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Channel Surfing: "Harper's Island" to Graveyard on Saturdays, Abrams Confident About "Fringe" Renewal, "Privileged" Still Kicking, and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing.

CBS has announced that it will move struggling freshman drama series Harper's Island to Saturday nights at 9 pm ET/PT, beginning May 2nd. What saved the series from outright cancellation are its strong DVR numbers and the fact that all thirteen episodes of Harper's Island's limited run were already in the can, making it much easier for the Eye to just burn off the episodes. "This move gives us an opportunity to improve the time period on Thursday while experimenting with more original programming on Saturday," said CBS senior exec VP Kelly Kahl of the network's decision. Harper's Island won't be alone on Saturday nights, which the networks have been increasingly using as a dumping ground for series with small but loyal viewers; Kings, Pushing Daisies, Eli Stone, and Dirty Sexy Money will all air episodes on Saturdays this summer. (Variety)

J.J. Abrams is confident that freshman drama series Fringe will return this fall. "It should be returning," Abrams told SCI FI Wire. "I'm really happy with so much of what we did this year. And I feel like we have barely gotten going. There's so much that we know we want to explore and knew we did from the beginning. A lot of it is yet to come." Apparently, one episode of the second season has already been shot, despite the network not having officially renewed the series. "I think that season two should be pretty great, pretty dynamic," said Abrams. "We have some cool ideas. I'm very excited about that. I'm proud of the group. My only regret is I wish we could have stayed shooting in New York. We had a terrific crew. That's the one thing I'd wish we'd be able to do differently. It's a show that's still, as it's going, evolving. Finding the balance between relatable characters and absolute science fiction takes a while, but I think we're getting there." (SCI FI Wire)

The curtain hasn't fallen on CW's Privileged just yet. Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that a second season order is still possible, pointing toward the netlet's decision to air repeats of Privileged's first season on Friday nights at 8 pm ET/PT throughout the summer. "It's definitely a positive sign," one Privileged insider told Ausiello, though CW has yet to make a decision about the dramedy series. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

The writing is on the wall: FOX has opted to shift new comedy Sit Down, Shut Up to the less desirable timeslot of 7 pm ET/PT on Sundays. It had aired two installments in its post-Simpsons 8:30 pm slot; the network will now air episodes of King of the Hill after The Simpsons. It's thought extremely unlikely that the series, from Sony Pictures Television, will continue past this season. (Futon Critic)

Missi Pyle (Boston Legal) will replace Leslie Bibb in NBC's untitled Justin Adler comedy pilot, following the latter's departure from the project in the wake of a creative overhaul. Pyle will play domestic goddess Vanessa, the eldest sibling. As Pyle already shot CBS comedy Big D, her participation here will be in second position to the CBS project. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC is said to be in talks with ABC Studios about continuing comedy series Scrubs next season. Should a deal be reached for Season Nine, the studio would have to accept a reduced license fee while creator Bill Lawrence would return as showrunner/executive producer and star Zach Braff is now "believed to be interested in returning for at least a portion of the episodes." Scrubs is said to be popular with advertisers due to its upscale viewers and ABC is said to need another half-hour on its lineup. Meanwhile, Variety is reporting that Better Off Ted "appears to be a real candidate for renewal as well, thanks to decent buzz -- and the fact that it's not produced by ABC Studios (as the network is looking to spread the financial risk beyond the Disney borders)." And Samantha Who? could also return next season. (
Variety)

Lisa Rinna has changed her tune about wanting to join the cast of CW's revival of Melrose Place. "I don’t think I wanna go back anymore," Rinna told Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider. "Seriously, I watched some old tapes recently -- Harry [Hamlin, her husband] and I were going through stuff. It doesn’t feel right! It feels weird. I’ve changed my mind. You can’t go back!" (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

NCIS' still untitled spin-off starring Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J will be set in Los Angeles and will focus on the employees in the Office of Special Projects, "where they do a lot of undercover and surveillance work," said NCIS executive producer Shane Brennan. "There are no forensics or autopsies in it. There is no [lab tech] Abby character in it. It's not going to trample on our traditional NCIS show." (New York Post)

Spooks (which has aired Stateside under the name MI-5) is set to go into production on its eighth season, which will air this autumn on BBC One and will star Richard Armitage, Peter Firth, and Hermione Norris. (BBC)

Talent agencies William Morris and Endeavor formally approved a merger yesterday, laying the groundwork for the two firms to launch the joint WME Entertainment, which is expected to move into new offices that William Morris is building in Beverly Hills in 2010. Many agents are being courted by rival agencies. William Morris chairman Jim Wiatt will serve as the chairman of WME, with Endeavor's Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell sharing oversight with William Morris president Dave Wirtschafter and a nine-person board--five seats from WMA and four from Endeavor--will be formed as well. (Los Angeles Times)

Maureen FitzPatrick has been named SVP of comedy development at FremantleMedia North America, where she will oversee comedy development, sell and adapt British comedy series, and develop formats from the company's Atomic Wedgie online site. She was formerly SVP of digital content and development at the company's licensing arm. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

AskRachel said…
Happy to hear that Fringe will probably be back. I agree with Abrams that they are just getting started. After a somewhat rocky beginning, I feel like the show is finally hitting its stride and look forward to seeing what they'll do next season.
Hadley said…
I would be so happy if Better Off Ted came back! It is one of the few shows on television that just makes me happy. It's goofy and charming and just the right amount of silly.

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