo that aired on the UK's Sky network. From the opening images of the nuclear plant's smoke stacks to baby Maggie getting scanned at the grocery check-out and little Lisa whailing away on her saxophone, it was sheer genius. Every moment tracked beautifully and in three-dimensional brilliant color. Having seen it online, I had