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Channel Surfing: Elizabeth Mitchell, Alan Tudyk, and Laura Vandervoort Spell "V," Mary McDonnell Heads to "The Closer," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing.

Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) has been cast in ABC drama pilot V, a retelling of the cult 1980s sci-fi series. But before we start to mourn the passing of Juliet, it's worth noting that Mitchell will guest star in the sci fi pilot, from Warner Bros. Television, and not star in it, according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files) Meanwhile, has confirmed that Mitchell will play Erica Evans, a single mother and an FBI Counter-Terrorism agent. (Visitorsite)

Editor's note: Having read the script, I can say with all authority that Erica is far from being a "guest star" in the pilot; in fact she's one of the lead roles and as intrinsic to the plot of the pilot episode as Jacqueline McKenzie's Diana Skouris was to The 4400. In fact, she's the very first character we meet in the draft of the script I read... What this truly means for Elizabeth Mitchell's Juliet remains to be seen, but given that Lost is heading into its final season next season and Juliet doesn't appear in every single scene, it's likely a good thing that Mitchell is exploring her long-term options. (Translation: let's not get hysterical yet.)

Also cast in the sci-fi drama pilot: Alan Tudyk (Firefly), who will play FBI Agent Dale Maddox, and Smallville star Laura Vandervoort, who will play Visitor Lisa, a flirty tour guide aboard the Los Angeles Visitor mothership. They join the previously cast Joel Gretsch, Morena Baccarin, Morris Chestnut, Scott Wolf, and David Richmond-Peck. (Visitorsite)

Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica) has been cast in a multiple-episode story arc on TNT's The Closer, where she will play Christina Hatcher, a police captain who runs the department's Force Investigation unit, and causes problems for Kyra Sedgwick's Brenda. Her first episode is expected to air early in the fifth season of The Closer. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Pilot casting alert: Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) has been cast in ABC comedy pilot The Bridget Show opposite Lauren Graham; Julia Ormond (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) has been tapped as a lead on CBS medical drama pilot Three Rivers, where she will play the head of surgery at Three Rivers Hospital; Matthew Davis (Damages) has scored the male lead in ABC drama pilot Limelight, where he will play the interim artistic director of the performing arts academy; Gabrielle Union (Night Stalker), Brian Austin Green (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Jay Hernandez (Six Degrees), and Jenny Wade (Reaper) will star in the CW's drama pilot Body Politic; Majandra Delfino (Roswell) has been cast as one of the three leads in ABC comedy pilot Pulling (based on the UK series); Grant Show (Swingtown) and Lennon Parham (Confessions of a Shopaholic) have been cast in CBS comedy pilot Accidentally on Purpose; Yvette Nicole Brown (Drake and Josh) and Gillian Jacobs (The Book of Daniel) have been added to the cast of NBC comedy pilot Community; and Nat Faxon (Happy Hour) and Kelen Coleman (CSI: New York) have been cast in CBS comedy pilot Big D. (Hollywood Reporter)

Holt McCallany (Heroes) been cast as the lead in FX drama pilot Lights Out, about a former heavyweight boxing champ who is diagnosed with pugilistic dementia, a neurological disorder that affects boxers who receive multiple blows to the head," and has to find another way to support his wife and three daughters. Clark Johnson (The Wire) will direct the pilot, which was written by Justin Zackham and Phillip Noyce (The Bucket List). Production is expected to begin next month in New Jersey. (Hollywood Reporter)

Is NBC bracing for problems with new comedy series Parks and Recreation, from executive producers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur? Nikki Finke has obtained a copy of a "Consumer And Market Intelligence Research Summary" (read: focus group report) from the rough cut of the pilot episode. Finke has some exerpts from the 12-page report that point to some potential problems within the episode. (Deadline Hollywood Daily)

Speaking of Daniels and Schur, Upright Citizen's Brigade member Ellie Kemper has been cast on NBC's The Office, where she will play the new Dunder Mifflin receptionist. What this means for Jenna Fischer's Pam remains to be seen. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

SCI FI Wire has an interview with Battlestar Galactica executive producer Ronald D. Moore, who says that he is "very satisfied" with the series finale, which aired Friday evening. As for the controversial fate of Kara Thrace, Moore said: "You can certainly say that she's an angel or a demon or some other form of life. We know from the show that she died a mortal death, she was brought back to life in some way, and then she fulfilled a certain destiny and guided them all to Earth. What does that mean? And who is she really? It was a conscious creative decision to say, "This is as much as we're going to tell you, and she's connected to some greater truth." The more we try to answer what that greater truth is, the less interesting it becomes, and we just decided to leave it more of a mystery. I am sure that there will be a cadre of people who are angry that they never got a more definitive answer, but we just decided not to do that." (SCI FI Wire)

Roseanne Barr is said to be developing a family comedy pilot for FOX in which she would play the family's matriarch. Project, written by Jim Vallely (Arrested Development), will be executive produced by Barr, Caryn Mandabach, and Maggie Rowe. (Hollywood Reporter)

DirecTV's 101 Network will air three canceled Warner Bros. Television series from the mid-2000s. A deal between the satellite platform and Warner Bros. Domestic TV Distribution will see Smith, The Nine, and Eyes air on the 101 Network, including episodes that were never aired on broadcast television. Smith will launch on Wednesday, April 8th at 10 pm; The Nine will premiere May 27th, and Eyes will debut in July. All three series will air in high definition without commercial interruption. (Variety)

Executive producer/showrunner Alexa Junge has left Showtime's comedy series United States of Tara, which was recently picked up for a second season. No reason was given for Junge's decision not to continue with the Diablo Cody-created series and a search is currently underway to find her replacement. (Hollywood Reporter)

Sci Fi UK has acquired UK rights to 20th Century Fox Television's Dollhouse, from Buffy creator Joss Whedon, and NBC Universal's Knight Rider. "We're dedicated to offering our audience the most exciting content available and are thrilled to become the UK home for two such highly anticipated series," said Jon Farrar, programming director for NBC Universal Global Networks, in a statement. "Knight Rider and Dollhouse both hail from fine pedigrees, clearly reflected in their superior production values. "The special effects in both series are genuinely show-stopping and likely to be the subject of many water-cooler moments for fans, who have the added choice of watching in either standard or high definition." (The Guardian)

Back in the States, Sci Fi has ordered three four-hour mini-series from RHI, including two that will serve as backdoor "pilots" for potential series. The cabler has ordered a modern re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, from writer/director Tim Willing (Tin Man) that is expected ti air this winter; a new take on classic comic-book hero The Phantom; and Riverworld, based on a series of Philip Jose Farmer fantasy novels that follow a photojournalist who is transported to a strange world inhabited by everyone who has ever lived on Earth. The latter two are expected to air in 2010. (Hollywood Reporter)

Ventriloquist Jeff Dunham has signed an "all-encompassing" deal with Comedy Central that will include six episodes of a new series to star Dunham (and his puppets) that will begin shooting this summer and will air next year. (Variety)

FOX has ordered another season of Gordon Ramsay's reality series Kitchen Nightmares, which will air next season. The network is also expected to shortly announce that the new cycle of Hell's Kitchen will air this summer. (Hollywood Reporter)

Nikki Finke is reporting that ABC/ABC Media Studios will begin pinkslipping employees next week in the wake of the merger between the network and studio sides of their business. Finke claims that Steve McPherson won't be around when the axe falls as he's due to meet with the NYC-based sales team and many believe that he's "getting out of town when the ax comes down in order to avoid witnessing the bloodbath he created," writes Finke. "Which would be contemptible enough even if he hadn't publicly scolded Ben Silverman to 'be a man' when their mutual friend Kevin Reilly was fired at NBC Entertainment with no advance warning." Ouch. (Deadline Hollywood Daily)

Travel Channel has ordered twelve episodes of reality series Worldwide Tribe, which follows tattooing practices around the world, from Nepal and Japan to Israel and Spain. Series, from Alchemy Reality and executive producers Mike Beale, Adena Chawke, Craig Borders, Elizabeth Browde, will be hosted by tattoo artists Chris Nunez and Ami James (who will also executive produce) and "apprentice" Yoji Harada. (Variety)

Courtney Thorne-Smith (According to Jim), Lucy Hale (Privileged), and Faith Ford (Carpoolers) will star in Lifetime telepic Sorority Wars, about a freshman who finds herself immersed in a "full-blown sorority war" when she snubs the sorority founded by her mother. Project is written by Michelle Lovretta (To Be Fat Like Me) and will be directed by James Hayman (Ugly Betty). (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
I'm trying not to be nervous about the Elizabeth Mitchell casting news but I would be heartbroken if she disappeared from Lost. She's become one of my favorite characters on the show.

On the bright side, "V" is establishing a really strong cast! Was the pilot script any good?
Anonymous said…
I will be devastated as well. In my opinion she is one of the best actors on the show. Very good for 'V'.

I think you're right. 'V' is establishing a strong cast. Alan Tudyk is phenomenal and I loved Joel Gretsch in 'The 4400'. David Richmond-Peck was the only good thing about 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' and hopefully we'll see a lot more of him in this.

I am curious to know about the script for the pilot as well. There is a chance, if given to the wrong hands, a show like 'V' could be cheesy. How is the writing? With such a non 'O.C.' type cast of actors I'm starting to get excited
Anonymous said…
Well, I guess we now know who will be dying on "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles."
Anonymous said…
I can understand her leaving. I hope she does not die and just goes off Island back to her nephew and sister. She is not tied to the myth in anyway. We have nothing more to learn about her. It's not reall that important if she is still an "other" or she is loyal to our Losties. Yeah. I say, clear the house and let's go about coming full circle with our original losties. Additional cast have taken up enough time as it is.
Anonymous said…
Elizabeth Mitchell can't leave LOST!
Anonymous said…
I'm so hurt Dalrton never bothered to give Jack/Juliet shippers a piece of the pie, they loved Juliet from the very beginning and never got some form of closure :(

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