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March 21, 2007 |

By Seth Freilich | Industry | March 21, 2007 |

OK, we’ve got a lot to hit this week: what may happen to some of our favorite shows, a half-paragraph “Battlestar” diversion, talk of some new Emmys rules, not to mention more of Pilot Watch 2007. Let’s start with some bad news. If you haven’t heard yet, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have confirmed that “Extras” is kaput and there will be no third season. However, they will do a one-off special to wrap things up and give it all a proper send-off, similar to how they handled “The Office.” While it’s definitely a bummer, you have to respect their willingness to leave their shows standing strong. And now we can all just hope that there’s yet another great little show waiting in their collaborative brains.

Speaking of shows that may not be coming back, there’s a trio of shows that many of us desperately want back but that are on the bubble. The first two are “30 Rock” and “Friday Night Lights” over on NBC. I’ve always been cautiously optimistic about the former, and eternally pessimistic about the latter. However, things are now starting to look up for both of these. The NBC execs, particularly Kevin Reilly (president of NBC Entertainment), apparently believe in these shows and there seems to be a growing feeling out in the ‘Wood that they’re both coming back (and by the by, “Friday Night Lights” returns tonight, and you really should be watching!). Which would be fucking fantastic. Things are a bit less clear, however, for my girlfriend “Veronica Mars.” Late last week, there was a flurry of internet buzz as rumors of the show’s cancellation quickly led to much bemoaning (and these rumors were fueled by the fact that the godforsaken Pussycat Dolls show is scoring some strong ratings in “Veronica’s” time slot). While these rumors were ultimately denied, the status of the show remains in question. But we do now know that, should V survive for a fourth season, we may see a very different show, a “Silence of the Veronica.” The reboot premise would jump ahead four years to focus on Veronica as a fresh-off-the-farm FBI agent. All the show’s leads remain under contract for next season, but you gotta figure that such a reboot isn’t likely to carry many of them along, aside from perhaps Logan and Pappy (too many people love/hate the Veronica/Logan stuff, and Bell’s chemistry with Enrico Colantoni may be the single strongest element of the show). While I have mixed feelings about such a direction for the show, particularly assuming that the CW continues to stick to the new “no season-long arc” methodology, I’ll takes my Veronica however I can gets her.

If you don’t have Showtime, feel free to skip this paragraph. For those of you who do, first, a friendly reminder — a new season of the excellent “Penn & Teller: Bullshit!” starts up Thursday night at 10, followed by the premiere of “This American Life.” Next up, the cable network has picked up a new comedy starring David Duchovny. The pilot was called “Californication,” but word is that this isn’t likely to be the show’s final name. In any event, the network ordered 12 episodes of the show, which is about a man-whore writer who is dealing with a teenage daughter and an ex who still wants him. I’m a huge fan of comedic Duchovny in the right kind of role (see, for example, his great guest stints on “The Larry Sanders Show”), so this could end up being something worthwhile. But what’s better is that Showtime hopes to launch the series in August, in conjunction with the third season of “Weeds.” Which means “Weeds” is coming back in August — only five months to go, son! And the last bit of Showtime news is that the network has ordered a script for “The United States of Tara,” a show to be helmed by Steven Spielberg based on his own idea. That idea is that the titular Tara is a wife and mother who’s got multiple personalities. With Spielberg attached, I have a suspicion that the show will move beyond the script stage, and I’m intrigued to see where they might go with it.

OK, welcome back non-Showtimers. Now it’s time to kick out those who aren’t all caught up with the current season of “Battlestar Galactica.” If that’s you, seriously, get out of this paragraph right now lest you be spoiled. … OK, with those losers gone, let’s get to this. Fresh off Starbuck’s death, Katee Sackhoff has lined up another ’70s remake, as she’s slated to appear in the pilot of NBC’s “The Bionic Woman.” She’ll play an evil bionic woman who presumably squares off with Jamie Sommers, the bionic woman. Sounds like a great role for Sackhoff, and while she’s only going to be listed as a “guest star” on the pilot, here’s hoping she gets a full-time gig if the show gets an episode order. And while we’re here, let’s talk about the Starbuck death for just a second. I don’t know anything about next week’s season finale, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts that Starbuck ain’t a Cylon (and no way is Tigh a Cylon either, for that matter). So does that mean we won’t see Sackhoff again on the show? Probably not. There are always flashbacks, not to mention that pre-boom shot of her reaching for the ejection lever. But regardless, I’ll tell you this: They better do something more about her death, because if this whole “destiny” thing is simply that she was supposed to come to grips with shit and kill herself, I’ll call major shenanigans. In any event, I can’t wait to see how things wrap up this Sunday night and I’ve heard from those in the know that fans won’t be disappointed (and TiVo alert — the episode is slated to run a bit long, so pad your recording time accordingly).

Welcome back to everyone now. We’ll be all-inclusive from here on out. So, the Emmys. You hate ‘em; I hate ‘em; we all hate ‘em. But they’re a part of our TV lives. Well, they’ve rolled out a few interesting changes. First, they’ve established what’s being called the “Ellen Burstyn” rule, which is a new requirement that actors in miniseries and movies must be in at least 5 percent of the program to be eligible for an award. Second, do you remember the blue-ribbon panel last year? That was the panel that picked the nominations and that was supposed to give us better nominations, but ended up giving us mostly the same polished turds. Well, this year we’re getting a mix between that panel and the old popular vote. What’ll happen is, the field will be winnowed down to 10 potential nominees, and the blue-ribbon panel will then be forced to watch all 10 (imagine that — they actually have to watch!). That list will then get narrowed to the final five nominations by a 50/50 mix of the panel’s votes and the Academy-wide popular vote. Of course, the nominations will still suck, and we’ll still all bitch about how the award shows never get things right, but at least we can bitch about a new methodology as well. But the most interesting rule change is that folks now have homework. To address concerns that serial dramas have a harder time because viewers can’t truly appreciate a single episode without having followed the whole show, producers and actors in certain categories will be required to submit a 250-words-or-less essay explaining the context of the submitted episode. But this rule will apply to certain categories in general, not just to the “complex” shows like “Lost” or “Heroes.” Personally, I’d pay good money to see the essay submitted for something like “Two and a Half Men.” That shit needs to go online. Seriously.

As you know, we’re well into the mid-season replacement season, and season finale time is just around the corner. If you’re having trouble keeping up with everything, the good folks over at TV Squad have put together a very handy little list of dates for when all your favorite shows return from hiatus, when all the mid-season shows start their runs and when all the seasons finales are slated to air. So program your TiVos accordingly, guys and gals.

And now, Pilot Watch 2007. Things are finally slowing down a little, but there are still a couple of interesting things going on out there. Over at ABC, Christina Applegate and Jean Smart have signed on to “Sam I Am,” a single-camera comedy about a chick with amnesia. Applegate will play said chick, and Smart will play her mom. Can’t say I care one way or the other about the notion at this point, but any show that quotes the good Dr. Seuss in its title is at least starting in the right direction. ABC has also snagged Jane Curtin for the comedy “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,” a pilot for which the network has also signed Gregory Itzin (who’s currently playing Jean Smart’s ex-husband, former President Whosisname, over on “24”). This is a comedy about a “nice girl” (to be played by Jayma Mays, most recently seen on “Ugly Betty” as Henry the accountant’s girlfriend) who is trying to get by in the mean ol’ corporate world. Curtin will play her secretary, and I have no idea who Itzin will play, but it’ll presumably be a mean ol’ corporate dude.

Meanwhile, CBS has snagged Polly Walker (who’s been great on “Rome,” which sadly, like “Battlestar Galactica,” ends this Sunday) for “Los Duques.” This is the show I’ve mentioned before about a Latin American family involved in the rum business, starring Jimmy Smits. I was already kind of excited/intrigued about this show, and the addition of Walker raises the bar for me.

CBS has signed Dean Cain onto one of the many cop pilots, “Protect and Serve,” which is a show about L.A. cops. Whatever.

Raquel Welch has signed onto “The Captain,” the show I mentioned last week about a Hollywood apartment complex, which Jeffrey Tambor has also joined. Whatever.

Jake Busey has signed onto Fox’s “Playing Chicken.” That’s the stupid show about two brothers, one of whom is paralyzed. Jake Busey? What-fucking-ever.

Kathy Baker (one of the “that guy” gals) has been signed on to “Babylon Fields,” which is one of the pilots about the living dead. This is the dramedy where the dead come back as zombies. She’ll be playing a housewife and mother to Amber Tamblyn’s character, and they’ll both have to deal with the zombie return of the sumbitch daddy/hubby whom they previously had hacked up with an axe. I generally like Baker quite a bit, so I would welcome her in a lead role, particularly if this show can live up to what is a potentially interesting premise.

We’ve got our second episode-order of the season, as Fox has purchased six episodes of “Anchorwoman.” It’s a show about a supermodel who moves to southern Texas to become, as the title might suggest, a local TV anchorwoman. The interesting thing here is that this is being called a hybrid comedy/reality show. The anchorwman is slated to be played by a former WWE gal (Lauren Jones) and she will have the only scripted role — the rest of the “cast” will be the other folks at the news station, who will be reacting truthfully to Jones’ character’s shenanigans. … A news crew being turned into a set of improv actors? Once again, what-fucking-ever.

And finally, you might just want to take a second to pick up the phone and call 1-800-984-3672.


Seth Freilich is Pajiba’s television columnist. He’s probably not a Cylon.

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The Daily Trade Round-Up / Seth Freilich

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Seth is a Senior Editor and sometime critic. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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