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TV Bulletin Board (Thurs., July 31) -- NBC picks its Pan

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Mary Martin as iconic Peter Pan; Allison Williams will be the new one. NBC photos

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NBC’s surprise pick to play Peter Pan is Allison Williams, co-star of HBO’s Girls and daughter of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.

The network announced its choice Wednesday after earlier failing to land Kristen Bell of Frozen, whose schedule wasn’t compatible. Williams will star opposite the previously announced Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in a Dec. 4th production. NBC hopes to make live musicals an annual holiday event after last year’s The Sound of Music with Carrie Underwood became an unexpected hit.

Executive producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron said in a publicity statement: “Allison Williams is a major find. “She will reinvent the iconic role of Peter Pan with her wit, her warmth, her dynamic flying and her wonderful musical abilities.”

Williams’ rhetoric was a bit less soaring. “I’ve wanted to play Peter Pan since I was about three years old,” she said. “And besides, what could go wrong in a live televised production with simultaneous flying, sword fighting and singing?”

Williams is a “classically trained singer” who has performed several song for a Girls soundtrack CD, NBC noted. The network’s original 1955 live production of Peter Pan starred the late Mary Martin in a reprise of her previous year’s Broadway show. Sandy Duncan and Cathy Rigby also have played the character on Broadway. All risked being Panned by critics


TV Land is taking an edgier approach to its original sitcoms by signing acerbic standup Jim Gaffigan to star in The Gaffigan Show. Its executive producer, Peter Tolan, previously helmed FX’s Rescue Me.

The Gaffigan Show also will be TV Land’s second single-camera comedy, following June’s premiere of Jennifer Falls with Jaime Pressley. This means it’ll be shot without a live studio audience or, presumably, a laugh track. Episodes of the series, due in 2015, will be shown a week later on Comedy Central.

TV Land says The Gaffigan Show is “inspired by” the comedian’s real life, “exploring one man’s struggle in New York City to find a balance between fatherhood, stand-up comedy and an insatiable appetite.” The last reference is to Gaffigan’s bestselling book, Dad is Fat. But the entire description very much smacks of FX’s Louie.

Adam Goldberg, Michael Ian Black and Ashley Williams will co-star in The Gaffigan Show, which has a 10-episode order. It was originally developed -- and re-developed -- for CBS, which passed on it twice.


CBS’ classic, Texas-filmed Lonesome Dove miniseries, which premiered on the network in 1989, is newly available for free on Hulu. Subscribers to Hulu Plus also can access it.

The not-so-classic trio of Lonesome Dove sequels also is housed on Hulu and Hulu Plus. Namely, Return to Lonesome Dove, Streets of Laredo and Dead Man’s Walk.

The mothership Lonesome Dove, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s best-known book, had perhaps the best cast ever assembled for television. Its ensemble included Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones, Anjelica Huston, Diane Lane, Danny Glover, Chris Cooper, Steve Buscemi, Frederic Forrest, Margo Martindale, D.B. Sweeney, Robert Urich, Ricky Schroder, Barry Corbin and Barry Tubb.

Lonesome Dove deservedly received 19 Emmy nominations. But on the big night it was shut out in all of the acting categories while also losing the “Outstanding Miniseries” Emmy to ABC’s War and Remembrance. All of these years later, the defeat of Duvall as best actor, by James Woods for his performance in CBS’ My Name Is Bill W, is still one of the biggest misappropriations in Emmy history.

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