- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fox sets fall changes

Fox is boldly sending J.J. Abrams’ “Fringe” to Thursday nights and shifting “So You Think You Can Dance” into the fall as part of an aggressive schedule designed to make the network more competitive in the fourth quarter, TVWeek.com reports.

“Fringe” will shift from a protected time slot behind “American Idol” to Thursdays at 9, the network announced Monday. That will pit the spooky drama against CBS’ “CSI” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy, “barring any decision by CBS or ABC to shake up their own schedules.

Additionally, the summer reality staple “So You Think You Can Dance” is moving into the regular season with its sixth season. The show will air Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m. and Wednesday at 8 p.m., mirroring the winter pattern of “American Idol.”

Also of note: Fox will again try comedy on Friday nights, slotting the new half-hour sitcom “Brothers” at 8, in front of “‘Til Death”at 8:30 and “Dollhouse” at 9. “Death” and “Dollhouse” are being produced at a lower-than-normal cost to Fox, making it easier for the network to keep them on the air, TVWeek said.

And, as expected, Fox is giving “Lie to Me” some season-two support with a 9 p.m. Monday time slot, following “House.”

In keeping with recent years, Fox is saving some big guns for the spring, when “American Idol” and “24” return. This year, the two shows getting the “Idol” love are “Human Target” (Wednesday) and “Past Life” (Tuesday). “Glee”- offered in a sneak peek at 9 Tuesday following the final “American Idol” showdown - also is slated to return for the second half of its season on Wednesdays next spring after “Idol.”

In the network’s other programming announcements, the news wasn’t as merry for “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.” The drama was cut from the schedule despite an outpouring of fan support over the past several weeks.

According to Zap2it.com, “Chronicles” averaged about 5.3 million viewers per week this season, only about half of what it drew last season.

Nonetheless, the show had a hard-core cult following that turned out in force recently to show its love for the series. “Chronicles” was the leading vote-getter in Zap2it’s bubble show poll last month, and fans stormed other corners of the Internet as well in an effort to convince Fox to bring the show back.

Meanwhile, there is at least one more “Terminator” story to be told. The movie “Terminator Salvation” hits theaters later this week.

A downsized ‘Chuck’

“Chuck” will live to fight another day, albeit on a tighter budget.

NBC and Warner Bros. TV struck a 13-episode third-season renewal deal on Sunday for the action-comedy that has a modest but passionate fan base, Variety reported Monday.

Like virtually every other prime-time series on the Big Four networks, “Chuck” will return next season with a smaller production budget. The renewal haggling between NBC and Warner Bros. TV over the past few weeks has centered entirely on cost-cutting issues, show insiders told Variety.

“Chuck,” which stars Zachary Levi as a regular-Joe computer geek who winds up with CIA secrets implanted in his head, averaged 7.3 million viewers during its sophomore season in the Monday 8 p.m. time slot.

The series got off to a solid start in its freshman year but was interrupted by the writers strike. Fans mounted elaborate “Save Chuck” campaigns during the past two months, including a tie-in with the Subway sandwich chain, that merited a shoutout on “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.”

‘Glee’ spree

Columbia Records has inked a multiplatform deal with 20th TV for the upcoming comedy musical series “Glee.” Under the pact, Columbia will release music from the Fox show on iTunes and other digital platforms as well as on CDs, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Set at McKinley High School, the series, which will get a sneak peek at 9 Tuesday after “American Idol” (Fox5-WTTG) before launching in the fall, follows an optimistic teacher who challenges the ragtag performers of the school’s glee club.

Music plays a major part on the show, with each episode featuring hits spanning pop, R&B, hip-hop, country, Broadway and rock ‘n’ roll.

The deal with Columbia Records, which came after 20th TV head of music Geoff Bywater met with several record companies, is broader reaching than previous music partnerships, 20th TV Chairman Dava Walden said.

“It’s a unique show with so many musical elements to it, and Rob [Stringer, chairman of Columbia/Epic Label Group] got our goal, which is to turn ‘Glee’ into a brand,” she said.

20th TV has big off-screen plans for “Glee” as well, which also include potential licensing and touring.

Cast performances of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” will be available on iTunes beginning Tuesday, with additional bonus preview tracks released throughout the summer. The first “Glee” soundtrack album will be released in late fall, THR says.

Ricky returns to HBO

Ricky Gervais is back in business at HBO, which has just ordered an animated series based on his popular series of podcasts.

According to Variety, “The Ricky Gervais Show” features Mr. Gervais and his longtime collaborator Stephen Merchant (who were behind HBO and BBC’s “Extras”) - and revolves around the world of their unusual friend, Karl Pilkington.

Media Rights Capital is producing the show, along with Wildbrain, the animation house behind “Yo Gabba Gabba.” HBO has picked up 13 half-hour episodes, which will likely bow in early 2010.

“The Ricky Gervais Show” started out as a radio program in London; in 2005. Mr. Gervais and Mr. Merchant decided to turn it into a podcast - and brought Mr. Pilkington, a radio producer they had met years earlier - along. The podcasts began to focus particularly on the eccentric mind of Mr. Pilkington.

The podcast became wildly popular - and even scored a Guinness World Record in 2007 for being the most-downloaded podcast on the Internet.

Fans also began animating some of Mr. Pilkington’s musings themselves, uploading the shorts to the Internet.

The new HBO show will utilize the audio from the “Gervais” podcasts and open each week with the animated version of the trio. Then, once Mr. Pilkington begins telling one of his unusual stories, the animation will delve into those worlds.

The producers expect to deliver “The Ricky Gervais Show” to HBO by year’s end, Variety says.

New ‘Hunt’ producer

“Jimmy Kimmel Live” co-creator Daniel Kellison has joined the syndicated “The Bonnie Hunt Show” (seen weekdays at noon on WRC-NBC4) as its new executive producer, Variety says.

Mr. Kellison will serve alongside Miss Hunt, Don Lake and Jim Paratore when the talk show returns for a second season this fall.

It’s a return to daytime for Mr. Kellison, who co-created and launched “The Rosie O’Donnell Show” for Telepictures Prods., which is behind “Bonnie Hunt” as well. According to Variety, Mr. Kellison is already familiar with the “Hunt” show, having served as an executive consultant for its launch last fall.

Jackhole Industries, the production company Mr. Kellison runs with Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla, continues to produce “Jimmy Kimmel Live.”

Mr. Kellison’s recent credits also include co-creating the Kanye West puppet show “Alligator Boots,” and selling the half-hour script “22” to Comedy Central. His resume also includes eight years at “Late Night” and “Late Show with David Letterman,” as well as Comedy Central’s “The Man Show” and “Crank Yankers,” both of which he co-created.

On tap Tuesday

Dancing With the Stars (8 p.m., WJLA-ABC7) - The winner is crowned in the three-hour season finale. Gynnast Shawn Johnson, actor Gilles Marini and “The Bachelor” castoff Melissa Rycroft are the celebrity finalists.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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