By ED BARK
NBC's made-in-Austin Friday Night Lights and Fox's made-overseas Family Guy are among Emmy's official contenders in drama and comedy.
That doesn't mean that either will be nominated, though.
Hoping to spark a little more publicity and viewer interest, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the first time has released a list of 10 series finalists in its two major categories. Those lists will be cut in half when the official nominations are announced on July 17th.
Friday Night Lights recently won a Peabody Award, which might help its chances. Family Guy was entered for the first time in the comedy category after previously joining the animated series contenders.
Notable omissions in drama include NBC's Heroes, TNT's The Closer and any of the CSI or Law & Order series, respectively the properties of CBS and NBC.
Absent from the comedy contenders are ABC's Desperate Housewives and Samantha Who? and NBC's Scrubs and My Name Is Earl. Here are the finalists in the two divisions, with unclebarky.com's five preferred nominees in bold face:
Boston Legal (ABC)
Friday Night Lights (NBC)
Grey's Anatomy (ABC)
Mad Men (AMC)
The Tudors (Showtime)
The Wire (HBO)
Note: It's hard to leave Dexter out, but The Wire has never been nominated and at least deserves that accolade in its final season.
30 Rock (NBC)
Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)
Family Guy (Fox)
Flight of the Conchords (HBO)
The Office (NBC)
Pushing Daisies (ABC)
Two and a Half Men (CBS)
Ugly Betty (ABC)
Note: Were either in the mix, I'd pick Fox's The Simpsons or King of the Hill over Family Guy. And Weeds is omitted because last season hit a low point, not a high.
***CBS has announced its fall premiere dates, all of which are subject to change, of course. But let's play along and list what for now are the season-openers for the network's most popular series:
Sept. 18 -- The 17th edition of Survivor, this one originating from Gabon.
Sept. 22 -- Two and a Half Men and CSI: Miami
Sept. 23 -- NCIS and Without A Trace
Sept. 24 -- Criminal Minds and CSI: NY
Oct. 3 -- Ghost Whisperer and Numb3rs
Oct. 9 -- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
By ED BARK
HBO will commemorate the late George Carlin by repeating 11 of his record 14 standup specials for the network, including both the first and the last.
Most will air only on HBO2 on Wednesday and Thursday (June 25-26). But "It's Bad for Ya," which premiered in March, gets the main HBO stage on Friday, June 27th at 8 p.m. (central). It also will punctuate HBO2's string of Carlin specials. He first appeared on HBO in 1977's George Carlin at USC. Here's the complete HBO2 lineup, with all times central:
Wednesday, June 25
7 p.m. -- George Carlin at USC (1977)
8:30 p.m. -- George Carlin Again! (1978)
10 p.m. -- Carlin at Carnegie (1983)
11 p.m. -- Carlin on Campus (1984)
Midnight -- Playin' with Your Head (1986)
Thursday, June 26
7 p.m. -- What Am I Doing in New Jersey? (1988)
8 p.m. -- Doin' It Again (1990)
9 p.m. -- Jammin' in New York (1992)
10 p.m. -- Back in Town (1996)
11:05 p.m. -- You Are All Diseased (1999)
Midnight -- It's Bad for Ya (2008)
***HBO has renewed In Treatment for a second season. Principal stars Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Wiest will return, with actors playing their patients to be announced later.
***Comedy Central's The Daily Show is adding Wyatt Cenac as a full-time featured correspondent. He'll assume that role on Wednesday, June 25th with an "investigation" of senior voters in Florida. Coldplay also will appear and perform on that night's edition (10 p.m. central).
Cenac made his Daily Show debut on June 3, telling anchor Jon Stewart that the boring presidential primary season reminded him of Lost.
By ED BARK
A trio of age-old actors will be joining a like number of TV drama series next season.
William Hurt has signed to co-star in Season 2 of FX's Damages, the network says. He'll play a new client of ruthless litigator Patty Hewes (series star Glenn Close). They have a professional and personal past together, says FX, which for now is keeping further details secret.
On NBC, Mary Tyler Moore will take a dip into Lipstick Jungle's second season as a "retired, high-powered exec" named Joyce. The character also is the mother of studio head Wendy Healy, played by returnee Brooke Shields.
And The Hollywood Reporter says that Jon Voight will play a villain in Fox's two-hour prequel of 24, scheduled to air on Nov. 23 before Season 7 starts its countdown clock in January. Production on the self-standing movie is underway in South Africa.
***Spike TV says it will reunite David Carradine and Daryl Hannah in Kung Fu Killer, billed as a "two-part 'Original Guy Movie' Miniseries" with an August premiere.
The two of 'em previously appeared in Kill Bill.
By ED BARK
NBC has amassed 24 "All-Star Families" for its Al Roker-hosted Celebrity Family Feud, set to premiere on July 1st.
In one of the matchups, Deion Sanders, wife Pilar, son Deion Jr., daughter Deiondra and Aunt Annette will take on The Kardashians, who include former Olympic decathlon champ Bruce Jenner and his now seasoned but still badly executed face lift.
Teams are playing for charity, and the Sanders have designated Deion's "SandersClaus."
Other intriguing matchups include the families of:
Ed McMahon vs. Tiki Barber. (McMahon could have designated himself as the charity beneficiary in light of news that he's facing foreclosure of his home. But he selected the Fresh Air Fund.)
Dallas-trained comedian Bill Engvall vs. Larry the Cable Guy
Kathie Lee Gifford (with Frank, Cody and Cassidy) vs. Dog the Bounty Hunter
Ice T vs. Joan and Melissa Rivers
Raven-Symone vs. Wayne Newton
By ED BARK
NBC's new edition of Nashville Star premiering Monday, June 9th, is going to be lousy with Texans.
OK, let's rephrase that. There are four Texas-bred contestants among the competition's 12 finalists, although only Melissa Lawson still lives in the state.
Lawson, 32, lists Arlington as her hometown and Dalworthington Gardens, TX, as her current residence. She's a working mother of five sons. And in NBC's words, she "wants to prove that country music is about the songs and the voice, not about the size jeans you wear."
Other Texans in the field are Gabe Garcia, 28 (born in Lyle, now living in Dickson, Tenn.); the single-named "Coffey" (from Bangs to L.A.) and the group Third Town (members Jeffrey Fairchild, James A. Kouns and Tony Mosti emigrated from San Antonio to Vegas).
Hosting is Billy Ray Cyrus, with Jewel, John Rich and Jeffrey Steele serving as the obligatory three judges. The opening two-hour episode, from 8 to 10 p.m. central, will include a performance by Taylor Swift, the Academy of Country Music's reigning best new female vocalist.
***Bill Engvall, the Galveston native who worked his way to stardom via Dallas comedy clubs, returns with new episodes of TBS' The Bill Engvall Show on Thursday, June 12th.
First though, a lone repeat from the first season will air Monday, June 9th at 7 p.m. central on CBS, preempting The Big Bang Theory.
CBS isn't exactly beating the promotional drums for this, but TBS confirms that it's happening as part of a unique trade-off between two networks that otherwise have no corporate connections.
Says a TBS spokesperson, "Airing an episode of The Bill Engvall Show on CBS provides an opportunity to introduce the series to a new group of fans and is a great way for people to sample the show. In exchange, Turner (owner of TBS) will air a major CBS fall campaign."
***ABC has booked Michelle Obama, wife of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, as a guest host on the June 18th episode of The View.
ABC says she'll be "seated alongside all five co-hosts," namely Barbara Walters, Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd.
It seems only a matter of time before presidential candidates or their spouses will be signed as presenters on awards shows. Campaigns are all under one big show biz tent now, as WWE Raw proved conclusively earlier this year with tailor-made addresses to wrestling fans from Obama, Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain.
By ED BARK
Fox has picked up The Simpsons for a 20th season, which will tie it with CBS' Gunsmoke as the longest-running scripted prime-time series.
Marshal Matt Dillon and doofus Homer Simpson otherwise share only a fondness for cold beers at town saloons.
Created by Matt Groening and adapted from his comic strip, The Simpsons originated as snippets on one of Fox's four charter series, The Tracey Ullman Show. They first set out on their own with a Dec. 17, 1989 Christmas special subtitled "Simpsons roasting On An Open Fire."
The show's 400th episode, "You Kent Always Say What You Want," aired on May 20, 2007, with the first Simpsons feature film released in July of that year.
***CBS' annual telecast of Broadway's Tony Awards, on June 15th, will be spiced with a sizable contingent of star presenters, including Glenn Close, Liza Minelli, Alec Baldwin, Laura Linney, John Lithgow, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooke Shields and Marisa Tomei. Hosting for the first time is Whoopi Goldberg.