+ The only thing that was missing was a little guy yelling, ”Da plane! Da plane!” On April 2, in an effort to move his network out of fourth place, NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman unveiled his 2008 – 09 schedule — his first since joining the network last May — and it’s heavy on fantasy and escapist fare. The lineup, which was announced a full month ahead of the other four broadcasters, is a far cry from the network’s scattershot approach of recent years. A remake of ’80s hit Knight Rider, a retelling of Robinson Crusoe, and an update on the King David story called Kings, with Deadwood‘s Ian McShane (there’s a name we wouldn’t have seen on NBC just a few years back), will kick off Silverman’s ambitious goal of airing as much original programming as possible. Other new series for fall include My Own Worst Enemy, with Christian Slater as a secret suburban spy; a horror anthology called Fear Itself; and a remake of the Aussie comedy Kath & Kim, starring Molly Shannon and Selma Blair. ”I’m thinking they are looking at synergy, shows they can use over all their different outlets,” says Shari Anne Brill, an analyst for Carat USA. ”[NBC Universal] will be able to recycle these new shows on networks like Sci Fi and USA.” As for returning shows, expect new seasons of Chuck, Life, American Gladiators, The Biggest Loser, and ER, as well as 30 Rock, Law & Order: SVU, Heroes, and The Office. ”It’s certainly the right step,” says Richard Gagnon of the ad firm Draftfcb, of NBC’s 52-week programming strategy. ”It doesn’t make sense anymore to put all your best shows on at the same time.”
+ Country legend, American Idol mentor…Broadway baby? Dolly Parton just punched the clock again for 9 to 5, the upcoming musical based on the 1980 comedy that made her a movie star. Figuring she might have more in her than just the smash title song, the producers asked Parton to write an entire score. ”I’m not all that familiar with Broadway,” she tells EW, ”but I wrote for two weeks and came up with 30 songs. They’re keeping 85 percent of what I wrote.” Directed by Joe Mantello (Wicked), 9 to 5 premieres in L.A. in September before its early-2009 Broadway bow. And no one’s more eager than star Allison Janney (The West Wing), who waited until after a recent workshop to say yes. (She’ll play the Lily Tomlin role.) ”I wanted to see if I felt confident singing.” So is she a belter, after all? ”I totally am!” she says, grinning. ”You are gonna hear me — and you’re gonna enjoy it.”
+ It seems there are advantages to playing Meredith’s spurned lover on Grey’s Anatomy: Chris O’Donnell — who hasn’t headlined a major film since 2000’s Vertical Limit — just landed a role opposite Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis in Max Payne, Twentieth Century Fox’s live-action adaptation of Rockstar Games’ shoot-’em-up game. Payne is the story of a cop (Wahlberg), haunted by the death of his family, who’s hot on the heels of a series of new murders. O’Donnell will play executive Jason Colvin. John Moore (Behind Enemy Lines) is directing the crime noir drama, which is currently shooting in Toronto, from a script by newcomer Beau Thorne.
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