The Ausiello Files

The Ausiello Files

EW's TV Scooper dishes on ''Friday Night Lights'' casting changes, ''Dirty Sexy Money,'' and more

Ever since Friday Night Lights' odds-defying renewal (thanks, DirecTV!), pessimistic fans have been waiting for the other cleat to drop. Now they can stop waiting: Two of the show's MVPs, Gaius Charles (Smash) and Scott Porter (Jason), have been taken off contract and will appear only on a recurring basis in season 3.

Although NBC isn't talking, sources confirm that the decision was made for both budgetary and creative reasons. Even back in May, executive producer Jason Katims had conceded that finding a way to justify hanging on to the college-bound running back Smash would be difficult. Similarly, maintaining the viability of Jason — the Panthers' ex-starting quarterback who was paralyzed in a season 1 injury — has also presented challenges. That said, Katims says he plans to give both characters a proper send-off via ''powerful four-episode arcs that will launch [them] into the next phase of their lives.''

Your Burning Questions

Q: I still can't believe NCIS reassigned McGee, DiNozzo,and Ziva in last season's finale. Any news yet on how long Gibbs' (Mark Harmon) new team will stick around? —Bonnie
A: That depends on how you interpret this cryptic tease from executive producer Shane Brennan: ''As we have learned from the past, no one is ever safe, and before the end of the season premiere, a member of Gibbs' team will die.'' A member of his old team or a member of his new team? Yep, it's definitely one of those two options.

Q: Got any scoop on TV's funniest sitcom, The New Adventures of Old Christine? —Jill
A: Not just any scoop, the funniest scoop ever. Per my new Old mole, producers are taking advantage of California's new gay-marriage law by getting Julia Louis-Dreyfus' title character hitched to another woman. And not just any woman, either: sidekick/foil Wanda Sykes. Of course, there's more to this union than meets the eye.

Q: Should we be at all concerned about the backstage changes at Dirty Sexy Money? —Joel
A: Nah. Rest assured that DSM boss Greg Berlanti, master of steering shows through rough patches (see: Brothers & Sisters), has a handle on the situation. In fact, I hear he urged the new showrunners to make a few significant enhancements to the season premiere. Well, at least one significant enhancement: Someone's going to die.

Casting About
CBS is hunting for a ''name'' actor to play a major nemesis for Anthony LaPaglia (left) on Without a Trace this season. Unfortunately, the guy at the top of the short list, Sopranos vet Michael Imperioli, opted to join ABC's Life on Mars instead. Okay, so what's Paulie Walnuts doing?

Scooper Sized
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Originally posted Jul 11, 2008 Published in issue #1002 Jul 18, 2008 Order article reprints