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The Ausiello Files: Early buzz on fall TV!

What’s happening next on ”Cougar Town,” ”How I Met Your Mother,” ”The Office,” ”Modern Family,” and more

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It may be the dog days of summer, but television is already looking to the fall. At the Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles last week, the major networks gathered to trot out their new programs and dish about returning ones. Translation: all the spoilers, hints, and previews you could want about the shows you love.

Cougar Town
Could it be any more exciting? Jennifer Aniston is thisclose to a deal to reunite with her former Friends costar Courteney Cox in an early season 2 episode. (Check ausiellofiles.ew.com for updates.) The other major news: ”We’re working on a big dancing episode with Jules,” reveals exec producer Kevin Biegel.

How I Met Your Mother
The first episode back features what exec producer Carter Bays calls a ”big game-changing moment.” Adds fellow exec producer Craig Thomas: ”We’re taking a little trip forward…to get a glimpse of a huge, huge day in Ted’s [Josh Radnor] life. It’s actually going to make it like a whole new story.” Another highlight of the season? ”Robin Sparkles will be back,” says Bays of Cobie Smulders’ ’80s-pop-star alter ego. ”We’re going to meet Robin’s best friend/costar from her early days doing Canadian television. It’s going to be Sparkles and Glitter.”

The Office
Justified lawman Timothy Olyphant will guest-star in two episodes as ”a salesman from a competitive paper company who’s stealing clients from Dunder Mifflin,” reveals exec producer and costar Mindy Kaling. ”And he used to date Pam.” Talk about burying the lead!

Brothers & Sisters
The Walker clan will be down another family member when Brothers & Sisters kicks off its fifth season. Balthazar Getty won’t be returning to the show; instead, Tommy’s absence will be explained in the Sept. 26 premiere. (Emily VanCamp, however, will be back to wrap up Rebecca’s story line.)

CSI: NY
Though Melina Kanakaredes has left the show (Sela Ward will be stepping into the lead role), her character, Detective Bonasera, will still get a happy ending. Exec producer Pam Veasey explains: ”We’ll find out in the premiere that she left to run a lab in New Orleans. She picked that city because it’s the city of Katrina, the city of BP oil, the city where people are looking for someone to lend a hand.”

Modern Family
Cam (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) better get ready to face a few bumps: Nathan Lane will guest-star as Pepper, Cam’s flamboyant older pal. Meanwhile, Mitchell will ”run into an old girlfriend,” divulges exec producer Christopher Lloyd. ”We learn some interesting details about Mitchell’s previous life in that episode that have repercussions for Cam and Mitch.”

Medium
The season 7 premiere on Sept. 24 ”is basically Freaky Friday,” says exec producer Glenn Gordon Caron, as mom Allison (Patricia Arquette) trades places with her daughter Bridgette (Maria Lark).

Castle
Now that Castle (Nathan Fillion) is officially back together with his ex, Beckett (Stana Katic) will be moving on as well. ”We’re introducing a new boyfriend for Beckett in episode 4,” reveals exec producer Andrew Marlowe of the still-to-be-cast role. As Fillion explains, ”What happens in season 3 is what happens in real life — maybe these two people should be together, but they’re [with] the wrong people.”

Parenthood
Billy Baldwin will appear in multiple episodes as Adam’s (Peter Krause) boss and a love interest for Sarah (Lauren Graham). Plus, Julia (Erika Christensen) and Joel (Sam Jaeger) will contemplate adding a second child to the mix. ”She’s forcing the issue a little bit,” says Christensen of her character. ”When she gets her attention fixed on something, she’s like a bulldog.”

ALSO…
Tina Fey and the cast of the Emmy-winning comedy 30 Rock will stage their Oct. 14 episode live…. Glee has tapped Broadway (and 30 Rock) vet Cheyenne Jackson to succeed Idina Menzel as rival choir Vocal Adrenaline’s coach…. After guest-starring on Parks and Recreation, Rob Lowe has been upgraded to a series regular for season 3.

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