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2010 William S. Paley Television Festival Lineup Announced

The Paley Center for Media has announced the lineup for the the 27th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival (known affectionately to its attendees as PaleyFest). Critical darling Modern Family will kick off the festival on February 26th. Other series getting individual sessions include ABC's Lost , CW's The Vampire Diaries , FOX's Glee , NBC's Community , ABC's Cougar Town ABC's FlashForward , TNT's Men of a Certain Age , CBS' NCIS , Showtime's Dexter , AMC's Breaking Bad , and HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm , the latter of which will be the festival's final offering this year. Additionally, keep your eyes peeled for Seth MacFarlane and Friends, an evening celebrating McFarlane's animated comedies Family Guy, American Dad , and The Cleveland Show . The day-by-day breakdown of the festival can be found below. (All panels begin at 7 pm.) Feb. 26th: Modern Family Feb. 27th : Lost March 1st: NCIS March 3rd: Community March 4t

Lights Off, Hair Up: Judy Greer Heads to "Modern Family"

As if Modern Family hasn't already had a deft hand with their guest casting, the producers have outdone themselves with the addition of former Arrested Development co-star Judy Greer. Greer, who is currently lending her voice to FX's animated comedy Archer and will forever be Kitty Sanchez to me, is set to guest star on ABC's Modern Family later this season, according to TV Guide Magazine 's Will Keck . "Judy will pop up on an upcoming episode as Denise, an ex-girlfriend of family man Phil (Ty Burrell) who reconnects with him on Facebook," writes Keck. "Though Claire (Julie Bowen) feels Denise's approach was a bit inappropriate, the ex is still invited over for dinner to meet the Dunphys." And, most likely, hijinx ensue. What do you think of the casting? Will Greer make an admirable if short-lived addition to the Modern Family cast? Discuss.

ABC Renews "Modern Family," "The Middle," and "Cougar Town"

Breaking from TCA Winter Press Tour: Stephen McPherson, ABC Entertainment Group President, has announced the second season renewals for Modern Family, The Middle , and Cougar Town . McPherson also indicated that each of the series would air more than the traditional 22 episodes this season. The full press release from ABC announcing the pickups can be found below. ABC ANNOUNCES EARLY PICK-UPS OF HIT WEDNESDAY NIGHT COMEDIES “COUGAR TOWN,” “THE MIDDLE” AND “MODERN FAMILY” FOR THE 2010-2011 SEASON Stephen McPherson, president, ABC Entertainment Group, announced early pick-ups of hit Wednesday night comedies “Cougar Town,” “The Middle” and “Modern Family” for the 2010-2011 Season today at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour. “Cougar Town” (Wednesdays from 9:30-10:00 p.m., ET) Courteney Cox, who was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for her role on the show, stars as Jules, a newly divorced single mother exploring the honest truths about dating and aging in

Top TV Picks of 2009

As 2009 begins to wind down, I figured now was the perfect time as any to look back at the series that that have entertained and inspired me over the past calendar year. And what a year it was for the television industry, which was (and is) still recovering from the writers strike of 2007/08. This past year also saw NBC box up the 10 pm hour for scripted programming, a move that hasn't had quite the effect that the network hoped (I do feel for poor scapegoat Jay Leno), while sending viewers scurrying over to cable, which continued to make huge inroads this year. It was also a year that saw comedy make a huge comeback, from the success of FOX's musical-comedy hybrid Glee to the season's biggest critical hit, ABC's Modern Family and the surprising resilience of NBC's Parks and Recreation (hands down the winner of the Most Improved Series award). And a year that saw much beloved series Chuck teeter dangerously towards cancellation, only to receive an eleventh hou

AFI Announces Their Official Selections for TV Programs of the Year

Yesterday, American Film Institute announced their official selections for the programs of the year for 2009. I'm happy that the esteemed board--which included The Chicago Tribune 's Maureen Ryan, TV Guide Magazine 's Matt Roush, Variety 's Brian Lowry, actor CCH Pounder ( The Shield ), and writer/producer David Milch ( Deadwood )--chose to recognize several series that don't get nearly as much love from critics and audiences as they should. Along with noteworthy freshman series like Modern Family and Glee (both of which I expected would end up on the list) and the always sterling Mad Men , the panel selected such unexpected entries like HBO's lyrical mystery series No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency , Starz's breakout ensemble comedy Party Down , HBO's groundbreaking (and sadly often overlooked) drama series Big Love (which had its best season yet earlier this year), saved-from-cancellation drama Friday Night Lights , and Showtime's sensational

Undeck the Halls, Indeed: "Modern Family" Christmas Episode Hits Its Mark

Most Christmas specials have some sort of lesson to impart to their viewers, whether that's Rudolph accepting who is he (light-up red nose and all) or Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang learning the true (non-commercialized) meaning of Christmas. It's rare for me to add something to my yearly rotation of Christmas specials , but every now and then something new (2008's Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special) manages to become a new tradition. Traditions and lessons were the main thrust of last night's phenomenal episode of ABC's Modern Family ("Undeck the Halls"), written by Dan O'Shannon and directed by Randall Einhorn, which has made the leap onto my yearly holiday special rotation after a fantastic installment that threaded together three separate storylines into one perfect portrait about the blessings and curses of the holiday season. As Jay struggles to recreate his family's Christmas traditions and encounters resistance from Gloria and Ma

The Daily Beast: "TV Report Card"

With the holiday break just around the corner, it's the perfect time to take note of what's worked so far this television season and what hasn't. Over at The Daily Beast, I have a new article entitled "TV Report Card," in which I take a look at the 30 new (and somewhat newish) series that have premiered so far during the 2009-10 season, breaking them down into winners, losers, and draws as I investigate just why and how they work (or don't). Everything from Modern Family and NCIS: Los Angeles to Castle, Sons of Anarchy, V , and FlashForward (and even bottom of the barrel entries Hank and Brothers ) get discussed in-depth. What's clicked for you this season? What series didn't disappear fast enough? And which are you still on the fence about? Head over to the comments section to share your thoughts about the season so far.

Channel Surfing: Jason Lee Mired in "Delta Blues," Fred Willard Drops By "Modern Family," Gretchen Mol Strolls on HBO's "Boardwalk," and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Jason Lee ( My Name is Earl ) has been cast as the lead in TNT drama pilot Delta Blues , where he will play Dwight Hendricks, a Memphis cop who moonlights as an Elvis impersonator and lives with his mother. Pilot, from Warner Horizon and Smokehouse Pictures, is written by Liz M. Garcia and Joshua Harto and will be directed by Clark Johnson, who will executive produce with George Clooney and Grant Heslov. ( Hollywood Reporter ) Proving that the series' casting directors have inherited the comedy casting mantle from Arrested Development and 30 Rock , Fred Willard ( Back to You ) has signed on to guest star on an upcoming episode of ABC's Modern Family , where he will play the father to Ty Burrell's Phil. [Editor: look for Willard to turn up, oh, before the end of the calendar year.] ( Fancast ) Gretchen Mol ( Life on Mars ) has joined the cast of HBO's upcoming period drama Boardwalk Empire in the recurring role

Channel Surfing: Minnie Driver to "Modern Family," Jeffrey Tambor Opposite David Tennant in "Rex," ABC Circling "Charlie's Angels," and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Minnie Driver ( The Riches ) has landed a plum guest role on ABC comedy Modern Family , where she will play "a friend and former co-worker of Claire’s (Julie Bowen). The two reconnect after years of being out of touch and things are not exactly how they remembered." Driver's episode is slated to air in January. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) Jeffrey Tambor ( Arrested Development ) will star opposite David Tennant in NBC's legal dramedy Rex is Not Your Lawyer , where he will play the psychiatrist of the panic attack-prone titular lawyer (Tennant) who is described as "a specialist in anxiety disorders who himself suffers from them and who also becomes romantically involved with Rex's mother." David Semel will direct the pilot, written by Andrew Leeds and David Lampson. ( Hollywood Reporter ) ABC is said to be close to handin

The Great Comedy Debate: The Five Best Comedies on Television (Right Now)

Over on Twitter, there's been a great debate waged over the last few days about what the best comedies currently on television are, a subjective discussion if there ever was one. Titles have been thrown about, opinions bandied, and worthiness dissected and then dissected again. The Great Comedy Debate led Time critic James Poniewozik to yesterday publish his list of the top television comedies at the moment (he included just those that are currently on the air right now ) and I thought I do this same, limiting my list to just five US series that are airing new episodes as we speak. So, in no particular order, here are my picks for The Five Best Comedies on Television: Modern Family (ABC) No other series has come close to balancing the sweet with the tart than Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan's brilliant mockumentary Modern Family , which each week dazzles its enraptured audience with a winning combination of heart and humor. It's the rare comedy that can make yo

Clowning Around: Eric Stonestreet Reveals Cameron's Backstory on "Modern Family"

One word: Fizbo. Modern Family viewers are going to get more than a little glimpse into Cameron's hilarious backstory on the ABC comedy series later this season. I caught up earlier today with Modern Family 's Eric Stonestreet, one of the season's biggest breakout stars, to find out more about Cameron's past, which will be revealed in the series' ninth produced episode and it involves clowns. "It’s revealed [in the episode we're shooting] this week that Cameron has a clowning background and is a classically-trained auguste clown named Fizbo," Stonestreet told me. "The episode is entitled 'Fizbo' and that’s where it comes full circle for me." Stonestreet, who described Cameron as a "celebrator of life and a celebrator of the moment," was himself a clown and performed at children's birthday parties when he was himself a kid. He even nearly attended Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College. "

Channel Surfing: Benjamin Bratt Heads for "Modern Family," Amy Sherman-Palladino Sets Up Project at HBO, "Game of Thrones" Lures Another, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Benjamin Bratt ( The Cleaner ) has been cast as a guest star on ABC's Modern Family , where he will play the ex-husband of Sofia Vergara's Gloria. Bratt is currently slated to appear in one episode of the ABC comedy series, where his character has been mentioned but not yet seen. Look for some friction between Bratt's character and Ed O'Neill's Jay. ( Hollywood Reporter ) Great news for Gilmore Girls fans. Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino will write and executive produce an untitled dramedy project for pay cabler HBO about the "complicated relationship between three adult sisters, all writers sharing the same upper east side apartment building, and their mother, a domineering literary lioness who reserves most of her affections for their ne'er-do-well brother," according to Hollywood Reporter 's Nellie Andreeva. The project marks the first time that Sherman-Palladino has worked i