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Channel Surfing: Jared Harris Suits Up for Season Three of "Mad Men," ABC Offers "Christine" a Fallback, FOX Renews "Fringe," NBC Infront, and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing.

Jared Harris (Fringe's David Robert Jones) has been cast in a ten-episode story arc on Season Three of AMC's period drama Mad Men, which is expected to launch in August. Harris will play Lane Pryce, the financial officer of Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency, in the series, which stars Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, January Jones, Vincent Kartheiser, Christina Hendricks, and "guest star" John Slattery. (Hollywood Reporter)

Should CBS opt not to renew comedy The New Adventures of Old Christine for a fifth season, ABC is willing to give the Warner Bros. Television-produced series, which stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, a bailout, guaranteeing it a full 22-episode season on ABC. Move marks the second time ABC has organized a deal like this on behalf of Old Christine (network head Steve McPherson is said to be a huge fan), but it's thought rather likely that CBS will renew it in the end. (Hollywood Reporter)

FOX has officially renewed sci-fi drama series Fringe, from Warner Bros. Television, for a second season. (Televisionary)

NBC unveiled some of its plans for the 2009-10 season to advertisers yesterday, which include new programs such as Parenthood, "event" series Day One, Mercy, Trauma, and comedies 100 Questions and Community. Still no official word, however, about the fate of Chuck, My Name is Earl, Medium, or Law & Order, though the Peacock will make further announcements and share its primetime schedule on May 19th. (Televisionary)

... And NBC also shared the fact that it had canceled crime drama Life and would not be bringing it back for a third season. (Televisionary)

SCI FI Wire talks to Fringe co-star Jasika Nicole, who plays Agent Astrid Farnsworth on the FOX sci-fi drama. Nicole promises that the writers will explore Astrid's past, just not this season. "They've been working on that for a really long time, and they want to make sure that it's perfect," Nicole told SCI FI Wire. "That's why we haven't seen it yet. So I'm hoping that it's going to come in Season Two. We will not get that episode in Season One, but I'm pretty sure that it will happen in Season Two, and I can't wait to find out what's in it, let me tell you." (SCI FI Wire)

Once again, CW is looking to get out of programming Sunday evenings, traditionally the netlet's lowest rated night of the week. At this time last year, the netlet had unveiled an unconventional plan to hand over its Sunday night block to Media Rights Capital, a deal which did not work out. Now CW is said to be in discussions with its affiliates to give up five hours of network time on Sundays so that it can focus on programming the rest of the week. Most of these affiliates are rumored to be talking with MGM about a movie package "on a barter advertising basis." (Variety)

SPOILER: Many Heroes fans are wondering whether Zachary Quinto will be leaving the ensemble drama now that he's donned those rubber ears to play Spock in J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek. Rest assured though that Sylar isn't going anywhere. "We can absolutely assure you that Zachary Quinto is coming back next season," writes Team Watch with Kristin. "We're hearing that Sylar is present in what's described as 'a very Fight Club-esque way.' Care to interpret what that means?" (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Paul Iacono (Human Giant) has been cast as the lead in MTV comedy pilot Hard Times, about a well-endowed geek who becomes popular after accidentally exposing himself during a sporting event. Pilot is written by Seth Grahame-Smith and will be directed/produced by David Katzenberg. (Hollywood Reporter)

Lionsgate Television has tapped Amazing Race creators Bertram Van Munster and Elise Doganieri to serve as executive producers on its new reality series Instantly Rich, described as "a lottery-style game show in which contestants enter to play via text message," which is being pitched to networks now as a one-hour primetime reality series. (Broadcasting & Cable)

Spike has now closed a deal for off-network rights to all 78 episodes so far of HBO's Entourage, as well as the sixth and any future seasons of the series for roughly $600,000 per episode. The cabler also negotiated the right to create a second window for the series on a sister network, most likely Comedy Central. (Hollywood Reporter)

Six Fox Television Stations will offer an eight-week test-run of half-hour reality series Beyond Twisted, a user generated content series from Telepictures Prods. and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution that will feature commentary from the series' production staff. Unlike the studio's TMZ, it will steer away from celebrity-based clips. (Variety)

Mark Burnett has signed a deal to create programming based on the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame. The first project under the deal will be a special celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Hollywood institution, which will be pitched to networks very soon. Burnett, meanwhile, is getting his own star on the Walk of Fame later this year. (Hollywood Reporter)

Disney XD has renewed action series Aaron Stone for a second season and handed out a series order to live-action comedy Viper Slap, starring Logan Miller as a teen who gets to lives his dream when he lands a gig as the new lead guitarist of his favorite 80s band and helps them step back into the spotlight. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.

Comments

I first saw Jared Harris in The Riches and thought he was a brilliant actor. He was equally as good in Fringe and Benjamin Button and I'm thrilled that he's now going to be on Mad Men!

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