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TV News Tidbits: ‘Buffy’ Alum’s New Pilot, FX’s Own ‘Homeland’, Alien Invasions, and More

Casting News
After winning an Emmy with her performance on Justified, Margo Martindale is returning to FX in the eagerly awaited spy drama The Americans. Set during the Reagan presidency, the new series centers on two KGB spies, Elizabeth (Keri Russell) and Philip (Matthew Rhys), posing as an American couple in Washington D.C.. Martindale will play Claudia, a KGB agent living in the U.S. who delivers assignments to Elizabeth and Philip. The Americans premieres on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at 10 p.m. EST, so mark your calendars.

Deadline Hollywood reports that Eliza Dushku (Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) will co-star in The Saint, a backdoor pilot (meaning, filmed to work as a standalone movie if not picked up) from production company MPCA. The pilot will center on Simon Templar (Adam Rayner) a criminal who channels his extensive questionable skills through his actions as a modern-day Robin Hood while wooing Patricia Holm (Dushku). The pilot has yet to be picked up by any network, which might explain the “backdoor” approach.

Eliza Dushku
Development Projects and Series Pick-Up News
Remember when a TV series (or a movie for that matter) based on a novel was the adaptation of a work published decades ago, if not centuries? Well, it doesn’t work that way anymore. Now, the novel can be published as the TV series is being developed, or even worse, as it starts airing. Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, and Brillstein Entertainment Partners have been tapped by ABC to develop The Returned, a series based on the upcoming novel by Jason Mott (to be published in September 2013). The high-concept series centers on “a family [that] gets caught up in a worldwide event in which loved ones return from the dead exactly as they last were in life.”

USA Network has given a pilot order to Horizon, an alien drama from The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd. Set during World War II, Horizon follows a secretary at the FBI who finds out that her husband might have been killed in a battle with an alien spaceship. With Horizon, the network kills two birds with one stone: it gets a period drama and a whiff of an alien invasion threat.

Showtime’s Homeland has made the Middle East fashionable again, so FX didn’t waste any time and approached the show's executive producers Howard Gordon and Gideon Raff to get their own Middle-Eastern drama. Raff, who created the Israeli drama Prisoners of War on which Homeland is based, just picked up his other work and voila! Oh, and if you wonder what that is about, Tyrant (the new show) “tells the story of an unassuming American family drawn into the workings of a turbulent Middle Eastern nation.”

Business News
Amid talks of the impending fiscal cliff (or slope, depending on your views on the danger ahead), a federal law that went into affect December 13, is a quiet but stark reminder that “Congress is supposed to do even basic stuff that improve our lives.” Passed and signed into law in December 2010 (by the 111th Congress, not the current one), the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, known as CALM, prohibits TV stations from airing commercials that are much louder than the programs they are sponsoring.


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