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Channel Surfing: Sackhoff Lands ABC Pilot, FOX Circles Arnett/Hurwitz Comedy, O'Quinn Talks Smoke Monster, Kreuk Gets "Hitched," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. Loads of headlines to get through today!

Former Battlestar Galactica star Katee Sackhoff (currently co-starring as Dana Walsh on FOX's 24) has landed the lead in ABC's untitled Richard Hatem drama pilot, which revolves around a female detective (Sackhoff) who teams up with a disgraced former cop who has been framed and gone underground. Together, they solve crimes and attempt to unmask the conspiracy that ensnared him. Sackhoff, who last season starred in NBC drama pilot Lost & Found, had received multiple offers this pilot season before deciding to jump into Hatem's drama pilot. Sackhoff's casting doesn't shed any light on a possible Day Nine of 24, with producers saying that she could take this role should it go to series, even if 24 returns next season. (Hollywood Reporter)

Want a frozen banana with that? FOX is said to be thisclose to giving a pilot order to an untitled single-camera comedy starring Arrested Development's Will Arnett, who wrote the script and will executive produce alongside Arrested's Mitch Hurwitz and Jim Vallely, as well as Eric and Kim Tannenbaum, Peter Principato, and Paul Young. Arnett will star as a wealthy Beverly Hills resident who falls in love with a woman who can't stand him. The project nearly didn't go ahead at all after Sony Pictures Television stepped away from the pilot, citing cost concerns, but Lionsgate Television has stepped in to provide the deficit financing. Once that deal closes, FOX is expected to order the project to series. [Editor: I already have the script so will let you know what I think.] (Variety)

Entertainment Weekly's Dan Snierson has a Q&A-style interview with Lost's Terry O'Quinn about playing the Man in Black and the smoke monster. "It’s fun to play," O'Quinn told Snierson when asked about playing ol' Smokey. "I mean, it’s just totally different from whatever John Locke was. Bad guys have better secrets. And if he’s a bad guy, he’s got a lot of secrets. And that’s what frustrates people. When [Sawyer] says, 'What are you?' and Smokey says, 'What I am is trapped,' okay--you don’t pursue that question. Everybody else will go, 'Well, what the hell does that mean? Who are you? Come on, man!' But we’re going to have to wait until another week to find that out." (Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch)

Kristin Kreuk (Chuck) and Jack Carpenter (Sydney White) have been cast as the leads in Josh Schwartz and Matt Miller's CBS comedy pilot Hitched, about a newlywed couple who deal with their friends and family after their wedding. Project, from Warner Bros. Television, will also star Eugene Levy. [Editor: clearly, Schwartz liked working with Kreuk during her Chuck story arc this season.] (Hollywood Reporter)

Ugly Betty's Becki Newton received no less than eleven pilot offers this season but ultimately settled on NBC's romantic dramedy anthology Love Bites, from writer/executive producer Cindy Chupack (Sex and the City). Newton will play Annie, described as "an optimistic, infectiously bubbly social worker who is a virgin," in the series' loosely connected stories about love, sex, and marriage. (Hollywood Reporter)

Pitch perfect casting alert! William Shatner (Boston Legal) will star in CBS multi-camera comedy pilot Shit My Dad Says, executive produced by David Kohan and Max Mutchnick (Will & Grace). Shatner's attachment lifts the casting contingency on the pilot, which hails from Warner Bros. Television. (Hollywood Reporter)

Meanwhile, Bill Pullman has come on board NBC comedy pilot Nathan vs. Nurture, where he will play Arthur, the biological father of Jay Harrington's titular character, a heart surgeon who reunites with his birth father and siblings. Project hails from Sony Pictures Television. (Hollywood Reporter)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Saturday Night Live is nearing a deal with Betty White to host the live comedy show for the first time. But there is one caveat: White wouldn't host by herself but rather would appear as a part of a "Women of Comedy" episode that would include several other comediennes, including Molly Shannon and potentially Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Nicollette Sheridan (Desperate Housewives) has been cast as the lead in Ant Hines' untitled CBS pilot presentation, opposite Paul Kaye. Kaye will play a British sleazebag who moves to Los Angeles to reconnect with his estranged daughter after she has become famous. Sheridan will play the girl's stage mother. Elsewhere, Neal McDonough (Desperate Housewives) has been cast opposite Virginia Madsen in ABC's dramedy series Scoundrels, based on Kiwi series Outrageous Fortune. He'll play the patriarch of a family of career criminals who is sentenced to a prison term, which prompts his wife (Madsen) to push her family onto the straight and narrow. (Hollywood Reporter)

More pilot castings: Rachael Leigh Cook (Psych) has taken the female lead in FOX comedy pilot Nevermind Nirvana; Sean Faris (The Vampire Diaries) has landed the lead in Amy Sherman Palladino's untitled Wyoming project for the CW; Jere Burns (Surviving Surburia) will star opposite Laurie Metcalf in FOX comedy pilot Strange Brew (also cast: Aya Cash, Skylar Astin, and Mo Mandel); and Charles Dutton (Oz), Lea Thompson (Caroline in the City), and Jeff Davis have joined the cast of TBS pilot Uncle Nigel, opposite Gary Cole and Matt Jones. (Hollywood Reporter)

Variety's Jon Weisman explores the graduation hurdles facing Glee, given its locked-in high school timeline. "From the moment it became clear the Fox musical comedy would survive its first season, another dilemma emerged," writes Weisman. "Set in high school, Glee now faces a ticking clock that some in its genre have found energizing, others confounding." Weisman looks at other series that have faced the same situation, including Friday Night Lights, One Tree Hill, Beverly Hills 90210, and Gossip Girl. (Variety)

Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City, Men in Trees) has joined Showtime's upcoming Laura Linney-led comedy series The Big C as an executive producer/showrunner. Also coming on board: Michael Engler as co-executive producer. (Hollywood Reporter)

Take with a (very large) grain of salt: British tabloid The Sun is reporting that Gavin & Stacey's James Corden has been cast in a role on Season Five of Doctor Who, citing an unnamed source within the production. (via Digital Spy)

ABC Family has renewed drama series Greek for a fourth season of ten episodes, set to air later this year. (Variety, Hollywood Reporter)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Jake McLaughlin (Crash) has been cast in an upcoming episode of ABC's Grey's Anataomy, where he will play Aaron, the estranged brother of Justin Chamber's Alex who arrives at Seattle Grace as a patient. "The family reunion is rather momentous," writes Ausiello. "This will mark the first time viewers will be meeting a member of Alex’s troubled clan." (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

FOX has yanked reincarnation drama Past Life off of its schedule, effective immediately. The low-rated drama will be replaced on Thursday nights with new episodes of Kitchen Nightmares for the next three weeks and then repeats of Fringe beginning March 18th. (The latter returns with new episodes on April 1st.) FOX, for its part, says that it will air the remaining unaired episodes of Past Life at some point during the season, most likely during summer... but seeing is believing, really. (The Wrap's TV MoJoe)

Elsewhere at the network, FOX has given a pilot order to animated comedy Brickleberry, which revolves around a group of forest rangers at a struggling park. Project, from 20th Century Fox Television and Fox21, will feature the voices of Dave Herman, Tom Kenny, and Carlos Alazraqui. it is written/executive produced by Waco O'Guin and Roger Black of MTV's Stankervision. (Variety)

Lack of casting has prompted ABC to shelve its comedy pilot Women Are Crazy, Men Are Stupid, based on Howard Morris and Jenny Lee's book. The project was picked up to pilot in December but lack of movement have led ABC to roll over the project to next year's pilot season, at which time it could resurrect the project. (Hollywood Reporter)

And 20th Century Fox Television has pulled out of FOX drama pilot Worthy, leaving the status of the project up in the air. (Futon Critic)

Scripps Networks' Fine Living will morph into the Cooking Channel at the end of May and will present culinary-themed programming featuring the likes of Rachael Ray, Bobby Flay, and Emeril Lagasse. (Variety)

NBC has teamed up with Procter & Gamble on two-hour telepic The Jensen Project, which would star Kellie Martin, Brady Smith, Patricia Richardson, and LeVar Burton. "Set in 1988, it revolves around 12 geniuses who move to an isolated spot in the Allegheny Mountains to form the Jensen Project," writes The Hollywood Reporter's Nellie Andreeva. "For 20 years, the group spend their time inventing ways to fix the world's problems and then share their discoveries freely and anonymously with the world. But when a few decide to take their latest invention, cash in and make names for themselves, it launches a cross-country race as the others try to stop them." (Hollywood Reporter)

Stay tuned.


Iona said…
Wow. Lots of interesting casting going on right now. I'm eager to hear what you think of the script for the new Will Arnett project. Hopefully, it's good!

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