Emmy Nomination Ballots Out: Hello, Rob Lowe; Goodbye, Charlie Sheen

Emmy ballots are being posted! (Performers, directors, and writers; note that they are .pdf files. ETA: Here’s a gateway to all categories–the hairstyling/makeup submissions are really fun to read!) We haven’t had much time to look over them, but there are always a few standout crazy moments:

  • Always fun to see the different writing submission strategies (which are also, of course, dependent on the makeup of writing teams)–The Middle submits one, Modern Family submits nine. Nine. Glee submits one per writer, Cougar Town submits eight. Friday Night Lights submits only the series finale; Covert Affairs submits eight and Burn Notice nine. I don’t know that one strategy is superior to another (hard to imagine Burn Notice, which I like very much, getting a nom, while Modern Family will likely get a few), but it’s fun to play with.
  • No America Ferrera for Guest Actress for The Good Wife? Boooooo.
  • No Jennifer Aniston in Guest Actress for Cougar Town? Odd.
  • As suspected, Rob Lowe–God love him–thinks he’s a lead actor on Parks and Recreation. Maybe Charlie Sheen’s absence will open up a slot for Lowe (is there a back door through which Sheen can still make it in? That…is probably not a good way to ask that question).
  • Oh, y’all, Community submitted the Christmas episode in the animated category. Love it!
  • The headshots are golden. Nice knit hat, Alan Cumming. Jennifer Love Hewitt managed to find three different headshots for her three different submission. Bless.

What interesting tidbits are you finding?

Summer Premieres Abound on Thursday Night

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New summer TV is busting out all over! If you’re like me and are waiting out the audition process on So You Think You Can Dance (why does the producer manipulation in the audition rounds work so much better on American Idol than on SYTYCD? How can they possibly think I want to see the entirely constructed tension of putting the adorable Kasprzak brothers on the stage together to hear about the last slot?), there’s still plenty of new TV for you tonight. USA leads the pack with a brand new season of Burn Notice, which presumably finds Michael out of the ocean and on the run. More Bruce Campbell, please! They follow the Burn Notice season premiere with the bow of new Mark Feuerstein medical dramedy Royal Pains. To be honest, I’m not sure I care about the cuts, bruises, and face lifts of the rich and famous Hamptons residents who need house calls, but I love me some Mark Feuerstein (Cliff Calley! ), so I guess I’m there (also: bonus Campbell Scott!). Burn Notice and Royal Pains might be a good match–good guys who lose their good lives and try to reconstruct new ones with help from wacky friends and family? Hmmm. Maybe I just favor the Campbells.

If you just can’t get enough medical drama, NBC also debuts The Listener, about a psychic paramedic (Craig Olejnik, sporting unfortunate hair). Yep. The lead character referring to his psychic ability as God setting him up with free cable is kind of cute, I suppose. On the other hand, I’m not sure I’m that impressed with paramedics who see a major car accident out their window and are surprised by it, as psychic ability apparently drowns out huge noises. The latest in an increasingly long line of Canadian imports, The Listener‘s cast isn’t as instantly interesting as Mark Feuerstein (few are!), so we’ll be waiting for Colm Feore to show up. Unless we’ve given up and are watching the early showing of The USA Network Campbell Evening instead. Burn Notice and Royal Pains on USA Network at 9pm and 10pm Eastern and Pacific, respectively, and a double dose of The Listener on NBC at the same times.

Soak in Some Miami Heat on BURN NOTICE

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I don’t know about y’all, but I am freezing. What better time to float away to South Beach and enjoy the throwaway, punchy action of Burn Notice? You may recall last season’s cliffhanger, which found burnt spy Michael nearly burnt to a crisp as his apartment was blown to smithereens. The new season opens immediately after the explosion, soon sucking in ne’er-do-well FBI informant Sam and on-again, currently off-again girlfriend/undercover wonder Fiona. They’ll exchange sarcastic snipes and possibly gunfire while making a computer out of yogurt lids–what’s not to love? Grab a blanket and some cocoa and settle in for some tropical trouble tonight on USA (10pm Eastern).

THE WIRE, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS Recognized by WGA

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The Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East today announced nominations for outstanding achievement in television, radio, news, promotional writing, and graphic animation during the 2008 season. Obviously, we only care about television. And we’re excited, because finally someone has given The Wire and Friday Night Lights their due. And look, Burn Notice! Also, we’re loving the fact that the WGA isn’t afraid to nominate My Name Is Earl‘s hilariously titled episode “Vote for This and I Promise to Do Something Crazy at the Emmys.”

Although some of the WGA’s nominees do mystify us. Entourage? Fringe? True Blood? For real? You guys sure you don’t want to watch them again and reconsider?

Winners will be honored at the Writers Guild Awards on February 7, 2009, in Los Angeles and New York. A complete list of television nominees is behind the cut…

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Who Gets Burned on This Season of BURN NOTICE?

People likely have different reasons for watching USA’s Burn Notice. They might appreciate Jeffrey Donovan’s witty mix of MacGyver and Jason Bourne (and the fact that he occasionally takes off his shirt). They might be fond of Gabrielle Anwar’s hot/cool combo of a woman too impatient to spy but willing to wait for her spy (and the fact that she wears bikini tops a lot). They might be amused by Sharon Gless’ cranky take on a woman who wasn’t a very good mother but who continues to worry about her son (and the fact that she wears…very large hoop earrings). If they’re smart, they might just love watching Bruce Campbell–yes, the Bruce Campbell–be snarky and deadly (and the fact that he wears wild Hawaiian shirts. I’ll start the call to, er, arms–more shirtless Campbell!).

Or maybe they just like to settle in for some summer fun with a clever, quick spy thriller that manages to maintain interest by weaving a crime of the week with the overall question of who is out to get Michael Westen. The end of last season found Michael driving into the back of an 18-wheeler where a seductive voice promised some answers. Maybe you’ll tune in for those answers, or maybe because that voice belongs to Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer. And it’s Miami in the summer, so her showing up in some halter tops isn’t out of the question. Hey, it’s summer, it’s Burn Notice–it’s all about the sweaty fun. New episodes start tonight, 10pm Eastern.

Is Tricia Helfer Behind the BURN NOTICE?

TV Guide’s Michael Ausiello’s news that Tricia Helfer will be joining the cast of USA Network’s Burn Notice this summer is making us giggle with glee. First, Helfer’s just plain terrific; she is perhaps the biggest find among the stellar Battlestar Galactica cast (yes, maybe even a centimeter more impressive than the fantastic Katee Sackhoff). Second, we just plan like Burn Notice–it’s one of the few shows my brother and I can watch together. He likes it for the ass-kickings and the gunplay; I like it for all of that and Bruce Campbell besides. Third, this news reminds us that it’s just plain fun to look at the show’s title sequence and note that the weird font choice makes it seem like the show is called Bum Notice. This is very likely to be fun.

Picking Up the Pieces: What’s Left of the TV Season?

Assuming the outcome of today’s WGA vote is positive, we’re only hours away from an end to the strike. So, in the immortal words of President Josiah Bartlet, “What’s next?”

A number of showrunners have already gone back work, making plans for the remainder of the season and scrambling to figure out how many episodes they can throw together. The networks, meanwhile, are making their own lists, deciding which shows will go on the block and which ones will live to fight another day. ABC got the ball rolling today, announcing nine pickups for next season, and the other networks are expected to follow suit in the coming days.

To try and help you make sense of all of this, I’ve scoured the trades and entertainment sites and come up with a (mostly) comprehensive list of what’s coming, what’s going, and what’s gotten stuck in limbo. Of course, a lot of this is still just speculation right now, and all of it is subject to change. But I’ll keep updating as new information becomes available, so check back for the latest–shows with new or updated information will be marked with an asterisk (*).

24 (FOX) – Jack Bauer’s seventh season has been completely torpedoed by the strike and will most likely be postponed until January 2009. Yeah, you read that right–2009.

* 30 ROCK (NBC) – Look for Liz Lemon and crew to return in on April 10. NBC is hoping to produce five additional episodes this season, depending on the availability of Alec Baldwin, who’s scheduled to start work on a feature film.

ALIENS IN AMERICA (CW) – Eight pre-strike episodes (bringing the season total to a respectable 18) will air starting March 2, but no more will be produced this season. The show is still considered to be in contention for renewal next season, though.

* ARMY WIVES (LIFETIME) – A mini-season is planned to air in June, with a full second season premiering in December.

* BACK TO YOU (FOX) – Will return Feb. 26 with three pre-strike episodes followed by eight additional episodes.

BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (SCI FI) – Season four will debut April 2, with the first 11 of the show’s final 20 episodes already in the can. Production on the second half of the season may resume in March, but it’s unknown exactly when they’ll air.

* THE BIG BANG THEORY (CBS) – Will return on March 17 for the first of nine new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

BIG LOVE (HBO) – Production on season three begins in March, and the premiere date will most likely be pushed back to the end of the year.

BIG SHOTS (ABC) – It’s unlikely we’ll be subjected to any more episodes of this testosterone-laden flop. Hurrah!

BIONIC WOMAN (NBC) – Say goodbye to this expensive disappointment, which won’t resume production and won’t be back next year. RIP Jaime Sommers.

* BONES (FOX) – Will return with four pre-strike episodes on April 14, and may produce 2-6 additional episodes, although the airdate for those is still undetermined.

* BOSTON LEGAL (ABC) – Two pre-strike episodes remain and eight more are already slated for production. The series is expected be one of the first dramas to resume shooting post-strike and given Kelley’s notoriously quick turnaround time it looks like they might actually complete their entire 22-episode order. But the legal drama wasn’t included on ABC’s list of pickups for 2008-09, so this season may be the last.

BROTHERS & SISTERS (ABC) – One pre-strike episode remains and 4-5 more episodes are expected to be produced for airing in April and May. The series has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

BURN NOTICE (USA) – Production on season two is expected to start in late April, with new episodes airing this summer.

* CANE (CBS) – No new episodes will be produced this season and it wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, so the future is looking dim for this stinky soap.

CANTERBURY’S LAW (FOX) – This Julianna Margulies vehicle from the producers of Rescue Me will premiere April 14 for a six-episode run.

* CHUCK (NBC) – The bad news is that the good folks at the Buy More won’t be back this season. The good news is that they will be back–NBC has ordered 13 episodes for 2008-09.

THE CLOSER (TNT) – Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson should return for her fourth season in June, about three weeks later than originally planned.

* COLD CASE (CBS) – Will return on March 30 with five new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CRIMINAL MINDS (CBS) – Will return on April 2 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI (CBS) – Will return on April 3 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI: MIAMI (CBS) – Will return on March 24 with eight new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* CSI: NEW YORK (CBS) – Will return on April 2 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. The ladies of Wisteria Lane have also been picked up for a fifth season.

DIRT (FX) – Returns for a seven-episode sophomore season on March 2.

DIRTY SEXY MONEY (ABC) – Three pre-strike episodes have yet to air, but don’t expect to see them until the Darling family returns to ABC’s schedule next fall.

ENTOURAGE (HBO) – The new season has been pushed back to fall, rather than the summer return originally planned.

* E.R. (NBC) – Yes, this fossil will actually be coming back on April 10 with six new episodes. And the network is reportedly in negotiations to bring the dang thing back for yet another season. Will it ever die?

EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS (CW) – Will return March 2 with 12 pre-strike episodes to bring the season total to 22. Still in contention for renewal next season.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) – Last week’s episode may very well be the last we’ll see of the mighty Dillon Panthers, as the forecast is grim for this critical darling (which has been on Ben Silverman’s hit list all season). Apparently clear eyes and full hearts can lose. No less than three different fan ventures have been launched in an attempt to save the show–one involves sending mini footballs to NBC, another is sending light bulbs, and a third group is sending Clear Eyes eye drops. So clever, those fans.

* THE GAME (CW) – Will return on March 23 with nine new episodes.

GIRLFRIENDS (CW) – This long-running series was expected to end after this season and it’s unlikely any new episodes will be produced, but the CW is reportedly working with the show’s producers to bring some closure with a retrospective or clip show of some kind.

* GHOST WHISPERER (CBS) – Will return on April 4 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* GOSSIP GIRL (CW) – Will return on April 21 with five new episodes. It’s also rumored the network may expand its order and bring the series back over the summer.

GREY’S ANATOMY (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. And yes, the docs at Seattle Grace will be back for a fifth season.

HEROES (NBC) – Won’t be back until the series returns with 22+ episodes next season.

* HOUSE (FOX) – Our favorite cranky doc won’t be back until late April or early May, but Fox may extend the current season into summer. David Shore says the storyline originally planned for the second half of the season will most likely be thrown out altogether.

* HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER (CBS) – Will return on March 17 with nine new episodes. The comedy wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, but sources say it still has a good chance of renewal.

JERICHO (CBS) – Returns tonight with the first of seven new episodes (and in case you’re looking to jump in, EW has a handy cheat sheet to catch you up). No more episodes are expected to be produced this season, and as for next season… well, I guess it depends on the ratings tonight.

LAS VEGAS (NBC) – Two pre-strike episodes remain, but no more are expected this season. The show’s fate next season is uncertain.

* LAW & ORDER (NBC) – Will be back on April 23 with seven pre-strike episodes. It’s unclear how many additional episodes will be produced this season.

* LAW & ORDER: SVU (NBC) – Will return on April 15 with 4-6 new episodes.

LIFE (NBC) – Won’t be back this season, NBC has ordered 13 episodes for 2008-09 and plans to give the struggling show a proper relaunch. Let’s hope people actually start watching.

LIFE IS WILD (CW) – I’ve never even heard of this show, but apparently it’s a moot point now, as it’s not expected to return. Ever.

* LOST (ABC) – Six pre-strike episodes remain and five more will be produced in order to finish out the fourth season properly. That’ll make for a 13-episode season–three short of the 16 originally planned. Carlton Cuse says he hopes to incorporate the three “missing” episodes further down the line somehow. He also predicts there will be a four-week gap between the airdate of the last pre-strike episode and the first post-strike episode, rather than the uninterrupted season they were hoping for.

* MEDIUM (NBC) – Six pre-strike episodes remain in its current run and seven more are expected to be produced this season.

MEN IN TREES (ABC) – Will return Feb. 27 with 11 pre-strike episodes, but the series was not among ABC’s pickups for next season.

* MOONLIGHT (CBS) – Will return on April 11 with four new episodes. The vampire drama wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09 so its future is still up in the air.

* MY NAME IS EARL (NBC) – Earl Hickey will be back on April 3 with an hour-long episode, the first of 8-9 new episodes to be produced.

* NCIS (CBS) – Will return on April 7 with seven new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* THE NEW ADVENTURES OF OLD CHRISTINE (CBS) – Six pre-strike episodes remain, but CBS is reportedly waiting to see how it performs before deciding whether to produce any more. The comedy also was left off a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, casting more doubt on its future.

NEW AMSTERDAM (NBC) – This mid-season drama will premiere March 4 for an 8-episode run.

NIP/TUCK (FX) – Will complete its fifth season on Feb. 19. Production is expected to resume on season six this summer.

* NUMB3RS (CBS) – Will return on April 4 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

OCTOBER ROAD (ABC) – Four pre-strike episodes remain, but the series was not among ABC’s pickups for next season.

* THE OFFICE (NBC) – Expect to see our favorite Dunder Mifflin employees back at work on April 10. Greg Daniels has confirmed that they’ll be producing six new episodes, though they “might be able to squeeze in seven if NBC asks for them.” The first episode will be “The Dinner Party,” a script that was about to start shooting when the strike interrupted production. Another pre-strike script, this one for the annual Christmas episode, will likely be tossed. The writing team is meeting this week to decide how to advance the show’s storylines, but Daniels says he’s “tempted to just leap ahead to where we would have been.” What I want to know is how they’re going to deal with Angela Kinsey’s baby belly.

* ONE TREE HILL (CW) – Six pre-strike episodes remain and six more will be produced this season.

PRISON BREAK (FOX) – About to complete its scheduled 13-episode season. The future of the series beyond that is unknown.

* PRIVATE PRACTICE (ABC) – Won’t be back this season, but has been given a 13-episode order for 2008-09.

PUSHING DAISIES (ABC) – Won’t return until the fall. But we can rest easy in the knowledge that our favorite piemaker will definitely be back.

QUARTERLIFE (NBC) – Will premiere Feb. 26 for a 6-episode run.

* REAPER (CW) – Will return March 13 with three pre-strike episodes, and five more have been ordered for this season.

* THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES (FOX) – Instead of the previously planned post-Idol preview on March 12, the mid-season comedy will debut with a one-hour premiere on March 14.

THE RICHES (FX) – Season two, which has been downsized from 13 to seven episodes, will premiere March 18.

* THE RULES OF ENGAGEMENT (CBS) – Expected to return on April 14 with six new episodes. The comedy wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09 so its future is still up in the air.

SAMANTHA WHO? (ABC) – Three pre-strike episodes remain and are expected to air in the spring, along with several new episodes, in the post-Dancing with the Stars time slot. The series has also been picked up for 2008-09.

* SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC) – Will be back on the air Feb. 23 with host Tina Fey. SNL plans to push out four straight weeks of shows (Juno‘s Ellen Page has committed to host on March 1), a tall order for the live series, which rarely goes more than three weeks in row without a break. NBC is keen to catch up on all the ripe political fodder that’s gone un-lampooned during the strike. Maybe now we’ll all finally be able to stop watching that Sarah Silverman/Matt Damon video.

* SAVING GRACE (TNT) – The series is expected to return in June, about three weeks later than originally planned.

* SCRUBS (NBC) – The docs at Sacred Heart will be back on April 10 with four pre-strike episodes. The real question is whether NBC will let Bill Lawrence make the 3-5 additional episodes he needs to give the series a proper send off in its last season. If not, there’s a chance that ABC/Disney will let him produce them for the DVDs. We’re keeping our fingers crossed.

* SHARK (CBS) – Things are looking up for this series–CBS has ordered four more episodes this season, which may bode well for its chances for renewal.

* SMALLVILLE (CW) – Four pre-strike episodes remain and five more have been ordered for this season.

* SUPERNATURAL (CW) – Two pre-strike episodes remain and four more have been ordered for this season.

SWINGTOWN (CBS) – Only a couple of episodes of this mid-season drama have been produced and CBS is still deciding what to do with it.

TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES (FOX) – Four pre-strike episodes remain. What happens after that is still up in the air.

* TWO AND A HALF MEN (CBS) – Will return on March 17 with nine new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

UGLY BETTY (ABC) – Expected to return in April with 4-7 new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

* THE UNIT (CBS) – No new episodes are slated to be produced this season and it wasn’t included on a recent list of pickups for 2008-09, so its future chances are looking thin.

* WITHOUT A TRACE (CBS) – Will return on April 3 with six new episodes. Has also been picked up for the 2008-09 season.

WOMEN’S MURDER CLUB (ABC) – It’s looking like it may be the axe for this newcomer.

MONK and PSYCH Cross Over to NBC

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NBC Universal is continuing to repurpose its cable and network content in order to beef up its post-strike schedule. Episodes of the USA Network shows Monk and Psych will be rebroadcast on NBC starting in March of next year. Six new episodes the popular series will premiere on USA starting Jan. 11, and then will be repeated over on NBC Sunday nights starting March 2.

NBC also may air older episodes from previous seasons of the shows. Because of the stand-alone nature of both shows, they can easily be broadcast out of order, as opposed to starting at the beginning of the season. This marks the second time Monk has gotten a network run: repeats of the series previously aired on ABC starting back in 2002.

Although the decision certainly seems like a response to the writers strike, NBC Entertainment Co-Chair Ben Silverman claims otherwise. “A lot of this we would be doing anyway,” he said. “The strike is pointing a flashlight on it.”

There was no mention yet of repurposing USA’s new hit Burn Notice, which averaged higher ratings last summer in the 18 to 49 demo than either Monk or Psych. Burn Notice is produced by Fox Television Studios (whereas Monk and Psych are produced in-house at Universal Media Studios) so a separate deal would have to be negotiated to bring the show to NBC.

It’s possible all this repurposing will open the door for other cable series to make the jump. Could Sci Fi’s Battlestar Galactica, which returns for its fourth season in March (and is also produced by Universal Media Studios), enjoy rebroadcast on NBC, finally bringing the high-quality show to the attention of a wider audience? Perhaps, if the strike lingers on and things get truly desperate, although it’s likely the heavily serialized nature of the series will work against it.