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Channel Surfing: "30 Rock" Lands Off-Net Sale, Andrea Bowen Returns to Wisteria Lane, Producers Seek Replacement for Lynch on "Party Down," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Liz Lemon still has a lot of life left in her yet. Universal Media Studios was able to negotiate a payout of roughly $800,000 per episode of 30 Rock from two separate off-network deals to Comedy Central and WGN America. Both channels will be able to begin airing the episodes as a weeknight strip in fall of 2011. "Pound for pound, this is one of the funniest shows on TV. The DNA of the show is fabulous," said Comedy Central's SVP of programming David Bernath. "I really believe its biggest and broadest days are still ahead of it on NBC." TBS and E! were also said to have had interest in picking up the off-net rights to 30 Rock . ( Variety ) Andrea Bowen is set to reprise her role as Julie when Desperate Housewives returns for a sixth season this fall but Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Bowen will be back in a major way: as a series regular, citing an unnamed insider with Desp

Deal Breaker!: Liz Finally Gets Hers on the Season Finale of "30 Rock"

Last night's season finale of 30 Rock ("Kidney Now") featured a host of celebrity cameos, including Sheryl Crow, the Beastie Boys, Mary J Blige, Elvis Costello, Clay Aiken, Adam Levine, Cindi Lauper, Michael Stipe, and a ton of others. But, if I'm being honest, the real joy of the episode, written by Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock, wasn't seeing an impressive batch of musical talent performing a hilarious benefit song for Kidney Now but seeing Jack Donaghy playing catch with his father Milton (played with relish by Alan Alda). And while Jack wasn't ultimately a match for the kidney that Milton desperately needs to survive, partially so he can finish that three-volume biography of Jimmy Carter, I do hope that Alda's Milton returns next season. I love seeing Jack alternately child-like and suspicious around his biological father and it would be fantastic to see Alda on a more regular basis. Meanwhile, I loved how Liz's story--with her new found fame

Channel Surfing: ABC Orders "Flash Forward," J.J. Abrams Teases "Fringe" Season Finale, Michael Trucco Shares "The Plan," and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. In a move that surprised no one (given the on-air viral campaign), ABC has given a series order to sci-fi drama Flash Forward , based on Robert Sawyer's novel. Series, executive produced by David Goyer, Brannon Braga, Marc Guggenheim, Vince Gerardis, Jessika Goyer, and Ralph Vicinanza, will star Joseph Fiennes, Jack Davenport, Sonya Walger, Courtney B. Vance, John Cho, Zachary Knightton, Peyton List, Brian O'Byrne, and Christine Woods. Guggenheim and Goyer will serve as showrunners on the series, which is rumored to be launching this fall. ( Variety ) Excited about tomorrow night's season finale of FOX's Fringe ? Series co-creator J.J. Abrams promises that the season finale will feature "a really interesting shift in the fundamental paradigm of the show in a very cool way." Abrams also promises that Season Two will have less exposition upfront. "There’s nothing more crazy than having that sort of massi

What the Frak?: Strawberry Allergies, Lion Tattoos, and Murderous Rampages on "30 Rock"

Call me a complete and utter geek but I was totally over the moon when Salma Hayek's Elisa stormed into Jack's office wearing a Battlestar Galactica "What the Frak?" t-shirt. Sure, it was a blatant case of cross-promotional product placement (The Sheinhardt Wig Company--excuse me, NBC Universal--also owns Sci Fi and produces BSG via its Universal Media Studios unit) but it was so absurd, so completely random within the fictional universe of 30 Rock that it caused both me and Elisa's would-be fiance Jack Donaghy to pause. It was in a word: awesome. On this week's episode of 30 Rock ("The Ones"), written by Jack Burditt, Jack contemplated marriage to his Puerto Rican girlfriend Elisa (Hayek), even as he learned that she harbored a dark secret from her past; Jenna fell for an attractive EMT who leaves before she can get his number, leading her to attempt to send Kenneth into "acute strawberry shock" by repeatedly poisoning him; Liz disc

Channel Surfing: Gillian Anderson Tackling "Doctor Who," USA Books "White Collar," Kaley Cuoco Not Checking In to "Grey's Anatomy," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. Former X-Files star Gillian Anderson is said to be in talks to guest star in an episode of Doctor Who , set to air on BBC One next year, opposite the Eleventh Doctor, played by Matt Smith. Anderson would play "the renegade Time Lady, The Rani, a glamorous but evil scientific genius previously played in the series by Kate O'Mara in the 80s," who is an archenemy of the Doctor. "Gillian obviously has a massive sci-fi following following and it's felt it would be a major coup to have her appear in Doctor Who ," an anonymous source told The Daily Express . "The team behind the show are keen for the next Doctor to have lots of new enemies and Gillian would be a glamorous and impressive addition to the list. The Rani would be a perfect role for her as the character used to be regarded as one of the Doctor's most deadly opponents." ( Daily Telegraph ) USA has ordered drama White Collar , starring M

Cutbacks: Liz Has a Few Trix Up Her Sleeve on "30 Rock"

Comedy, when it works best, holds up a cracked mirror to our own society. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Cutbacks"), written by Matt Hubbard, focused on the slew of budget cuts and staff reductions that are plaguing many a company around the country right now. After profits for NBC parent company Sheinhardt Wigs plummet, they call in an outside consulting firm to trim the fat. Meanwhile, Jack is forced to get rid of sycophantic assistant Jonathan and replace him with Kenneth the Page (while still making him do his page duties) and Jenna and Tracy become convinced that Kenneth is a serial killer. While last night's episode might not go down as the most memorable episode in the history of 30 Rock , it did offer more than a few side-splitting moments and some great scenes between Jack and Liz, whom I love best when their storylines intersect, as they did here. I was glad to see that Liz was willing to do whatever it took to ensure that her staff and crew were unaff

Superman Chests and Merkins of Hope: Liz Pops Drew's Bubble on "30 Rock"

It's funny how the handsome can sometimes literally get away with murder. Just look at 30 Rock 's Dr. Drew Baird (guest star Jon Hamm): because he looks like a cartoon pilot, he can be a tennis pro, order off the menu items at restaurants, and convince surly traffic cops to tear up tickets with abandon. For Liz Lemon, it's the gateway to another world she's never experienced, one in which she's treated with the respect and reflected glory of the truly beautiful... and she quickly learns that Drew's looks cover a multitude of sins. Including the fact that he's a doctor who doesn't know the Heimlich maneuver. (Probably a necessary skill when you're around Liz that often.) On this week's episode of 30 Rock ("The Bubble"), written by Tina Fey, Liz saw the truth behind the gorgeous facade and learned that Drew was actually pretty bad at everything, from tennis to cooking (Gatorade and salmon, anyone?), and just about everything in between

The Splendor of My Beginning: Things Go Up in Flames on "30 Rock"

Here comes the funcooker... Was it just me or was last night's episode of 30 Rock ("The Funcooker"), written by Donald Glover and Tom Ceraulo and directed by Ken Whittingham, absolutely hysterical? Perhaps it was the fact that each of the four storylines this week didn't compete for attention but earned it by remaining distinctly hilarious while also managing to intertwine in a delightful way. Much like the ham setting on the new Funcooker, in fact. While Liz found herself assigned to an arson trial (despite her Princess Leia costume, issues of Playgirl from the early 1980s, and her excuse of being a hologram), Jack attempted to find a suitable name for his portable microwave oven, Jenna participated in a risky clinical drug trial for an anti-sleep medication, and Tracy discovered he could say whatever he wanted on television as long as he could pay the fines... and ended up becoming one of NBC's main advertisers in the process. It was a series of plots that

Cobwebs on Rainbows: A Creaky "30 Rock" Fails to Shine

I can always tell when an episode of 30 Rock has been written by a relative newcomer to the series. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Goodbye, My Friend") was written by supervising producer Ron Weiner, who previously wrote two other 30 Rock episodes, "Senor Macho Solo" and "Secrets and Lies." While I enjoyed "Senor Macho Solo," neither of those episodes will go down in history as the very best of 30 Rock to date and last night's installment just lacked that requisite spark of madness/genius that the very best episodes have in abundance. While I did laugh at certain points, it felt pretty flat overall and the series sadly squandered a potentially hilarious appearance from John Lithgow. This week's episode juggled three plots which competed with one another for supremacy: Liz befriended a pregnant doughnut shop employee in an effort to adopt her baby; Jack pushed Frank to pursue his dreams of becoming a lawyer; and Jenna seethed

NGS Fridays at C30 on TB10: Tracy Causes Confusion, Fear, and Fondness for "Teen Wolf" on "30 Rock"

I may have to take the X train to Zorgonia Avenue Station. Just a few quick thoughts the morning after the latest episode of 30 Rock ("Jalisa"), previously known as "Larry King," in which Liz and Kenneth attempt to retrieve her lost mobile phone (with a saucy "adult" photo of Liz on it) from a cab driver in Queens, Jack and Elisa try to take their relationship to the next level, and Tracy causes pandemonium in Manhattan when he speaks about the Asian market crash on Larry King's eponymous CNN talk show. While this week's episode didn't feature any of Jon Hamm's Drew Baird, he was an integral part of the plot nonetheless as the "boobies picture" he snapped of our Liz Lemon on her phone lead to a standoff with a extortion-ready Queens cab driver who didn't quite understand the point of "opposite day." I loved the fact that only Kenneth was willing to accompany her to Queens but wanted her to actually call him her &q

Channel Surfing: Tina Fey Responds to McFlurryGate, "NCIS" Spinoff Nabs Three Leads, Pilot News, and More

Welcome to your Monday morning television briefing. 30 Rock creator/star/writer/executive producer Tina Fey has set the record straight about the series' alleged product placement in last week's episode, in which Jack and Elisa (Salma Hayek) declared their love for McDonald's McFlurry as "the best dessert in the world." Fey says that the segment was NOT an example of product placement. “It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the references to McDonald's in last night's episode of 30 Rock were in no way product placement. (Nor were they an attempt at product placement that fell through.)" said Fey in a statement. "We received no money from the McDonald's Corporation. We were actually a little worried they might sue us. That's just the kind of revenue-generating masterminds we are. Also, the upcoming story line where Liz Lemon starts dating Grimace is just based on a recurring dream I have. Seriously, though, it's not produc

"He Looks Like a Cartoon Pilot": Federal Offenses, Doppelgangers, and the Generalissimo on "30 Rock"

I want to go to there. Last night's episode of 30 Rock ("Generalissimo"), written by Robert Carlock and directed by Todd Holland, was filled to the brim with chocolate fondue, roofies, Spanish-language telenovelas, federal offenses, and stalkerish behavior from one Liz Lemon. In other words: yet another pitch-perfect absurdist treat from the gang at 30 Rock, which brought their A-game to this installment, which could have toppled over--in less gifted hands--under the weight of so much zaniness. Instead, "Generalissimo" had something for everyone: a star-crossed romance between Liz and new neighbor, pediatric doctor Drew Baird (guest star Jon Hamm); OTT antics with Tracy attempting to keep up with TGS' new former Wall Street frat boy interns; and the increasingly complication-fraught relationship between Jack and Elisa took a turn for the bizarre when her grandmother disapproved of Jack because of his resemblance to an evil telenovela character named--you

Channel Surfing: ABC Orders "V" Remake, "House" May Resurrect Amber, Martha Jones Back to "Who," and More

Welcome to your Tuesday morning television briefing. ABC has ordered a pilot for a modern day remake of seminal 1980s mini-series V , to be written/executive produced by Scott Peters ( The 4400 ). Updated V , from Warner Bros. Television, will focus on a female Homeland Security agent. Elsewhere, NBC has removed the contingency from period comedy pilot Lost in the '80s , from Sony Pictures Television and Tantamount, which will be directed by P.J. Hogan ( Shopaholic ). ( Hollywood Reporter ) Former Doctor Who co-star Freema Agyeman will reportedly reprise her role as Martha Jones in one of the four Doctor Who specials planned for 2009, despite some rumors of bad blood between her and outbound head writer/executive producer Russell T. Davies, said to originate when she accepted a role on ITV's Law & Order: London rather than star in a new season of Torchwood . “Freema’s on board," said an unnamd source. "It’s early days so it’s unclear what exactly Martha will

Channel Surfing: Clooney Returns to "ER," Gondry Directs "Conchords," Patti LuPone Heads to "30 Rock," and More

Welcome to your Thursday morning television briefing. I'm sure many of us didn't get a very good night's sleep after the last night brought us the two-hour premiere of Lost , new installments of Damages and Top Chef , and the launch of FOX's Lie to Me . Since when did Wednesday become the go-to night for top-notch television programming? George Clooney is filming scenes this week on NBC's ER , where he will reprise his role as Dr. Doug Ross. He last appeared on the series in an uncredited cameo in 2000. No word on whether he'll bring Ross' Caesar cut with him. ( Entertainment Tonight ) Season Two of HBO's Flight of the Conchords has lined up a host of intriguing guest stars including Saturday Night Live 's Kristin Wiig, My Boys ' Jim Gaffigan, and Lost 's Alan Dale. Also of note: Michel Gondry ( Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind ) directed the February 15th episode, in which Jemaine dates an Australian (shock horror!). ( Chicago Tribu

An Hour of Comedy Laughs (For a Change)

Every now and then you do get a perfect hour of comedy on Thursday night. I haven't exactly been shy about my feelings about the post-Amy Ryan season of The Office so far this year, so I am always pleasantly surprised when an episode comes along that manages to make me remember why I once loved this series. That said, I'd be happy if co-executive producer Jennifer Celotta would write every episode of the NBC comedy; I can always tell when an episode is written by Celotta: the characters seem more grounded, more realistic, and the pacing is swift and deliberate. Last night's episode of The Office ("Duel") featured the wrap up of the season-long storyline involving the love triangle between Dwight, Angela, and Andy and had Michael heading to New York to take a meeting with David Wallace, leaving Jim in charge of the office. Perhaps proving that he is one of the most oblivious characters on television today, Andy still doesn't know that Angela has been sleep

Channel Surfing: NBC Renews "30 Rock" and "The Office," Daniels Still Mulling "Office" Spin-off, Hopkins Scrubs in on "Private Practice," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. By the hammer of Thor! Good news for fans of 30 Rock and The Office : NBC has renewed both series for the 2009-10 season, which means that we're guaranteed a fourth and sixth respective season of each. Given 30 Rock 's comedy win at this week's Golden Globes (and well-deserved statuettes for stars Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin) , I would have been gobsmacked if NBC hadn't ordered an additional season of the critically beloved series. (press release) Unfortunately, there's no news of the fate of ratings-challenged but critically loved NBC series Chuck and Life , which weren't mentioned in NBC's renewal announcement (which also included another season of The Biggest Loser ). And there's even worse news for fans of ABC's Pushing Daisies, Dirty Sexy Money , and Eli Stone . According to Kristin dos Santos' sources, the Alphabet won't be airing the remaining episodes of either series until June a