TV Bulletin Board (Tues., July 19) -- Emmy nominee Connie Britton segues from Austin-madeFriday Night Lights to new FX drama series
By ED BARK
Former Friday Night Lights star Connie Britton, nominated for a best actress Emmy last week, has landed another drama series.
She'll co-star with Dylan McDermott (The Practice) in FX's American Horror Story, whose co-creators are Glee maestros Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.
FX announced Monday that it's ordered 13 episodes of the series, which focuses on a "family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish." McDermott plays psychiatrist Ben Harmon, with Britton cast as his wife, Vivien. Two-time Oscar-winner Jessica Lange (Tootsie, Blue Sky) also is in the cast as the Harmons' neighbor, Constance. It's her first weekly TV series.
Murphy also created Nip/Tuck for FX.
***TNT has canceled Men of a Certain Age after two seasons. The critically acclaimed coming-of-middle age drama stars Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula. Cause of death is listed as low ratings. But TNT has picked up a second season of its ongoing alien invasion series, Falling Skies. And ABC has renewed its summertime Rookie Blue series for a Season 3.
***The Encore network is developing its first-ever original programming, with a new, three-hour version of Moby Dick scheduled to premiere on the nights of Aug. 1-2.
William Hurt stars as Captain Ahab, with Gillian Anderson as his wife, Elizabeth and Ethan Hawke as first mate Starbuck.
Encore also is developing a documentary film on Jerry Lewis titled Method to the Madness of Jerry Lewis.
***ABC has rescued the Hallmark Hall of Fame franchise after CBS recently ended its long association with the feel-good movies.
The network says that it's first Hallmark presentation will be Have a Little Faith, adapted from the Mitch Albom bestseller. The cast includes Laurence Fishburne, Bradley Whitford and Martin Landau.
By ED BARK
Clank. How long will it take Charles Barkley to crack his first joke about Shaquille O'Neal's career-long ineptitude at the foul line?
Rim shot please.
Shaq on Thursday inked a multi-year deal with TNT, where his principal forum will be the NBA studio show already populated by Barkley, Kenny Smith and host Ernie Johnson.
"I felt this was the place for me. You guys are very fun," O'Neal said in remarks distributed by the network.
ESPN's studio show just got even duller by comparison. But with the NBA lockout in progress, both TNT and ESPN may have too much time on their hands before the season resumes. Most analysts are envisioning a lengthy impasse, although O'Neal's opinion on the matter is not included in the 18 different topics addressed in TNT's publicity release.
"I have the ability and backing to give fair criticism," O'Neal says. "The only time I have a problem with people giving criticism is when they haven't walked that walk."
He also threw out a few thoughts on the Miami Heat's loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.
"Dirk (Nowitzki) played unbelievable," he said. "They (the Mavericks) played together. I just think it was their turn. Michael Jordan told me a long time ago that before you succeed you must first learn to fail. This was the Big Three's first time together and they made it very far and they are going to be together for a long time. I'm guaranteeing they will be back."
You're going to have to do better than that, Shaq. But there should be plenty of time to practice.
By ED BARK
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation will air on a new night this season and now have a new star as well.
CBS surprisingly announced Tuesday night that Ted Danson will be a series regular, replacing the already departed Laurence Fishburne.
Danson will be playing the yet to be named supervisor of the "grave shift" after heading a CSI crime lab in Portland.
"From the moment we all started talking about the role, it was clear he couldn't be more perfect," executive producer Don McGill said in a publicity release. "Intelligence, wit, warmth, depth of character and emotion. He brings it all."
Danson is best known as a comedy actor, primarily for Cheers and lately on HBO's Bored to Death, where he'll remain in the cast. But he also effectively played a ruthless billionaire on FX's Damages.
CSI is shifting to Wednesdays at 9 p.m. (central) in the fall, with the Season 12 premiere scheduled for Sept. 21st. CBS says that Danson's character will debut in that episode.
***Meanwhile, Damages begins its fourth season on Wednesday, July 13th, but on a new network. The hard-edged legal serial drama, starring Glenn Close, will be the exclusive property of DirecTV. And unlike that network's deal with Friday Night Lights and NBC, there are no current plans for FX or any other network to then air the reruns.
The Damages cast has been pared down, but Rose Byrne will be rejoining Close while John Goodman has been added as the evil CEO of a military contractor. It all re-starts at 9 p.m. (central). Judging from a promo clip, Season 4 will be pretty grisly at times. Take a look:
***Back on FX, Rescue Me will air directly opposite Damages, with its seventh and final series also launching on Wednesday, July 13th at 9 p.m. (central). Nine episodes are scheduled, with the series finale set for Sept. 7th.
Denis Leary's firefighting, flammable Tommy Gavin as always is front and center, battling his ever-present demons. In the end it always comes down to 9/11. Here's the Season 7 promo clip:
By ED BARK
Uniquely equipped for loopy comedy after sparring with William Shatner on ABC's Boston Legal, Emmy-winning James Spader will try to fill Steve Carell's dress shoes next season on NBC's The Office.
The network announced Wednesday that Spader will be a full-time cast member, reprising the Robert California character he introduced on the season finale of NBC's highest-rated comedy series. California's stepped-up title is CEO of Sabre, parent company of Dunder Mifflin.
Paul Lieberstein, a co-executive producer of The Office, describes California as an "uber-salesman that has a power to convince and manipulate, like a high-class weirdo Jedi warrior." And Spader "has an energy that is completely his own, and The Office has no tools for dealing with him," Lieberstein adds in a publicity release.
Spader won three Emmys as attorney Alan Shore, first on The Practice and then on its Boston Legal spin-off.
***CNN again is shuffling its prime-time deck, with CNBC import Erin Burnett getting her own show while Anderson Cooper does double duty.
Ousted is former disgraced New York governor Eliot Spitzer, who first teamed with conservative Kathleen Parker last October on 7 p.m. (central) editions of Parker Spitzer. She left the show in February, with Spitzer continuing as the primary host of In the Arena. CNN controversially hired him after he resigned from office in the afterglow of a prostitution scandal.
The new CNN lineup, effective August 8th, begins with Erin Burnett at 6 p.m. followed by live hours of Anderson Cooper 360 from 7 to 8 p.m. Piers Morgan Tonight remains in place at 8 p.m., followed by repeats of Cooper's show.
Cooper also is launching a daytime talk show this fall, with WFAA8 planning to carry it at 3 p.m. weekdays in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.
***Kelli Giddish has a new NBC job after last season's cancellation of Chase, in which she played Texas-based U.S. Marshal Annie Frost. Giddish will be a series regular and yet-to-be-named detective on the Peacock's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. The network also has signed Danny Pino (Cold Case) as a new gumshoe.
SVU is losing longtime series regular Christopher Meloni while fellow co-star Mariska Hargitay will be leaving after the first 13 episodes of next season. Her possible replacement is rumored to be Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Chase was filmed entirely in North Texas, but went down for the count along with two other area productions, Fox's The Good Guys and Lone Star.