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Channel Surfing: "Friday Night Lights" Renewed for Two Seasons, Lucy Lawless Dons Sandals for "Spartacus," Dustin Milligan to Leave "90210," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing.

NBC and DirecTV have reached a deal to renew drama series Friday Night Lights for two more seasons of 13 episodes each. Following the same model as the air structure this season, DirecTV will get the first window of the fourth and fifth seasons of Friday Night Lights before NBC airs them. Look for current cast members Taylor Kitsch, Matt Gilford, and Adrianne Palicki, who all play seniors, to potentially leave the series but the trio may reprise their roles on a recurring basis in order to wrap up their characters' storylines. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files, E! Online)

Lucy Lawless will star in Starz' upcoming gladiator series Spactacus: Blood and Sand, from executive producers Rob Tapert, Sam Raimi, and Josh Donen. She'll play gladiator camp owner Lucretia, opposite Aussie series lead Andy Whitfield (The Strip). Project, which start shooting next month, is expected to air in January 2010. (Variety, Entertainment Weekly)

Dustin Milligan, who plays jock Ethan, won't be returning as a series regular for Season Two of CW's 90210, reports Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. Milligan's option for a second season has not been picked up but there is a possibility that he could reprise his role to wrap up some storylines this fall. Conversely, Matt Lanter--who plays bad boy Liam--has been upgraded to series regular next season. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Pilot casting alert: James D'Arcy (Virtuality) will star in CBS drama pilot The Eastmans; Nick Kroll (Cavemen) and Nora Zehetner (Heroes) have joined the cast of FOX comedy pilot Cop House; and Scott Porter (Friday Night Lights) will co-star in FOX drama pilot Masterwork, where he will play an FBI agent on the trail of some international art thieves who works closely with Matt Passmore's character. (Hollywood Reporter)

E! Online's Watch with Kristin has a first look at Season Two of HBO's True Blood, which kicks off on June 14th and will follow the second Sookie Stackhouse novel by Charlaine Harris and feature vampiric Viking Eric. (
E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

MTV has renewed reality mainstay Real World for another four cycles, bringing the total number of seasons that the series has aired to a staggering 26. The cabler also ordered another four cycles of reality competition series Real World/Road Rules Challenge, bringing that series' total to 21 cycles. "MTV is proud to continue our relationship with Bunim-Murray that stretches back over 15 years," said MTV programming president Tony DiSanto. "With each new season, the Real World franchise continues to evolve and captivate our ever-changing audience." (Hollywood Reporter)

Former Angel star Andy Hallett, who played Lorne on the WB series, passed away Sunday evening in Los Angeles after a five-year-long battle with heart disease. He was 33 years old. (E! Online)

Mark Burnett Prods. and Lionsgate TV will team up to produce a US version of Italian reality format Parenti talenti, which pits family against one another as they perform song and dance numbers and comedy sketches after spending a week with pro coaches. The companies will jointly pitch the project to networks, while Lionsgate will retain format rights in English-language territories and distribute the US version worldwide. (Variety)

ABC has acquired mini-series Diamonds, starring Judy Davis, James Purefoy, Derek Jacobi, Louise Rose, and Joanne Kelly, from Alchemy TV and Films and plans to air the project, originally developed and produced for CBC, in May. (Variety)

Nikki Finke is reporting that CBS has allegedly "demanded that each existing TV show -- even the hit ones -- reduce their budgets for next year, if renewed." Which she believes could lead to smaller writing staffs next season. (Deadline Hollywood Daily)

Sony Pictures Television has signed a deal with RelativityReal, the reality television arm of Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity, to co-distribute projects from the shingle, said to have 20 series and pilots in development, outside of the US. (Variety)

44 Blue is development a reality series following party planner Jes Gordon, whose clients include the likes of the Golden Globes, Sting, and Bono, as she puts together successful soirees. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Heatherette said…
So sad about Andy Hallett. He was very talented and one of my favorite characters from the Buffy/Angel world.

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