By ED BARK
DirecTV has agreed to carry the ball again, giving NBC's Austin-made Friday Night Lights new life all the way through the 2010-11 season.
As detailed in The Hollywood Reporter, DirecTV has agreed to underwrite two more 13-episode seasons of the acclaimed high school football drama. Under the arrangement, the pay satellite service will premiere FNL in the fall, with NBC then repurposing the show in mid-season.
FNL's third season is nearing an end on NBC, with the last episode set for Friday, April 10th (8 p.m. central). The series is averaging an unimposing 4 million viewers on the slump-shouldered Peacock, ranking 142nd in the season-to-date prime-time Nielsen ratings. But that's almost a match for Fox's heavily hyped new Dollhouse series, which is drawing just 4.2 million viewers opposite FNL.
***Oh, please. Fox is touting its new More to Love reality series, premiering sometime later this year, as an "inspirational" matchmaker starring plus-sized romance-seekers.
"This is a dating show that sends the right message about embracing and loving yourself no matter your shape or size," executive producer Mike Fleiss says in Fox publicity materials. "When you're comfortable with your own body, you can really allow yourself to be open to the possibility of finding the right person to love."
Perhaps Fleiss is trying to atone for his many previous reality sins, most notably 2003's sub-loathsome Are You Hot? -- The Search for America's Sexiest People on ABC. That's the one in which judge Lorenzo Lamas brandished a laser pointer that he used to pick apart contestants' body flaws.
Fleiss' other credits include World's Wildest Police Shootouts and The Real Gilligan's Island.
***Fox has announced its "sizzling" summer lineup, made up of mostly returnees plus a new scripted drama titled Mental.
Premiering May 22nd, Mental follows the mind games of Los Angeles psychiatrist Jack Gallagher (Chris Vance), whose "effective, yet highly unorthodox treatment methods" of course clash with his conservative boss, with whom -- of course -- he shares a romantic past.
Fox also is bringing back its legitimately hottest summer series, So You Think You Can Dance, for a fifth season that starts on May 21st. Here are the three other returnees:
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader resumes on July 3rd.
Don't Forget the Lyrics! will be back on May 22nd.
Hell's Kitchen begins frying more contestants on July 21st.
By ED BARK
CBS has picked up prime-time's most-watched comedy, Two and a Half Men, for three more seasons while also adding another two years to the life span of The Big Bang Theory.
Both comedies are from Warner Bros. Television and executive producer Chuck Lorre, whose previous credits include Grace Under Fire and Dharma & Greg.
Two and a Half Men, which premiered in September 2003, has been renewed through the 2011-2012 TV season. By that time, its nine seasons would equal the longevity of CBS' previous bellwether sitcom, Everybody Loves Raymond.
Big Bang, in its second season, is now good to go through the 2010-2011 season.
CBS currently is the only broadcast network having any ratings success with old-school, laugh-track-spiked, multi-camera sitcoms.
By ED BARK
No sitting president has ever guested on a late night talk show. That's scheduled to change on Thursday, March 19th, when President Obama will be the announced featured guest on Jay Leno's Tonight Show.
Obama plans to talk about his economic recovery plan, NBC says in a publicity release. His first Tonight Show appearance was on Dec. 1, 2006, about five months before he announced his run for the presidency.
***ABC has announced the season finale dates for its prime-time series. Here are some of the more notable ones in case you want to start circling calendars or writing notes to self:
Thursday, April 30 -- Private Practice
Sunday, May 10 -- Brothers and Sisters
Wednesday, May 13 -- Lost
Thursday, May 14 -- Grey's Anatomy
Sunday, May 17 -- Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Desperate Housewives
Tuesday, May 19 -- Dancing with the Stars
Thursday, May 21 -- Ugly Betty (which will be off the air until May 7).
ABC also says that The Bachelorette will begin on Monday, May 18.
TV Bulletin Board (March 9) -- Jonas Brothers get South Parked, Jessica Simpson punks someone other than Tony Romo
By ED BARK
The Jonas Brothers' carefully choreographed sales trip through a blizzard of network TV shows will be waylaid Wednesday when South Park has at 'em.
In the series' 13th season premiere (Wednesday, March 11th, 9 p.m central), Kenny takes his girlfriend to a Jonas Brothers concert in hopes that it's "his way into her heart and other body parts," says a Comedy Central publicity release. Instead his dream "is crushed" when the boys give them purity rings.
***CBS has concocted a one-hour April Fool's Day special, I Get That A Lot, featuring various celebs punking innocent commoners.
Among them is Jessica Simpson, who slums as a computer repair store worker. Hilarity ensues, says CBS, as "these celebrity jesters continue to deny their true identities."
Also included: Heidi Klum slinging pizzas, LeAnn Rimes waitressing at a Nashville diner and Ice-T selling shoes.
***Former Spin City star Michael J. Fox will return to ABC on May 7th in a one-hour special titled Michael J. Fox: Adventures of An Incurable Optimist.
Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 1998, will introduce viewers to "a variety of people who haven't let difficulties stand in the way of their happiness," ABC says in a publicity release.
Fox adds, "Sure, it may be one step forward and two steps back, but after a time with Parkinson's, I've learned that what is important is making that one step count."
By ED BARK
Can Fox regurgitate the Osbournes and get away with it?
They're gonna try -- and soon. The premiere of Osbournes Reloaded, billed as a one-hour trip on the "Crazy Train," is set for Tuesday, March 31st following that night's American Idol performance show.
Ozzy, Sharon, Jack and Kelly will preside over a variety hour that "unlike any other series on television features audience interaction, rowdy comedy and hilarious stunts that will shock and amuse."
Yeah, such as what? Such as this, says Fox: "Whether it's Sharon unveiling a stripping grandmother, Kelly and Jack bringing an unsuspecting playboy face-to-face with his ex-girlfriends or Ozzy soaking the entire studio audience with foam, TV's most outrageous family is guaranteed to rock the house."
Another recurring feature, "Littlest Osbournes," will feature "pint-size, potty mouthed" versions of Sharon and Ozzy reprising vintage Osbourne moments -- "in all their four-letter glory."
Frankly, that sounds reprehensible. After the premiere, Osbournes Reloaded will return later in the season as a series of periodically scheduled specials, says Fox.
Their MTV series, The Osbournes, ran from 2002-'05 before running out of bleeped expletives and dog poop.
***Fox also has an air date for the previously announced Glee, which likewise will get a post-Idol launch on Tuesday, May 19th.
The scripted comedy series, from Nip/Tuck creator Ryan Murphy, depicts a high school teacher trying to form an old-school glee club. It's billed as "uplifting with biting humor."
***NBC has tabbed Al "Do you believe in miracles?" Michaels to host the network's weekday and weekend daytime coverage at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Michaels last participated in the Olympics in 1988, when he called hockey games in Calgary for ABC. Bob Costas will continue to host NBC's prime-time Olympics coverage.
***Comedy Central has renewed The Sarah Silverman Program for a third season after a reported tiff with the star over decreased license fees. It'll debut in early 2010, with 10 episodes ordered, the network says.