+ We might just have the writers’ strike to thank for bringing George Clooney back to the ER! Yep, you read that right; NBC, facing a shortened development season brought on by the 100-day labor dispute, renewed ER for a 15th season next fall. The reprieve has prompted the producers to make ambitious plans for what (finally) appears to be the drama’s last season. ”We want to revisit characters that have existed on the show over the years and say where they are now,” says executive producer David Zabel of stars like Clooney (Doug) and Julianna Margulies Carol). ”We’d love to get them all back in some way, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to. But we’re gonna try.” He’s already guaranteed a visit by at least one alumnus: Noah Wyle will reprise his role as Dr. Carter for four episodes next season. In the meantime, Zabel will keep the ER buzzing for the remaining six outings this season by bringing on Aida Turturro (The Sopranos) for a three-week stint as a patient and adding a hot new doc (yet to be cast) who’s supposed to make Dr. Gates (John Stamos) look like a plain white-coat. ”A dynamic new character has the ability to motivate everybody, though it’s easy to get excited about next season considering it will be the last,” says Zabel.
+ Fans of The Shield will have to wait a little longer to see whether Vic Mackey self-destructs in the show’s last season — it’s seventh. Though the final 13 episodes were shot before the strike, FX won’t air them until fall — at the earliest. ”I wish fans can see them now, but I gotta be a team player,” says creator Shawn Ryan. — Lynette Rice
+ Rosemary’s Baby may soon get an evil twin. Paramount has partnered with Michael Bay‘s production company Platinum Dunes to develop a remake of Roman Polanski‘s 1968 classic, about a young woman unwittingly impregnated with the devil’s child. (The original starred Mia Farrow) Although Polanski doesn’t have any contractual control over a new version, Paramount has reached out to the director for his blessing, according to a studio insider. (It hasn’t been resolved whether Polanski would retain any official credit on the film, but he will most likely not be creatively involved.) ”We certainly come to [the project] with trepidation because of how important [the original] film is,” says Dunes partner Brad Fuller. ”But we’re going to see if there’s a great way to tell that story.” Fuller doesn’t expect that Bay, currently set to helm Transformers 2 for summer 2009, will direct this Baby. — Adam B. Vary
+ Apparently members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences weren’t the only ones impressed by Terrence Howard‘s Oscar-nominated role as a pimp-turned-rapper in 2005’s Hustle & Flow. EW has learned exclusively that the 39-year-old Crash veteran, now starring in the Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’ Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, has landed a record deal with Columbia Records. ”The full name [of the project] is Terrence Howard Presents Me and the Band of Kings,” says a label rep, who adds that the group’s as-yet-untitled debut CD ”is slated for a fall release.” Maybe it’s not so hard out here for a pimp after all. — Margeaux Watson