‘Jeopardy,’ ‘Fortune’ get lengthy renewals
“Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!,” two of syndicated television’s most reliable performers, have been renewed through 2012.
CBS Television Distribution announced Tuesday that the long-running game shows received two-year extensions of their current deal for at least a third of the country, including ABC, CBS, Post-Newsweek, Hearst-Argyle and Sinclair station groups.
By the time the current deals run out, “Wheel of Fortune” will have finished 29 years on the air, with “Jeopardy!” completing 28 years of service.
“The “Wheel of Fortune’ and “Jeopardy!’ production teams are simply the best,” raves Harry Friedman, the show’s executive production through Sony Pictures TV. “With these unprecedented renewals, we will continue to infuse our classic games with energy and originality through 2012 and beyond.
“Wheel of Fortune” has been syndicated TV’s most watched show for 23 years and averages more than 46 million viewers per week. “Jeopardy!” isn’t far behind with 37 million viewers per week.
Bravo orders third helping of ‘Top Chef’
“Top Chef” is coming back for another season satisfy your craving for culinary competition.
Bravo announced Tuesday that Bravo has ordered its third season of the No. 1 food series on cable.
“The second season of “Top Chef’ has outperformed even our highest expectations both in ratings and the quality of this non-fictional competitive drama,” says Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick. “We look forward to discovering another group of culinary talents with the same passion for food and cooking with commanding personalities that make “Top Chef’ a must see every Wednesday night.”
Casting cook-offs will take place this month in Dallas, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, and San Francisco. Additional information can be found on BravoTV.com/casting.
This season introduced Padma Lakshmi as the new host and a slew of colorful characters including Marcel Vigneron, who specializes in “avant garde molecular gastronomy” and pissing off his competitors. To date, the show increased its total viewers by 56 percent from the first season and is the Wednesday night’s No. 1 cable series among women 25-54.
With five more episodes to go, “Top Chef” is planning a supersized (ten extra minutes) episode Wednesday, featuring guest judges Debi Mazar (“Entourage”) and “Queer Eye’s” Ted Allen, who appeared on the show already this season. The big competition this week challenges the chefs to create a three-item dish using only one color of the rainbow, thus testing their presentation/creativity skills. Woe to the lonely competitor who happens to be color blind.
‘Mr. and Mrs. Smith’ move in at ABC
A long-gestating TV version of the 2005 box-office hit “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” has gotten the green light at ABC.
The network has given the go-ahead to start production on the pilot, which is based on the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie movie that made better than $180 million in theaters last year. ABC started development on the show nearly a year ago, but other commitments by its executive producers pushed the start of production back to this season.
The movie’s writer, Simon Kinberg, and director, Doug Liman, are each attached to perform the same jobs on the pilot, the showbiz trade papers say. Both will also be executive producers, along with Dave Bartis.
No one has been cast in either of the lead roles yet; Pitt and Jolie, whose real-life romance sparked while they were filming the movie, won’t be involved in the show.
Kinberg, who describes the show as “‘Married … with Children’ with guns,” will set the pilot about six months after the events of the film. Married assassins John and Jane Smith now know each other’s professional secrets, but after a move to a new house, the spark is gone from their marriage.
Liman and Kinberg are currently collaborating on the feature film “Jumper” and are scheduled to film the “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” pilot in the spring.
Liman’s last TV project was NBC’s “Heist” last spring. The “Swingers” and “Bourne Identity” director also helmed the first two episodes of “The O.C.” Kinberg’s other writing credits include “X-Men: The Last Stand” and “XXX: State of the Union.”
‘Battlestar’ writer rebuilds ‘Bionic Woman’
NBC is bringing “The Bionic Woman” back to life, courtesy of “Battlestar Galactica” writer-producer David Eick.
The network has given a cast-contingent pilot order to the remake of the 1970s show and also greenlit two other pilots: the cop drama “Fort Pit,” from the producers of “Rescue Me,” and a spy series called “Chuck” co-written by “O.C.” creator Josh Schwartz.
Eick and Laeta Kalogridis (“Alexander,” “Birds of Prey”) are co-writing and executive producing the “Bionic Woman” update, the showbiz trade papers report. The show is based on the 1970s series, a spinoff of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” about a woman (Lindsay Wagner) who suffers a traumatic accident and has her body rebuilt with artificial parts that give her extraordinary strength and speed.
NBC’s sister studio, NBC Universal TV, is producing the pilot.
“Chuck,” meanwhile, comes from Warner Bros. TV. Schwartz and Chris Fedak are writing the script, a drama about twentysomething spies that’s infused with dark humor, a la “Grosse Pointe Blank.”
Finally, NBC has given the go-ahead to “Fort Pit,” which is based on the experiences of former New York City cop Robert Cea. It centers on a crime-ridden Brooklyn precinct staffed by green officers and discipline cases who are playing out the string of their careers.
“Law & Order” veteran Michael Chernuchin wrote the original draft of the script, and “Rescue Me” co-creator Peter Tolan took a shot at it as well. Both will serve as exec producers along with Tolan’s “Rescue Me” partner Denis Leary and Jim Serpico. Tolan will also direct the pilot.
USA lets the ‘Sunshine’ in
Who says you can’t have sunshine when you want it?
USA has picked up the pilot and 11 additional episodes of the drama “Mary Sunshine,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The project, originally known as “In Plain Sight,” centers on a U.S. Marshal (Mary McCormack) who is juggling the demands of her job at the witness-protection program and her dysfunctional personal life.
“We liked that (Mary’s) a woman in a high-risk job, which brings a real action component to it,” says Jeff Wachtel, USA executive VP for original programming. “And we liked the irony that she has that high-risk job but can’t tell anybody what she’s doing.”
“Mary” co-stars Lesley Ann Warren, Frederick Weller, Todd Williams and Nichole Hiltz. The show will join USA’s more male-centered lineup that includes “Monk,” “The Dead Zone” and “Psych.”
Production will begin in the summer to accommodate McCormack’s pregnancy.
McCormack has appeared on “ER” and “The West Wing.” Her big-screen credits include “Private Parts,” “Deep Impact,” “K-Pax” and “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.”