TV News: Laura Linney and Piper Perabo Head to the Small Screen, While Mark Burnett Holds OUR LITTLE GENIUS Back a Grade

     January 7, 2010


By far, the biggest story in television right now is the possible removal of Leno from NBC’s schedule after the Olympics, but there is plenty of other newsworthy movement in TV Land at the moment.  Showtime has ordered The Big C, which stars Laura Linney as a wife and mother whose life is shaken when she is diagnosed with cancer.  USA has picked up Covert Spaces, which stars Piper Perabo as a young CIA trainee.  And FOX has pulled quiz show Our Little Genius from the schedule less than a week before its intended January 13th premiere date for reshoots.

To learn what lured film stars Linney and Perabo to the small screen and why Burnett delayed his own show, hit the jump.

laura_linney_01.jpgAccording to THR, Showtime has ordered thirteen half-hour episodes for the premiere season of The Big C.  The show had a working title of The C-Word, and I’m not sure why it was changed as it is arguably cleverer and the adults presented on Showtime can say the actual c-word.  Maybe Emmy voters don’t respond too well to dirty jokes?  Bill Condon, who won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar for Gods and Monsters, directed the pilot, while Linney has been nominated for three Oscars herself (You Can Count on Me, Gods and Monsters, and The Savages).  Though she has never won an Oscar, she cleaned up in 2008 for her performance in HBO’s John Adams.  That’s some serious award-worthy talent attached to the series after just one episode, especially when you consider the lamentably Oscar-less Oliver Platt.  The Big C should fit in well with Showtime’s other acclaimed female-centric dramedies Weeds, Nurse Jackie, and The United States of Tara.

While it’s not quite the coup of nabbing Linney, USA has managed to seduce Piper Perabo away from the silver screen for Covert Affairs according to THR.  Remember that just a few days ago we learned that Luke Wilson is joining Laura Dern for the HBO pilot Enlightened, which further suggests that the great divide between film actors and their television counterparts is forever shrinking.  Covert Affairs also stars Christopher Gorham, Peter Gallagher, Kari Matchett, and Anne Dudek in the story of “a multilingual CIA trainee unexpectedly promoted to field operative while reeling over a mysterious ex-boyfriend who appears to be of particular interest to her agency bosses”.

Our Little Genius, a game show hosted by Kevin Pollak which features whiz kids ages 6-12 answering difficult questions for cash prizes, scored a plum timeslot after ratings behemoth American Idol on Wednesdays starting January 13th.  But the show is now being delayed for reshoots due to (if THR’s report is to be believed) producer Mark Burnett’s conscience.  Reportedly, Burnett discovered some shady goings-on behind the scenes of his show, where contestants were fed information ahead of time.  Burnett, who also produces reality staples like Survivor and The Apprentice, said of the move, “I believe my series must always be beyond reproach, so I have requested that Fox not air these episodes”.  This may just be PR spin or an attempt to confront a potential scandal, but I do hope this is genuine as such integrity would be admirable.