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Channel Surfing: "Chuck" Plans Game Changer Finale, "Melrose Place" Character Breakdowns, Whedon Has His Fill of Vampires, Pilot Updates, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing.

Chuck creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak said that this season's finale will be "game changing" for Chuck and his band of spies. "We're going to launch the show in a really exciting direction next year. We designed our season heading toward it," said Schwartz, appearing this weekend at New York Comic-Con. While Schwartz and Fedak are being tight-lipped, they did mention that Jordana Brewster will reprise her role as Chuck's deadly ex Jill in an upcoming episode. (TV Guide)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has the character breakdowns for the CW's planned update of Melrose Place, including a character who is the son of the original's Jake (Grant Show), an omni-sexual PR maven, a wannabe filmmaker, a recovering alcoholic, a med student turning tricks to pay her tuition, and a teenage sex kitten. The pilot, produced by CBS Paramount Network Television, will be overseen by Smallville's Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Joss Whedon has had his fill of vampires, as he tells TV Week's Josef Adalian in a new interview, in which he talks about Buffy, Dollhouse, and Dr. Horrible. (TV Week)

Elsewhere, Joss talks about Eliza Dushku, the possibility of a Buffy feature film, and what to expect to see in Season One of Dollhouse. (Televisionary)

NBC has given out a pilot order to single-camera comedy State of Romance, described as a modern take on Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" set in Chicago, from Universal Media Studios, and writer/executive producers Barbara Wallace and Tom Wolfe. (Hollywood Reporter)

CBS, meanwhile, picked up four pilots: dramas Three Rivers, from CBS Paramount, writer Carol Barbee (Jericho), and executive producers Curtis Hanson and Carol Fenelton, about organ transplants, and cast-contingent The Good Wife, about a politician's wife who goes back to work as a defense attorney from writer/executive producers Robert King and Michelle King (In Justice), CBS Paramount and Scott Free, and comedies Accidentally on Purpose (also cast-contingent), about a San Francisco movie critic who finds herself pregnant after a fling with a younger man from writer/executive producer Claudia Lonow, CBS Paramount and BermanBraun, and Waiting to Die, about two single guys happy with their lives, from writers Will Sasso and Chad Kultgen and Sony Pictures Television. The pickups join Jerry Bruckheimer-produced medical drama pilot Miami Trauma, about a team of trauma surgeons from writer Jeffrey Lieber (Family Practice) and Warner Bros. Television, which was also picked up on Friday. (Hollywood Reporter)

Variety discusses just what happened to primetime comedies (CW doesn't even bother to develop them anymore) and points to a possible re-emergence of the genre this midseason, with a slew of comedies being launched at the networks. (Variety)

Ed O'Neill (Married with Children) has been cast in ABC comedy pilot An American Family, where he will play a man who becomes a step-father after he marries a woman 30 years younger than him (Sofia Vergara). Also cast: Eric Stonestreet (This Might Hurt), who will play part of a gay couple (along with Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who adopt a Vietnamese baby. (Hollywood Reporter)

David Nutter (The Mentalist) will direct ABC drama pilot Eastwick, from Warner Bros. Television. Nutter has now gone 14-for-14 in directing pilots that have gone on to be picked up to series. "She has come up with an amazing starting-off point -- I can really see where the series is going to go," Nutter said of writer Maggie Friedman's script. "She's got a great bedrock of characters and a great mystery." (Variety)

Former Universal Media Studios president Katherine Pope has been hired as a consulting producer on FOX drama Lie to Me for the final four episodes of the series' 13-episode first season run. It is said that Pope will support showrunner Sam Baum "in a role similar to Katie Jacobs' duties on Fox's House alongside creator/exec producer/showrunner David Shore." (Hollywood Reporter)

FOX is developing a US remake of Argentinian teen telenovela The Rebels (Rebelde Way), about private school kids who form a pop band, with Jennifer Lopez and Simon Fields' Nuyorican Prods. on tap to produce. Script will be adapted by Duane Adler (Step Up). (Variety)

Maureen Ryan has a first look at a notable guest star appearing in Galactica's medical bay this week: The Daily Show's John Hodgman, who currently lends his voice to the feature film Coraline. He'll drop by to lend Doc Cottle a hand in Battlestar Galactica's February 13th episode, entitled "No Exit." (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

CBS Paramount Network Television has asked the stars of the majority of its produced dramas such as CSI, NCIS, and NUMB3RS, to waive their annual raises and keep their salaries at a plateau next season, as part of an overall cost-cutting measure. However, some argue that this could produce the opposite effect: stars who won't fall in line and accept a salary freeze. "If our lead doesn't accept the freeze, we will have no choice but to let one of our supporting actors go," says on CBS Paramount drama executive producer. "There's no question that it's the second-tier actors who are most vulnerable." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Julia Ormond (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Mahershalalhashbaz Ali (The 4400, Benjamin Button) have been cast in Lifetime Movie Network telepic The Wronged Man, based on a true story. Project, from Sony Pictures Television, is directed by Tom McLoughlin and written by Teena Booth. (Hollywood Reporter)

SAG has once again voted to remove Doug Allen as the guild's chief negotiator and has replaced the negotiating committee with a new task force. Move comes on the heels of president Allen Rosenberg's legal claims that the previous vote violated guild procedure. Talks between SAG and AMPTP are expected to begin on February 17th, following a more than two month silence between the two parties. (Los Angeles Times)

Jerry Springer will not return as the host of Season Four of NBC's America's Got Talent. The Peacock is currently on the hunt for a host to replace Springer, who dropped out due to time commitments with his syndicated talkshow and a stage production this summer. (Variety)

Syndicated talkshow The Steve Wilkos Show has been renewed for a third season, to run during the 2009-10 season. (TV Week)

However, syndicated court show Cristina's Court, produced by Twentieth Television, will not be renewed for a fouth season, though episodes will be produced through September. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Re: Chuck. Since Schwartz is talking about "next year," can I get excited about a season three? Can I do the happy dance? Or is this just a "if-we-get-renewed-we're-going-to-launch-the show-in-a-really-exciting-new-direction"? It would be bad enough if Chuck doesn't get renewed, but I'd hate to see it end on a game changing cliffhanger. (I am, of couse, assuming that the game changing involves a little hanging on the cliff -- or at least peering over th edge.)
Anonymous said…
Maybe Schwartz and Fedak know something we don't. I really hope CHUCK gets a season 3, 4, 5...

The return of Jill concerns me. Maybe she is a catalyst for the "game changing" event. Look what happened last time she showed up, she almost shot Sarah. Does this FINALLY force Sarah to realize what a great guy she has in Chuck waiting for her?

Does it force Chuck to go head first in becoming Charles Carmichael super spy? That feels like a natural progression for Chuck to become a bit more spy savvy.

As for Chuck & Sarah I’m really starting to get sick of the one step forward and two steps back typical TV base script BULL. It is about time they take three or four steps forward with zero back. Yeah, Yeah, I know that might be a little fast for season 2 but there is no guarantee that CHUCK will even make it to season 3 or beyond. For Chuck to keep putting himself out there to show Sarah how he feels and her to really not respond is starting to annoy me.

I don’t know…have Sarah drink a little too much at the Ellie & Awesome wedding so Sarah opens up and at least gives Chuck (the poor guy) some HOPE!

I just hit me…could the “Game Changing” event be the wedding or happen at the wedding?

Mostly my thoughts on the rest of this season…I have no clue if any of this will happen.
Anonymous said…
I'm just glad there's talk of Chuck Season 3. Obviously, if there were no hope, there would be no talk. Fingers crossed that it actually happens!

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