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Channel Surfing: Dustin Hoffman Gambles on "Luck" for HBO, Julie Benz Suits Up for Superhero Pilot, "Modern Family" Vacation, "FlashForward," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing.

Dustin Hoffman (Last Chance Harvey) will star in HBO's David Milch and Michael Mann-executive produced drama pilot Luck, which is set in the world of horseracing. Hoffman, will play the lead, Chester "Ace" Bernstein, described as "a man in his late 60s just released from four years in prison who's autodidactic, intelligent, and deeply involved in gambling." Hoffman is the latest cast addition to the high-profile drama pilot, following the attachments of Dennis Farina and John Ortiz last week. Project, being eyed for a potential January launch on the pay cabler, is written by David Milch and will be directed by Michael Mann, both of whom executive produce alongside Carolyn Strauss. (Variety)

Dexter's Julie Benz has signed on to star opposite Michael Chiklis in ABC superhero drama pilot No Ordinary Family, about a family that find themselves developing new abilities. In the project, written by Greg Berlanti and Jon Harmon Feldman and directed by David Semel, Benz will play Stephanie, the wife of Chiklis' police artist, described as "a gifted scientist who develops a power for superspeed." Also cast: Christina Chang (24), who will play a police officer who works at the same precinct as Jim (Chiklis). The casting follows that for Autumn Reeser and Romany Malco. (Hollywood Reporter)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck has details on Modern Family's upcoming Hawaiian vacation storyline, which finds the Pritchett clan heading to Maui to celebrate Jay's birthday. [Editor: I don't want to be spoiled about the episode, but if you're not that spoiler-averse, click through to read Keck's interviews with the cast about the episode.] (TV Guide Magazine)

Will ABC order another season of the ratings-starved sci-fi drama FlashForward, which dropped 43 percent of its viewers during its ten-episode run in the fall? According to Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice, the network's decision may come down to the fact that the series does do well overseas, particularly in the UK, Spain, and Italy. "ABC may not make a decision on FlashForward and V, which returns March 30, until right before its upfront presentation in New York this May," writes Rice. "Several ABC dramas, in fact, have yet to receive pickups for another season, though Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice and Brothers and Sisters are slam dunks. Comedies like Cougar Town, The Middle and Modern Family have already been picked up, while shows like Ugly Betty have already been cancelled. Long shots include Better Off Ted, The Deep End, Scrubs and The Forgotten." (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Former American Idol contestant Katharine McPhee (who'll be seen next on Community) has been cast as one of the leads in NBC comedy pilot The Pink House, where she will play Emily, described as "a down-to-earth Midwest girl new to Manhattan Beach who lives in an apartment behind the guy's house and works as a pharmaceutical rep." Project revolves around two twenty-something Midwestern best friends who move to California and rent a house on the beach. (Hollywood Reporter)

In other pilot casting news, Jaime King (Gary Unmarried) and Mehcad Brooks (True Blood) have joined the cast of Noah Hawley's ABC drama pilot Generation Y, Fran Kranz (Dollhouse) has ben cast in NBC comedy pilot Friends With Benefits, Alexandra Breckenridge (The Ex List) will co-star in FOX comedy pilot Traffic Light, Adrianne Palicki (Friday Night Lights) and Bryce Johnson (Popular) have been added to the cast of FOX drama pilot Midland, and Peggy Lipton (Twin Peaks) and Escher Holloway (Choose Connor) have been cast in Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas' ABC dramedy pilot Cutthroat. (Hollywood Reporter)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck has a first look at Robert Englund's guest starring turn in the April 15th episode of FOX's Bones, where he will play Ray Buxley, the creepy janitor at Brennan's former high school. "He befriended Bones back when she was a wallflower in high school, and is still carrying a torch for her," Englund told Keck. "He doesn’t like Booth at all!" (TV Guide Magazine)

Elsewhere, The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan has a first-look video clip from this Friday's episode of Syfy's Caprica featuring James Marsters (Buffy, Torchwood) as Barnabas Greeley. (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

David Morrissey (Doctor Who, State of Play), Natascha McElhone (Californication), Eddie Marsan (The 39 Steps), and Aidan Gillen (The Wire) have been cast in Sky1's six-part drama series thorne, based on the novels of Mark Billingham. Production is slated to begin today on thorne: sleepyhead, the first of six planned films that will air this autumn. Telepic will be directed by Stephen Hopkins (24) and is written by Silent Witness' Jim Keeble and Dudi Appleton. (The satellite network has already commissioned the second, thorne: scaredy cat.) Morrissey will play DI Tom Thorne on the hunt for an elusive serial killer who has murdered three women and left a fourth with a condition called "locked in syndrome," where she is aware of everything around her but unable to move or speak. Morrissey, Marsan, and Gillen are set to reprise their roles in the second thorne film. (via press release)

ABC has unveiled the newest competitors for Dancing with the Stars, which launches Monday, March 22nd. Competing this season: Buzz Aldrin, Pamela Anderson, Erin Andrews, Shannen Doherty, Kate Gosselin, Evan Lysacek, Niecy Nash, Chad Ochocinco, Jake Pavelka, Nicole Scherzinger, and Aiden Turner. (via press release)

Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice is reporting that Julianne Moore is will reprise her role as twin Frannie and Sabrina Hughes on CBS' As the World Turns, which is ending its 54-year run in September. (Entertainment Weekly's Hollywood Insider)

Starz has acquired event mini-series The Pillars of the Earth, based on Ken Follett's novel about the construction of a 12th century cathedral in England that's beset by war, religious strife, and power grabs. Project, produced by German company Tandem Communications, will air on the pay cabler in July and will launch with a two-hour premiere, followed by six hourly installments. (Variety)

ABC has announced the new Bachelorette and, like many viewers surmised, has selected Ali Fedotowsky, who left this season's Bachelor in order to return to the work. "I am so excited!" Fedotowsky told host Chris Harrison. "I am so thrilled and honored and grateful, I just can't believe it! I'm just really grateful. I'm shaking so bad." (E! Online's Watch with Kristin)

Could Cablevision subscribers in New York be cut off from the Academy Awards? Looks like it, thanks to a retransmission feud that turned ugly between Disney and Cablevision. "With the help of our viewers, we’ve built ABC7 into the most watched station in the country, and have been trying for two years to get Cablevision to acknowledge the station’s value to their business," said Rebecca S. Campbell, President & General Manager, WABC-TV, in a statement. "Despite our best efforts, it has now become clear that Cablevision has no intention of coming to a fair agreement. We can no longer sit back and allow Cablevision to use our shows for free while they continue to charge their customers for them. We’ve worked too hard and invested too many millions of dollars in programming and community outreach, to be taken advantage of any longer – especially since our viewers can watch their favorite ABC7 shows free, over-the-air, or by switching to one of Cablevision’s competitors." (via press release)

TVGuide.com's Natalie Abrams is reporting that Matt Frewer (Eureka) has been cast on the CW's Supernatural, where he will play Pestilence, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. "Our first brush with him in Episode 520 seems relatively innocuous and then unfolds into something more substantial," Supernatural executive producer Sera Gamble told Abrams. "Put it to you this way: Horsemen on our show tend to think several moves ahead." (TVGuide.com)

TV Land has ordered ten episodes of comedy Hot in Cleveland, starring Valerie Bertinelli, Wendie Malick, and Jane Leeves as three women traveling to Paris who end up living together in Cleveland. (Betty White, meanwhile, will appear in the pilot episode.) Project, created by Suzanne Martin, will launch in June. (Variety)

E! has ordered a second season of Keeping Up with the Kardashians spin-off Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, with ten episodes on tap for this summer. (Hollywood Reporter)

TLC has opted not to renew its deal for the Miss America Pageant, leaving the event without a broadcast home. "We are happy that TLC was part of the modernization and revitalization of the Miss America pageant," said TLC management in a statement. "This year we delivered record ratings, besting any of its prior performances on cable. However, our three-year deal has concluded, and we have chosen not to renew. We wish the Miss America Organization well." (Variety)

Stay tuned.

Comments

AskRachel said…
I love the idea of the Modern Family clan in Hawaii. I can already picture Phil in some awful Hawaiian shirt ogling a bikini-clad Gloria. Should be hysterical (though, like you, I don't want to be spoiled so I'll have to just wait and watch the episode)!

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