PARTY DOWN “Willow Canyon Homeowners Association Annual Party”: Now We’re All Privy To The Fact That Limes Have A Grain

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Folks should probably be relieved that TV Bacon wasn’t around during the heyday of Veronica Mars. I still have the reams of e-mails where Susannah served as impromptu therapist to get me past the second season finale, and that responsibility probably would have fallen to all of you (imagine the reaction to Battlestar Galactica‘s recent mutiny arc, but about tragically underparented teenagers). We had some serious love for that show.

Little surprise, then, that we’d be the target audience for Starz’s new comedy about a mediocre catering business, Party Down. Take a lot of the talent behind Veronica Mars (Rob Thomas, John Enbom, and Dan Etheridge) and a lot of the talent that appeared on that show (the wonderful Ken Marino, Adam Scott, Ryan Hansen, and comedy genius Jane Lynch). Already gold. Add Paul Rudd as a writer/producer and guest spots from additional Veronica alums Alona Tal, Jason Dohring, and a naked Enrico Colantoni, and you’ve got a pretty powerhouse talent pool.

Can the premise and writing give them enough to do? This pilot goes over some pretty well-trodden ground, including too-serious absorption of a racial sensitivity seminar and masturbatory misunderstandings. However, it also has Ryan Hansen singing along to a beat provided by his cell phone, eyebrow shaving, lots of cheese, and a naked Enrico Colantoni. It can be tough to sell a show about failure (especially in these dire times), and it can be even tougher to sell something as inside-baseball as wanna-be writers’ and actors’ failues. But there is a ton of potential here (next week’s preview looks like they’re going deeper, darker, and funnier already), and Party Down‘s first gig was funny enough to have us ordering more shrimp cocktail.

Impressive Cast Set for Thomas’ PARTY DOWN

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Starz has lined up some serious talent for its new  half-hour comedy Party Down. First of all, the series is created and exec produced by Rob Thomas, along with Paul Rudd and Veronica Mars vets John Enbom and Dan Etheridge.

And then there’s the cast, a veritable who’s who of Thomas’ and Rudd’s buddies, including Ken Marino (Veronica Mars, Reaper), Jane Lynch (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Role Models), Martin Starr (Freaks and Geeks, Knocked Up), Ryan Hansen (Veronica Mars), Adam Scott (Tell Me You Love Me) and Lizzy Caplan (True Blood, Cloverfield).

Tell me you’re not a little bit interested now.

So what’s it about? An L.A. catering business staffed by Hollywood wannabes. Each week finds the hapless crew working a new event and getting tangled up with the guests and their absurd lives. The network has ordered ten episodes of the comedy, which is scheduled to air starting in March. I think I’m more excited about this than about Thomas’ Cupid remake.

Bobby Cannavale Cast as the New CUPID

Bobby Cannavale has been cast in the title role in the ABC pilot Cupid, an updated version of Rob Thomas’ 1990s comedy. Cannavale will play Trevor Hale, a manic yet charming man who believes he is the Roman god of love. Jeremy Piven played the role on the original series.

At first glance Cannavale, best known for his roles on Will and Grace and Third Watch, might not seem a winning choice. But movie fans who’ve seen his marvelous turn in The Station Agent know the guy’s got hidden depths worth plumbing, as well as some pretty impeccable comic timing.

No word yet on who will play the Paula Marshall role as Trevor’s therapist.

ABC Greenlights New CUPID

cupid.jpgIt must be Rob Thomas week in Hollywood.

ABC has greenlighted Thomas’ update of his brilliant-but-canceled dramedy Cupid, just as news hit that he was in talks with the CW and CBS Paramount to write their contemporary spinoff of Beverly Hills, 90210.

Thomas has described Cupid as a “reinvention” of his short-lived 1998 ABC comedy series about a man who thinks he’s a god sent to Earth by Zeus to unite 100 romantically challenged couples. The original series, which starred Jeremy Piven (back when he was still likable) and Paula Marshall (who once more displayed her superpowers as a show-killer), earned high praise and a dedicated fan following, but lasted only fifteen episodes (most of which can be found on YouTube, but not on DVD).

The resurrection of Cupid has been in development at ABC since the fall, and will take precedence over the CW’s 90210 spinoff. However, Thomas should still be able to pen the script for the 90210 update, which has been put on fast-track development by CW. The situation is similar to the one Josh Schwartz found himself in last year, when both of his projects, NBC’s Chuck and CW’s Gossip Girl, were picked up to pilot.

CW Plans 90210 Spinoff

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The CW has fast-tracked a spinoff of Aaron Spellling’s seminal ’90s teen soap, Beverly Hills, 90210, according to The Hollywood Reporter. But the really interesting part of the story is that Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas is in talks to write the pilot.

Thomas has had a rough time of it since the CW passed on his Veronica Mars FBI spinoff last spring. He was briefly on board the ABC comedy Miss/Guided (which is finally set to premiere next Tuesday), then jumped over to try (unsuccessfully) to improve the net’s execrable Big Shots.

Details surrounding the 90210 project are still hazy, and it’s unknown whether any characters from the original series will make the transition to the new show. The CW is expected to make a decision on whether to order a pilot by the end of the month.

BIG SHOTS Goes Down for the Count

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ABC is putting the decidedly unfunny comedy Big Shots on hiatus for the rest of 2007, a move that bodes particularly poorly for the underperforming show. The series debuted to negative reviews and lackluster ratings this fall in the coveted Thursday 10 p.m. time slot behind Grey’s Anatomy. Even the addition of Veronica Mars mastermind Rob Thomas to the writing staff in August couldn’t seem to save this troubled show.

Thomas has been playing an unsuccessful game of musical chairs this season after the CW pulled the plug on his attempts to resurrect Veronica Mars for an FBI-based season four. Back in July he was on board to run ABC’s Miss/Guided, but jumped ship after a few weeks, citing “creative differences.”

Repeats of Private Practice will replace Big Shots for the rest of the year (in addition to Practice‘s regular Wednesday airings). Sadly, given the shortage of scripted programming the network is facing, we still may not have seen the last of Big Shots.