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Go ahead, take the rest of the day off, ’cause It turns out to be a good Friday for showbiz news ‘n’ gossip

NO SEASON LIKE TV PILOT SEASON: It’s true — Freddie Prinze Jr., Victor Garber, Judd Hirsch and Andrea Martin are all in the running for new series this fall. And they’re not alone. Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis

BARKIN: something new?

are exec-producing their new co-starring venture based on the true story of Ralph Lamb, the rodeo cowboy who ended up Sheriff of Las Vegas.
 Carrie-Anne Moss is also in their pilot … John Corbett and Jennifer Beals are top-lining a new drama pilot called Widow DetectiveBill Pullman and Jenna Elfman play the U.S, president and his missus in 1600 Penn, a Modern-Family type pilot set in the White House … Minnie Driver, Andrea Anders and Rachel Dratch are the funny girls featured in the comedy pilot Lady FriendsDane Cook’s new pilot, Next Caller Please, casts him as a brash alpha male DJ on a satellite radio station … Sarah Silverman’s new pilot is about a woman readjusting to

SILVERMAN: something borrowed?

single life following a decade-long live-in relationship. A little bit autobiographical? You bet. Jeff Goldblum co-stars … Anne Heche is trying the small screen again with Save Me, playing a woman who survives a broken marriage by transforming into another version of herself … and Ellen Barkin heads the cast in The New Normal, about a blended family of a gay couple and the woman who becomes a surrogate for them as they grow their family. Which sorta maybe sounds like something we haven’t seen before.

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Young Extemely Loud and Incredibly Close screen-stealer Thomas Horn has been set as the lead in not one but two new features — Space Warriors and Joe’s Mountain

RHYS: something American

Welsh actor Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) is set to star opposite Keri Russell in the FX pilot The Americans Eddie Izzard has signed to star in and produce NBC’s Mockingbird Lane, a re-conceived version of The MunstersLaz Alonso (Avatar) will play Meagan Good’s former flame and the detective who hires her to investigate a murder in her home town in NBC’s drama pilot NotoriousOliver Cooper (Project X) has signed on for a lead role in the sequel to Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups … Golden Globe nominee Jaime Pressly is set to play the warden at a women’s federal prison in the NBC drama pilot Bad Girls … comic W. Kamau Bell is set to host a new variety show produced by Chris Rock for FXNeil Patrick Harris will host the Tony Awards for the third consecutive year on Sunday June 10 and Jimmy Kimmel is set to host this

HYATT: something to cheer about

year’s Emmy Awards telecast on Sunday September 23.

OUR TOWN: Veteran crowd-pleaser Pam Hyatt serenades at the Green Door cabaret tonight in her one-woman concert Pamalot, with Peter Hill on the piano  … sublime warbler Judy Marshak, dynamic duo Deb McGrath & Colin Mochrie and Canuck comedy legends The Frantics are among the sparkles gathering for the Autism Is A Pain In The Aspergers benefit on Wednesday April 18 at Hugh’s Room. For ticket info, click hereThe Stampeders bring their greatest hits to us in concert at the

McGRATH: something else

Queen Elizabeth Theatre on Friday April 20 … it must be true that third time’s a charm, because Jeanne Beker & Barry Flatman are once again hosting the annual celebrity-laden PAL fund-raiser Scrabble With The Stars on Monday May 7 at the Arcadian Loft. For ticket info, click here … the Harry Potter spoof Potted Potter closes at the Panasonic this Sunday … and due to unforeseen circumstances concerning the road closure around the Royal Ontario Museum, the date for Toronto Taste has been bumped to Sunday May 27. Which should give us just enough time to diet before the event. For ticket info, click here. (And yes, I know you knew I was going to say that.)

PETERS: something CBC (twice!)

SEE/HEAR: Let’s start your long weekend with a smile. Four of ’em, in fact! First, it’s Russell Peters week on CBC, starting Sunday with his Toronto filmfest hockey comedy Breakaway with Rob Lowe (want a sneak peek? Click here!) Then there’s the Alberta Ballet’s dazzling tribute to Elton John, Love Lies Bleeding, on Monday night on CBC. (Click here for a splashy preview.) Also on Monday: Ken Finkleman returns to the newsroom (and The Movie Network) with a brand new predictably outrageous comedy series, aptly named Good God, and allegedly inspired by Quebecor’s struggling  Sun News Network. Samantha Bee and Lolita Davidovich co-star, and the first episode is already viewable on line right here. Then Russell Peters returns to CBC with his own Just For Laughs special Russell Peters: Best Night Ever on Tuesday night (want a sneak peek? Ditto!)  And that’s just for starters. So have fun, rest up, and enjoy!

Cynthia goes back to school, Chris makes Captain, and all aboard an elegant fundraiser for Stratford aficionados

NO BIZ LIKE SHOW BIZ: Add Chris Evans the growing list of actors eager to play comic book heroes. Evans is now set to play Captain America Avatar hero Sam Worthington,

DALE: master class-y

about to open in the epic CGI remake of Clash Of The Titans, will follow up with a thriller called The Fields … perhaps inspired by their colleague Al Pacino’s upcoming turn as suicide doctor Jack Kervorkian, Kevin Kline and Dustin Hoffman have both committed to upcoming HBO dramas … and Cynthia Dale, who guest stars as a drama teacher in upcoming episodes of Baxter, will go back to school next month to give the first Master Class to the Film, Musical Theatre and Drama students at the Etobicoke School of the Arts (ESA.), The school’s new Master Class program is part of a brand new film major program funded by Christina Jennings’ Shaftesbury Films.

WILDER: new book

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: What becomes a legend most? A permanent gig in Vegas, apparently.  Barry Manilow’s new 90-minute show, staged by director Jeffrey Hornaday, has opened to rave reviews at the Paris hotel, where Manilow will play selected weekend engagements for the next two years. Hey, blame Céline, she started it. Next spring she’s set to return to the Colosseum — the massive theatre she built at Caesars Palace — for a new three-year (!!!) stint … Gene Wilder and his wife Karen are set to launch their new book What is This Thing Called Love? next week. And ex-Regis and current Today Show sparkler Kathie Lee Gifford has published a book for children, Party Animals (insert your own SNL joke here) …  coming soon to an HMV near you: the new Original Broadway Cast version of A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury … and says Red Green (aka erudite funnyman Steve Smith🙂 “Get this, my wife just mentioned, and I quote, ‘All you remember from any conversation is what YOU said.’ At least I think that’s what she said.”

Is it any wonder that Red is the new Twitter toast of Facebook?

ANOTHER OPENING, ANOTHER SHOW: Looking for a reason to don your black tie finery on a Saturday afternoon in June? Nah, me neither. But here’s one Gala fund-raiser that might change your mind. It’s the Stratford Express, and it sounds like a great party to me.

KISS ME, KATE: Broadway brawlers

It starts at 3 pm on Saturday June 5 with a champagne reception at Union Station. At 4 pm your Private Train departs for Stratford, with cocktails and a gourmet served on board. At 7 pm, following a Welcome reception at the Festival Theatre, the curtain rises on an exclusive performance of Kiss Me, Kate, the big, bawdy Cole Porter musical about battling Broadway stars, with the killer score to match (Too Darn Hot, Always True To You In My Fashion, Brush Up Your Shakespeare, So In Love, etc. etc.) After the curtain calls you are magically transported, once again, to the Stratford Express for your return trip home, complete with cocktails, refreshments and entertainment. And yes, you can still order tickets! For more info, call Mary-Ann Reid at 1.800.561.1223, ext. 2425, or email her at mreid@stratfordshakespearefestival.com. And good luck!
TOMORROW:

All about Alice.
-/-

Coming soon to a Canadian casino or concert hall near you: Latenite TV talkers Larry, Craig, Conan & Jon!

JON STEWART

GOING GREEN THE OLD-FASHIONED WAY: Where do talk show hosts go on hiatus? Where the money is. Which is howcum you can now buy tickets to see Larry King this month. Larry is sharing the stage with certifiably gorgeous wife #7, country music warbler Shawn King, on March 26 & 27, at the Fallsview Casino in Niagara Falls. Top ticket price, before scalpers, is $90 a pop. Not so crazy about Larry? You can see Craig Ferguson (top price, before scalpers: $69.50) at Massey Hall on April 23 and/or the much-anticipated return of Conan O’Brien on his Legally Prohibited From Being Funny 
On Television tour
 at Massey Hall on May 22 (top ticket, before scalpers: $89.50.) Meanwhile, ticket prices for Jon Stewart, who is set to return to Fallsview on June 17 & 18, start at $90. (Good luck with those!)

LARRY

CONAN

CRAIG

FLICKERS: Oscar bridesmaid George Clooney is set to star in The Descendants, a new film directed by Alexander Payne [Sideways] … Clooney’s young Up In The Air co-star Anna Kendrick, fresh from her Oscar nod, has signed on to star opposite James

EASTWOOD & DAMON: together again?

McAvoy (so good in The Last Station) in a comedy drama about a young man’s cancer diagnosis (!?!) Sounds like a lotta laffs so far … Twilight heartthrob Taylor Lautner, who charms as a Valentine’s Day lothario, will play Stretch Armstrong in the new movie based on the Hasbro toy …  Universal has snapped up the rights to the graphic novel Fire for Zac EfronRobert Pattinson, Sean Penn and Reese Witherspoon are reportedly the front runners for the leading roles in the screen version of Water For Elephants … and Matt Damon and Clint Eastwood got along so well when they shot Invictus that they’re teaming up again on a new thriller, Hereafter.

BARUCHEL as The Trotsky

TROTSKY DEFEATS LENNON: Montreal-born screen charmer Jay Baruchel couldn’t be hotter if you set him on fire. His new comedy She’s Out of My League opened to good reviews and solid box office last weekend.  Later this month moviegoers will hear him as the lead voice in the much-anticipated 3D film How To Train Your Dragon, and in July he’ll be back on view playing apprentice to Nicolas Cage in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Before that, however, we’ll get to see his celebrated work in the sleeper hit of last fall’s Toronto International Film Festival, The Trotsky, an off-the-wall comedy from young \writer-director Jacob Tierney that is quietly becoming legend before it even opens. First it won the audience awards at both the Tokyo Film Festival and the Atlantic Film Festival. Then it made the annual TIFF list of Top 10 Canadian Films. Then it made the Canadian Press list of the Top 10 Films Of 2009,

HAMPSHIRE: leading lady for Baruchel

keeping company with Avatar and The Hurt Locker and displacing such supposedly sure bets as Inglourious Basterds and A Single Man. Then Tierney was nominated for Best Screenplay by the Writers Guild of Canada. But wait, it gets better, Last week Tierney won the Russian Guild of Film Critics’ prize at Spirit Of Fire, the 8th International Festival of Cinematic Debuts, and last weekend The Trotsky was named the winner of this year’s Audience Award at the Sofia International Film Festival which ended Saturday in the Bulgarian capital.  A jubilant Tierney attended all four Sofia screenings, including one by popular demand.  (His closest competitor? Nowhere Boy, the British-made saga about the young John Lennon.) Prior to opening here in May The Trotsky, which also features stellar performances by screen lioness Genevieve Bujold, Colm Feore, Emily Hampshire and Michael Murphy, will make its US debut in April at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

MERCER: going to Extremes

NO PEOPLE LIKE SHOW PEOPLE: Indefatigable producer Pat Ferns is set to host Hot Docs’ International Co-Production Day on May 3 with delegations from around the world expected to participate … perennial crowd-pleaser Don Rickles returns to Fallsview Casino on April 8 … Rick Mercer salutes hard-hustling student fundraisers at universities in Ottawa and B.C. tonight at 8 pm on his Rick Mercer Report — and wait ’til you see the nail-biter Extreme Biking sequence! … and expect more than a few chuckles at this year’s Banff World Television Festival. William Shatner is set to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Ricky Gervais will be picking up this year’s Peter Ustinov comedy trophy.

TOMORROW:

From diamonds-in-the-rough to diamonds:

meet the Dragons in their grand-slam finale.

-/-