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Exclusive: 'Heroes' stages 'Pushing Daisies' reunion!

Swoosiekurtzheroes_lIt’s not exactly a Pushing Daisies resurrection, but I’ll gladly take it (and so should you): Swoosie Kurtz is reuniting with her former Daisies boss, Bryan Fuller, on Heroes!

Kurtz’s spokesperson confirms to me exclusively that the actress has inked a deal to guest star in an April episode of Heroes written by, yep, Fuller himself!

“Bryan wrote the part specifically for her,” says Kurtz’ spokesperson of her character, Millie, an old society friend of Angela Petrelli’s. “It’s a really fun role.”

As of now, Kurtz is signed for one episode, but there’s definite recurring potential — particularly if NBC renews Heroes for a fourth season (as many expect it will).

Heroes‘ Fuller-infused fourth volume, “Fugitives,” kicks off on Feb. 2.

Meanwhile, there’s still no news as to when or where ABC will air Daisies final three episodes — and, in this case, no news is definitely bad news.

Not cool, ABC. Not cool at all.

However, the Kurtz/Fuller reunion on Heroes? Very cool. You with me on both counts? Sound off in the comments!

Nielsen's year-end DVR ratings: 'American Idol,' 'Heroes,' 'Lost' on top

Fox’s American Idol is used to topping ratings charts, and Nielsen’s year-end list of the Top 10 DVR’d shows of 2008 is no exception. Idol is first among prime-time programs that saw the biggest total gain in audience from households that watched live to households that watched within seven days. The Tuesday performance show Idol averaged a gain of 2.2 million households; the Wednesday results show, 1.9 million.

Rounding out the Top 10 shows were: NBC’s Heroes and ABC’s Lost (an increase of 1.8 million); Fox’s Fringe (1.6 million); Fox’s House (1.5 million); CBS’ The Mentalist, CBS’ Survivor: Gabon, and ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy (1.4 million); and Fox’s Bones (1.3 million).

Nielsen also released a Top 10 list of the prime-time shows that saw the biggest percentage increase in household rating when comparing its live audience to the audience watching it within seven days. Sci Fi’s Battlestar Galactica topped that cable-heavy list, growing its audience by 53 percent. The rest of that Top 10: USA’s Burn Notice (37 percent); NBC’s Heroes, The CW’s 90210, and Sci Fi’s Sanctuary (35 percent); Sci Fi’s Eureka (34 percent); TBS’ My Boys (32 percent); USA’s Psych (29 percent); USA’s In Plain Sight (28 percent); and The CW’s America’s Next Top Model, Fox’s Fringe, USA’s The Starter Wife and NBC’s The Office (27 percent).

More ratings:
Ratings: ‘Sunday Night Football’ scores a weekly win for NBC

Ratings: ‘Chuck’ delivers for NBC, but CBS still rules Monday

Ratings: Laurence Fishburne pushes ‘CSI’ over 20 million
EW’s complete ‘American Idol’ coverage

Exclusive: Bryan Fuller's Rx for 'Heroes'

Bryanfullerheroes_lPushing Daisies fans will probably take a hit out on me for saying this, but something good has come out of the comedy’s untimely death: It’s freed up Bryan Fuller to rescue Heroes from the villain known as "What the Frak Have They Done to a Once-Great Show?!" In his first interview since rejoining the series as a consultant, the writer-producer-genius behind such acclaimed season 1 hours as "Company Man" reveals where it all went wrong, what it’ll take to make it right, and who’s gonna have to be sacrificed before that can happen.

AUSIELLO: Where did Heroes go wrong, in your opinion?
It became too dense and fell into certain sci-fi trappings. For instance, in the “Villains” arc, when you talk about formulas and catalysts, it takes the face off the drama. And I think the goal for everybody is to put a face back on the drama. You have to save something with a face; otherwise you don’t understand what you’re caring about. I thought the "Villains" arc started out very interestingly, and then became sort of muddy and dense and I couldn’t get my hooks into the characters to understand their motivations. I also started to feel confused about what people’s abilities were. One of the great things about the first season is that the metaphor for their abilities was very clear. Those metaphors seem to have gotten complicated in the past two seasons. I share that concern with everybody on the writing staff. It’s not like I’m coming in and saying, "This is what you need to do to fix it!" Everybody knows what needs to be fixed and everybody is sort of rowing in that direction.

Your work starts with episode 19, yes?
Yes. I’m fortunate to be coming into a very exciting story line. [Former co-exec producers] Jeph [Loeb] and Jesse [Alexander], before they left the show, set so many great events in motion with the "Fugitives" arc [kicking off Feb. 2]. It really is a fresh start. All of the characters are back in their real lives. You see Peter as a paramedic. Claire is looking for colleges. We get away from the world of formulas and quasi-magic.

Are the "Fugitives" episodes leading up to 19 solid?
Yes. Episodes 14, 15 and 16 are amazing. The whole "Fugitives" arc starts out very strongly, and then it gets a little dense in the middle in terms of the mythology. So I came in right at the point where everybody was realizing, "Oh, we’re getting too dense here and we need to put faces on stories because there is no face to a formula; there is no face to saving the world." So it’s turning this big ship back into a character stream, and everyone on the writing staff shares that desire. We need to get back into a character place, because that’s where this story started: Very clean, superhero metaphors to everyday life. That’s the path that we’re taking. But it is a big ship so it’s going to take a little while to turn it.

Any plans to trim the sprawling cast?
People will die. And some will return. Matt’s wife [Janice] comes back. We’ll find out what happens when you have a superbaby. We’re also going to tell fewer stories per episode. We’re going to limit it to three or four with one big one that you can wrap the stories around. We’re altering the structure of the show so that there’s a very clear A story that takes up a larger percentage of the show so that that story gets traction.

Are you looking at Season 4 as a complete reboot of the series?
It’s not necessarily a reboot as much as it is going back to the basic spirit of the show and pulling people back in. I don’t think the issues with the show have been about the serialization as much as about the density of the stories that have been serialized. 

Will you be part of the show next season?
That’s the idea.

Will the recent behind-the-scenes changes at NBC impact the show at all?
It’s really hard to imagine Heroes without [Universal Media Studios president] Katherine Pope, because she has been such a proponent of the show. She was so instrumental in [setting] the tone and style of the show in the first season. She is as vital a piece as any of the players on the show at this moment. Her contribution can’t be undervalued. It’ll be very interesting to see how things shake out.

What’s your working relationship with series creator Tim Kring been like since returning?
It’s actually been very positive.

Who gets final say: you or Tim?
Tim. I’m a consultant. My job is to help facilitate the vision of the show, and the vision has been a little inconsistent. But “Fugitives” is such a great sea change. I think people who have been critical of Heroes will come back.

More Heroes Scoop:
Find out who’s playing Sylar’s dad!

'Heroes' Exclusive: Sylar's Dad is Lionel Luthor!

To restore the super to Heroes, the show is going — but of course — to Smallville!

Sources confirm to me exclusively that the struggling NBC drama has tapped John Glover, a.k.a. Lex Luthor’s dad, Lionel, to play Sylar’s father.

“When Sylar meets his father, he’s going to see a path ahead of him that he doesn’t want to take,” reveals a Heroes insider. “He has a lot more in common with his father than he realized.”

The Tony award winner, who recently booked an arc on Brothers & Sisters as a love interest for Ron Rifkin’s Saul, will turn up towards the end of Heroes‘ forthcoming “Fugitives” chapter.

Do you see the family resemblance?

Rumor Patrol: Is 'Grey's Anatomy' Killing Hahn? Who's Gay Now? Is 'Daisies' Done? Thiessen to '90210?'

Nothing sucks harder than heading into a weekend with a bunch of nagging, unanswered TV-related questions hanging over your head. Good thing you have me to separate fact from fiction. Here’s a rundown of the rumors du jour — and the truth about them.

Privileged snagged a full-season order. Sadly, this one is fiction. The CW has yet to give the ratings-challenged gem a back-nine pickup, although the net did place an order for two more scripts last night, bringing them to a new grand total of four additional scripts. Hey, every little bit helps!

Pushing Daisies has been axed. Fiction. An ABC insider insists that no final decision has been made re: Daisies. (The net has until mid-January to order more episodes.) But with production set to wrap early next week on the show’s 13th and possibly final episode, there’s little reason to be optimistic. (This also doesn’t bode well.) At least, as EW’s Lynette Rice reported exclusively, if the series bites the dust, Bryan Fuller has said that he’d return to Heroes. Silver lining, kids!

Grey’s Anatomy is killing off Dr. Hahn! I’m 89 percent certain that’s fiction. A promo for next week’s episode showing Callie in tears has led some to conclude that her ex-lover, who made her final appearance in last night’s episode, will be done in off screen. Highly unlikely. Not sure exactly why Callie was crying though. Maybe she’s upset that she had to find out she was a lesbian by reading it in a press release?

One of Kings’ main men is gay! Fact. A major character on NBC’s buzzy midseason drama does come out midway into the premiere. It’s a cool twist, so I’m going to resist the temptation to spoil it and offer this clue instead: The gay in question has just landed a love interest in Michael Arden, best known as Parker Posey’s assistant on ASP-s Return of Jezebel James.

Tiffani Thiessen is doing 90210 2.0! Fiction. Truth be told, I just made the rumor up so I could bring you this piece of exclusive scoop: Thiessen has joined the cast of USA Network’s newly greenlit pilot White Collar. The potential series centers on the relationship between a con man (Chuck‘s Matthew Bomer) and an FBI agent (Carnivale‘s Tim DeKay). Thiessen plays the wife of DeKay’s character.

The show at the center of my latest blind item is Pushing Daisies. Fiction. The Daisies set is the opposite of a nightmare. I’m stunned any of you would even go there. (Additional reporting by Andy Patrick)

More TV Scoop:
Lost returns to Wednesdays
Smallville, Supernatural soar in ratings
Everwood hunk joins Heroes

Exclusive: 'Heroes' Recruits 'Everwood' Hunk

Justinbaldoni_lFinally, some good Heroes news: The embattled NBC drama has snapped up an Everwood alum!

Sources confirm to me exclusively that Justin Baldoni, who played Emily VanCamp’s ripped med student beau on the late, great WB classic, is joining the cast as Alex, a Southern California surfer dude who works at a comic book store.

Baldoni will appear in a minimum of two episodes.

It’s unclear what connection, if any, Baldoni’s Andy will have to the comic book geeks played by Seth Green and Breckin Meyer. But I think it’s safe to say comic books play a key role in the upcoming “Fugitives” arc.

More Heroes:
Sylar to mentor Aliens star
Backstage shake-up

'Heroes' Exclusive: 'Aliens in America' Star Goes Bad

Danbyrd_l Talk about casting against type.

Dan Byrd, best known for his roles as sensitive, wholesome teens on Aliens in America and Clubhouse, is about to tap into his inner Henry Evans. Sources confirm to me exclusively that Byrd has been cast on Heroes in the recurring role of David, a dark and twisted kid who tells lies easily and has a cruel streak. Word is he’ll be a possible apprentice to Sylar (Zachary Quinto).

Byrd is committed to appearing in at least three episodes during Heroes‘ forthcoming “Volume 4: Fugitives” arc.

This marks the second major piece of casting for the “Fugitives” volume. Last week, my frenemy at E! broke the news that Damages‘ Zeljko Ivanek was coming on board as the Hunter.

Looks like I may have ID’d his first quarry.

More Heroes:
Five ways to fix the show

Ratings: 'Chuck,' 'Life' premieres take a nosedive

Damienzachary_l_2 Absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder for fans of NBC’s Chuck (pictured near left: Zachary Levy) and Life (pictured: Damian Lewis). The two series, which had been off the air since January 2008 and December 2007, respectively, returned Monday night to disappointing numbers for their second season premieres. According to overnight ratings, Chuck nabbed 6.6 million viewers, down 28 percent from last fall’s debut and off 17 percent from its season 1 average. Life‘s bow was seen by 6.9 million viewers, down 30 percent from its ’07 debut and a 7 percent decline from its freshman average. The true test for Life, however, which aired Wednesdays last fall, will be when it debuts in its new time slot this Friday at 10 p.m. ET.

Heroes lost viewers as well — about 750,000 of them from last week’s two-hour season 3 premiere. This week’s episode was viewed by 9.3 million, though that number will, of course, rise when DVR viewings from the next few days are factored in.

To no one’s surprise, ABC dominated the night, with the start of Dancing With the Stars Week 2. Two hours of paso dobles and rumbas were witnessed by 19.3 million viewers, down 10 percent from the season opener. While Boston Legal only retained roughly half of that audience, it’s 9.8 million viewers actually improved on its season premiere by 11 percent (though it did lose 874,000 viewers in its second half hour).

The CBS lineup also showed the to-be-expected post-premiere-week drops: 8.7 million viewers tuned in for the second episode of The Big Bang Theory (down 7 percent from the premiere); 8.8 million for How I Met Your Mother (down 10 percent); 13.8 million for Two and a Half Men (down 8 percent); 9.3 million for the freshman sitcom Worst Week (down 14 percent); and 14.3 million for CSI: Miami (down 17 percent). On the plus side, CSI: Miami won the 10 p.m. hour, as usual, and all of the returning shows are up from their last-season average.

It’s difficult to find a positive spin for Fox’s Monday offerings. Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Prison Break, both of which premiered early in September, each nabbed an identical 5.3 million viewers last night. That number is well below the shows’ ’07-’08 averages, 9.8 million and 7.5 million, respectively. What’s more, each episode of Prison Break this season has been rated lower than the one that came before it.

The CW, meanwhile, does have reason to celebrate: One Tree Hill‘s fifth episode of season 6 was also its highest-rated, with 3.4 million viewers. And Gossip Girl, which hit a series high on Sept. 15 (3.7 million) before sliding back on Sept. 22 (3.3 million), was once again moving in the right direction this week with 3.5 million viewers.

addCredit(“Michael Caulfield/WireImage”)


EW’s Dancing With the Stars recap

EW’s Heroes recap

EW’s Gossip Girl recap

PopWatch Interview: Ali Larter on her Heroes transformation

Ausiello Exclusive: Another Boston Legal Vet Returns

The Spying Game: 30 Elite TV/Movie Operatives

SPOILER: About that thing that happened on One Tree Hill last night


Wendy and Lisa prepare 'Heroes' score album

Although most folks probably best recognize Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman as members of Prince‘s 1980s band The Revolution, the duo has quietly spent the past decade and a half composing music for film and TV, most recently scoring NBC’s Heroes, which they’ve done since the show debuted in 2006. Now, they tell that they’re putting the finishing touches on an official Heroes score CD. The disc will develop the short on-air music cues that they wrote to accompany various scenes (mostly from season 1) into roughly 10 longer themes, each keyed to a specific character.

"The first [track] will be Peter, the second one is Claire, and so on," Lisa says. "There are spots that are really hypnotic. I listened to it in my car a couple nights ago — I got stuck in my driveway!" (A separate soundtrack CD featuring several of Wendy and Lisa’s shorter compositions, along with tracks from artists like Panic at the Disco and Wilco, hit shelves this past March.)

Wendy and Lisa’s involvement with Heroes goes back to a Christmas 2005 dinner with creator Tim Kring and soon-to-be exec producer Allan Arkush. At the time, the duo was working with Kring and Arkush on NBC’s Crossing Jordan. "Tim was like, ‘I got this idea,’" Wendy recalls. "He asked if we would be interested in coming aboard [Heroes] even before he had finished writing the final draft. Lisa and I were totally nuts about it!" That night, the two began working out a musical approach that would complement Kring’s concept. "We wanted it to have a Steve Reich feel, more repetitive than your traditional scoring," says Wendy. "And we thought, at that meeting, of our friend Shenkar, this amazing singer, to be a vocal character that represented the supernatural element of the show." Shenkar’s vocals ended up featuring heavily in Wendy and Lisa’s on-air scoring, most notably during the show’s opening titles. 

At the moment, Wendy and Lisa are busy recording new scores for Heroes
third season, which began airing this month. They say they generally
have only a week between first seeing an episode and writing up to 30
minutes of music to air the following Monday. "We pretty much do the
show in two or three days," says Wendy. "You have no time to
second-guess yourself. You should see the gray hairs I have now!" ("I
actually kind of thrive on it, personally," Lisa chimes in with a
laugh.) This week, they’ve been occupied with writing a theme for a
soon-to-be-unveiled season 3 villain they referred to as The Puppetmaster. "It
sounds like if Gepetto were on acid," Wendy says.

The two are also simultaneously getting ready to release a new Wendy and Lisa album titled White Flags of Winter Chimneys,
which they recorded during the downtime from Heroes provided by last year’s
writers’ strike. "It’s pretty epic-sounding," says Wendy, "a huge sound
coming out of two women." Preview MP3s from White Flags are available now at Wendy and Lisa’s website, and they plan to release it digitally within weeks via Topspin, the service that David Byrne and Brian Eno used for their recent album.


Exclusive: 'Heroes' Geeks Out Over Seth Green, Breckin Meyer

Breckinseth_lHeroes is getting its very own geek squad.

Real-life BFFs and frequent collaborators Seth Green and Breckin Meyer are nearing a deal to join the cast of Heroes for multi-episode arcs, sources confirm to me exclusively.

As I first teased in this week’s episode of Ausiello TV, the Robot Chicken duo will play Atlanta-based comic book nerds aficionados who cross paths with (and perhaps serve as advisors to) one of the Heroes. I’m told the names of their characters are still in flux, so there’s a chance the cheeky monikers I referenced in ATV won’t stick. Then again, they very well may. (Fingers crossed that at least one of them does.)

Got any theories as to what higher purpose Green and Meyer may serve in the Heroesverse? Is it just me, or do these two bring to mind a certain nerdy advisory panel from another popular sci-fi franchise? C’mon, it can’t just be me.

Exclusive: Robert Forster Joins 'Heroes' as (Spoiler Alert)!

He’s alive! Or is he?

Sources confirm to me exclusively that Heroes has tapped acting vet Robert Forster to play Nathan and Peter’s presumed-dead pops, Arthur Petrelli.

Given Heroes‘ penchant for time travel, though, there’s no telling if we’ll see Arthur in the present, via flashback, or during one of Hiro’s little excursions. Another unknown: whether Arthur will use his powers (’cause you know he’s got ‘em) for good or evil.

Rumors of Arthur’s possible “resurrection” this season have been burning up the Internets for months. And while it’s not clear when Forster will first turn up, at press tour last month, his on-screen widow, Cristine Rose, hinted in this video interview that a bombshell would be dropped in the two-hour premiere on Sept. 22. “There’s a secret that comes out that if you’re a true fan, you’re just going to die,” she teased. “It’s a good Angela secret, and it’s [not about] her powers.”

Well, considering the first hour of the premiere was screened at Comic-Con, and, per multiple eyewitnesses, no such Angela secret was revealed, it’s safe to say the big reveal will take place in hour 2. Of course, whether or not said reveal is related to Arthur is also a big fat unknown. It’s all speculation, people!

What do you think? Is Arthur alive? Is Karen Sisco’s dad a good fit for the role? Are you as pumped about Heroes S3 as I am? Sound off below!

addCredit(“Adrian Pasdar, Robert Forster and Milo Ventimiglia: Mitchell Haaseth; Bob D’Amico”)

Spoiler Alert: New 'Heroes' villain explains her arrival

In a whoosh of air, she will appear. Back in May, Heroes fan sites were aflutter over news that actress Brea Grant (most recently seen nearly stealing Landry’s heart from Tyra on Friday Night Lights) would be joining the series’ third season (premieres Sept. 22) as a new character named Daphne, a.k.a. the Speedster. Grant has just revealed to what Speedster’s dramatic entrance will be like. “Anytime I come into a room, basically you see this wave of air blown on everybody and then I’m just standing there because I’m so fast you can hardly see me when I move,” she explains of her superpower. “You meet my character for the first time when I steal something from Hiro that he needs for his quest this season.” That doesn’t mean, however, that Hiro is the only hero she’ll encounter. “Her interest is not specifically with Hiro,” Grant says cryptically. “I think that’s why she’ll run into a lot more people — she’s feeling a lot of stuff toward someone else. That’s all I can tell you!”

It’s been unclear how long Speedster would stay on the show, but Grant discloses that she’s currently shooting the sixth episode of the season. “I’ll be around for actually quite a bit longer.” And will her villainous character remain a baddie? “I start off pretty bad, but there are some times when I have to make choices, you know, you can be worse, you can be better,” Grant says. “It’s just this whole idea of being a bad guy. You’ll see some of your favorite characters have to do some things they don’t want to do.”

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