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Channel Surfing: Natalie Morales Joins "Parks and Recreation," Jane Espenson to Write "Game of Thrones" Script, FOX Close to Coco Deal, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing.

Former White Collar co-star (and The Middleman star) Natalie Morales has landed a recurring role on NBC's Parks and Recreation, according to Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello. Morales has signed on to Parks for a multiple-episode story arc in which she will play Lucy, described as "a smart and funny busgirl at a local Pawnee bar." [Editor: Hollywood Reporter's Nellie Andreeva, meanwhile, indicates that Morales will be appearing "in at least two episodes," the same ones that are set to feature guest stars Rob Lowe and Adam Scott.] (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files, Hollywood Reporter)

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan is reporting that Caprica executive producer Jane Espenson--who previously wrote for Battlestar Galactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer--will write a script for HBO's upcoming fantasy drama series Game of Thrones, based on the George R.R. Martin novel series. According to Ryan--and confirmed by HBO--Espenson will write the sixth episode of Games' first season as a freelancer. She'll be joined by script coordinator Bryan Cogman, who is writing the fourth episode, and Martin himself. The other episodes will be scripted by executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. (Chicago Tribune's The Watcher)

Los Angeles Times' Meg James is reporting that FOX is thisclose to finalizing a deal with Conan O'Brien that would restore the former Tonight Show host to latenight this fall or in January, should the deal close. "Key Fox executives, including Rupert Murdoch, are on board with the plan and would like to finalize a deal in coming weeks so they can make a splash on May 17 when the network unveils its fall lineup," writes James. "Several significant issues remain and the Fox talks could fall apart, according to people close to the negotiations who asked anonymity because the discussions were meant to be private." (Los Angeles Times)

Screenrant is reporting that James Marsters (Caprica) has been cast in CBS' drama pilot Hawaii Five-O, citing a report on Marsters' official Facebook page. Marsters is said to be guest starring in the drama pilot, where he will play Victor Hesse, the nemesis of Alex O'Loughlin's Jack McGarrett, who is described as "an international arms dealer and human trafficker." (Screenrant)

Cabler Syfy unveiled its slate of new and returning series yesterday at an upfront held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and announced a new Thursday night reality programming block comprised of Paranormal Investigators and Mary Knows Best, a docusoap about a psychic and her Italian-American brood, both of which will launch on July 15th. Other pickups include Ghost Hunters Academy and Beast Legends, while the network also has additional seasons of Warehouse 13, Eureka, Stargate Universe, Sanctuary, Ghost Hunters, and Destination Truth, as well as additional episodes of Caprica. New scripted series include Haven and the US version of Being Human. (Variety)

Syfy also unveiled a slew of other reality programming, including Marcel's Quantum Kitchen, Force of Nature, The Latimer Project, Mr. Impossible, Paranormal Files, Face Off, The Dome Experiment, and an untitled artifact search series. (via press release)

Tom Selleck (Magnum P.I.) is said to be close to signing a deal that will have him star in CBS' untitled Burgess/Green cop drama pilot (formerly known as Reagan's Law) opposite Donnie Wahlberg and Len Cariou. Selleck would play Michael, described as "the handsome, confident and highly commended chief of police for the NYPD who lives in Brooklyn with his father, Patrick (Cariou), the ex-chief who struggles to find a balance between the political demands of the mayor's office and doing right by his fellow cops." (Hollywood Reporter)

Pilot casting roundup: Goran Visnjic (ER) is in talks to star opposite Katee Sackhoff and the newly cast Nia Long (Big Shots) in ABC drama pilot Boston's Finest; Dougray Scott (Desperate Housewives) and Molly Parker (Swingtown) will star in CBS drama presentation Quinn-Tuplets; Josh Henderson (Desperate Housewives) has landed the lead in CW supernatural drama pilot Betwixt; Randall Park (Dinner for Schmucks) has joined the cast of FOX comedy pilot Tax Man; and Omid Abtahi (Sleeper Cell) has been cast in FOX drama pilot Pleading Guilty. (Hollywood Reporter)

Production resumed again yesterday on CBS' Two and a Half Men, following the shutdown necessitated by star Charlie Sheen's rehab treatment. Warner Bros. Television has yet to comment on reports that the the studio and network had opted to reduce the number of episodes this season. (Variety)

Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Michaela McManus (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) has joined the cast of CW's drama pilot Nomads, which revolves around a group of CIA trainees who pose as backpackers. McManus will play "a brave and resourceful Army Brat determined to earn a place in the CIA" who finds herself caught between attractions to her handler (Warren Kole) and another agent (Scott Porter). (Entertainment Weekly's Ausiello Files)

Nascent pay cabler Epix has signed a deal for Larry Charles to oversee the script for comedy pilot Icon, which will be written by Dan Lyons and is described as a "savage satire centering on a fictional Silicon Valley CEO whose ego is a study in power and greed." Charles will also direct the pilot. (Variety)

Marco Sanchez (Dollhouse) is set to recur on CBS' NCIS, where he will play Alejandro Rivera, an agent with the Justice Department in Mexico who is in Washington to assist in the creation of an international law enforcement task force. (Hollywood Reporter)

TV Land has concluded a deal to have Betty White star in ten-episode scripted comedy Hot in Cleveland, which will launch in June. White will play Elka Ostrovsky, described as the "property caretaker of the home that co-stars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves and Wendie Malick rent after their plane makes an emergency landing in Cleveland and they decide to stay. Series is written by Suzanne Martin (Frasier) and executive produced produced by Sean Hayes and Todd Milliner. (via press release)

Zap2It's Korbi Ghosh is reporting that Rachael Harris has joined the cast of TBS' My Boys for its fourth season, set to launch on Sunday, July 25th. Harris will play Marcia, a love interest for Jamie Kaler's Mike. Meanwhile, Jim Gaffigan will leave the comedy series in order to concentrate on his stand-up career. "His character will be written out with a move overseas, which of course leaves the door open for Mike to masquerade as a grown man who owns his own four-bedroom pad," writes Ghosh. "But apparently this Marcia chick digs that kind of trickery, because she seems to be sticking around." (Zap2It's Korbi TV)

TV Guide Magazine's Will Keck is reporting that Gregory Itzin will reprise his role as ex-President Charles Logan in the April 12th episode of FOX's 24, when he will advise Cherry Jones' Allison Taylor about her crumbling peace-treaty talks. "I have an old relationship with the Russians, so [her chief of staff] Ethan brings me in against her better judgment," Itzin told Keck. "She’s not pleased to have to deal with this character." (TV Guide Magazine)

Tracy Morgan (30 Rock) will return as host of Syfy's Scare Tactics, which has been renewed for a fourth season that will debut this fall. (Hollywood Reporter)

Hallmark Channel has expanded its deal with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, which will now provide the cabler with a seven-hour programming block beginning Monday, March 29th. (Variety)

MTV has ordered twenty episodes of unscripted series MTV Hired, which will follow recent college graduates as they struggle to find employment in the current economy. Series, executive produced by Jessica Chesler, Sam Simmons, Noah Scheinmann, Matt Westmore, Marshall Eisen and Dave Sirulnick, will air on weekday afternoons along with Silent Library, which the cabler picked up for a third season. (Variety)

FOX has ordered a third season of Gordon Ramsay-led reality show Kitchen Nightmares. (via press release)

Daytime talk show The Wendy Williams Show has been renewed in 80 percent of the country and through the 2011-12 season in FOX owned-and-operated stations in the top markets. (Variety)

NBC has announced that its upcoming reality series Losing It with Jillian, featuring The Biggest Loser's Jullian Michaels, will launch on Tuesday, June 1st at 10 pm ET/PT before setting into its regular timeslot of Tuesdays at 8 pm ET/PT on June 8th. (via press release)

Former FOX executive Susan Levison has been hired as EVP of creative affairs at Fishbowl Worldwide Media, where she will oversee development for film, television, and digital. (Variety)

Elsewhere, former TV Guide Network development executive Kristin Peace has been hired as SVP of creative affairs at Trifecta Entertainment. (Variety)

Stay tuned.


Anonymous said…
Conan sounds like a douche now. What's up with charging his fans so much money for tickets to his live road show? He already got 45 million from NBC for his show bombing (and I'm a big Conan fan)... he just sounds greedy. And ripping off his fans... not cool. He should have charged 15 - 20 bucks a ticket to show it wasn't about making money for him.
Hayden said…
I think it's time for Tom Selleck to make a come back. Ted Danson did it!
Anonymous said…
"He should have charged 15 - 20 bucks a ticket to show it wasn't about making money for him"

It's *not* about him, dummy - read any article detailing the tour.

Conan's not taking a penny - the tour is all about generating work for his crew that moved to LA to work on the show that Leno killed.

Get your facts together - he's trying to employ people who are out of work.

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