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Channel Surfing: Kristen Bell and Jane Lynch to "Party Down," Angie Harmon Cast in TNT's "Rizzoli," Two Evicted From "Melrose Place," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing.

Good news for Party Down fans! Kristen Bell and Jane Lynch will reprise their roles as Uda Bengt and Constance Carmichael respectively on Season Two of Starz comedy Party Down, which will launch next year on the pay cabler. Bell is set to appear in one episode of the comedy and Party Down star Adam Scott revealed that Henry and Uda are dating while Lizzy Caplan's Casey is seeing someone else. Uh-oh. Lynch, meanwhile, is set to appear in the second season finale, where the Party Down staffers cater... her wedding. (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Angie Harmon (Women's Murder Club) has been cast as the titular character in TNT's mystery pilot Rizzoli, where she will play Jane Rizzoli, a detective who teams up with a medical examiner (as yet uncast) to solve crimes in Boston. Project, from Warner Horizon, is based on Tess Gerritsen's novel series and is written by Janet Tamaro. Harmon's casting lifts the contingency off of the project. (Hollywood Reporter)

SPOILER! Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Melrose Place cast members Colin Egglesfield and Ashley Simpson-Wentz have been let go from the nighttime soap as part of a creative overhaul of the struggling series that will allow it to "take on a lighter, more fun vibe." Ausiello spoke to Melrose Place executive producers Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer about the changes. According to the duo, Simpson-Wentz was always going to leave after the twelfth episode. "Because we felt that once the murder mystery was resolved, the tone of the show was going to shift into a much more fun, romantic, sexy upbeat kind of show, and [her] character would move on," said Slavkin, who went on to say that Egglesfield's "brooding alcoholic [character] tonally didn’t fit the paradigm moving into post-murder mystery Melrose Place." There are also no additional plans for Laura Leighton to return to the series as well, though Slavkin indicated that Thomas Calabro will stick around to interact with Heather Locklear's Amanda. "She’s in every episode moving forward," said Slavkin of Amanda. "She’s a major focus [of the show]. She has a hidden agenda that will become not so hidden as the episodes move along. She’s not just the boss of Ella [Katie Cassidy]." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

E! Online's Jennifer Godwin, meanwhile, caught up with Colin Egglesfield about his departure from Melrose Place, which came as a surprise to the actor. "I got the call this morning from our producers, Todd [Slavkin] and Darren [Swimmer]," Egglesfield told Godwin. "They were really saddened, and you could tell it was difficult for them to break this news to me. They said it was a network decision, and they said the network thought Auggie was a little too dark, with his alcoholism. They felt like in the landscape of Melrose they wanted to change the tone of the show. So that's the explanation that they gave me." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

NBC has given script orders to three projects, including a multi-camera family sitcom from executive producers Adam Carolla, Kevin Hench, Jimmy Kimmel, Daniel Kellison, Gail Berman, and Lloyd Braun about a contractor whose life is sent out of orbit when his wife leaves him, which hails from Universal Media Studios, Jackhole Industries, and BermanBraun. The Peacock is also developing an untitled comedy from Don Cheadle and Aaron McGruder (The Boondocks) about two very different brothers who open a private security company; that project will be produced by Universal Media Studios and Crescendo Prods, with McGruder writing the script. NBC is also developing an untitled comedy from Bill Oakley (The Simpsons), Dutch Oven, and Universal Media Studios, about a circuit courthouse's young judge. (Variety)

TVGuide.com talks with this week's ousted chef from Bravo's Top Chef. (TVGuide.com)

The Hollywood Reporter's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that FOX will change its pilot casting process, switching from in-person network tests to taped tests, which will be shot by the studio and then sent to the network. Screen tests are, of course, de rigeur in the feature world and were embraced by new Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Rice, who came over from the film side of NewsCorp. "The network spends months and months developing a show, and then we have this network test where three actors wait nervously in the hallway, staring at each other and talking on the phone with their agents whether or not to sign the contract," FOX casting chief Marcia Schulman said. "Sometimes we can't cast the right lead for a show because they had a bad moment. Casting is more than 50% of the success of a show, so after spending all that money, why have we been going through that crazy process for so long?" (Hollywood Reporter)

The Wrap's Josef Adalian is reporting that ABC is close to ordering six episodes of an untitled extreme weight loss series from 3 Ball Entertainment, the producers of NBC's The Biggest Loser. "Each episode [is] focused on the weight loss journey of a single morbidly obese person. It's expected the participants will have as much as 200 pounds to lose." Cameras will therefore spend as much as a year trailing the individuals, who will live at home with their families while shedding the pounds. According to Variety, the project has the working title of Obese. (The Wrap's TV MoJoe, Variety)

SPOILER! TVGuide.com's Natalie Abrams caught up with Smallville executive producer Kelly Souders about some specific plot points coming up on Season Nine of the superheroic series. "You will see more people than you can imagine die in the first 12 [episodes]," teased Souders. "Luckily it's Smallville, so not all of them stick." (TVGuide.com)

Style Network has ordered ten episodes of an unusual makeover series entitled What I Hate About Me, in which women will "address the 10 aspects of their lives they dislike the most. Along with the obligatory complaints about cellulite and relationships, the women who appear on the show will look to get a handle on everything from intra-family dynamics to the way they manage their financial affairs." Project, which will be hosted by Lisa Arch, is set to launch on January 2nd. (Hollywood Reporter)

The Lego Group and reality producer Scott Messick are developing unscripted programs that are based around the multi-colored interlocking blocks, including competition series, docusoaps, gameshows, and children's programming. (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

Bella Spruce said…
That's awesome that both Kristen Bell and Jane Lynch will be returning to Party Down. I wish that they would both be in it for more than one episode but I'm happy they'll at least make an appearance. And I'm sure Constance's wedding will be hilarious!

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