Archive: August 2009 (1-10 of 16)

Press Tour Diary: 'Lie to Me'

Lie-To-Me-Roth_lWHO: Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Monica Raymund, Brendan Hines, Mekhi Phifer, and exec producers Shawn Ryan, David Nevins, and Samuel Baum.

5:01 pm/PST: New e.p. Ryan is looking to push the show in “a little bit more of a character direction and add a little more adrenaline.”

5:07 pm: Elaborating on the amped-up adrenaline, Ryan says it’s less in a “Shield, 24 sense” and more about putting the characters in “emotionally, physically harrowing situations.” The pace of the show will pick up as well.

5:16 pm: Season 2 will find Lightman “being the liar and not just the lie detector,” teases Ryan. There will also be more father-daughter drama.

5:18 pm: Scoop! Prison Break exec producer Matt Olmstead is now writing for Lie to Me. READ FULL STORY

Paula Abdul: Is another reality show in her future?

Now that Fox has made it clear that American Idol is moving ahead without its popular (but polarizing) judge, is Paula Abdul about to become the most eligible bachelorette in television today? Many signs point to that possibility, as producers like Nigel Lythgoe and NBC reality guru Paul Telegdy have already indicated a willingness to work with the genial singer/dancer. Both have competition shows with judging panels — Telegdy’s network airs America’s Got Talent and Lythgoe exec produces So You Think You can Dance for Fox — so adding Abdul to either show would make sense from a continuity standpoint (to say nothing about what it could do for ratings).

But would it make sense for Abdul? While there’s little doubt that the former pop star can — and will — find ample opportunities beyond Idol, she’ll never score the kind of cash she could have received on the ninth season of TV’s most popular show (a source close to the negotiation said Abdul was offered a 30% raise, which would have amounted to a an eight-figure salary north of $10 million). “In our little bathtub here in Hollywood, everyone thinks she’s off her rocker to pass up money like that,”  says one reality show agent. “She’ll never get $5 to $10 million on a start-up show. It’s never going happen. She may have overplayed her hand.”

Even one Fox insider concedes that while it could be a boon to SYTYCD to have Abdul join Lythgoe and Mary Murphy on the judges’ panel, there’s “no way” she would earn close to what she netted on Idol. That’s why many Hollywood observers think she should swallow her pride and go back to the show that (re)made her a star. “I don’t think the move was really thought out,” says Scott Sternberg, Abdul’s former executive producer on Bravo’s short-lived Hey Paula. “Paula is always looking for attention but she was always on the same level [as Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest]. Her deal would have been rich. I don’t know who her handlers are, but someone needs to say, ‘Girl, go back one more season, at least.’”

But cold, hard cash may not be what Abdul is ultimately seeking. “For Paula, it’s not about money. It’s about respect,” opines Howard Bragman, Abdul’s former publicist. “Paula wants to feel respected. Paula has a definitive role and a definite place on Idol. What Fox has to be very cautious of is this: a hit show is [like] my chicken soup recipe. You don’t mess with it. Don’t underestimate the American public’s desire to want to tune into a train wreck. If I were Fox, I would do what I’d have to do to keep Paula.”

That doesn’t appear likely — at least for now. At the Fox press conference today for the nation’s TV critics, Chairman Peter Rice said the network is already on the lookout for guest judges to help fill the void (it already tapped Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham) and has until January to decide how (or whether) to permanently replace Abdul. But what if Abdul changes her mind in the next few days and comes crawling back to Fox? “I don’t deal with hypotheticals,” Fox’s head of reality Mike Darnell told EW. Darnell adds that the network is taking Abdul’s resignation at “face value” and is moving ahead without her.

So is at least one person on Madison Avenue. Media analyst Shari Anne Brill of Carat USA doesn’t think the show will suffer without the ever unpredictable Abdul. “While you do wonder what kind of loopy thing Paula will say next, that’s not why I tuned in,” Brill said. “It’s always for the performances and the snark fest coming out of Simon. Maybe Kara can step in and be Simon’s new sparring partner. And Simon always has Ryan to pick on.”

Press Tour Diary: 'The Wanda Sykes Show'

Wanda-Sykes_lWHO: Wanda Sykes, exec producers Eddie Feldmann and John Ridley.
PREMISE: Saturday late-night talk show starring one of my favorite comedians.

3:10 pm: Sykes offers a preview of Wanda: “I will be on the show.” All joking aside, she says “it’ll be a wrap-up of the week from my point of view” via skits, panels, etc.

3:12 pm: Musical guests will not be a regular part of the show. “But if Dick Cheney puts out a hip-hop album, we’re booking him,” Sykes deadpans.

3:14 pm: Why have there been so few minorities in late-night? Cracks Sykes: “Um, white people.”

3:16 pm: Sykes will turn up on the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And she remains a series regular on The New Adventures of Old Christine. READ FULL STORY

'True Blood' first look: Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann!

Evan-Rachel-Wood_lWhen Even Rachel Wood makes her True Blood debut in the August 30 episode, there will be… well, obviously, blood.

“Nobody’s ever entirely happy to see her” character, Louisiana’s blood-sucker boss lady, Queen Sophie-Ann, says series creator Alan Ball. “She’s very powerful, capricious and most likely insane.”

Oooh, we love her already. So it’s a good thing she “has more than one secret agenda,” he teases, “which we will slowly become aware of over season 3.”

Press Tour Diary: 'Fringe'

Fringe-comic-con_lWHO: Joshua Jackson, John Noble, Anna Torv, and exec producers Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, J.H. Wyman, and Jeff Pinkner. MIA: J.J. Abrams and Kirk Acevedo.

2:26 pm/PST: How many dimensions will season 2 take place in? Two, according to Pinkner. “[It's] two versions of reality,” he adds. “It’s not time travel.”

2:28 pm: Leonard Nimoy will be back for “several more” episodes, one of which has already been shot.

2:30 pm: Over the course of season 1, Orci says they “got a better handle on the balance of our characters and our plots, and making sure that our plots are character-centric.”

2:31 pm: Noble calls Walter Bishop “the most enjoyable character I’ve ever played in my life.” READ FULL STORY

Press Tour Diary: 'Glee'

Glee-club-fox-tv_lWHO: Matthew Morrison, Cory Monteith, Lea Michele, Kevin McHale, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz, Jane Lynch, Jessalyn Gilsig, Jayma Mays, Dianna Agron, Mark Salling, and exec producers Dante Di Loreto, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan. MIA: Series creator Ryan Murphy
PREDICTIONS: Given the size of the panel, I’m praying Fox imposes a moratorium on roundup questions. Example: “Can each of the castmembers explain what drew you to your respective roles?”

1:46 pm/PST: Fox is handing out strawberry slushies in advance of the session.

1:47 pm: Ryan Murphy is “very involved” in the show, although he was too busy to attend today’s panel. He has a good excuse though: He’s in New York shooting a movie with Julia Roberts.

1:50 pm: Regarding the show’s wretched pregnancy plot involving Gilsig’s character, e.p. Falchuk says the ends will justify the means. (Hope so, because the means are unwatchable.) READ FULL STORY

'Friday Night Lights' scoop: Is it over for Matt and Julie?

Not according to Aimee Teegarden, who told me at NBC’s press tour bash last night that not even Zach Gilford’s reduced role on Friday Night Lights this season can keep Matt and Julie apart. “It’s Matt and Julie,” she professed, “it’s forever-after love.” My entire red carpet run-in with Teegarden is below.

To see all my interviews from Wednesday’s NBC shindig, including my revealing chats with Mercy‘s Michelle Trachtenberg, Heroes‘ Greg Grunberg and Adrian Pasdar, and Southland‘s Ben Mackenzie, head over to the Ausiello TV hub!

Exclusive: 'Monk' welcomes Virginia Madsen

Virginia-Madsen-Ausiello_lMonk is injecting a little star power into its final season.

Sources confirm to me exclusively that Oscar-nominated Sideways actress Virginia Madsen has booked a three-episode arc on the USA comedy. She’ll play T.K. Jensen, a love interest for Ted Levine’s Stottlemeyer.

Monk‘s eighth and final season kicks off this Friday.

Exclusive: 'Chuck' to feature TV's first ever 'love trapezoid'

Nothing makes me happier than running into the cast of Chuck at a red carpet event. Case in point: The crew from the Emmy-snubbed comedy were out in full force last night at NBC’s press tour party and some major good times were had. There was also a fair amount of scoop dropped about the season 3 premiere. According to Yvonne Strahovski, the opener will feature “romance, heartbreak, jealousy, action, comedy, beards… ” And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! For the complete rundown (including details about the headline above), watch the video after the jump… READ FULL STORY

'Office' spoiler alert: Scoop on Jim-Pam wedding, new love for Michael, and more!

Office producer-writer-star Mindy Kaling delivered the spoilery goods at NBC’s press tour bash last night. Some quick highlights before I direct you to our on-camera exchange below: Jim and Pam will tie the knot in this season’s fourth episode, Michael will likely be getting a new love interest, there are no immediate plans for Jan to resurface, and two characters who have had very little interaction in the past will be coming together in a major way. My entire Q&A with Kaling is after the jump! Oh, and stick around after the Kaling video for my interviews with fellow Office mates Ellie Kemper, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Creed Bratton, Phyllis Smith, and Kate Flannery.
READ FULL STORY

Armchair Casting Director: 'The Office'

Further proof that The Office is gearing up for a Jim-Pam wedding this fall: They’re casting the role of Pam’s mom! (Plus, Mindy Kaling confirmed it to me last night!) Here are the deets…

MRS BEESLY: Attractive and in her 50s. A really nice lady who’s very close to her daughter. Down-to-earth with a great sense of humor. Could recur for three or four episodes.

Got casting tips? Post ‘em below!

Ratings: 'Talent,' 'Dance' rule on Wednesday

Summer’s two reality-competition juggernauts — NBC’s America’s Got Talent and Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance — captivated viewers as usual on Wednesday night, with ABC’s Wipeout edging out SYTYCD in the 8-9 p.m. slot in terms of total viewership. NBC’s The Philanthropist continued its trend of bleeding much of its AGT lead-in over the 10-11 p.m. hour. Fox averaged the biggest audience and highest adults 18-49 ratings throughout the night.

Time Show Viewers (in millions)
8:00 p.m. Wipeout (ABC)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
TV’s 50 Funniest Phrases (NBC)
The New Adventures of Old Christine (CBS)
America’s Next Top Model (The CW)
7.8
7.3
4.8 (repeat)
3.8 (repeat)
1.1 (repeat)
8:30 Gary Unmarried (CBS) 3.9 (repeat)
9:00 America’s Got Talent (NBC)
So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)
Criminal Minds (CBS)
I Survived a Japanese Game Show (ABC)
America’s Next Top Model (The CW)
10.1
7.9 (continued)
6.1 (repeat)
3.9
0.9 (repeat)
10:00 CSI: NY (CBS)
The Philanthropist (NBC)
I Survived a Japanese Game Show (ABC)
7.7 (repeat)
4.4
3.6

Fox execs say they'll likely replace Paula Abdul

The chairman of Fox Entertainment told the nation’s TV critics Thursday that Paula Abdul’s departure from American Idol was “not our choice, not what we wanted to happen” but the network is moving ahead with plans to temporarily fill her seat with guest judges. Katy Perry and Victoria Beckham, in fact, are already confirmed to fill in at least once during the audition process that begin Aug. 7. Fox hopes to recruit more “female pop stars, female performers.”

“We don’t have a a big announcement to make on what we are going to do,” admits Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Rice. “For the past 24 hours, we’re focusing on auditions…Between now and January we will find a permanent solution.  There is no expectation that these guest judges will be long-term for us. All of these people we talked to have successful careers so they would not be available [to serve as a] judge.” Rice added that while it is not definite that Abdul will be replaced at this point, it’s “probable.”

Rice reminded the press that Adbul’s contract was the only one up this year and that Fox offered what they felt was a “fair” and “substantial raise” (an insider says it amounted to a 30 percent pay bump that would have taken her to eight figures). Nevertheless, Abdul decided to leave.

“We are very sad she is not coming back,” says Rice. “She was an important part of the Idol family.”

That said, Rice said Abdul’s departure provides an opportunity to inject new energy in the now nine-year-old talent show. “Our job over the next four or five months is to really consider what is fun, what makes it great television,” Rice said. “The amount of talk and feedback this has generated really shows that people are engaged in how the show will evolve after she’s gone.”

Rice also attempted to clear up any misconception regarding Ryan Seacrest’s contract — especially considering widely published rumors that Abdul was hoping to snag a pay boost that would take her close to Seacrest’s new $15 million-per-year salary. Rice said that Seacrest’s rich deal was made with 19 Entertainment’s parent company for future cycles of Idol in addition to other projects; he is not being paid $15 million solely to host Idol.

More Paula Abdul and ‘American Idol’:
Paula Abdul: Reaction from Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, and more…
Fox confirms Paula Abdul leaving ‘American Idol’
Kara Dioguardi returning to ‘American Idol’
Fox exec: Paula ‘not coming back’ to ‘Idol’

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