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Channel Surfing: Heller Wants to Build "Rome" Feature Film, Pilots Making a Comeback, Buscemi and Macdonald Head to "Boardwalk Empire," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. I hope everyone had a pleasant Thanksgiving weekend (I'm still full from two Thanksgiving dinners' worth of turkey and all the trimmings) and is at least somewhat happy to be back at work today.

Rome creator Bruno Heller--who happens to also be the creator of this season's only certifiable network ratings hit, The Mentalist--has expressed interest in producing a feature film version of Rome. "There is talk of doing a movie version," said Heller. "It's moving along. It's not there until it is there. I would love to round that show off."

HBO quietly admitted recently that it was likely a mistake that they canceled the series before its well-received second season. Meanwhile, Heller says that he had a road map for five seasons of the series: "I discovered halfway through writing the second season the show was going to end," Heller said. "The second was going to end with death of Brutus. Third and fourth season would be set in Egypt. Fifth was going to be the rise of the messiah in Palestine. But because we got the heads-up that the second season would be it, I telescoped the third and fourth season into the second one, which accounts for the blazing speed we go through history near the end. There's certainly more than enough history to go around." (Hollywood Reporter)

Filming has begun in Botswana on the six-part drama series The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency for HBO, BBC One, and the Weinstein Company. Series, based on the best-selling novels of Alexander McCall-Smith and written by the late Anthony Minghella, will follow the story of Precious Ramotswe, the owner of an all-female detective agency in Botswana. BBC One is expected to launch the series in Winter 2009; it aired a two-hour backdoor pilot last spring. (BBC)

NBC's Lipstick Jungle hasn't been 100 percent canceled, according to The New York Times, which says that NBC has shifted the female drama to Friday nights in an effort to see if it can attract a live audience on that night on the four original episodes that NBC will air through January.
Lipstick Jungle currently sees a huge boost in DVR numbers but needs to quickly attract a higher overall audience if it has any chance of staying alive. As for what to expect from the four remaining installments: "Nico will continue to have to deal with the baby her husband left behind; Ms. Price’s character, an established fashion designer, will weigh whether to pose nude for a magazine to draw attention to her career; and one character — the writers won’t identify which one — will experience a money crisis." (The New York Times)

Steve Buscemi (The Sopranos) and Kelly Macdonald (State of Play) are in talks to join the cast of Martin Scorsese's HBO drama pilot Boardwalk Empire, about the 1920s origin of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Buscemi would play Nuck Johnson, a criminal who runs a liquor distribution racket; Macdonald would play Margaret, a cunning Irish immigrant who married the wrong man in order to escape her parents' house. (Hollywood Reporter)

Lost has thrown a sheep at you. 'Nuff said. (Zap2it)

This past season's experiment into ordering pilot-free series is now looked on as rather a large mistake, following the poor performance of those very same series, including My Own Worst Enemy and Crusoe at NBC, and the need to retool other series that have yet to air, including FOX's Dollhouse from Joss Whedon and The Philanthropist at NBC. In fact, pilots seem to be making a comeback. "The lesson learned from the last year is that going straight to series is a tool to be used, but not the only tool to be used," said NBC co-chair Marc Graboff. "There's no blanket rule that covers every situation." Ahem. Even when faced with My Own Worst Enemy (which was shot, recast, and retooled before crashing and burning upon launch), Graboff contends that NBC "made all the pilots we wanted to make." (Hollywood Reporter)

BBC One is launching an updated version of classic sci-fi series The Day of the Triffids, based on John Wyndham's 1951 novel. The new Triffids will be written by Patrick Harbinson (Law & Order) and will tell the story of Earth's inhabitants in 2011, who have used up all of the planet's fossil fuel reserves and uncover a new crop called the Triffid, a fuel that seems to have a life of its own. Project, slated to air in 2009, comes from Power and executive producers Justin Bodle and Julie Gardner. (BBC)

Doctor Who's David Tennant talks Time Lord, playing Hamlet at Stratford-upon-Avon, and nerves. (The Daily Telegraph)

Meanwhile, David Morrissey (State of Play) would "jump at the chance" to play the Eleventh Doctor, following Tennant's departure from Doctor Who in 2010. "I've had a great time," said Morrissey, who appears in this month's Doctor Who Christmas Special. "If they asked me back I'd jump at it; I think it's a great character and I've loved every minute." (Digital Spy)

And speaking of time travel, The New Statesman's Laurence Marks chats with Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat, Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes co-creator Ashley Pharoah, and Goodnight Sweetheart writer Maurice Gran about time travel. (BAFTA)

Khandi Alexander will return to CBS' CSI: Miami, where she will reprise her role as Alexx Woods, in at least one episode to air in early 2009. Alexander, meanwhile, will also star opposite The Wire's Wendell Pierce and Clarke Peters in David Simon's new HBO drama pilot Treme. (TV Guide)

The New York Times speaks to The Mentalist creator Bruno Heller and stars Simon Baker and Robin Tunney about the series. Among some interesting points: "[P]ositioned as it is among the 10 top-rated shows, there is a danger that The Mentalist may have nowhere to go but down, particularly as the January premiere of the eighth season of American Idol looms. As a powerhouse lead-in to Fringe, Idol threatens to give the night back to Fox." (The New York Times)

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
I really wish we could have seen the entire five seasons of Rome that Heller had planned. It was a brilliant show and had a lot more life left in it when HBO stabbed it in the gut.

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