A&E Network announced its programming slate today, which includes 11 returning series and the launch of 10 new ones by the end of 2011. After wrapping the first season of Storage Wars, which averaged 2.8 million viewers per episode, A&E has ordered eight episodes of the spin-off series Storage Wars: Dallas. The cable net is also picking up the new series InLaws, Ship Happens and Boar Hunters as the first of 10 new series planned for 2011. READ FULL STORY
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Katie Couric finally went on the record to People today to announce her decision to step down from CBS Evening News. “I’m really proud of the talented team on the CBS Evening News and the award-winning work we’ve been able to do in the past five years in addition to the reporting I’ve done for 60 Minutes and CBS Sunday Morning,” she told the magazine. “In making the decision to move on, I know the Evening News will be in great hands, but I am excited about the future.”
As for what’s next, Couric said, “I am looking at a format that will allow me to engage in more multi-dimensional storytelling.” Couric, who anchored the Evening News since 2006, is expected to focus on developing a daytime talk show that may or may not involve Today’s Matt Lauer. Both the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that there have been discussions to reunite her with her former co-worker and friend.
CBS will likely announce Couric’s successor next week, or before its annual upfront presentation to advertisers in New York. It seems likely that 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley is the frontrunner, though CBS’s Harry Smith and Russ Mitchell have also been mentioned as possible successors.
Burning question for the broadcast networks: Why doesn’t Doris Roberts have her own sitcom? The 81-year-old co-star from Everybody Loves Raymond has no less than three appearances scheduled over the next month on ABC and TVLand.
The actress told EW exclusively that she’ll return to ABC’s The Middle – which stars her Raymond pal Patricia Heaton –to reprise her role as Brick’s teacher on May 25. “Patty and I go head to head once again,” Roberts said. “I still think I’m right about her kid and she still thinks I’m evil and mean.” Roberts will also play a patient in the April 28 episode of Grey’s Anatomy. “It is a serious problem for me. I can’t say much more than that. You will have to see it to believe it. The language I use in it is pretty wild. It is a character who is very different from myself.”
After that, she’ll show up in one of the final episodes of Hot In Cleveland. “That’s a wild one. I get punched by Betty White,” she said. “A real pow punch and I go flying. I play a woman who had an affair with her husband in the past and she is angry.”
Good call, Doris — saving the best for last. (Reporting by Carrie Bell)
Where in the world is Matt Lauer going at the end of next year? Perhaps off Today. In the wake of a report that co-host Meredith Viera is planning to leave NBC’s morning show when her contract ends in September, Entertainment Tonight is reporting that the more tenured host, Lauer, 53, has informed executives at the network that he intends to leave Today when his contract expires in Dec., 2012. Today released this statement on Wednesday: “There seems to be an awful lot of speculation around news anchors these days, and it’s not our practice to comment on any of it. Matt Lauer has a long term contract with NBC News and Today.” (Lauer has co-anchored the show since 1997 and the statement appears to leave some wiggle room on whether he will stay on past the end of his current agreement.) It’s certainly been an unusually busy week for news anchors and personalities: Fox News and Glenn Beck announced that his daily show Glenn Beck will “transition off” the network, while Katie Couric is believed to be departing CBS Evening News, possibly to host a daytime talk show.
Two days after a new round of Katie-Couric-is-leaving-CBS stories hit the internet, now comes word that another high-profile newswoman may be abdicating her post. According to a report in TV Guide, Meredith Vieira will step down as the co-anchor of NBC’s Today when her contract expires in September.
Supposedly, the early morning hours — combined with the health of her husband, who has fought cancer and multiple sclerosis — are behind her decision to leave. Apparently, NBC won’t let her go without a fight. “NBC is doing everything they can to convince her to stay,” an insider told the publication. And here’s the official company line: “The Today show anchors are currently under contract and firmly in place.”
Vieira, 57, left ABC’s The View to replace Couric on Today in 2006. Couric, meanwhile, is expected to vacate her post with the CBS Evening News to pursue a daytime talk show. Her contract is up in June.
'Star Wars: The Clone Wars': Season 4 scoop on Katee Sackhoff, Savage Opress, and Chewbacca. Plus, a plea for Ben Quadinaros!
Fans of Star Wars: The Clone Wars know this was a breakthrough season. Not only did the quality of the animation seemingly jump to lightspeed, but the stories went deeper into that Galaxy Far, Far Away than ever before with thought-provoking episodes tackling politics, financial corruption, and terrorism. Not the Star Wars you grew up with, to be sure, but a fresh new take on George Lucas’s enduring space opera for the post-9/11 era. In fact, you wouldn’t be far off if you likened supervising director Dave Filoni’s reimagining of Star Wars to Ronald D. Moore and David Eick’s take on Battlestar Galactica. Especially since BSG-alum Katee Sackhoff is voicing a character on The Clone Wars next season!
Now that season three is history, we talked to Filoni about The Clone Wars’ future: Sackhoff, a multi-episode battle epic, the reappearance of Savage Opress, the likely return of Chewbacca, and how George Lucas got legendary Oscar-winning editor Walter Murch (Apocalypse Now) to direct an episode. Here’s what he had to say, starting at the beginning of all things, The Big Lebowski. READ FULL STORY
NBC’s getting back into the Betty White biz. The Peacock has ordered 12 episodes of Betty White’s Off Their Rockers, (working title) a new hidden-camera comedy show that will be hosted and executive -produced by White herself. Based on the European format known as Benidorm Bastards, Off Their Rockers will follow seven senior citizens who make it their mission to play pranks on unsuspecting younger people.
”Betty White is a comedic genius who escalates hilarity in any situation,” said Paul Telegdy, NBC’s executive vice president, alternative programming, in a statement. “Viewers will thoroughly enjoy watching her pull one over on the unsuspecting youth of America.”
“People have been telling me that I’m ‘Off My Rocker’ for years — now I can prove it,” added White.
The pact reunites White with NBC, where she starred in The Golden Girls for seven seasons. And recently, White’s appearance on Saturday Night Live earned her another Emmy.
Calling all Bettys! Follow me @EWLynette
Excellent news for Fringe fans: The drama has been picked up for a fourth season. The cat was let out of the bag this afternoon when J.H. Wyman, an executive producer on the Fox drama, tweeted this to fans: “Fringe was picked up!!!! Thanks Fringedom!”
A network spokeswoman confirmed the show received a full season pickup.
Word of the pickup comes after the drama fell to its lowest rating ever last Friday. It dropped 13% to 3.8 million viewers and a 1.3 rating in the adult demo. In defense, ratings had been falling all week because of the time change (more daylight in the early evening tends to result in fewer people watching TV). And CBS was airing college basketball.
Critical praise for the drama has never been stronger and its performance on Fridays is still better than how the network was doing on the night in the fall. In fact, Fox reports that Fringe is the No. 1 show on the night this season — across both broadcast and cable — and that the drama has improved the network’s average on the night by 38%.
MTV has ordered two more seasons of its groundbreaking reality franchise, The Real World, which is currently in the midst of its 25th season, set in Las Vegas. “The Real World has remained relevant for 25 seasons because it continues to capture the lives of young adults, hold a mirror to the challenges they face, and truly reflect the current generation,” said Jonathan Murray, exec producer and chairman of Bunim/Murray Productions, in a statement. “We thank MTV for their ongoing commitment to this show, and we’re excited to see where the two additional seasons take us.”
Casting is already underway for Season 26, which was previously approved by MTV, so this new deal guarantees a 27th and 28th edition of the show.
The CW will likely pick up a fourth season of 90210 but one major player is planning to leave the zip code: EW has learned that showrunner Rebecca Sinclair has decided not to renew her deal. The news was first reported on TVLine.
“Rebecca’s contract was up so it was no surprise to us at all,” said a spokesperson for CBS Television Studios, which produces the drama for the CW. “We have a very strong staff and we have been exploring various people and are confident we’ll find the right replacement.”
90210 just wrapped production on its third season. Sinclair, who joined the show after the first year, was credited for injecting some much needed luster into the teen angst series. It’s unclear who will take her place.
Follow me, you little minxes, at @EWLynette
Kristen Chenoweth has joined the cast of Good Christian Bitches, a drama pilot in development at ABC from the producing auspices of Darren Star. She’ll play Darlene in the sexy soap set in Dallas that also stars Leslie Bibb (Amanda), Jennifer Aspen (Sharon), Annie Potts (Gigi), Miriam Shor (Cricket), and Marisol Nicholas (Heather).
Here’s the official logline from ABC for the drama: “This primetime drama … asks the questions – is it possible to start over in a town that thinks they already know you? Amanda, once the ultimate mean girl in high school, returns home to Dallas after her marriage ends in scandal. Humbled, Amanda is nothing like the girl she once was, but as her old classmates reacquaint themselves with the new Amanda, will these “good Christian bitches” give her a second chance or is this their shot to seek revenge?”
Answer: Probably not, or there would be no series. ABC will decide in early May whether this pilot, among with many, many others, will make the cut for fall. See our ABC pilot wrap for all the details on the network’s development lineup.
As is customary with just about every announcement from Gary Sanchez Productions — the banner owned Will Ferrell, Adam McKay and Chris Henchy — a pretty genius announcement went out today regarding the pending feature film based on Adult Swim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job.
The film dubbed Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie that’ll mark the big screen debut of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim has nabbed a U.S. distributor and a financier. Shooting began this month in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. “We were initially apprehensive of the unprecedented price tag of the film, but apparently we agreed to it after having a drink with Tim and Eric,” said financier Todd Wagner, the CEO of 2929 Prods, in a very tongue-in-cheek statement. “Actually, it’s all a little bit fuzzy. Regardless, we now realize that it would be foolhardy not to participate in what is sure to be the grandest entertainment ever presented to mankind.” Added Ferrell, in a statement: “You can’t put a price on creative excellence and we didn’t. Maybe we should have, but we didn’t.”
Wagner, along with his business partner Mark Cuban, are expected to perform cameos in the film. There is no release date for the film which will be distributed by Magnolia Pictures.
Heidecker and Wareheim have produced five seasons of Tim and Eric for Adult Swim.
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