- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

‘Saved’ from limbo

TNT, buoyed by the success of its original series “The Closer,” is ordering a full season of a new series that hasn’t yet aired.

“Saved,” a drama chronicling a troubled paramedic, will shoot 12 episodes this spring in anticipation of joining TNT’s summer schedule, Reuters news agency reports. The show’s pilot already has been shot.

“Saved” (no relation to the 2004 feature film about hypocritical teens at a Christian high school) stars Tom Everett Scott (“That Thing You Do!”) as Wyatt Henry, a paramedic and compulsive gambler. The series is the third original drama to which the cable network has committed, along with “The Closer” and the less successful “Wanted.”

“‘Saved’ is a character-driven procedural drama featuring a tough, somewhat flawed three-dimensional central character trying to make it in an ever-complicated world,” Michael Wright, senior vice president for original programming at TNT and TBS, told Reuters.

“Saved” is one of three new drama pilots TNT was considering for the summer, in addition to “Talk to Me” and “Grace.”

Graham’s a goner

TV viewers might be feeling a touch of whiplash this midseason.

Within days after seeing Heather Graham’s face on hundreds of billboards trumpeting her new ABC comedy, “Emily’s Reasons Why Not,” the much-hyped show was dumped by the network.

Even by fidgety TV standards, canceling a show after one airing seems a bit harsh.

The truth, however, can be even more harsh. The series turned out to be a “dog” creatively, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson told Associated Press, but the network had committed to the large promotional campaign before seeing even one of the show’s scripts.

“Once we saw it was not launching, we felt like unfortunately it was not going to get better, and we had to make a change,” Mr. McPherson said.

Six episodes were filmed, but no determination has been made about when or if they will air, he said.

The quick hook doesn’t mean producers of other ABC series with middling ratings — such as “Invasion,” for instance — should be shaking in fear, Mr. McPherson added.

“That’s a great example for us of when to be patient and when to fold them,” he said. “We believe in that show.”

Lost’ cast gets cash

Speaking of ABC, the network’s latest news isn’t all bad — especially for the cast of “Lost.”

Touchstone Television, which produces the top-rated Emmy-winning drama, has offered all original members of the show’s large ensemble cast a substantial salary bump in exchange for an additional year that would be added to the actors’ current contracts, Reuters reports. The studio’s pre-emptive offer would boost the salary of most actors to $80,000 per episode next season, meaning each would earn between $20,000 and $40,000 more per episode.

All original cast members — including Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, Josh Holloway, Naveen Andrews, Dominic Monaghan, Terry O’Quinn, Jorge Garcia, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim and Harold Perrineau — have been offered the same deal and are expected to take it. Mr. Fox, who plays the pivotal role of Jack, is said to have earned an extra bonus of at least $250,000.

However, in the spirit of “Lost,” in which no character is safe from being killed off or otherwise removed from the mysterious island where the series is set, the actors are said to have no guarantees about the length of their tenures on the show.

Representatives for Touchstone TV and all “Lost” cast members declined comment for this report. ABC and Touchstone are owned by the Walt Disney Co.

The substantial raise would put the “Lost” actors on par, salarywise, with the cast of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” industry sources say. The core “Housewives” quartet of Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria, who also started off in the $20,000 to $40,000 range, all reportedly received bonuses of $250,000 midway though the show’s first season as well as equal salary bumps for season two. That brought their per-episode fees to the high five to low six figure range, depending on each actress’ starting salary, according to published reports.

Like “Housewives,” “Lost” is the rare combination of both a critical and commercial hit for ABC, earning a rabid worldwide following, the Emmy last year for best drama series and, most recently, the Golden Globe on Jan. 16 for best drama series.

Compiled by Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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