David Duchovny has lined up his post-"Californication" job. The actor will star in NBC's "Aquarius," a 13-episode series ordered by the network. "Aquarius" is set in the late 1960s, with Duchovny portraying a Los Angeles police sergeant tracking a small-time criminal named Charles Manson, who will go on to become the noted cult leader. A release from the network says "the twists and turns of a complicated undercover operation will lead Duchovny's character and his young partner to the brink of Manson's crimes that will eventually lead to the Tate-LaBianca murders in subsequent seasons."
Says Duchovny in a statement, "I'm thrilled to be working with [NBC chairman] Bob Greenblatt again and coming back to broadcast television. I think 'Aquarius' has a chance to be a special show and I can't wait to get going."
"Aquarius" will be written by John McNamara ("Eyes," "In Plain Sight"), who serves as an executive producer with Duchovny, Marty Adelstein and Melanie Greene. There's no word yet on an airdate.
For fans of "The Walking Dead" who aren't current on the Robert Kirkman comic books, the almost-rape of Carl Grimes in the Season 4 finale likely came as a massive shock. Considering Carol put Lizzie down only two episodes before, putting one of the child stars of the AMC series in such a disturbing situation made it seem like "The Walking Dead" was going darker than it ever had before. And, in many ways, the Season 4 finale was the darkest the series has ever been. But that rape scene is almost a frame-for-frame re-creation of what happens to Carl in the comics, and it's something showrunner Scott Gimple and Kirkman never planned on shirking from in the TV series.
"That scene has always been a really difficult one," Kirkman tells TVLine. "When I was writing the original comics, in the panel description for artist Charlie Adlard I [wrote], 'Carl is on his back, and the guy is pulling his paints off -- but don't worry Charlie, he's not going to get raped!' I actually included that in the panel description because it is such a heavy and dark scene, and I didn't want Charlie to be freaking out while he was trying to draw that. "When it came time to adapt that for the show, we are trying to realistically portray the kind of things that would happen after the fall of civilization. We try not to shy away from the depths that people can sink to in various situations. It's not like we're portraying things that don't, unfortunately, happen in real life. We're not really pushing the envelope too far. It is a fine line that we're trying to walk here, between being realistic and also being unrelentingly dark and morbid." Expect to see Carl and Rick deal with the aftermath of Carl nearly being raped in Season 5, even if the group currently has bigger problems to deal with -- like being trapped in Terminus by maybe-cannibals. "It will not be glossed over," Kirkman tells The Hollywood Reporter. "This is not a show that introduces things like that into a character's past and then doesn't deal with them. It will be very much at the forefront when it comes to Rick, Carl and even Daryl's character as we move forward." The turn of events came after Carl came to terms with the fact that he isn't the sweet boy his father hopes he can be. "What's interesting and tragic -- and this is something we were going for from the start of the season -- is that he would wind up with a very mature self-awareness. He's worried about being a monster, but the fact that he's worried about that is actually wonderful for this kid," Gimple tells The Hollywood Reporter. "[Carl] was a kid that was going down a road where he wasn't going to have one. It's not an awesome victory with Journey blasting 'Anyway You Want It' after it. It's really sad but also a wonderful thing that we saw Carl recognizing and worried about his own humanity. When that gentleman with the glasses was screaming -- which was directly out of the comics, including the same bite -- Carl ran to help without thinking. He's made a lot of progress."
MTV is combining the social aspects of "The Real World" with the competition aspects of "Top Chef" for the network's new cooking reality series, "House of Food."
Premiering on Monday (March 31), the series puts a group of young, aspiring chefs with no formal culinary training in one house to live, learn and compete for an apprenticeship under a renowned chef. Executive producer Jenny Daly tells Zap2it that not only will the contestants learn new skills, but viewers will also be able to take something away from watching. "You'll see a lot of really exciting food come out, but with a learning structure focus behind it that will even help you, the viewer, become much more knowledgeable," Daly says. "So you could apply these lessons at home and increase your own skills just by watching."
Daly explains that the food challenges will mimic how culinary students are trained. "We designed this in a way to show what a true culinary school would be like. So in essence, we were putting these kids through our version of culinary school," Daly says. "You'll see challenges throughout the season that are a gradual incline in their learning capabilities, from kniving skills, to parts of beef, how to cook parts of beef, how to cook fish, how to cook fast food, how to make your own signature dish. It's really exciting."
Daly can't wait for viewers to meet the contestants. "We brought in a lot of interesting, diverse people who really have a passion for food and as a viewer, you're really going to enjoy watching them grow as, more than wannabe-chefs but pseudo-chefs, if you will," she says. "I'm really excited for viewers to see the integration of applicable food skills being put into an evironment that is really engaging and entertaining."
"House of Food" premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
AMC has released its first teaser for "Halt and Catch Fire," its 1980s-set drama about the personal computing revolution starring Lee Pace.
Pace ("Pushing Daisies," "The Hobbit") plays Joe MacMillan, a former IBM executive who wants his current company to get into the PC game a year after IBM released its first home machine. He enlists engineer Gordon Clark (Scoot McNairy) and programming whiz kid Cameron Howe (Mackenzie Davis) to help with his project.
The series also stars Kerry Bishe as Clark's wife -- she and McNairy also played a married couple in "Argo" -- and Toby Huss.
The show's title, incidentally, is a reference to a bit of computer machine code that forces the unit to stop working.
"Halt and Catch Fire" is set to premiere June 1 on AMC.
"Nurse Jackie" Season 6 hasn't even premiered yet, and already Showtime has announced that it's renewed for a Season 7. The season will begin filming in New York later in 2014. In Season 6, Jackie (Edie Falco) will cope with her addiction while also dealing with her relationships with Frank, her ex Kevin and her daughter Grace. As the synopsis for the season reads, "Something's gotta give." Meanwhile, Peter Facinelli will not be returning to "Nurse Jackie" as a series regular. "In the twilight of season six, Peter asked to be released from his contract to pursue new creative challenges. Nothing will eclipse the incredible contribution he made to the success of 'Nurse Jackie' since the dawn of the show," showrunner Clyde Phillips tells E! Online in a statement, emphasizing the actor's role in the "Twilight" movie series. Facinelli will still appear in some capacity in Season 7. "Nurse Jackie" is one of the few longtime series on Showtime left standing. The network said goodbye to "Dexter" in 2013, and the final season of "Californication" begins airing on April 13. One that's off the air, "Nurse Jackie" will be the oldest scripted series still on Showtime, so there's little wonder that it's being kept around for another year. Season 6 premieres Sunday, April 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Construction noises are the ambient sound as Chris Nirschel surveys the new restaurant at the gateway to Greenwich Village, where he serves as executive chef. By Manhattan standards, the restaurant is huge -- 8,000 square feet upstairs, 5,000 down. He set the menu, which includes 20 New York beers on tap. Nirschel had already wrapped MTV's "House of Food," premiering Monday, March 31. In it, aspiring chefs can learn from the best - provided they have what it takes to learn. Three accomplished chefs, rarely known for their retiring ways, are there to teach, and when one contestant admits she is there more as a hobbyist, they have no patience for her. The aspiring chefs gather in an exquisite California house, and over the course of the show, they learn tricks of the trade. Living together, there is the usual drama of a group of 20-somethings living together and competing. Nirschel says what surprised him most was the growth of the participants and how he enjoyed seeing them come into their own in the kitchen. "Personality in a plate," he calls it. "I didn't really know what to expect. These are aspiring chefs, with no culinary education. They are also at the age where there will be drama and chaos in the kitchen and I work with them through that process." Nirschel is no stranger to reality TV. He had been on "Food Network Star," "Chopped" and "Couples Therapy" and likes being a TV presence. Being on this show, Nirschel says, reinforced that he loves to mentor and teach. He also instructs kids about cooking and is on a mission to improve lunches in New York schools. "I enjoy coaching and teaching people who want to be taught," he tells Zap2it. Classically trained at the French Culinary Institute, Nirschel has worked at a few New York restaurants and formed Culinary Bad Boy Productions, a New York catering company. Cooking comes naturally to Nirschel, whose first dish was pizza made with his dad. "I would be kneading the dough with my dad to make calzones and make pizza," he says. "When I was really young and trying to make omelets, I was so terrible. My uncle from Argentina used to take me fishing, and he taught me his grandmas' recipes. I am very lucky to have a culinary heritage." What is always in your refrigerator? "Butter, garlic, onion, chicken stock and cucumbers," What did you have for dinner last night? "I actually did a spicy sausage and broccoli rabe with rigatoni and arugula, basil, pistachio pesto finished with shaved Asiago." What is your next project? "The new restaurant; I am its executive chef." What do you dislike cooking? "I do not like cooking offals -- kidney, tongue, brain. That is my least favorite, maybe because I do not do it enough."
Pharrell Williams will join "The Voice" Season 7 as a coach, NBC announced on Monday (March 31). He is the first coach confirmed for the upcoming season.
"It's been a huge year for Pharrell, with recognition for his contribution in the world of music -- the 'Despicable Me' franchise soundtracks, his Oscar-nominated song 'Happy' and his Grammy-winning collaboration with Daft Punk on the breakout dance hit 'Get Lucky.' His dominance in record sales in 2014, coupled with his incomparable accomplishments in the world of fashion and design, make him an irresistible addition to 'The Voice' family," NBC alternative and late-night programming president Paul Telegdy says in a statement. "He has already made a considerable impact as a mentor, drawing on an impressive track record as both a producer and performer. It is a perfect fit for 'The Voice' as we evolve and reach for new heights with this franchise. It feels like we are welcoming an existing family member home." Executive producer Mark Burnett adds, "I am thrilled to have Pharrell come back to 'The Voice' family, and this time as a coach. Continuing in 'The Voice' tradition of having the biggest and most current music stars as coaches, Pharrell fits perfectly."
Previously an adviser for Team Usher in Season 4 of the show, Pharrell also appeared on "The Voice" as a performer with Robin Thicke for "Blurred Lines" in May 2013.
There is no word yet on whether or not Pharrell will be wearing a hat on the show.
Expect to see a lot more of Gareth in "The Walking Dead" Season 5: Andrew J. West has been promoted to series regular for the next season of the AMC hit. This news comes less than a day after his character was first introduced on "The Walking Dead." Gareth seems to be the ringleader of the maybe-cannibals at Terminus, who are the most deadly threat the main characters have had to face since the Governor. The Hollywood Reporter has the news about West's promotion, and also reveals that Alanna Masterson (Tara) and Christian Serratos (Rosita) have been upgraded to series regulars as well. Michael Cudlitz and Josh McDermitt, who play Rosita's companions Abraham and Eugene, joined as regulars during Season 4 and will remain so next season. Many fans are comparing Gareth to the character of Chris from "The Walking Dead" comics, but executive producer Scott Gimple won't confirm that they are one and the same. "Gareth certainly isn't Chris from the comics unless Chris was lying to us about his past, which he may have. Chris unloaded what happened in his past in some detail, but I can't confirm or deny," he tells THR. For what it's worth, Gareth was originally said to be a combination of two characters from the comics.
Gimple and "Walking Dead" author Robert Kirkman say many of the mysteries about Terminus will be resolved in the Season 5 premiere. "The people of Terminus have a great many secrets that will be revealed. They've proven themselves to be fairly dangerous," Kirkman says. "Whether or not they are actually cannibals remains to be seen. Seeing Gareth and Rick and the people of Terminus and our survivors go head to head is going to be interesting. There is a very deep, dark and storied history to Terminus and how these people came to be that will be revealed in Season 5."
"The Walking Dead" is expected to return to AMC in October 2014.
VH1's reality show "T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle" is back Monday (March 31) for its fourth season of following the lives of hip-hop star Clifford "T.I." Harris, his wife Tameka ("Tiny") and their six children.
When last the show left off, T.I. had taken his family to Puerto Rico for a getaway, while Tiny prepared to go on tour with Niq Niq and the OMG Girlz. Now in the Season 4 preview, it looks as though T.I. and Tiny are looking to not only connect with their kids, but also teach them responsibility.
The responsibility is coming in the form of taking care of a puppy, helping to pay for the cell phone bill and setting a good example in terms of education, as Tiny decides to get her GED.
"T.I. & Tiny" Season 4 premieres Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on VH1.
AMC should be very happy with the success of "The Walking Dead." The Season 4 finale, "A," delivered the show's best finale ratings, with 15.7 million people tuning in. Of that number, 10.2 million were adults ages 18-49. Sunda (March 30) was also a good night for the season finale of "Talking Dead," which brought in 7.3 million viewers and 4.7 million adults 18-49. It makes sense that so many viewers stuck around after "The Walking Dead's" cliffhanger finale, as showrunner Scott Gimple gave some teases of what fans should expect in Season 5. Following "Talking Dead," the Season 3 finale of "Comic Book Men" was watched by 1.1 million viewers, and 715,000 adults 18-49. While "A" was the best performance for a season finale of "TWD," it fell just short of an all-time record for the show. The current series high for "The Walking Dead" was the 16.1 million viewers it brought in for its Season 4 premiere. Of those, 10.4 million fell in the 18-49 demo, which puts it on par with the finale. Considering the Season 3 finale brought in 12.4 million and 8.1 million adults 18-49, it stands to reason that Season 5's premiere will break the show's ratings record again. "The Walking Dead" Season 5 is expected to return in October 2014.
The series finale of "How I Met Your Mother" airs Monday (March 31), and it's prompted a lot of nostalgia here at Zap2it. The show loves jumping back and forth in time, so we thought we'd do the same.
Here are our 10 favorite episodes of the series, along with one more that packed a big wallop at the end. They're arranged in the order in which they aired.
'Sweet Taste of Liberty'
(Season 1, episode 3) Ted and Barney's first wild adventure: A night out to pick up women turns into a trip to Philadelphia, being taken into custody by airport security and a last-minute detour to lick the Liberty Bell.
While Ted might complain about how crazy Barney is most of the time, their adventure to Philly and back was indeed legendary. Besides, now he knows what the Liberty Bell tastes like: Freedom and pennies.
(Season 1, episode 10) In addition to having an incredible sight-gag at its center and guest star Danica McKellar, "The Pineapple Incident" represents the best of "HIMYM" non-linear storytelling.
The episode begins simply enough -- Ted wakes up in bed with a woman (who he initially thinks is Robin), a sore ankle, a pineapple and no memory of a night filled with drinking. It takes a series of stories told by Ted's friends and acquaintances to piece together a full night of silliness, heartbreak and bad decisions.
But we never find out why there's a pineapple. It's beautiful.
(Season 1, episode 13) Say what you will about Robin, Victoria (Ashley Williams) was Ted's true first love of the show, and it all started with a drumroll at a wedding. Ted and Victoria immediately hit it off, though she doesn't want to exchange names or kiss him because relationships started at weddings just don't work. Still, the drumroll leading up to the kiss is rather intense.
When Ted finally tracks her down again the next day, it was as if we'd just met the mother (and would have, had the series been canceled quickly). You know how that story goes, though. In the end they just didn't work out, primarily because of Ted's feelings for Robin. Coincidentally, this was also the first episode Robin admitted she had feelings for Ted.
(Season 1, episode 15) This is when viewers got the first real taste of just how obsessed Marshall is with games: He actually created his own, Marshgammon. While this was an episode that introduced Victoria to the group as Ted's girlfriend, it's more notable for revealing Barney's previous life as a peace-loving barista -- until a rich guy steals his girlfriend.
That caused him to drop the hippie act, get a corporate job and a suit. Now he's the Barney we know and love ... or loathe. Just to show how far he's come, he hooks up with Shannon once again and films it. He also manages to get all of his friends to divulge their darkest secrets, proving once and for all Barney is the winner of game night.
(Season 2, episode 9) Not only did this episode introduce us to the titular bet -- which ended with an understated smack at Barney and Robin's wedding -- but we also met Robin's alter ego for the first time: Robin Sparkles. So, if you're keeping score, that's the show's two best running bits in a single episode. Let's go to the mall, everybody!
(Season 3, episode 8) Ted thinks he's found a great girl in Cathy (guest star Lindsay Price), but the rest of the gang can't stand her. It turns out that Cathy pretty much never shuts up, which Ted doesn't notice until it's pointed out to him -- to the accompaniment of a shattering-glass sound effect. The gang then lets loose on one another about their own flaws: Lily's loud chewing, Marshall's habit of singing what he's doing, Ted's penchant for correcting people. It's both a very funny episode and one that helped deepen our understanding of the group's friendship, which is reaffirmed when they discover that one of Marshall's nonsense songs is the password to find out whether he passed the bar exam.
(Season 3, episode 13) It all comes down to the two-minute date. When Ted decides to get his tramp stamp removed, he develops a crush on his dermatologist, Stella (Sarah Chalke). She turns him down, saying she doesn't date patients. So he waits until the end of his 10th session -- only to be turned down again, as Stella says she's too busy with work and her daughter to date. Ted's solution is the fantastically directed (by Pam Fryman) and wonderfully scored (to "Thirteen" by Big Star) two-minute date, incorporating a meal, movie and dessert. It's "HIMYM" at its romantic best.
And, oh yeah, the guest spot by Britney Spears as Stella's smitten receptionist was just fine too.
(Season 4, episode 5) Of all the women Ted dated in the nine years of "How I Met Your Mother," Stella seemed to be the most likely candidate for the Mother role. She was, after all, Ted's fiancee and a lovely woman he was willing to change every part of his life to be with.
That all changed with what should have been their wedding episode, "Shelter Island." After Ted and Stella rush into a pre-planned wedding, red flags seem to appear for Ted. His friends question the decision, Robin rushes home from Japan only to be uninvited, and Stella keeps bringing up worries she has about Ted's commitment.
Except that none of this is about Ted. The whole story, unbeknownst to everyone, is about Stella. It all comes together when she leaves Ted at the altar and runs away with her ex, Tony, the father of her daughter. The moment is genuinely touching -- even with the cool joke of Future Ted's "blonde family" in the moment before everything is revealed.
(Season 4, episode 13) This episode shows how you need to pay attention to the title.
There's a snowstorm in New York that is causing trouble for everyone. Lily's flight back to the city is delayed, Marshall and Robin have trouble making it to the airport (getting buried by a snowplow will do that), and Ted and Barney pretend to run a bar (named Puzzles). Extra angst comes in when Lily and Marshall start to feel that the magic of their relationship has faded away -- both go to extreme lengths to re-create old traditions, despite it being nearly impossible.
But it all works out in the end, because this is the story of THREE days of snow. What appear to be three simultaneous storylines are actually taking place on three separate nights. It all ends happily ever after with a keg of beer, a marching band and expressions of true love.
(Season 6, episode 4) "HIMYM" is very obviously shot on a Los Angeles backlot, but the show managed to perfectly encapsulate the New York experience with "Subway Wars." Public crying, running into a random celebrity and fiercely defending your transportation choices? Check, check and check.
(Season 6, episode 13) The countdown motif in "Bad News" indicates that something is coming at the end of the half-hour, but aside from that it's a pretty standard-issue late-period "HIMYM" episode. That last scene, however, in which Lily tells Marshall his father has died, is among the most emotionally raw in the series' history, wonderfully played by Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan. The episode as a whole isn't quite worthy of this list, but that scene is among the show's best.
When we last saw the on-screen version of Louis C.K. in "Louie," he was celebrating the new year in China. The first teaser for the long-awaited Season 4 of the FX series reveals he made it back.
Per usual with FX's early promo campaigns, the teaser is just about atmosphere and doesn't divulge anything about the coming season. Still, the image of C.K. in front of the Statue of Liberty is a pretty nice way to show he's back on his home turf.
Season 4 of "Louie" premieres May 5 on FX following a hiatus of more than a year and a half.
Amazon Studios confirmed on Monday (March 31) that it was renewing "Alpha House" for Season 2 and was picking up two dramas, two comedies and two kids' shows. No dates have been announced yet for airings of any of these series.
The pilots ordered to series are:
"The After" -- From Chris Carter ("The X-Files"), the show will follow eight strangers thrown together and needing to survive in a violent and mysterious world. Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar and Louise Monot star.
"Bosch" -- Based on Michael Connelly's book series, "Bosch" is a drama about a relentless LAPD homicide detective. Titus Welliver, Annie Wersching and Jamie Hector star.
"Mozart in the Jungle" -- The half-hour comedic drama takes on sex, drugs and classical music. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Saffron Burrows, Lola Kirke, Malcolm McDowell, Bernadette Peters and Peter Vack.
"Transparent" -- This dramedy focuses on a boundary-challenged Los Angeles family and explores sex, gender and more after a dramatic admission brings out secrets. Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass star in the series.
"Gortimer Gibbon's Life on Normal Street" -- Aimed at older kids, this is a live-action adventure show focusing on three friends exploring their normal, but possibly magical, suburban neighborhood.
"Wishenpoof!" -- From the creator of "Blue's Clues," this is a pre-school-targeted, animated series about Bianca, a character with wish magic. The idea is to promote making good choices.
"Game of Thrones" Season 3 ended on a low point with the series' most likely hero, Robb Stark, being brutally murdered by some of his presumed allies. With that storyline cut short, star Kit Harington tells Zap2it that Season 4 feels like a bit of a reset for the show as viewers refocus on the characters who are still alive.
"This season is quite interesting because you start fresh in a weird sort of way," he says. "The Red Wedding kind of wipes the slate clean in a strange kind of way. You get rid of all the Starks, and then you start fresh. That was quite nice that we were just starting [to build] a new story in a strange way."
So what is his character Jon Snow's story this season? After two years away from the Wall, he returned at the end of Season 3, wounded from Ygritte after deserting the Wildlings. Harington says the Jon Snow who has returned to Castle Black is very different than the one who left it.
"What's going to be quite interesting this year is seeing how brutal Jon becomes," he says. "It's a slow progress this season, but losing his love, losing his whole family in the Red Wedding, spending two years as a spy undercover, and then coming back to Castle Black hardens someone. To put it into a sort of modern context, when a young man goes off to war in our day and age, they've got that thousand-mile stare, and I think that's what Jon comes back with a bit.
"I think his time with the Wildlings has really affected him, and it's a profound effect," Harington continues. "But also he comes back with a mission where he knows the Wildlings are going to attack and he's got to start leading, because no one else will. And to lead he has to start speaking, and he's never said more than three lines. You see him make speeches this season. It's quite mad. It was quite weird talking as him. He usually absorbs things; he never actually talks. That's the major difference, and that's what changed in him since he came back from the Wildlings."
Many fans -- including cast members like Isaac Hempstead-Wright -- view Jon Snow as one of the most likely people to right the wrongs in Westeros. Whether that means Jon ends up on the Iron Throne or being the Hand to Daenerys' Queen or something along those lines, he is viewed as one of the main contenders for being one of the last heroes left alive in "Game of Thrones." But Harington says he doesn't look at Jon that way.
"I never see Jon as fixing everything in Westeros. I never see that as his mission," Harington says, though he acknowledges later book storylines do deal with that. "For me, story-by-story, he's most concerned about the White Walkers and the Wildlings. I don't feel that pressure from the audience or fans, because I know what his mission's going to be and I know what he's going to do. I kind of see him as another cog, and hopefully an important cog in this story, but not really trying to be heroic. He's never trying to be heroic; he's trying to be practical."
Jon views himself as having a simpler purpose in Westeros. "I think, on the surface -- and maybe even to his mind -- his sole purpose is to protect the Wall, be a part of the Night's Watch, command the Night's Watch and protect the realm against the White Walkers," Harington explains. "Actually what's going on inside him is a far deeper purpose about proving who he is to everybody. He's got a very dangerous level of ambition that he doesn't really know about, and also there's vengeance there somewhere. To avenge his family is prevalent in his mind somewhere, but that's going really sort of deep into who he is."
"Game of Thrones" Season 4 premieres April 6 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
Right after one group of friends signs off, new friends will be introduced ... by a former writer-producer of "Friends," no less. Immediately following the series finale of CBS' "How I Met Your Mother" Monday (Mar. 31), the network will debut the sitcom "Friends With Better Lives." The premise of longtime acquaintances in amusing situations -- mainly revolving around their differing relationship levels -- may seem familiar, but it's served up by a fresh ensemble cast merging established TV faces and relative newcomers. Will (played by "Dawson's Creek" alum James Van Der Beek) is struggling to adjust after his recent divorce; Jules (actress-model Brooklyn Decker) is newly engaged to visibly amorous Lowell (Rick Donald); Kate (Zoe Lister-Jones, "Whitney") is a career-driven serial dater; and the married Bobby (Kevin Connolly, "Entourage") and Andi (Majandra Delfino, "Roswell") observe their friends' allegedly better lives somewhat enviously. Gratified that sitcom-directing master James Burrows ("The Millers," "Will & Grace") guided the premiere, series creator and executive producer Dana Klein tells Zap2it the characters "met when they were all on more of an equal playing field. They were students, they were single and no one had a career yet. Now it is 12 years later, and all of them are at very different places in their lives ... and I've always been intrigued that people, myself included, so easily go to the place of thinking their friends' lives are better or easier. "There's that quote, 'Happiness is wanting what you have,'" notes Klein, "but I think that in the day-to-day, many people fall into the trap of it being what you don't have instead. I thought it would be interesting to examine friendships through that lens. It's a grass-is-always-greener kind of thing, but with an undercurrent of love. These people are super-close and always there for each other." Former Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue cover model Decker is making a big leap into a comedy filmed before a studio audience, after getting into acting via such movies as "Just Go With It" and "Battleship." She admits it doesn't hurt that her "Friends With Better Lives" alter ego is similar to her, being an ex-model and aspiring actress. "Nowadays, people want to do television because it's as good as -- if not better than -- what we're seeing on the big screen," Decker reasons. "This is a new medium for me, especially multi-camera and in front of a live audience. It has its own challenges. You have to pause for laughter, which feels completely counter-intuitive, so being in an ensemble cast with people who have done this before helps me so much." The wife of retired Grand Slam tennis singles champ Andy Roddick, Decker gets up close and personal with co-star Donald in the series right from the outset. "He works on 'Fox Sports Live,' so luckily, we're on the same lot," she says of her spouse. "When he would finish early, he'd come and hang out with the other [cast and crew members'] spouses." Roddick's presence while Decker does her more romantic scenes isn't a problem, she maintains. "It's part of my job," she says, "and I'm lucky that I have a husband who completely gets that. I warned him, 'Look, when I'm wearing this outfit, close your eyes.' But he gets it, thank goodness." Also currently making the movie sequel to HBO's "Entourage," Connolly is glad to get back to series work. "Everything is so fresh, so new," he says. "The dynamics are really new. I went from such a testosterone-driven show to the exact opposite, because 'Friends With Better Lives' is run by the ladies. I imagine it's close to what being married feels like." Connolly feels fortunate to have had experience with one of his new co-stars before production began. "James Van Der Beek and I did the movie 'Angus' together, so I've known him for 20 years," he reports. "Everybody here clicked real well real fast, though, and as far as I know, everybody is enjoying everybody else's company. I know I certainly do. As great as 'Entourage' was, I'm having an equally great experience on this show." As much as she's liked making "Friends With Better Lives" overall (it completed filming its maiden round in November), Klein had an extra reason to be happy about what's slated as its last episode this season: Her husband, Mark Feuerstein of USA's "Royal Pains" (on which Decker appeared), guest stars in it as one of Kate's many dates. Klein insists she isn't thinking about her show becoming a successor to "How I Met Your Mother" ... or even to "Friends," for that matter. "I was there for the last three years," she says of the series that made Ross and Rachel household names, "so I can take very little credit for the brilliance of 'Friends,' but it was a wonderful opportunity. I learned so much. "I feel like we lucked out with the casting here, too," Klein adds. "The chemistry is great. We auditioned hundreds of actors, and someone remarked to me that with our six, it doesn't feel like they just met each other. It really feels like they've known each other for a long time, and in real life, they hang out and are friends. I just feel very lucky."
Even the showrunners of "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" will admit that they had to work out some kinks early in the series' first season to turn it into the more streamlined and focused show it is today. Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon are close to completing Season 1 of Marvel's first TV series, and though Season 2 hasn't been announced, a pickup is likely.
Many freshman series have applied the lessons learned from Season 1 to Season 2, and come out the better for it. Tancharoen and Whedon explained to Zap2it on the show's PaleyFest red carpet what they plan on taking with them to a second season.
"Any new show has a big learning curve, just in terms of making sure everybody's making the same show," Whedon says. "Every different department, every actor, every director, the music, the costumes -- just making sure we're all sort of heading in the same direction, because getting everyone on the same page, even though we knew the show we wanted to make, just finding the tone, that always takes a little while.
"As we progressed -- and we started a little more standalone, planting seeds -- and then we started bringing it together. Seeing how the audience has responded to that is, for us, very rewarding, and I think it makes us not afraid to lean into the Marvel side of it. And the mythology and the serialized elements are really paying off. We're glad to see the reaction is that positive."
According to executive producer Jeph Loeb, increasing the amount of Marvel in "Agents of SHIELD" was always the plan. He says it just comes with the territory that it took some time to get to those storylines.
"One of the big challenges of our show is, when we came out of the gate, the only person that anybody knew was Coulson. So we wanted to get them to know and fall in love with Ward and Skye and everybody else in our show, FitzSimmons and the lovely Melinda May," he says. "Now it's time to have fun, and that's why we've had Lady Sif come by, Jaimie Alexander was so great. You know we just announced that Patton Oswalt is joining us as Eric. My friend from 'Heroes,' Adrian Pasdar, coming on as Col. Glenn Talbot. When Bill Paxton came in. It's just been a lot of fun. It was always our intention to do that, we just needed to sort of get to a certain place."
"Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
"The Voice" is doing its first-ever second round of Battles in Season 6, and to help the Top 32 contestants as they face off once again in the ring, the show is enlisting the help of Coldplay frontman Chris Martin.
In the first preview clip below from Monday's (March 31) show, Martin advises Team Shakira contestants Josh Murley and Patrick Thomson, who are battling it out on "Run to You" by Bryan Adams. Martin tells them it's not a natural duet, so they need a little something extra -- mic stands.
In the second preview, Audra McLaughlin and Megan Ruger from Team Blake are facing off on "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus. Martin advises them to engage the audience more: "This is a song about trying to get somewhere together, so cover the area -- you need to bring out your Mick Jaggers a bit."
"The Voice" airs Monday and Tuesday nights at 8 ET/PT on NBC.
"Dancing with the Stars" Season 18 may have an extra treat for some fans in Week 3: Reports indicate that there could be a "Full House" reunion in the audience in support of competitor Candace Cameron Bure.
The basis for this blast from the past is the theme of the week -- Most Memorable Year. For Cameron Bure, who got her big break playing DJ Tanner on the TGIF staple, this is going to be a trip back to her "Full House" years. "Candace Cameron Bure is going to be talking about her days on 'Full House' and the cast is going to be in the audience to support her," a "DWTS" source tells E!Online.
Even if no one from the cast makes it to the taping (all are reportedly invited), two of Cameron Bure's former co-stars have already dropped in. The actress posted an Instagram photo of herself and partner Mark Ballas along with Lori Loughlin (Aunt Becky) and Andrea Barber (Kimmy Gibbler).
It will be interesting to see who else might make it to the ballroom for the performances on Monday, March 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
"The Good Wife" saw its ratings improve Sunday, a week after it suddenly killed one of its main characters. The CBS show drew some of its best numbers of the season, pending updates for live NCAA basketball that pushed the network's primetime schedule back 20 minutes in Eastern and Central time.
Not pictured in these ratings: the season finale of "The Walking Dead," which will just about certainly beat everything on the broadcast networks. Opposite that at 9 o'clock, ABC's "Resurrection" and FOX's "Cosmos" both dropped, as did "Believe" on NBC.
CBS scored 11.7 million viewers and a 7.3 rating/12 share in households for the night, pending updates. ABC (6.45 million, 3.9/6) came in second, and NBC (3.9 million, 2.5/4) edged FOX (3.5 million, 2.0/3) for third.
CBS also took the adults 18-49 crown with a 2.3 rating. ABC finished second with a 1.8, followed by FOX, 1.5, and NBC, 0.9.
"Bates Motel" has given Michael O'Neill's character Nick a slow introduction. As the father of the murdered Blair Watson and a key member of the White Pine Bay drug world, Nick is a key part of the unfolding Season 2 story. He also could be Norma Bates' new -- and only -- ally in stopping the bypass from being built. But does she realize how potentially dangerous the man she's working with is? Zap2it spoke with O'Neill about his character and the role Nick has to play in "Bates Motel" Season 2.
Zap2it: Can you tease some more information about Nick and his motives here in White Pine Bay?Michael O'Neill: One of the things that they established pretty quickly with Nick is he's driven by the loss of his daughter. He really wants closure on that, he wants to find out who did it. Obviously there was some unfinished or unresolved issues between the two of them. I think he wishes that he could have been a lot closer to Blair, but for whatever reason, whatever issues existed between them -- which the writers know -- there was a terrible interruption there. More than anything, I think he really wants closure on that. All of his moves, all of his ulterior motives, are in that direction. Though he has this marvelous presence in White Pine Bay. He keeps an eye on everything that's occurring, and he's a bit of a Rasputin character, I think. We will find out a great deal more about him. He's now met Norma. He's intrigued by her -- cautiously so, I believe -- and we'll see where it goes from there. We know Norma has her own concerns about Norman's potential involvement in Miss Watson's death, but she doesn't know Nick is Blair's father. Is that a potential cause for conflict, considering she sees him as a new ally?I do think that she sees him as a potential ally. This whole thing about this bypass is threatening her livelihood, threatening the hotel, has really come into play. I admire her gumption. I love the fact that she took on the city council in particular, one of my nemesis that she went off on. That was the beginning of our connection. Now, both characters are manipulative enough, I'm sure they both have interested motives in this little dance that will be coming henceforth. But in terms of Blair and the Bates, that remains to be seen. I don't have a thread there at this point. We also know Nick is involved in the drug families in White Pine Bay, and we've seen Zane go off the deep end in this past episode. Will Zane's actions motivate Nick to get more involved in that storyline?It's interesting that you ask about that, because Nick has worked really, really hard to keep a balance in the drug industry. He was sort of the old godfather in his family, and created a barrier as it were for that business. He likes to think of himself as a very legitimate businessman now. The truth of the matter is the city's wealth came from that business, but he's also a believer in the old school that if you keep a low profile, business will run smoothly. The thing that Zane has done has gone off the reservation. So he's immediately in conflict with Nick's philosophy about the drug operation, and then he makes the awesome mistake, and crosses a line. I think it's safe to say that Nick will have a very sharp interest in what he is and isn't doing. I don't like anything to threaten that business. It is the unofficial economy of White Pine Bay. [laughs] With you as a new actor coming on the show, how did executive producers Kerry Ehrin and Carlton Cuse present the history of White Pine Bay?They did give me background, but it also began to unfold for me chapter by chapter by chapter. I was able to watch the first season, so I was privy as a fan to the complications of that town. I've often said, the Bates couldn't have picked a worse town to move to, a worse environment. Given their own pathologies [laughs], this was just the wrong sandbox for those poor people to have to play in, but it is what it is. And the writers, Kerry and Carlton, have picked a marvelous complication for them, and tableau to paint in. You had one brief scene with Freddie Highmore earlier this season, so can we expect to see more of Nick and Norman together?I hope so. I really hope so. It was such an interesting plant the first time we see Norman taking pictures and has suspicions of Nick -- not a bad man to be suspicious of, by the way. I think his instinct to account for Nick was smart. He has no way of knowing what my relationship to Miss Watson was, different last names, both in respects of deep water unknowable characters. I'm hoping that the revelations will include more and more about Norman and Nick. We'll see. One of the biggest questions of the Season 1 finale was who killed Blair Watson, but that's sort of fallen by the wayside in lieu of more pressing storylines. Can we expect to see it come back and be a priority before the end of Season 2?It never leaves for Nick. It never leaves. There are other atmospheres that move in and out of this play, but it never goes away for Nick. You can be sure for as long as I'm there, that's what I'm looking for. Nick is shadowy and dangerous, and yet it could have been so one-dimensional and the writers just would not allow it to be. In a way, part of Nick's danger is his charm, and that he's so knowledgable about what's going on in all avenues. So the fact that Norma's popped up on the scene and he sees this interesting character who likely reminds him a little of himself. There's a wonderful kind of intelligence and desperation to her that I think Nick appreciates and sees opportunity in. "Bates Motel" airs Mondays on A&E at 10 p.m. ET/PT.