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Channel Surfing: Oprah on "30 Rock," "Closer" Spin-off, "Lost" Casting, and More

Good morning and welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Zuleikha Robinson (Rome, New Amsterdam) has been cast as Ilana in Season Five of Lost; she'll recur as "a European female who possesses great intelligence but who's also dangerous as all get out" and her contract contains an option for her to be bumped to series regular in Season Six. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Alice in Wonderland? Showtime has cast Leisha Hailey in the pilot presentation for its untitled The L Word spin-off, which is scheduled to shoot in December with Ilene Chaiken on board to write and executive produce. (Variety)

Oprah Winfrey is said to be in final talks to guest star on 30 Rock's second episode of the upcoming season (launching on NBC on September 30th). Winfrey is said to be playing herself (rather than Liz Lemon's BFF, which was Tina Fey's longtime wish) and will appear in scenes opposite Fey and will be involved in a storyline about a feud between Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan) and Jenna Maroney (Jane Krakowski). Meanwhile, look for Will Arnett to return in the first episode of the new season as Devin Banks. (E! Online)

CBS Paramount has signed a two-year overall deal with Swingtown creator Mike Kelley. Under the deal, Kelley is developing a new one-hour drama called BiCoastal, about a man who juggles his family life with his wife and kids in LA when he falls in love with a man in New York. Project will be co-produced with Sean Hayes' Hazy Mills and Swingtown's director/executive producer Alan Poul is in talks to join the project. CBS has yet to make a final decision on the fate of Swingtown, though the studio is said to be exploring moving the period drama to cable. Hmmm, Showtime, anyone? (Hollywood Reporter)

David Letterman has expressed sympathy for his one-time latenight rival Jay Leno, who is being replaced by Conan O'Brien as the host of Late Night. "I don’t know why, after the job Jay has done for them, why they would relinquish that,” Letterman said in an interview to be published in Rolling Stone. “I guess they thought it was a less messy way to handle what happened to me at NBC. I don’t know.” (New York Times)

TNT has ordered a pilot script for The Fixer, a spin-off of their hit drama series The Closer. No details about whether the putative series would focus on an existing Closer character or introduce a new one. Project hails from creator/executive producer James Duff, Warner Bros. Television, and Shephard/Robin Co. (Hollywood Reporter)

In other cable development news, A&E has ordered a pilot script for The Lost Son, a cop drama about a police officer who suddenly becomes police commissioner but continues to do street work at night while investigating his mother's murder. Project, from ABC Studios, is being written and executive produced by Charles Murray, who created pilot Under for the network last year. (Hollywood Reporter)

The AV Club sat down with Josh Schwartz, co-creator of Chuck and Gossip Girl. In addition to overseeing the launch of both series' second seasons, Schwartz is getting married in a few weeks. (Sorry, ladies!) (The Onion's AV Club)

ABC has ordered a pilot order for The Shark Tank, Mark Burnett's adaptation of Japanese reality format Dragon's Den (a British version of which is currently airing on BBC America), from Sony Pictures TV. Project revolves around a group of wealthy tycoons who hear business proposals from aspiring entrepreneurs and decide whether or not to invest in their projects. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.

What's On Tonight

8 pm: Big Brother 10 (CBS); 90210 (CW; 8-10 pm); Ugly Betty (ABC); Kitchen Nightmares (FOX; 8-10 pm)

9 pm: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS); NBC Primetime Preview (NBC; 9:30-10 pm); Grey's Anatomy (ABC)

10 pm: CBS News: Democratic National Convention (CBS); Dateline (NBC); Vote 08 (ABC)

What I'll Be Watching:

8-10 pm: Kitchen Nightmares.

Watch as Gordon Ramsay returns to some of the restaurants he helped save during Season One of the US format of his hit UK series and see if they ended up following his instructions or reverting back to their old ways.

9:30 pm: NBC Primetime Preview.

Want an advance look at some of the Peacock's new and returning series, such as Chuck and My Own Worst Enemy? Look no further as Chuck star Zachary Levi takes you on a tour of NBC's primetime series.

10 pm: Tabatha's Salon Takeover on Bravo.

Yes, it's a complete and utter retread of Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares with salons subbing in for restaurants, but there's absolutely nothing else on tonight to watch, so here goes. On this week's episode ("Martino Cartier at Giovanni and Pileggi: Sewell, NJ"), Tabatha Coffey tries to save another struggling hair salon but butts heads with the salon's owner.


Unknown said…
I would totally watch BiCoastal.
Anonymous said…
I would love to see Oprah go head to head with Jack Donaghy. And I'm so glad that Will Arnett will be in the first ep. He's my favorite 30 Rock guest star!
Anonymous said…
Really? Alice is going to be L-word spin-off character? mmmmkay.

I would thrilled if Swingtown got a second life. I got pretty hooked on it.

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