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Channel Surfing: Syfy Discovers "Alien Nation," ABC Falls for "Defying Gravity," "Castle" Novel Out Next Month, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing.

Syfy is developing a new incarnation of Alien Nation, the 1988 feature film that spun off into a FOX drama, with writer/executive producer Tim Minear (Firefly, Drive). The project, from Fox21, will tell the story of the partnership between a veteran police officer and an alien detective in the Pacific Northwest as the two races attempt to live side-by-side on Earth following the aliens' arrival and efforts to assimilate into human society. The new version will include a mythology that will unfold over time and will use contemporary issues, such as immigration, racism, terrorism, and paranoia, in its storytelling. "It's very much in keeping with what we've been looking to do -- find themes that are more than just hard sci-fi, something that feels contemporary and relevant and invites a broad audience in," said Syfy original programming EVP Mark Stern. "It's genre mixed with procedural mixed with funny and mixed with big, giant scary," Minear said. "I love serialized stuff, but this is also a cop franchise. That Starsky and Hutch/Lethal Weapon buddy cop comedy is absent from TV right now." (Variety)

ABC has acquired Fox Television Studios' thirteen-episode international drama Defying Gravity, which will air on Canada's CTV, Germany's ProSieben, and the BBC. Project, which stars Ron Livingston, Laura Harris, Christina Cox, Malik Yoba, and Florentine Lahme, follows eight astronauts from five different countries in the near future who are on a six-year mission through the solar system. (Try not to get it confused with FOX's own Virtuality.) Defying Gravity, which will air on ABC this summer, is written/executive produced by James Parriott (Grey's Anatomy) and executive produced by Michael Edelstein, Brian Hamilton, and Michael Chechik. (Hollywood Reporter)

Viewers of ABC's mystery series Castle now have a new way to interact with the series. The network is teaming with Hyperion to publish a stand-alone mystery novel, entitled "Heat Wave," written by the series' lead character Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion)--or a ghostwriter at any event--and will publish chapters of the book each week beginning August 10th, leading up to the second season premiere. Hyperion, meanwhile, will publish the full novel on September 29th. (Hollywood Reporter)

Liza Minnelli and Delta Burke are set to guest star in Lifetime's upcoming dramedy series Drop Dead Diva, where they will play sisters in an episode slated to air September 20th. Minnelli will play "a psychic who takes her sister (Burke) to court after she opens a competing psychic shop directly across the street from her store," according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

The premiere of HBO's comedy series Hung drew 2.8 million viewers, making it the most watched series launch in two years, since John From Cincinnati, which aired after the series finale of The Sopranos. Lead-in True Blood also attracted 3.7 million viewers in its first airing this week, a number which surges to 5.1 million with encore presentations... and to a staggering average of 10.8 million viewers on all platforms (linear, HBO On Demand, and DVR). (via press release)

FX has announced launch dates for Season Two of Sons of Anarchy on September 8th, Season Five of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on September 17th, and the sixth and penultimate season of Nip/Tuck in October. (Televisionary)

Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle will NOT be guest starring on ABC's Ugly Betty, despite rumors to the contrary. ABC has officially shot down stories that Boyle would play herself in an upcoming episode of Betty. (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Elsewhere at ABC, the network has quietly ended its burn-off run of comedy In the Motherhood. The Alphabet will instead program two back-to-back episodes of Samantha Who on Thursdays. (Futon Critic)

Trevor Donovan (Days of Our Lives) has been cast in Season Two of the CW's 90210, where he will play Teddy, a charming tennis prodigy and movie star scion who is clearly being earmarked as a potential love interest for Annie (Shenae Grimes). His first appearance is slated to air on September 8th, the date of the series' second season premiere. (

SOAPnet is developing a US adaptation of BBC Worldwide reality series Bank of Mom and Dad, in which women in their 20s and 30s move back in with their parents and give up control of their expenses to their parents and money consultant Farnoosh Torabi. Series launches September 30th at 10 pm ET/PT. The cabler also ordered ten episodes of reality dating series Holidate, in which two women swap cities to pursue relationships in the other's hometown; series will kick off on July 29th at 10 pm ET/PT. (Variety)

Syfy announced their Comic-Con plans, which includes panels for such series as Caprica/BSG: The Plan, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13, Eureka, and Stargate Universe. (Televisionary)

WE will spin-off a new wedding-themed channel, drawing programming from the cabler's stable of wedding-related programming such as Bridezillas, Platinum Weddings, Amazing Wedding Cakes, and My Fair Wedding. WE, meanwhile, will become more parenting-oriented with the emphasis placed squarely on such programming as The Mom Show, Raising Sextuplets, and Adoption Diaries. The new channel is set to launch in August on Cablevision's platform. (Broadcasting & Cable)

MTV has renewed reality series 16 & Pregnant for a second season. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


Samantha Hunter said…
Ohhhh... very intrigued by the Castle novel. I don't usually read fiction spawned from TV shows, but I will read this one.

NealWasHere said…
I'm looking forward to seeing what Tim Minear does with Alien Nation. I think it could be a fun show and at least it has an interesting premise (unlike Drive).

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