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Bravo Announces Top Chef: All-Stars Cast, Launch Date

Last night, during Bravo's Top Chef reunion special, the cabler finally took the wraps off of one of television's worst-kept secrets: that next season of Top Chef would be an all-stars edition that would bring back 18 former contestants to battle it out for another chance at the title. Top Chef All-Stars will launch December 1st at 10 pm ET/PT and will feature the return of Anthony Bourdain as well, as he segues from guest judge to full-on regular judge. (He'll rotate with Food & Wine 's Gail Simmons.) As for the contestants, they are some of the ones you would most expect would be in the running: Elia Aboumrad; Stephen Asprinio; Richard Blais; Jennifer Carroll; Tiffany Derry; Tiffani Faison; Carla Hall; Mike Isabella; Jamie Lauren; Dale Levitski; Antonia Lofaso; Spike Mendelsohn; Angelo Sosa; Dale Talde; Casey Thompson; Marcel Vigneron; Fabio Viviani; and Tre Wilcox. Personally, I'm thrilled to see Jennifer Carroll and Richard Blais return to the kitchen.

Channel Surfing: HBO Renews Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order: Criminal Intent to Return, Lone Star DOA, Fringe, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Break open the moonshine! HBO has renewed period drama Boardwalk Empire for a second season, after airing just one episode of the Terence Winter/Martin Scorsese crime drama, which averaged 4.8 million viewers in its premiere broadcast. “All the ingredients aligned for this one, from Mark Wahlberg and Steve Levinson’s initial pitch, to Martin Scorsese’s enormous contributions as director and executive producer, to the genius of Terry Winter and the expertise of Tim Van Patten, to a stellar cast led by Steve Buscemi,” said Michael Lombardo, President of HBO Programming, in a statement. “The response from the media and our viewers has been nothing short of amazing.” (via press release) In other renewal news, USA has finally closed a deal to renew Law & Order: Criminal Intent for a tenth and final season of eight episodes, with original series lead Vincent D'Onofrio set to reprise his role as Detective Robert Goren, while p

The Daily Beast Exclusive: "Top Chef's Surprise Finish"

Still scratching your head over last night's season finale of Top Chef ? Head over to The Daily Beast, where you can read my latest feature, " Top Chef 's Surprise Finish," an exclusive interview with the culinary competition series' executive producers Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz--yes, the brains behind the ubiquitous Magical Elves--as we discuss the winner, what went wrong this season, culinary tourism, the language of reality television, and Justin Bieber. (Yes, you read that last bit correctly.) Head to the comments section to share your thoughts about the now-wrapped Washington D.C.-set season of Top Chef and whether you enjoyed the season or thought that it lacked the sophisticated palate of previous seasons... and what you'd do to correct any of the show's current issues, should you have any.

Singapore Sling: Thoughts on the Season Finale of Top Chef

Um, yeah. After a seriously contentious season of Top Chef , the Washington D.C.-set seventh season came to a close with a final showdown between Angelo, Kevin, and Ed in Singapore, amid a head-scratching judges' decision that made me question just what they were thinking... and what we'd seen throughout the course of the season as members of the home audience. I watched the season finale earlier this week and had a very difficult time keeping my mouth shut about the winner and my intense disappointment over the outcome of the season. While the Singapore installments gave the series a much-needed jolt, it didn't remove the bad taste in mouth about this season as a whole nor the decision to crown a particular person the ultimate winner and bearer of the title of Top Chef. (If you haven't already, head over to The Daily Beast to read my exclusive interview with Top Chef 's executive producers , where we discuss my criticisms of the past season, what went wrong, and

Holy Asian Extravaganza: The Final Four Compete in Singapore on Top Chef

After a lackluster season of Top Chef , having even a single enjoyable and tense episode is a step in the right direction, really. Last night's episode ("Finale, Part One"), which saw the final four contestants jet off to Singapore for the last few challenges before the ultimate culinary showdown, seemed to showcase the spark and magic that this season has been largely missing, forcing the contestants to jump through some pretty narrow hoops as the finish line inches its way ever closer. Perhaps the producers were smart to leave behind stuffy Washington D.C. for the street markets of sweltering Singapore; each of the chefs seemed to far more awake and creative as a whole than we've seen them collectively this season, invigorated by the flavors and scents of Southeast Asia. I have to say that I was extremely impressed by the performance of each of the four. While there were some technical issues at play, each of them turned out gorgeous and complex plates that

Gastro-nauts and Space Cadets: Another Frustrating Episode of Bravo's Top Chef

It's only fitting that a frustrating and uneven season of Bravo's Top Chef should have yet another frustrating twist in the final challenge in Washington D.C. I've been extremely vocal about my dislike of this season of Top Chef , which is strange to me as I've been an obsessive devotee since the very first episode of this culinary challenge series, which is also the first reality series to dethrone CBS' The Amazing Race from its Emmys perch. But while last season rightly snagged an Emmy Award, this season of Top Chef has been almost painful to sit through and several times I nearly walked right out without paying the bill. Lackluster casting, poor editing, and some head-scratching challenges have left me questioning whether there needs to be a shake-up behind the scenes of this series, or whether they just need to cast better next time. Bravo would appear to be launching an All-Stars edition of Top Chef for next season, which Reality Blurred reports

Channel Surfing: USA Renews Covert Affairs, Lost Star Could Be Rockford, Lie to Me Grabs Gunn, Cannavale to Blue Bloods, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. Good news for Annie Walker fans: USA has officially ordered a second season of espionage drama Cover Affairs . No word was given on an episodic order nor when Season Two of the Universal Cable Production-based series would launch, though the first season of the CIA drama is currently in full swing on the cabler. Series, which is shot on location in Toronto, is currently the highest rated cable series on Tuesdays in the 10 pm hour. (via press release) Longtime followers on Twitter will remember that I pushed Josh Holloway for the role of Jim Rockford in NBC's resurrected The Rockford Files back in the spring when I read the pilot script. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is now pushing Holloway as well and reports that the former Lost star has been "mentioned in connection to the project, but [an unnamed] insider stresses that there are no serious talks going on at this time." So it's not like an offer

Cheese Course or Just Desserts: A Dramatic Exit for One Top Chef Contestant

Is it just me or does Restaurant Wars always bring out the worst in the cheftestants? The fiercest comments on Top Chef this week didn't emanate from former New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni, but rather from the contestants of the losing team. On this week's episode ("Restaurant Wars"), the eight remaining contestants were split into two teams and tasked with running a dinner service at a restaurant for one evening, developing and executing the menu and running the front of house at the same time as the kitchen. It's a fan-favorite challenge that always pushes the contestants well past their breaking points but this season the Restaurant Wars challenge wasn't so much fun as frustrating to watch, given that the eliminated chef was an outstanding talent who went home while other, lesser contestants still remain in the competition. It was this elimination that left me scratching my head at the end of the episode. While I've disagreed wit

Channel Surfing: Josh Jackson Ponders Vampire Diaries, Lone Star, Blue Bloods BTS Drama, James Marsters' Torchwood Dreams, and More

Welcome to your Friday morning television briefing. Quite a fair amount of headlines and stories to get through today, so let's get cracking! E! Online's Kristin Dos Santos is reporting that Joshua Jackson is possibly contemplating making a trip to Mystic Falls next season. The Fringe star is said to be weighing a possible guest stint on the CW's Vampire Diaries . "We talked about it," said Jackson about a conversation he had with Kevin Williamson at Comic-Con. "It turns out that he's not making a comedy with Vampire Diaries and it might be too inside baseball comedy if I popped up. But who knows... They're all too handsome." Meanwhile, was Dos Santos able to get any clues about Season Three of Fringe out of Pacey-Con's Jackson? "It picks up literally where it left off last year," said Jackson, "and our show just continues to get greater and more bizarre and strange and disgusting and wonderful every time we put it on the a

Rant: Dear Bravo, Please Stop The Obvious Editing on Top Chef

Gee, I wonder who was going to pack their knives last night? Honestly, I was going to do a Top Chef culinary recap today, but I'm just not feeling it, especially after last night's episode ("Capitol Grill") fell into the same trap that recent episodes of Top Chef have (which I bemoaned last week at length). I understand that we're in the early rounds right now and there are still a lot of contestants to cover but I've officially had it with the editing on Top Chef this season as within five minutes of each episode beginning, it's painfully obvious to anyone who has ever watched a reality competition series just who will be getting eliminated that week. Is Top Chef about more than just who packs their knives and who walks away the winner that week? Sure. It's a culinary-themed competition and as a voracious foodie, I love watching the chefs at work. But it also can't lose sight of the fact that it's also a reality competition series and t

School Lunch Project: Thinking Outside of the Lunch Box on Top Chef

Is it just me or is it blatantly obvious from the opening minutes of each episode of Top Chef just who is going home that week? I've taken the editors of Bravo's culinary competition series to task in the past for obvious editing but last night's episode ("Outside the Lunch Box") featured the most egregious editing yet, in my opinion. Within about two minutes of the installment beginning, I had identified just who I thought would be packing their knives this week... and was completely correct on that front. Sure, it happens from time to time, but it seems to be happening with alarming regularity on Top Chef of late. Keep an eye for who seems to be the focus of attention that week and who is getting a majority of screen time and nine times out of ten, you've got your eliminated contestant. Which isn't to say that there aren't other enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the series, because there are. But this is, after all, a reality competition

Talk Back: What Are You Watching This Summer?

As the Summer Solstice has come and gone now, the hot months of summer are officially in full swing as the broadcast and cable networks bring out their slate of originals and burn-offs during the sweltering season. While I'm sinking my teeth into quite a bit of programming this summer (including HBO's True Blood , Bravo's Top Chef , and my latest obsession, BBC America's upcoming Come Dine With Me ) and catching up on some others (cough, Friday Night Lights , cough), I'm curious to know just what you are watching right now... and what you intend to watch this summer. Are you hooked on USA's dramedies? Can't wait for the return of Entourage ? Trembling at the thought of more True Blood ? Intrigued by Work of Art ? Spooked by the thought of Syfy's Haven ? Head to the comments section to discuss what's on your season pass this summer, what's failed to click with you so far, and what new and returning television series you are most looking forward

Channel Surfing: Leigh and Morissette Return to Weeds, Jamie Foxx Preps TV Pilot, Sarah Drew Talks Grey's, Doctor Who, and More

Welcome to your Wednesday morning television briefing. Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello is reporting that Jennifer Jason Leigh and Alanis Morissette will return to Weeds for the Showtime dark comedy's sixth season, set to launch August 16th. Leigh will reprise her role as Nancy's sister Jill in one episode, with Morissette due to appear in two episodes as Andy's girlfriend Audra Kitson, who also happened to be Nancy's doctor. ( Entertainment Weekly 's Ausiello Files ) Deadline's Nellie Andreeva is reporting that Jamie Foxx has shot a trailer for a potential television project entitled Tommy's Little Girl , which features Paul Sorvino, Selma Blair, James Russo, and Tony Sirico. Project would revolve around the relationship between a mobster (Sorvino) and his daughter (Blair) and will be pitched to cable networks. ( Deadline ) Entertainment Weekly 's Michael Ausiello has an interview with newly promoted Grey's Anatomy series regular S