- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2009

Fox preps fall slate

In preparation for presenting its fall schedule to advertisers next week, Fox picked up two new series Tuesday: the comic-book drama “Human Target” and the single-camera comedy “Sons of Tucson.”

The network also renewed the midseason drama “Lie to Me,” tapping “The Shield” creator/executive producer Shawn Ryan as executive producer/showrunner, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

Fox, which will be the first broadcast network to unveil its fall schedule to advertisers Monday, already has two new series in the can for the fall: the animated comedy “Cleveland” and the dramedy “Glee.”

“Target,” from WBTV, DC Comics and Wonderland, emerged as an early front-runner at the network. The pilot, directed by Simon West, scored the highest marks at Fox’s internal screenings last week. Based on the DC Comics title, the show centers on Christopher Chance (Mark Valley), a mysterious freelancer who assumes the identities of people in danger, becoming the human target on behalf of his clients.

Oscar nominee Jackie Earle Haley (“Little Children”) and Chi McBride (“Boston Public,” “Pushing Daisies”) co-star.

“Tucson,” from 20th Television and J2TV, also was an early favorite at the network. The pilot, directed by Todd Holland, stars Tyler Labine as a charming but misguided hustler hired by three young brothers to act as their father while their real dad serves prison time for a white-collar crime. Frank Dolce, Davis Cleveland, Troy Gentile and Natalie Martinez co-star.

Remaining in contention for a series order at Fox are the drama pilot “Past Life” and the comedy pilot “Brothers.” On the bubble front, the cult favorite “Dollhouse” is still alive, with the final decision hinging on the low-rated series’ economics.

Starz to ‘Party’ on

Starz will party for a second season with its freshman scripted comedy series “Party Down,” the premium cable network announced Wednesday.

The series about a Los Angeles catering team of Hollywood wannabes awaiting their big break premiered in March and is produced by Rob Thomas (“Veronica Mars,” “Cupid”).

On the other hand, Starz has not made a decision on whether to bring back its other comedy series, “Head Case,” which also launched in March as part of the network’s Friday-night comedy block with “Party Down.”

Meanwhile, the network said it will begin shooting on the second season of its drama series “Crash” later this month. Also, a second drama series, “Spartacus,” is slated to premiere, Multichannel.com reports.

‘Jon, Kate’ not great

Reality-TV star Kate Gosselin says her marriage is in trouble, Associated Press reports.

Mrs. Gosselin tells People magazine that she and her husband, Jon, have been struggling for months, and that she’s able to imagine a future apart from him.

The couple star with their eight children on TLC’s “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” which chronicles the challenges of raising a large family. In recent days, the Gosselins’ wholesome on-screen home life has been called into question by reports of extramarital affairs. Both have denied those accusations.

Meanwhile, the attention sparked by tabloid reports of Mr. Gosselin’s purported infidelity has caused delays with the show’s production, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The reality series is set to premiere its fifth season May 25, so all shooting for these first episodes should be complete, notes Zap2it.com.

Unfortunately, the tabloid fallout from Mr. Gosselin being photographed with a young woman outside a nightclub has producers trying to figure out how to address the matter.

In several interviews, Mrs. Gosselin had mentioned that the general effect of the tabloids on their lives will be covered, but not any particular stories (namely cheating).

T.O. show in Buffalo

Terrell Owens will have even more TV cameras in tow when he arrives in Buffalo, N.Y., this weekend for the start of the Bills’ series of voluntary minicamps.

VH-1 confirmed Tuesday that filming of the Buffalo portion of T.O.’s television reality show will begin Sunday, a day before the Bills open minicamp, Associated Press reports. The footage is being gathered for a series that follows the day-to-day life of the high-profile star receiver. It is scheduled to premiere on the cable network in late July.

Mr. Owens reached the deal with VH-1 in January while still a member of the Dallas Cowboys. Producers had to scramble to change plans after Mr. Owens was released by the Cowboys on March 5 and then signed with the Bills two days later.

More Wolverine

On the heels of the strong box-office opening for “Wolverine,” the Nicktoons cable network has ordered another 26 episodes of “Wolverine and the X-Men” from Marvel Animation.

That brings the show’s order to 52 half-hour episodes, the Hollywood Reporter notes. The new animated series follows Wolverine as he reunites the X-Men. It was the network’s highest-rated original-series premiere ever with children on Jan. 23.

Led by Marvel Animation’s “Wolverine” and “Iron Man: Armored Adventures,” Nicktoons bills itself as the fastest-growing children’s network, posting recent double-digit ratings gains compared to last year. New episodes of “Wolverine” will begin May 22, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Katrina film OK’d

HBO has given the go-ahead to a new series about New Orleans and its ongoing effort to recover from Hurricane Katrina.

It’s titled “Treme” after a Creole neighborhood with a rich musical tradition. The series creator has a rich television pedigree: He’s David Simon, who also made “The Wire” (for HBO) and “Homicide: Life on the Street” (NBC).

Mr. Simon is filming the series in the Big Easy, after making a pilot there this spring. New Orleans residents will be included in the cast and writing team to add authenticity, AP reports.

HBO says it expects the series to start in fall 2010.

It’s the second time that post-Katrina New Orleans has been used as a backdrop for a major television series. The other, Fox’s detective drama “K-Ville,” was quickly canceled last season.

Broadway bound

James Spader is trading in Boston for Broadway, AP reports.

Producer Jeffrey Richards says the star of TV’s “Boston Legal” as well as the film “Sex, Lies and Videotape,” will make his Broadway debut in the world premiere of David Mamet’s “Race.”

The play, which Mr. Mamet will direct, has also found a New York home - the Ethel Barrymore Theatre - and will go into rehearsal a week earlier than previously announced.

Mr. Richards says the play will open Dec. 6, with previews starting Nov. 17. Rehearsals begin Oct. 19. Mr. Richards has declined to talk about “Race” but said earlier this year: “The title is self-explanatory.”

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

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