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Channel Surfing: FOX Gets "Mental," HBO Defends "Big Love" Controversy, BBC to Dine Again at Blanc's "Restaurant," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing.

FOX has acquired US rights to FTVS' thirteen-episode medical drama Mental, starring Chris Vance (Prison Break), Annabella Sciorra (The Sopranos), and Jacqueline McKenzie (The 4400), which it plans to air this summer. Series, created by Deborah Joy LeVine and Dan Levine. Project, from Fox Television Studios and Fox International Channels, was shot last year in Bogota, Colombia as part of a international co-production business model that produces fare internationally and then sells it back into the US market. (Variety)

HBO has defended its plans to air a March 15th episode of drama Big Love, which features a sacred Mormon endowment ritual, despite encountering criticism from Church of Latter Day Saints officials who claimed to be "offended" by the inclusion of such a ceremony, said to be viewable only by LDS church members in good standing. "Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church, but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology," said HBO in a statement. Series creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, meanwhile, said that the ceremony was vetted by experts for accuracy. "In approaching the dramatization of the endowment ceremony, we knew we had a responsibility to be completely accurate and to show the ceremony in the proper context and with respect," said Olsen and Scheffer in a separate statement. "We therefore took great pains to depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due." (Hollywood Reporter)

BBC has commissioned a third season of culinary competition series The Restaurant (which airs Stateside on BBC America as Last Restaurant Standing) and plans to air the third season later this year. Raymond Blanc and his two inspectors, Sarah Willingham and David Moore, will return for a third season, which will see nine couples compete for their own restaurant. "This year will be survival of the fittest," said Blanc. "I am not looking for dreamers, I want to see couples with fresh ideas and a partnership that will flourish under pressure." (BBC)

Pilot casting alert: Tyler Labine (Reaper) has been cast as the lead in FOX comedy pilot Sons of Tucson; Natalie Dormer (The Tudors) has snagged the female lead on FOX drama pilot Masterwork, from Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring; Sara Rue (Less Than Perfect) has been cast in ABC's drama pilot Eastwick, Drake Bell (Drake and Josh) will star in CBS comedy pilot The Fish Tank; Eion Bailey (ER) and Kristin Bauer (True Blood) have joined CBS drama pilot House Rules; and Richard Schiff (The West Wing) has been cast in FOX drama pilot The Reincarnationist. (Hollywood Reporter)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello has a sneak peek at two clips from this Thursday's return of Smallville on the CW. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

NBC has ordered eight episodes of reality competition series Great American Road Trip, in which seven families will drive cross-country to various well-known US landmarks and compete in challenges against the other families until only one remains. Series, from BBC Worldwide, will launch this summer. (Hollywood Reporter)

Is the long-rumored Star Wars live action series finally in the works? Damages' Rose Byrne, promoting Knowing, her new film with Nicholas Cage, allegedly revealed that the series is currently casting. “A lot of my friends have been auditioning for it,” said Byrne of the series, which is said to focus on minor characters during the time period between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars. (MTV Movies Blog)

Ousted NBC Universal executive Katherine Pope will oversee television operations for outgoing News Corp chairman Peter Chernin's new production company, says Deadline Hollywood Daily's Nikki Finke. (
Deadline Hollywood Daily)

MTV has ordered 20 episodes of animated series DJ and the Fro, about two office workers who trade viral videos while chaos reigns around them, and has ordered five scripted pilots, said to be a mix of live-action and animated fare. Among them is Private High Musical, an adaptation of the web series that spoofed Disney Channel's High School Musical, Long Distance Relationship, about a couple who try to stay together when they attend different universities, and sketch comedy Popzilla. (Hollywood Reporter)

NBC Universal has signed a deal with Sony's PlayStation Network that will enable users to download its movies and television episodes on PlayStation 3 and PSP devices. Television episodes from such series as Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Heroes, 30 Rock, and Eureka will be available for download 24 hours after their linear transmission; both television and feature offerings will be made available in both high-definition and standard-definition options. (Variety)

The Hollywood Reporter's Steven Zeitchik looks at what the proposed and "nearly unpredecented" merger between William Morris Agency and Endeavor would mean for the industry and the shared appeal it has for both companies. However, given the current duplication of work at both companies, job cuts are to be expected following the merger. (Hollywood Reporter)

Following several cost-cutting measures, Sony Pictures Entertainment will layoff roughly 250 employees and cut another 100 open positions, reducing their overall workforce by five percent worldwide. (Hollywood Reporter)

Former Kaplan/Perrone talent manager Justin Killion has been hired as VP of development at Thom Beers' Original Prods., where he will oversee reality programming but also make a push for the company into scripted series. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Yay! I'm very excited that Last Restaurant Standing is coming back for a third season. I'm also excited that Raymond will be looking for stronger, more skilled teams rather than just "dreamers." I'm really enjoying this season but think there are too many "dreamers" in the competition and not enough couples who truly have the talent to run their own restaurant.

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