News Briefs: Michael J. Fox Is Returning to TV and NBC with a New Comedy

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BUSINESS TIME

... There's been a bidding war going on for a project from Michael J. Fox, and the winner is... NBC, where Fox made a name for himself on Family Ties. The network, which has embarked on a spending spree to bring in top talent, solidified its pitch with a 22-episode straight-to-series order for next fall. The family sitcom will be loosely based on Fox's life, including his battle with Parkinson's Disease. This is NBC's fourth straight-to-series order, which is just crrrrrazy. The project joins Hannibal, Dracula, and Crossbones as ideas that NBC has made series commitments to without seeing a single frame of footage. That's like buying a car after seeing a bunch of car parts and a drawing. Good luck, NBC! [Deadline Hollywood]

... ABC is gone the more traditional television development route, asking for scripts from a trio of projects before handing over the keys to its piggy bank. The network will consider a contemporary take on the classic Mark Twain characters Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer re-imagined as twenty-somethings who solve mysteries in a steampunk New Orleans (did I read that right?). Also in contention is The Outsiders, about a woman who moves to New York and plays the role of mom to nine kids. Finally, Gothica centers on a woman in San Francisco who gets involved in a world of the supernatural. How about... pass, pass, and pass. [THR]

... Sundance has renewed its reality show Push Girls for a second season. The show focuses on five wheelchair-bound women and their strength and perseverance. Season 1 ends August 27, Season 2 will premiere next year. [Sundance via press release]

... The Tonight Show With Jay Leno is trimming staff and budget to stay afloat. Around 20 employees have been let go and Leno is reportedly taking a massive pay cut to ensure more people don't end up unemployed. The show will also film without the aid of loading the audience on laughing gas, because who would laugh at those jokes, amirite? [Deadline Hollywood]


CASTING UPDATE

... Game of Thrones has cast two more characters! Newbie British actor Ed Skrein will play Daario Naharis, a dashing Tyroshi dude involved in Dany's storyline. Also cast was the role of Grey Worm, another badass who's part of Dany's storyline. Sorry, I don't want to give too much away! He'll be played by Jacob Anderson. Pics in the links! [EW]

... Nicky Minaj is rumored to be/already is the newest judge on American Idol, depending on who you believe. She joins Mariah Carey as a new judge for next season, but I'm not sure I should trust US Weekly. It once told me that Brad Pitt was just like me because he also buys coffee, but I don't even drink coffee! Why do you lie to me, magazine!? [US Weekly]

... ER's Goran Visnjic will co-star on ABC's new series Red Widow, which mean's ER's Goran Visnjic will be available for new work a few weeks after Red Widow premieres. [Deadline Hollywood]


SAD NEWS

... Phyllis Diller has passed away at the age of 95. The comic was one of the first prominent female comedians. She died in her sleep. [TMZ]

... Top Gun director Tony Scott, who was a producer on The Good Wife, committed suicide yesterday in Los Angeles by jumping off the Vincent Thomas Bridge. There are some reports saying Scott had inoperable brain cancer, but those have not been confirmed yet. [Deadline Hollywood]


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom