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Channel Surfing: "Caprica" DVD Takes Off in March, Pay Raise for "Burn" Star, CW Takes Bite Out of "Vampire Diaries," Pilot News, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

It looks like Caprica will be heading to our screens sooner than we originally thought... or the two-hour backdoor pilot will be, anyway. Sci Fi Channel announced that it will make Caprica's pilot available as a limited-edition DVD on April 21st with an uncut and unrated version, ahead of the series' 2010 broadcast launch. Additionally, the film will be available for digital download at select online destinations. (Having already seen the pilot, I can say that it will definitely please BSG fans while also offering a glimpse into a series that's vastly different than anything we've seen so far on Battlestar Galactica.)

"Ever since fans first caught wind of the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica, they have been eagerly following its development," said Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Programming for SCI FI & Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions. "We wanted to give them a chance to see the pilot in its original form and experience the prequel to the BSG story while that series' finale was still ringing in their ears. It also affords the creative team an unprecedented chance to get viewers feedback before production on the Caprica series begins this summer." (via press release)

Jeffrey Donovan, the star of USA's Burn Notice, has renegotiated his contract with Fox Television Studios and secured a pay increase that sees his per-episode fee rise from $55,000 to $150,000. The cost of the increase will be shared between cabler USA and FTVS. (Hollywood Reporter)

CW has ordered a pilot for vampire drama Vampire Diaries, based on the Alloy series of books about a young woman who is caught between two vampire brothers--one good, the other evil--who are battleing for the souls of everyone in their small town. Project, from Alloy Entertainment and Warner Bros. TV, will be written and executive produced by Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, Hidden Palms) and Julie Plec. Also on tap at the CW: political drama The Body Politic, about a group of young staffers working for a Washington-based senator. That project, from CBS Paramount Network Television, will be written by Jason Rothenberg and Bill Robinson and executive produced by Peter Horton. (Variety)

The untitled Gossip Girl spin-off has cast Krysten Ritter (Veronica Mars, Breaking Bad) in the pivotal role as Lily's troubled older sister Carol. "Described as sweet but a bit of a disaster, Carol is an actress who's constantly making bad decisions in life and work," says Michael Ausiello. "Lily ends up moving in with Carol after a falling out with mom and dad." Producers Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz are still casting the role of young Lily in the 1980s-set spin-off, which is expected to air as an episode of Gossip Girl on May 11th. (Entetainmetn Weekly's Ausiello Files)

CBS has handed out a pilot order to multi-camera comedy Big D, about a couple from New York who move to the husband's Dallas hometown, where his Southern belle mother makes life very difficult for his wife. Project, from Warner Bros. TV, is written and executive produced by Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo. (Hollywood Reporter)

Loretta Devine has been cast in David E. Kelley's NBC dramedy pilot Legally Mad, where she will play Jeanette, a lawyer at the firm who is always teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Already cast in the pilot: Hugh Bonneville, Charity Wakefield, Kristin Chenoweth, Kurt Fuller, and Jon Seda. (Hollywood Reporter)

SCI FI Wire has a brief interview with Dollhouse star Dichen Lachman, in which she talks about the series' Sierra, engagements, and blank slates. (SCI FI Wire)

Christina Wayne, AMC's SVP of Scripted Series, has departed the network, effective immediately. No explanation was given as to the reason behind her departure nor where she will go next, though it's been rumored she will take a position at pay cabler Starz. (Televisionary)

NBC has pulled the plug on Sony-produced drama pilot Lost in the '80s, citing creative differences between the network's new management and the studio. (Hollywood Reporter)

Peter Bart and Peter Guber, hosts of AMC's Sunday morning series Shootout, will host a series of specials called StoryMakers, in which the duo will gather together top actors to discuss current entertainment topics. The first special is set to air February 18th at 8 pm. (Variety)

Trends to keep an eye on this development season: cops, docs, and lawyers, while serialized and complex stories are said to be out, according to Hollywood Reporter's James Hibberd. (How then to explain high-profile pilots like V, Day One, Happy Town, Unt. Jason Horwitch, Masterwork, etc.?) "Fox's freshman crime procedural dramas "Fringe" and "Lie to Me" also have performed well, further suggesting to networks that re-embracing traditional self-contained mysteries is the way to go," says Hibberd. "Nowhere is this trend more evident than at NBC, whose pilots include three crime dramas, two medical series and a lawyer show." (
Hollywood Reporter)

Cheyenne Jackson (Life on Mars) will guest star on ABC's Ugly Betty, where he will play a gay dad in an upcoming storyline. (Variety)

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has denied SAG's request for an injunction to remove ousted chief negotiator Doug Allen. The move, spearheaded by SAG president Alan Rosenberg, led to the delay of the first talks between SAG and the AMPTP in over two months. Given the legal resolution, talks are expected once more to resume between the guild and the studios. (Hollywood Reporter)

ITV Studios and Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine have formed a co-production venture under which they will develop pilots for ITV and international outlets but not for other UK-based television networks. Move marks the first deal of its kind in the UK. (Variety)

Paige Davis (Trading Spaces) will host syndicated lifestyle series Life for Dummies, being developed by production company A. Smith and Co. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
I think it's really smart that they're making the Caprica pilot available on DVD so that Battlestar fans can (hopefully) transition easily from one show to the other. I'm really looking forward to seeing it!
Anonymous said…
I can't wait for Legally Mad. I love Loretta Divine.
Unknown said…
$150,000 per episode?! These salaries are outrageous. I'm sorry, but why should someone make $3.3 million dollars a year to shoot a mere 22 episodes of a TV show. Our values are way out of whack. Teachers are making $40K a year and their work is vastly more important. I hope Mr. Donovan donates something to charity.
Jace Lacob said…

It's worth noting that Burn Notice doesn't shoot 22 episodes a season. (The second season is only 16 episodes.) And while teachers are grossly underpaid in the US, one has to look at the fact that Burn Notice makes quite a lot of money for both USA and studio Fox Television Studios, some of which is being given to Donovan as compensation for his services as the series' lead. It may not compare to people who are striving to change the lives of others, but actors like Donovan deserve their share of a project that is filling the coffers of major corporations like NBC Universal and NewsCorp when they are an essential part of that very success.
Unknown said…
I certainly agree that Donovan should get a fair share of the project's success. I'm focusing my frustration with the recession and the many people being hurt by it on Burn Notice when the problem is larger. It's a bit grating to see such largess going towards the entertainment industry (not Mr. Donovan specifically) when I feel it could be more wisely spent on other causes. Of course, there's also the argument that Hollywood is also part of our economy. I'm certainly no economist.
Jace Lacob said…

Believe me, the entertainment industry is definitely suffering right now. Many of us who work/worked in the television business have lost our jobs as a result of the recession and the belt-tightening is just going to get worse as time goes on at the studios and networks. The people who are being affected most are the below-the-line crew and studio/network personnel. Like every other industry, entertainment is subject to the same issues and problems facing every labor force right now. However, Donovan was clearly being underpaid as the lead on a successful cable series and his new salary puts him on par with the episodic salaries earned by leads of early-season series. (Which is funny that I'm defending Donovan as I don't watch Burn Notice nor do I have a vested interest in his career.)
Unknown said…
Again, I don't begrudge Donovan getting his due. If I could earn that much, I'd accept it, too. But maybe some of that could've gone to the crew and other personnel who are less able to weather the recession. We've all seen executives get $5M bonuses while rank-and-file get laid off. I guess I sound a bit socialist, but capitalism doesn't seem to value cogs as much as the hood ornaments.

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