Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New series for Lahti

Emmy winner Christine Lahti and Johnny Sneed have joined the cast of USA Network’s 90-minute pilot “Operating Instructions,” directed by Andy Tennant (“Hitch”), the Hollywood Reporter says.

The project centers on Lt. Rachel Scott (Emily Rose), a former Marine who returns from a tour as a Navy surgeon to take a post at a military hospital. Miss Lahti will play Cmdr. Helen Keller, the hospital’s chief administrator, who butts heads with Rachel almost from the get-go, THR says.

Mr. Sneed will play Capt. Will McKay, who might share a history with Rachel. McKay is the hospital’s chief medical officer and arranged for her to take the job there.

“Instructions” marks Miss Lahti’s return to the medical genre after her Emmy-winning turn on the CBS drama “Chicago Hope.”

Mr. Sneed previously starred in the Fox sitcom “Unhitched,” THR notes.

Lionsgate buys TVGN

The cable channel that sold for a bargain-basement price last month is suddenly the object of a tug of war between two prospective owners.

In a surprise announcement, Lionsgate on Monday said it has cut a deal to acquire cable’s TV Guide Network and TV Guide Online from Macrovision for $255 million, Variety reports. Just three weeks ago, Macrovision announced a deal to sell the channel and online business to investor Allen Shapiro for the same price, but late Monday, the tech firm announced it had “terminated” that agreement in favor of the deal with Lionsgate.

According to Variety, Lionsgate and Macrovision executives worked in secret through the holidays to complete the deal despite Macrovision’s announcement of its agreement with Mr. Shapiro on Dec. 18.

“It’s unclear whether the last chapter on this deal has been written yet,” Mr. Shapiro told the trade publication.

Lionsgate is set to pay cash for the acquisition, which is expected to close by Feb. 28. Mr. Shapiro’s deal also was said to be for cash, but Macrovision executives said it was subject to other closing conditions that made it less attractive than the Lionsgate offer.

3-D ad for Super Bowl

NBC will air the first-ever 3-D commercial event in what’s likely to be the most-talked-about event of the Feb. 1 Super Bowl, reports.

The event will promote DreamWorks’ movie trailer for “Monsters and Aliens” and will be followed by a 60-second spot from PepsiCo’s Sobe Lifewater.

The ad — which will feature the Sobe lizards alongside NFL players — will run at the end of the second quarter, B&C said. Sobe is distributing 3-D glasses to the public to help generate buzz not just for its own release, but for the DreamWorks release and NBC.

Harris to host ‘SNL’

“Saturday Night Live” has tapped Neil Patrick Harris as host for its first 2009 broadcast, reports.

The “How I Met Your Mother” star will make his debut on the late-night sketch series Saturday (11:30 p.m., WRC-NBC4) with musical guest Taylor Swift, who writes on MySpace that she’ll celebrate her mom’s birthday at “30 Rock.”

Mr. Harris’ SNL stint will kick off what could be a pretty big weekend for the actor. He’s up for a supporting-actor Golden Globe on Sunday, and “Mother” returns from the holiday break with a new episode on Monday.

Ferguson says ‘I do’

You couldn’t miss the wedding band on Craig Ferguson’s ring finger when he returned to CBS’ “The Late Late Show” from his holiday break.

Mr. Ferguson held up his left hand to the camera and announced that he had gotten married. The 46-year-old talk-show host said he had tied the knot with art dealer Megan Wallace Cunningham, Associated Press reports.

This is Mr. Ferguson’s third marriage. He has a 7-year-old son, Milo, from his second marriage.

On tap tonight …

35th annual People’s Choice Awards ( 9 p.m., CBS) — You picked ‘em; now see who picks up the prizes based on votes cast by viewers. Categories and their nominees include Favorite Family Movie (“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “WallcE”) and Favorite Scene-Stealing Guest Star (Britney Spears on “How I Met Your Mother,” Luke Perry on “Law & Order: SVU” and Robin Williams on “Law & Order: SVU.” Queen Latifah — also a nominee for favorite female star — returns as the show’s host.

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

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