News Briefs: Jay Leno Said Goodbye to The Tonight Show With His Highest Ratings in 16 Years

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THE END OF MOCKING JAY

... When Jay Leno handed the reigns of The Tonight Show to Conan O'Brien in 2009, I was like, "See ya, wouldn't wanna be ya!" but felt it was my duty as a human being to at least pretend I had an interest in the passing of the torch. Last night, as Leno signed off for the second and presumably final time, I didn't even watch, but apparently a whole hell of a lot of other people did. Ratings for Leno's final Tonight Show reached 14.6 million viewers, the highest overall audience since Jerry Seinfeld appeared as a guest after the Seinfeld series finale in 1998. It was also his fourth highest rated episode ever. [NBC via press release]


BUSINESS TIME

... FX has officially announced a two-week hiatus for both Archer and Chozen beginning February 10, and a one-week hiatus for Justified beginning February 17. This is the same network that once aired a new episode of its motorcycle drama Sons of Anarchy opposite the 2012 United States presidential election, so please excuse me if I'm shocked by the decision to not compete against the Winter Olympics. [FX via press release]

... TNT has ordered six additional episodes of its docu-series Cold Justice, starring former prosecutor Kelly Siegler and crime scene investigator Yolanda McClary as they crack cold cases. The extra episodes will air this summer. [TNT via press release]

... ABC has reached a new agreement with Dick Clark Productions to extend its rights to air the American Music Awards for nine years and Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin Eve with Ryan Seacrest for 10 years. TEN MORE YEARS OF RYAN SEACREST, EVERYBODY. In related news, I'm moving to Canada! [ABC via press release]

... AMC has ordered 10 episodes of a new series about the LA KISS arena football league team. The show will feature appearances by owners Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons as it follows the players and coaches in their attempt to transform the team into a winning franchise. Here's a free tip: They probably should not rock and roll all night and then party every day. That joke was terrible, and I stand by it. [AMC via press release]

... Hulu Plus has scored the exclusive online rights to ABC's Nashville. Beginning immediately, fans of Juliette "I tried to make toast in the microwave" Barnes can watch all previous episodes of the series on Hulu Plus. This comes right on the heels of Hulu's acquisition of Blue Bloods and Elementary. [Hulu via press release]

... El Rey Network, which will soon be home to From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series (did you see the official trailer?), will ALSO soon be home to reruns of Dark Angel and The X-Files. Oh, and Starsky & Hutch, but that's far less exciting than a young Jensen Ackles or the Smoking Man. Here's how the network's acquired series schedule shakes out, starting on Monday, February 17:

Starsky & Hutch: Monday through Friday, 2pm to 4pm

Dark Angel: Mondays and Thursdays, 4pm to 8pm

The X-Files: Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 4pm to 8pm; Sundays, 3pm to 7pm

[El Rey via press release]


PILOT WATCH

... CBS has ordered a new pilot from the writers of Happy EndingsCuz-Bros is a multi-camera comedy from executive producers David Caspe, Jamie Tarses, and Erik Sommers, and it's about a smooth bachelor whose life is flipped around and turned upside-down when his hot mess of a cousin comes to live with him. [Variety]



CASTING NEWS

... Justified's Jere Burns is very close to joining Steve Carell's new TBS comedy pilot Tribeca, starring Rashida Jones. Burns will play Police Lieutenant Chet Atkins, who is Angie Tribeca's (Jones) boss, and as far as I can tell, he has no guitar skills whatsoever. [Deadline]

... Sutton Foster (Bunheads), Hilary Duff (Lizzie McGuire), and Debi Mazar have all signed on to star in Younger, TV Land's new comedy pilot from Sex and the City's Darren Star. The project, based on Pamela Redmon Satran's novel of the same name, follows Liza (Foster), a 40-year-old single mother who finds things difficult after returning to the working world. Mazar plays her best friend Maggie, who gives Liza a makeover so she can appear younger. Duff will play Kelsey, a 20-something who Liza befriends. [TV Guide]

... Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Daenerys’s translator Missandei on Game of Thrones, has been upped to a series regular for Season 5 (which hasn't officially been ordered yet, but is pretty much a lock and we all know it). [EW]

... Once it was announced Lost's Rebecca Mader would play the Wicked Witch of the West one Once Upon a Time, we probably should've known that Glinda the Good Witch would also be making an appearance. The show is now looking to cast the role, and since no one's landed it yet, might I suggest Megan Hilty? Now that she's free from the humorless prison of Sean Saves the World, I think she'd be perfect. Especially since I'm 100 percent positive she's had experience playing the role before. What say you, internet? [TV Line]

... Rob Riggle has signed on to star opposite Rob Lowe in The Pro, NBC's single-camera comedy pilot set at a tennis and golf club. Riggle will play Bobby Welch, the new head pro and former doubles partner of Lowe's Ben Bertrahm. The two characters had a very public falling-out after a very public feud, and although Bobby had a successful career, he's now poor and living in a youth hostel. [THR]

... Will Sasso, who recently guest-starred as a Canadian gangster on Justified, will soon be seen romancing Minnie Driver's Fiona on NBC's upcoming comedy About A Boy. He'll play a plumber in the aptly titled "About a Plumber" episode. [TV Guide]

...Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy will guest-star in an upcoming episode of Parks and Recreation as the former lead singer of a band called Land Ho! (the exclamation point is actually part of the name). Andy and Leslie are trying to recruit Land Ho! for a Unity Concert they're throwing to celebrate the Pawnee/Eagleton merger, but the band broke up under some ugly circumstances, putting the reunion concert is on shaky ground. [EW]


SAD NEWS

... Arthur Rankin Jr., the creator of the wonderful holiday TV staples Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman, died January 30 at his home in Harrington Sound, Bermuda. He was 89. Rankin wrote the scripts and sketched the characters for the stop-motion puppet animation films, which have become a mainstay in popular culture. But here's perhaps my favorite credit from Mr. Rankin's filmography: He was a producer on Thundercats. [NY Times]


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