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'Family Guy' Taping Without MacFarlane

Plus: Chris Hemsworth and Clifton Collins Jr. join J.J. Abrams' ''Star Trek,'' NBC cancels its TCA winter press tour appearance, Ellen DeGeneres scraps plans to tape in New York, and more...

Seth MacFarlane | Seth MacFarlane
Image credit: Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage.com
Seth MacFarlane

Fox taping more Family Guy
Fox is moving forward with the taping of new episodes of its animated series Family Guy without the participation of creator/executive producer Seth MacFarlane who, like many Hollywood showrunners, is on strike with the Writers Guild of America. MacFarlane voices Peter, Stewie, and Brian Griffin. On Sunday (Nov. 11), Fox aired the last episode taped before the writer strike started, giving the network the option of taping without the striking MacFarlane or going into repeats. MacFarlane acknowledges that Fox is within their rights to continue production without him, but says that it would be damaging to his relationship with the network if they did. The first episode taped without MacFarlane was delivered on Tuesday (Nov. 13) and is set to air this Sunday, much to MacFarlane's dismay. ''It would just be a colossal d--k move if they did that,'' MacFarlane said. The network reportedly has two other episodes close to completion as well. (Variety)

Hemsworth, Collins Jr. join Abrams' Star Trek
Chris Hemsworth (Home and Away) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote) have joined the cast of Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams' Star Trek. Hemsworth will play Captain Kirk's father, George Kirk, and Collins will play Ayel, cohort and general to the villain Nero, played by Eric Bana. The duo joins the previously cast Zachary Quinto, Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Bana, and Winona Ryder. Shooting started last week for a Christmas Day 2008 release. Hemsworth just wrapped the indie feature The Cache. Collins will appear in the upcoming indie features The Perfect Game, Horsemen, Sunshine Cleaning, and Still Waters. He also booked a supporting role in Relativity Media's Brothers, opposite Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire. (Variety)

NBC first to cancel on winter TCA tour
NBC is the first major network to cancel its plans to participate in January's winter Television Critics Association press tour because of the ongoing writers strike. Networks use the winter tour to showcase their midseason shows, but many creators, showrunners, and stars, typically on-hand at the TCAs to promote their shows, are likely to boycott the event if the strike is still going on. Without writers and actors, winter TCAs will mostly feature upcoming reality shows. ABC, CBS, the CW, and Fox are still trying to decide whether to participate, with a Fox rep saying the network will announce its plans ''in the next day or two.'' PBS and a number of cable networks have said they are still interested in taking part in the tour. The cable portion of the TCA is set for Jan. 9-11, with PBS scheduled to present on Jan. 12. The TCA is trying to hold a block of hotel rooms through Jan. 16 in the event the strike is settled by then so that networks can put together last-minute presentations. (Variety)

DeGeneres won't tape in New York
Ellen DeGeneres has canceled plans to tape the syndicated Ellen DeGeneres Show in New York next week and will instead shoot episodes on Nov. 19 and 20 at its usual home in Burbank. The decision follows an announcement made on Friday (Nov. 9) in which the WGA East attacked DeGeneres, accusing her of violating strike rules and saying she was unwelcome in New York. AFTRA responded with a defense of DeGeneres' working during the strike, saying she is under contract to return to work under the no-strike clause of the AFTRA Network TV Code. DeGeneres is a member of both the WGA and AFTRA. She did not work on Nov. 5, the first day of the strike, but returned to work on Nov. 6, paying a tribute to her writers on her show that day. Show producer Telepictures released a statement saying that Ellen is syndicated and therefore is under contract to continue delivering original episodes to the stations, unlike network-owned and -controlled late-night talk shows. (Hollywood Reporter)

Kevin Dillon joins Hotel for Dogs
Kevin Dillon has joined Emma Roberts, Don Cheadle, and Lisa Kudrow in the cast of DreamWorks' live-action adaptation of Lois Duncan's 1971 children's book Hotel for Dogs. The story is about two orphaned teenagers who secretly house nine stray dogs in an abandoned hotel. Dillon will play Kudrow's husband and Roberts' foster parent. Thor Freudenthal (Motel) is directing from a screenplay penned by Jeff Lowell (John Tucker Must Die). Shooting started this month. Dillon received an Emmy nomination this year for his role as Johnny Chase on HBO's Entourage. Last month he signed on to star in National Lampoon's 301: The Legend of Awesomest Maximus Wallace Leonidas, a spoof of swords and sandals movies 300, Troy, Gladiator, and Braveheart, which set to start production by the end of the year. (Hollywood Reporter)

Duvall tapped for Four Christmases
Robert Duvall has been tapped for New Line's holiday comedy Four Christmases, starring and produced by Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn. The story is about a couple struggling to visit all four divorced parents on Christmas Day. Seth Gordon is directing from a script written by Matt Allen and Caleb Wilson. Production is set to start next month for a holiday season 2008 release. (Variety)

Stepford Wives, Rosemary's Baby author dies
Ira Levin, author of the novels Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil, all of which were adapted into popular movies, has died of natural causes at age 78. Levin also wrote for the stage, including No Time for Sergeants, starring Andy Griffith, and the long-running Deathtrap. Both were later adapted to the screen. (Reuters)

Texas Chainsaw director tapped for Friday the 13th
Marcus Nispel, director of 2003's remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, is in final negotiations to direct New Line and Paramount/MTV's new Friday the 13th movie. Damian Shannon and Mark Swift wrote the script for the remake, which revives horror icon Jason, the unstoppable hockey mask-wearing killer preying on victims in Crystal Lake. Michael Bay, Andrew Form, and Brad Fuller of Platinum Dunes are producing. Production is set to begin some time this winter. (Hollywood Reporter)

Stars selected for holiday singing competition
Michael Bolton, Patti LaBelle, Nick Lachey, Kelly Rowland, and Blake Shelton will serve as celebrity singing coaches on NBC's holiday talent competition series Clash of the Choirs. The celebrities will each go back to their hometowns to assemble and rehearse with a 20-person choir that will then fly to New York to perform in a live competition over four consecutive nights. Viewers will vote off one choir each night. The celebrities will also critique the choirs along with a music expert. The winning choir will choose a prize to help their community, anything from renovating a school gym to building a new park. Bolton will head back to his hometown of New Haven, CT, LaBelle will return to Philadelphia, Lachey will go to Cincinnati, Rowland will be returning to Houston, and Shelton will go home to Oklahoma City. The show will air Dec. 17-20 live from New York. (Hollywood Reporter)

LaBute, Hackford remaking Woman Next Door
New Line has set Neil LaBute (The Wicker Man) to write and Taylor Hackford (Ray) to direct a remake of the 1981 Francis Truffant movie La Femme d'a cote. The story is about long-separated ex-lovers who find themselves living next door to each other. Each is married, and neither tells their spouse they know their ex as they rekindle a volatile relationship. LaBute is in post-production on Lakeview Terrace, a Screen Gems thriller he directed. Hackford is preparing to direct Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci in Love Ranch. (Variety)

Jane making feature directorial debut on Dark Country
Actor Thomas Jane (The Punisher, Boogie Nights) will make his feature directorial debut on the 3-D thriller The Dark Country. The story is about a couple who find their honeymoon to be a hellish adventure. The cast includes Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Lauren German (Hostel: Part II). Shooting is underway. Jane has his own graphic novel/horror comics company called Raw Entertainment. He next stars in the Frank Darabont-directed Stephen King adaptation The Mist for Dimension Films, which opens Nov. 21. (Variety)

CELEBRITY NEWS

NY Daily News: Judith Regan, the embattled book publisher who was fired after attempting to publish O.J. Simpson's If I Did It book, has filed a $100 million lawsuit against her old bosses at HarperCollins and its parent News Corp., accusing Rupert Murdoch's global empire of smearing her to protect Rudy Giuliani's presidential bid.

Originally posted Nov 14, 2007
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