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Channel Surfing: Whedon Talks Potential Fate of "Dollhouse," Matthew Perry Shoots Down "Lost" Rumors, Jennifer Jason Leigh Scores "Weeds," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing.

Joss Whedon admitted that it's unlikely that Dollhouse will be renewed for a second season by FOX, given the series' low ratings. "[The chances are] not very good but in limbo," Whedon told SCI FI Wire. "Obviously our numbers are pretty soft, and there it is, but we live in hope. I'm really proud of the episodes that are coming out. More than that, I can't really ask." (SCI FI Wire)

But, at last night's Paley Festival panel for Dollhouse, Whedon seemed to have changed his tune, saying that the series isn't dead just yet. "We also talked about next season, [FOX] called me specifically to say we've been hearing you sound a little despondent, being very clear about this, the show is not cancelled," he said. "The numbers have been soft, but the demographic is wonderful. DVR is great, they [FOX] are big fans of the show and they're waiting to see what happens, so now I've gone from a place that's sort of ehhhhhh, they don't even care, no one loves me, to a place of - God, I can't believe I'm saying this... hope." (Fearnet)

Matthew Perry has personally shot down rumors that will be appearing in the season finale of ABC's Lost. "It is not true," said Perry. "I really don't know why those rumors have been floating about. I have admitted I am a Lost junkie. And at the press junket for [17 Again] I was asked what my favorite TV show was and I said [Lost], so maybe that's how they started. That's probably the one show I wouldn't do. I don't want to know how they shoot it and all that stuff. I don't want to know the secrets of the smoke monster or the island before other people. I want to be able to sit back and get swept away like everyone else. I want to develop my theories from my armchair. I just want to be a fan." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Jennifer Jason Leigh (Margot at the Wedding) has landed a recurring role on Showtime's fifth season of Weeds, in which she will play Jill, the estranged older sister of Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) in at least two episodes. When the heat gets too heavy for Nancy, she sends brother-in-law Andy (Justin Kirk) to take son Shane (Alexander Gould) to live with Jill... who then finds her way back into Nancy's life, intent on dredging up the past between them. Season Five of Weeds is set to launch in June. (Hollywood Reporter)

Pilot casting alert: Merrin Dungey (Alias) has been cast in FOX drama pilot Masterwork, where she will play the "longtime colleague" of Matt Passmore's FBI agent on the hunt for some ancient artifacts; Brandy (Mo'esha) has been cast in ABC comedy pilot This Little Piggy, where she will play the demanding wife of Jeff Davis' character; and David Walton (Quarterlife) has landed the male lead in NBC comedy pilot 100 Questions for Charlotte Payne. (Hollywood Reporter)

USA Today has once again launched their annual Save Our Shows campaign and the paper's Gary Levin offers an update on which current series are on the bubble for renewal. Among those who may or may not return next season: NBC's Chuck, Medium, My Name is Earl, Parks and Recreation, and Southland; CBS' Cold Case, Without a Trace, Old Christine, Gary Unmarried, Rules of Engagement, and The Unit; ABC's Scrubs, Samantha Who?, The Unusuals, Surviving Suburbia, Castle, Cupid, In the Motherhood, and Better Off Ted; FOX's Sit Down, Shut Up; and CW's Privileged. With Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Prison Break not returning, it's thought that Dollhouse's cancellation is already a done deal. And, rather scarily, it does seem like Chuck's chances at getting a slot on NBC's reduced schedule is looking like a longshot. (USA Today)

BBC has announced three appointments for the fifth season of Doctor Who, set to star Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor in 2010. Beth Willis (Ashes to Ashes) will join lead writer Steven Moffat and Piers Wenger as an executive producer on the series while Tracie Simpson (Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead) and Peter Bennett (Torchwood: Children of Earth) have been named producers. Pre-production on Season Five begins next month, with shooting in and around Cardiff set for this summer. "Beth and Tracie and Pete aren't the A Team, they're the people the A Team call," said Moffat in a statement. "Tracie and Pete are the backstage stars of Doctor Who and having them on board as producers isn't just the best possible news for Matt Smith's first series, it's a massive relief. And Beth Willis, fresh from the brilliant Ashes To Ashes, is joining Piers and I as an executive so finally there'll be someone to wear the trousers." (BBC)

NBC Universal has teamed up with the Canadian Film Center to launch a talent development and mentoring program which will generate series for the company's owned outlets from Canadian writers. Says Variety's Cynthia Littleton, "The program will issue a call for script submissions from Canadian scribes, and then CFC and NBC U execs will select promising candidates to take part in the program, which will formally launch in the fall." (
Variety)

History Channel is launching a huge multi-platform push for its documentary project A People's History of the United States, based on the book by Howard Zinn and executive produced by Matt Damon and Chris Moore. The two-hour film will integrate archival footage with readings by such boldface names as Don Cheadle, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, Bruce Springspeen, John Legend, Morisa Tomei, David Strathairn, Kerry Washington, and Eddie Vedder. The cabler, meanwhile, will roll out interstitial material that will be distributed online, on demand, and in schools. (Variety)

Cartoon Network is developing live-action movie Reborn, a modern-day retelling of the King Arthur myth from writer Travis Wright (Eagle Eye) and executive producers Wright and Alli Shearmur (who is now the president of motion picture production at Lionsgate). (Hollywood Reporter)

Oxygen has signed a deal with reality staples Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott under which they will star in a fourth season of their docusoap, Tori & Dean, produce and front a new couples makeover series, entitled Mr. and Mrs. Makeover, develop a telepic which they will executive produce, and a web series based on Spelling's book "Mommywood," which will be offered on Oxygen.com, Hulu.com, and iVillage.com. Elsewhere at Oxygen, the cabler announced that it was launching dance/weight loss competition series Dance Your Ass Off, hosted by Marissa Jaret Winokur, The Naughty Chef with Blythe Beck, and Addicted to Beauty, set in the world of medical spas. Cabler is also developing reality series Keshia and Kaseem, following former Cosby Show moppet Keshia Knight Pulliam and her boyfriend, and Celeb-U-Moms, which will track the lives of a crew of Hollywood mothers. (Variety)

VH1 has given a series order to an untitled docusoap starring former American Idol contestant Fantasia Barrino, as she juggles being a single mother with her life as a professional singer. Project, slated to air on the channel in 2010, will be executive produced by World of Wonder's Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, and Tom Campbell. (Hollywood Reporter)

UK viewers will be able to watch FX's Sons of Anarchy now that channel Bravo has acquired UK rights for the series, produced by 20th Century Fox Television, which it plans to launch this spring. "We're excited and proud to have secured such a high-quality and successful series for our viewers," said channel controller Dave Clarke. "US cable drama is the best in the world and FX are past-masters. Sons of Anarchy will be essential and compelling viewing for UK fans of both high quality action and premium drama." (Digital Spy)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Unknown said…
Chuck's on the bubble.

Better Off Ted bubbled.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles gone.

Dollhouse gone.

Dancing Your Ass Off greenlit.

I'm in Bizarro world.
CL said…
If I didn't love Matthew Perry before, I definitely do now. Just for what he said about Lost.
TxGowan said…
How long before Merrin Dungey is replaced? Isn't that her lot in life?
Anonymous said…
I understand there thinking of canceling dollhouse is it true , because i would really like to see a second season

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