- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 29, 2009

‘Scrubs’ return mulled

Talks continue to heat up over the possibility of “Scrubs” returning for a ninth season in the fall.

According to Variety, ABC has been in talks with the show’s producers about ways to lower the license fee on “Scrubs,” and star Zach Braff is thought to be interested in returning for at least some of the episodes.

Insiders at the network also said ABC’s sales team remains high on the show, which they say remains popular with advertisers because of its upscale demographics. “Scrubs” hasn’t been a ratings hit on ABC, but it has performed decently enough - and the alphabet network doesn’t have many half-hour shows in its arsenal.

Executive producer Bill Lawrence would continue with “Scrubs” as well, although his ABC pilot sitcom, “Cougar Town,” starring Courteney Cox, is also said to be a real contender for next season. Yet given the longevity of “Scrubs,” there’s no shortage of producers there who easily could take over more responsibilities as Mr. Lawrence focuses on getting “Cougar Town” off the ground.

As for the cast, key players John C. McGinley, Donald Faison and Neil Flynn all have landed pilots this spring - and no actors are signed for “Scrubs” beyond this year. However, some of those actors are likely to return, at least on a recurring basis, should “Scrubs” return.

Meanwhile, the show this year introduced a new horde of interns, who also have starred in a series of webisodes at ABC.com (“Scrubs: Interns”). Those actors include Sonal Shah, Eliza Coupe, Betsy Beutler and Todd Bosley. (Another new intern was played by Aziz Ansari, who now is on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”)

Howie to host GSAs

Howie Mandel has been tapped to host GSN’s Game Show Awards.

The 2 1/2-hour ceremony, airing June 6 on the cable network, will honor classic and contemporary game shows, with tributes to pioneers Bob Barker (“The Price Is Right”), game-show producer Mark Goodson and host-producer Monty Hall (“Let’s Make a Deal”).

“I want the Game Show Awards to be unlike any awards show on television,” Mr. Mandel tells the Hollywood Reporter.

“I am trying to convince GSN to hire four co-hosts for the night. We’ll see what happens,” he quips, referring to the ill-fated experiment at last year’s prime-time Emmy Awards, which was hosted by the five nominated reality hosts, including Mr. Mandel.

Along with serving as emcee for the awards, the Canadian-born comic was nominated for his hosting duties on NBC’s game show “Deal or No Deal.” He also hosts and serves as executive producer for the network’s hidden-camera show “Howie Do It.”

End of an era

Cartoon Network is ending the long-running series “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends,” Broadcasting cable.com reports.

The network will present the program’s final five episodes, including a series finale titled “Goodbye to Bloo,” as part of an afternoon marathon on Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m.

“Foster’s Home,” from Powerpuff Girls creator Craig McCracken, has aired 78 episodes and spawned three feature-length specials since its premiere in August 2004. It also has garnered critical acclaim, including five Emmy Awards.

The animated series is set at a Victorian mansion that serves as a sort of retirement home for imaginary friends whose children no longer need them.

PBS expands video

PBS has significantly dialed up its online-video strategy with the launch of a video-only channel that will offer thousands of full-length episodes from the network’s top series, along with complete seasons of current shows and full back catalogs of classic series.

Among the shows available on the portal - PBS.org/video - are “American Masters,” “Antiques Roadshow,” “Masterpiece Theatre,” Nature” and “Nova,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. Classic series, such as the programs featuring cooking legend Julia Child, also will be available in their entirety on the site.

Moreover, PBS plans to create programming packages for the site featuring compilations of episodes from shows that touch upon a common theme. That collection includes snippets from “Frontline,” “Nova” and “Nature,” along with the classic “Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures.”

According to Jason Seiken, PBS’ senior vice president interactive, the network also plans to roll out original Web series at some point. Initially, though, the portal’s focus will be on showcasing the depths of PBS’ library in one easy-to-use Web outlet - one that offers better navigation and search.

While some PBS series were available previously online, they were scattered before this launch. “You couldn’t go to any one place and find a uniform video offering,” Mr. Seiken says. “It just wasn’t that user friendly.”

The new video portal should benefit the 150-plus local participating PBS stations, Mr. Seiken adds. Those stations also will be given the opportunity to integrate the portal on their own Web sites - with their own branding and local programming. Plus, some local shows will have the chance to bubble up on the new national video portal and potentially reach a broader audience.

‘Sit Down’ moves

After two episodes, Fox is pulling Mitch Hurwitz’s animated comedy “Sit Down, Shut Up” from its post-“Simpsons” slot Sunday nights.

Starting Sunday, “Sit Down” will air at 7 p.m., a low-rated hour that’s only considered prime time on Sundays. Repeats of “American Dad” will fill its 7:30 p.m. slot.

The remaining episodes of the final season of “King of the Hill” will ride to the rescue, filling the 8:30 p.m. slot. The rest of Fox’s Sunday-night lineup remains intact.

On tap tonight

Lost ( 9, WJLA-ABC7) -The series marks a milestone with its 100th episode.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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