John Hannah and Dustin Clare
Rome wasn't built in a day, but Spartacus: Gods of the Arena came damn close.
This is the program Starz quickly green-lit last year when Season 2 of Spartacus: Blood and Sand had to be put on hold due to leading man Andy Whitfield's cancer diagnosis. The powers behind the hit series needed a way to maintain creative momentum and keep their cast and staff together until Blood could resume, with Whitfield's replacement, Liam McIntyre. (Production begins this spring.)
But Gods, a six-episode prequel revealing how the House of Batiatus rose to prominence in the gladiator business, is no mere time-filler. It's just as epic and freakishly compelling as the original series and — if possible — even more gruesome, decadent and scatological...
American Idol's new rock star judge, Steven Tyler, hasn't quite gotten the hang of not swearing on family friendly network TV. "He says f--- sometimes," says executive producer Nigel Lythgoe. "And I say, 'Steven, you said f---.' And he says, 'F---, did I say f---? Ah, s---. Sorry, man.'"
Lythgoe laughs. "We've had to bleep him many times for the audition shows. It's a part of who Steven Tyler is."
But it's about to get trickier...
Is it possible to care about a show too much? If so, Dan Harmon is the guy who does it. The creator of Community sweats every detail of the show, putting his own money into completing episodes — he paid for the revamped Halloween-themed title sequence of this year's zombie episode, sprung to fly Kevin Corrigan out to play Professor Professorsen in the conspiracy-theory episode and even ponied up a cool $100,000 to complete the animated Christmas special.
As Community returns Thursday with new episodes — this week, Malcolm Jamal-Warner joins the cast for three installments as Shirley's (Yvette Nichole Brown) ex-husband, with whom she has gotten cozy anew — TV Guide Magazine chatted with Harmon about the extent of his obsession with his ratings-challenged show and its rabid cult, what American Idol joining the Thursday-at-8-p.m. fray means and what Chevy Chase could learn from a monkey...
Dita Von Teese
Va-va-va-voom! Burlesque performer Dita Von Teese reveals herself as an actress, taking on three personas in tonight's film noir-inspired CSI (9/8c, CBS).
We meet her character — Ellen Whitebridge, a shy schoolteacher with a fascination for forensics — when she brings her students on a field trip to CSI headquarters. Greg (Teese's real-life pal Eric Szmanda) is intrigued by the brainy beauty and asks her out on a date. That's before he finds out about Ellen's naughty nightclub alter ego, Rita Von Squeeze. Then, in a series of flashbacks, Teese plays Ellen's murdered grandmother, who was also a burlesque performer back in the day....
The Vampire Diaries
Evil is coming to Mystic Falls! Exec producer Julie Plec confirms to TV Guide Magazine that before the end of The Vampire Diaries' second season, viewers will get to meet Klaus — one of the original vampires. "We do not know anything about him other than that he's to be reckoned with and that no one's going to be safe when he gets to town," says Plec. "How he gets to town, when he gets to town, what he looks like when he gets to town — that's all part of the mystery."
But Plec isn't just being cagey. She tells us the character of Klaus keeps changing as the audition process progresses...
Steven Tyler, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson
The beast is back. Whether it's actually back in fighting shape, or just back to fall apart even more, is still TBA. But from last night's opener, we still have no idea. But there was enough good going on to leave us kind of hopeful for American Idol Season 10.
First off, there are the new judges. Jennifer Lopez and Steven Tyler — certainly bigger names than Kara DioBlahBlahBlah and far more versed in music-biz bidness than Ellen — brought energy and actual industry savvy to the auditions without copycatting any of their predecessors....
Because Thursdays weren't already crowded enough, guess who's joining the party?
In case you hadn't heard, American Idol is now setting up shop on Thursdays in the 8/7c hour, providing more intense competition to a time period that already includes a hit sitcom (The Big Bang Theory), a brilliant cult comedy (Community), a guilty-pleasure reality hit (Wipeout) and, resuming new episodes in a week, a guilty-pleasure supernatural hit (The Vampire Diaries).
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This is also the night that NBC is taking a considerable but necessary risk by playing to its comedy strengths and devoting the entire night to half-hour comedies....
The CSI: Miami family has a new member! Emily Procter, who plays crime scene investigator Calleigh Duquesne, welcomed daughter Pippa in early December. It's the first child for Procter and her boyfriend, musician Paul Bryan.
A slightly tired, but excited, Procter returned to work on January 19, just in time for co-star Adam Rodriguez's directing debut...
Good news and bad news for fans of Kevin McKidd and his Grey's Anatomy doc, Owen Hunt. When the ABC series returns with a new installment on February 3, his character will barely be seen on camera. The reason: Kevin was kept plenty busy off camera directing Grey's for the first time. He took time away from editing the episode to give us a scoop-filled preview of what's in store for that and future episodes...