Pop culture, entertainment & all things Fresno

Dean Winters faces ‘Battle’ after health scare

Dean Winters has become a familiar face on television from his insurance commercials as the character of “Mayhem” to his new starring role in the CBS series “Battle Creek.”

Not bad for a guy who died almost six years ago.

Winters woke up on June 18, 2009 with a bad fever. He decided to try and sleep it away. But, he woke the next day to see that his entire body was gray because of  a bacterial infection. On his way to the hospital, his heart stooped for two and a half minutes.

The paramedics brought him back. That was the start of a three-week stay in the intensive care unit.

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CBS has reason to brag about lineup

CBS took over the TV Critics tour with a little bit of bragging. Network president, Nina Tassler, points out that CBS has the top three new shows with “NCIS: New Orleans,” “Madam Secretary” and “Scorpion.” The newtork only launched five new shows. That means “Stalker” and “The McCarthys” aren’t doing as well.

Here are some other highlights from Tassler’s meeting with TV critics.

QUESTION: Stephen Colbert takes over David Letterman’s slot on Sept. 8. Letterman ends his show May 20, what will you be doing during the summer?

NINA TASSLER: What we’re going to be doing this summer is we have a great opportunity to run encore presentations of our new hit shows and our enduring hit shows. So we’re going to be running our primetime, some of our shows from primetime during the summer at 11:30.

Q: Why is “Supergirl” a good fit for CBS?

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“Hillbillies” star, Donna Douglas, dies

One of the great joys of this job has been the chance to interview actors I watched on TV when I was younger. And, yes there was TV when I was younger.

Generally, it has been a good experience as the actor will talk about what it was like to work in TV long before the era of DVDs, On Demand and the countless other ways to watch programming.

There were a couple of opportunities over the years to talk with Donna Douglas, who played Elly May Clampett, on “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The actress died Thursday at the age of 81.

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Gorham would cast ‘Practice’ buddy

Most actors who star in a TV show have a wish list of  performers with whom they would like to work. In the case of Fresno’s Christopher Gorham, star of the USA Network series, “Covert Affair,” the list of actors he would like to see as a guest star on the spy show is rather long.

He says it’s as lengthy as his leg. But, the name at the top of that list is someone he worked with almost a decade ago when he starred on the short-lived CBS comedy “Out of Practice.”

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New network shows continue to fall

Six new programs for the 2014-2015 network TV season have been canceled and several more are in trouble. The latest casualty is the FOX series, “Red Band Society,” that will end with 13 episodes.

It joins the previously canceled “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story” on ABC; “Utopia” on FOX; and “A to Z” and “Bad Judge” on NBC. Although it has not been officially axed, production on NBC’s “Constantine” has been halted with 13 episodes. Its full fate won’t be known until the 2015-2016 schedule is announced.

This goes along with the plug being pulled on the CBS comedy “The Millers.”

If you are making bets on which shows will go next, the leading contender is “Mulaney” on FOX where the season order was cut to 13.

It’s important for the networks to cultivate new shows because a lot of long-running series will end this year including “Glee,” “Two and a Half Men,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Parenthood” and “The Mentalist.” Things are looking a little rocky when it comes to “CSI” as its season has been cut to 18 episodes.

The loss of these veteran shows will create a lot of holes in the 2015-2016 schedule.

TV comedies no laughing matter

Five network shows launched for the 2014-2015 season have already been canceled.

 It was no surprise that “Utopia” was the first new series to get the ax. The idea of putting a group of strangers in a remote location and letting them build a society was neither original nor interesting. It was a joke.

And speaking of jokes, the other four canceled shows were comedies (or at least described themselves as comedies).

ABC ended “Selfie” and “Manhattan Love Story” while NBC pulled the plug on “Bad Judge” and “A to Z.” Of the four, “Bad Judge” had the most potential but not enough to survive.

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Kristen Vangsness passionate about acting

Kirsten Vangsness has entered her 10th season playing Penelope Garcia on the CBS procedural drama “Criminal Minds.” When the 10th season kicked off Oct. 1, it was the continuation of more than 200 episodes for the former Porterville resident to get to portray the character that executive producer Ed Bernero calls the magical member of the group of FBI agents who profile the most vicious killers.

Between seasons, Vangsness got as far away from criminal investigations as possible.

“A lot of people on their hiatus have auditions for movies. Sometimes I do,” Vangsness shouts over the music being played at the party to celebrate the fall season shows on CBS and the CW. “Before I had this job, I was a theater actress in Los Angeles. I did a lot of community theater.

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Sadie Calvano very happy with ‘Mom’

Sadie Calvano has the fortune — or misfortune — of starring in the CBS comedy “Mom” with two of the best comic actors working today in Emmy-winner Allison Janney and Anna Faris. It’s a chance for the young Southern California native to be on the biggest hit comedy from last year. But, her work often got overshadowed by her co-stars.

Calvano only looks at the positive saying being on a series with two such powerful comic co-stars is a blessing.

“We got really lucky with ‘Mom’ having such an amazing group of people who are so grounded and so smart,” Calvano tells me during a CBS party. “The chemistry on our stage is indescribable.”

Calvano went into the show such a fan of Faris and Janney, it took all of her will power not to become a fanboy the first time she read with them. After the initial shock, “Mom” became a learning experience for the young actress. Before signing on to “Mom,” Calvano had only made guest appearances on TV shows like “Melissa & Joey” and the film “J. Edgar.”

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Seth Meyers ready for Emmy hosting duty

Seth Meyers feels more confident stepping into the role of host for “The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards,” airing at 5 p.m. Aug. 25, because he’s been hosting “Late Night” for the past six moths. The late-night NBC program has given him a much broader platform to work on his comic skills than he had during his weekly appearances on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I feel certainly the most ready I’ve ever felt. But I think I’d feel more ready a year from now as well. It’s great to be able to do a monologue every night. That has been so helpful for approaching something like this,” Meyers says. “My skill set is always going to be in the monologue and telling the jokes and the understanding of how much work you have to put into getting a really good monologue to open a show like this.”

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Allison Janney could be double Emmy winner

Unless I’m forgetting someone, the only actor to win two acting Emmy Awards in the same year was Stockard Channing. She did it back in 2002 when she picked up the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role of Abbey Bartlet on “The West Wing” and the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for her work in “The Matthew Shepard Story.”

That feat could be matched this year — by one of Channing’s “West Wing” co-stars.

Allison Janney took home the Emmy for a Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her work on “Masters of Sex” during the Television Academy’s “2014 Creative Arts Emmy Awards” held Aug. 16. She can win a second statue when the remainder of the Emmy Awards are handed out Aug. 25. She’s one of the nominees in the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy category for her work in “Mom.”

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“How I Met Your Mother;” the alternative endings

Let me be upfront: I did not see the “How I Met Your Mother” finale last night. In fact, I haven’t seen an episode of the CBS sitcom in maybe two years. But it was in syndication. I have seen enough to be interested, but not enough to care whether I had the ending spoiled for me (which it was this morning).

Now that the show is over, some (on Twitter anyway) are calling it the worst series ending in all of television, right up there with “Dexter” and “Roseanne.”

Without spoiling it for others; the show’s premise was designed as a tease, and we got nine years of butterfly effect leading up to one moment that was never going have the emotional climax promised by the set up. By its nature, the show’s ending was going to be somewhat of a let down no matter what, though I think the writers took the easy (and somewhat obvious) out.

Which got me thinking: Could there have been a better ending?

This tweet from Ex-Beehiver Mike Oz proposed one that would have been fun to watch.

Rick Bentley’s idea was slightly more meta. In his ending Ted would have woken up in bed next to Barney.

“My God, I just had the worst heterosexual dream.”

I was thinking some kind of “Big Bang Theory” crossover.
If you were in charge of the world (this fictional one anyway) how would have ended things?

Meghan Ory’s fairy tale days not over

The RescueIt was a little disheartening to see >Meghan Ory on the new CBS action series “Intelligence.” It’s not that she does a bad job as the agent assigned to protect the show’s human computer (Josh Holloway). The Canadian actress can handle the action part of the job with ease. What made the casting seem so wrong is that she was just so good on the ABC drama “Once Upon a Time” playing Red Riding Hood/Ruby Lucas.

She tells me there’s nothing to worry about. There’s always a chance she could reprise her role on the ABC series when time permits. If the ratings of “Intelligence” don’t go up, she will have plenty of free time.

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CBS has bigger concerns than ‘Big Brother’

Chasing GhostsLes Moonves, President and CEO of the CBS Corporation, met with TV critics on the CBS portion of the TV critics tour to talk about the state of the network. It’s easy for an executive to face the media when you have as much success as CBS. But, despite being such a strong force in network TV, even CBS has some problems that Moonves has to face. Here’s what he had to say:

On some of the negative comments that have been made on the reality competition show “Big Brother”:
Leslie Moonves: “ ‘Big Brother,’ obviously, is a social experiment. It was established as a social experiment. Clearly that’s what’s happening this year. I find some of the behavior absolutely appalling, personally. What you see there, I think, unfortunately, is reflective of how certain people feel in America. It’s what our show is. I think we’ve handled it properly. Obviously, a lot of it makes us uncomfortable. We do discuss it quite a bit. I think we are handling it appropriately.

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There’s no mystery to why ‘Elementary’ works

Elementary episodeSummer TV programming is a mix of a few new programs and rerums of others. I’d like to suggest that if you didn’t watch the new CBS series “Elementary” during its initial run, catch the repeats. Jonny Lee Miller is incredible as a modern day Sherlock Holmes. What adds to the quality of the show is Lucy Liu’s equally strong performance as Watson.

The pair work wonderfully together. Miller says the chemistry developed with each episode until they had become a very strong acting team.

“And then you get to keep doing that. It’s not like we’re doing a run on a play where we do the same two hours every time, repeat that. It’s constantly evolving. So it’s extremely interesting, and it’s a wonderful thing to be able to help each other. It’s a real blessing to form a working relationship and a bond with someone that love and respect so much,” Miller says.

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CBS only adding five shows in the fall

PilotThe continued success of CBS means the network will be adding only five new shows in the fall — four comedies and one drama. And, those new shows will feature some big names: Robin Williams, Anna Faris, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Will Arnett, Toni Collette, Tony Shalhoub and Dylan McDermott.

Joining the network are: “Hostages,” a short-run series about a surgeon kidnapped before operating on the President; “Mom,” a comedy with Anna Faris playing a newly sober single mom raising two children; “We Are Men,” an ensemble comedy starring Shalhoub, Kal Penn, Chris Smith and Jerry O’Connell; “The Millers,” Will Arnett plays a man who must deal with his mother moving in with him; and “The Crazy Ones,” Williams and Gellar are a father-daughter team that runs an ad agency.

The other big news is “Mike & Molly” will be a mid-season replacement.

Not returning to the CBS lineup are “Vegas,” “CSI:NY,” “Rules of Engagement,” “Golden Boy,” “Partners” and “Made In Jersey.”

Here’s what the 2013-2014 CBS schedule will look like:
Monday: “How I Met Your Mother,” 8 p.m.; “We Are Men,” 8:30 p.m.; “2 Broke Girls,” 9 p.m.; “Mom,” 9:30 p.m., “Hostages,” 10 p.m.
Tuesday: “NCIS,” 8 p.m.; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” 9 p.m.; “Person of Interest,” 10 p.m.
Wednesday: “Survivor,” 8 p.m.; “Criminal Minds,” 9 p.m.; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” 10 p.m.
Thursday: “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m.; “The Millers,” 8:30 p.m.; “The Crazy Ones,” 9 p.m.; “Two and a Half Men,” 9:30 p.m.; “Elementary,” 10 p.m.
Friday: “Undercover Boss,” 8 p.m.; “Hawaii Five-O,” 9 p.m.; “Blue Bloods,” 10 p.m.
Saturday: Repeated programming, 8 p.m.; “48 Hours,” 10 p.m.
Sunday: “60 Minutes,” 7 p.m.; “The Amazing Race,” 8 p.m.; “The Good Wife,” 9 p.m.; “The Mentalist,” 10 p.m.

Larry Hagman interview almost didn’t happen

I wasn’t covering television when “Dallas” was such a huge hit during the ‘80s. That was ill-spent time covering sports which meant I found out “Who Shot J.R.?” through a radio report that I heard coming home from covering a Friday night football game.

That means I never had the chance to talk to Larry Hagman during the original run of the CBS prime-time soap opera. When I moved into entertainment writing on a full-time basis, it looked like “Dallas” was dead an gone thus eliminating any chance to talk to Hagman.

He would have ended up being one of the big interviews that got away had not TNT brought the series back. The updated version is suppose to be about the next generation of Ewings but the main draw in the first season was Hagman, Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray. My chance to interview Hagman came when that trio showed up in January at the Television Critics Association tour.

Hagman was as spunky as ever fending off a question about why he would come back to the role after so many years with “How many people do you know working at 80?”

He was working on the show despite having to go through treatment for the cancer that would eventually take his life a few days ago. Hagman was able to work on the show because the producers grouped together scenes from several shows to make the best use of Hagman’s time.

As for his health at that time, Hagman said, “My treatment’s going along very well, and I’ve been fine. I worked yesterday. I had three major scenes yesterday and had a lot of fun.”

He’s one of a handful of actors who can say they made a career out of playing one of the best known characters in TV history. It was finally nice to get to talk with him about his days on Southfork Ranch.

‘Made in Jersey’ first to go of new TV shows

Television isn’t fair.

It’s amazing how shows that are painfully bad — I’m talking about you “The Neighbors” — can stay on the air while others get canned. I’m not saying “Made in Jersey” was that good. It started with potential but that faded fast. But the CBS legal drama didn’t deserve to be the first cancelation of the fall TV season.

That honor should have gone to “Partners” or “Malibu Country.” Yes, I know “Malibu Country” hasn’t started yet but it should be canceled before it gets started.

Maybe I gave “Made in Jersey” more credit than it deserved because the show’s star, Janet Montgomery, is so nice. The British actress deserves a good show and it wasn’t this one.

Montgomery did give it her all trying to make sure her New Jersey character wasn’t a caricature.

“I think it’s about having the right mix of her being different from everyone else in this world, and that’s got to be obvious. But at the same time, people don’t want to see a caricature because then she’s not relatable and people can’t sit there and be, like, ‘she’s believable.’ Because there’s enough kind of like Jersey reality TV shows,” Montgomery said back when the show had hope of making it. “This isn’t a reality TV show. I’m English. I’m creating this character, but there’s so much that I’m putting in of myself.

“I come from a working class background in England, and I have a big family. And a lot of that sort of plays into I come from a world that’s so different from being sitting here right now I mean, my dad’s a postman, and my mom works in a post office that kind of two world reality is very similar to Martina’s, I think.”

Despite her best efforts the show has been canceled after only a few episodes. Maybe if she drank like a fish, had the morals of an alley cat and made a fool of herself at every turn — like a certain person on “The Jersey Shore” — the series would have lasted a few more months.

TV tonight: Two top series launch

127688_4370_ful.JPGTwo of the better shows of the new fall season begin tonight.

“Last Resort,” 8 p.m. KFSN (Channel 30.1): The plot of this new drama about the crew of an American submarine who go into hiding after defying what seems to be false orders has some major holes. It’s hard to believe anything the size of a sub could evade capture in this era of advanced weaponry.

What makes this show work is the casting. Andre Braugher plays the ship’s captain and this incredibly talented actor is so good he could make you believe the sky is green if that’s what he had to do for the role. Braugher is reason enough to watch.

“Elementary,” 10 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): There have been several updated versions of the Sherlock Holmes story. Just like “Last Resort,” what makes this one so entertaining is the casting of Jonny Lee Miller as the super sleuth and Lucy Liu as Watson.

Miller has that look that’s somewhere between genius and madman. That makes him perfect to play the detective who while brilliant, is also one step away from losing it. Liu’s Watson is not the comic relief but a character so strong she could have her own series.

Also, don’t forget the season opener of “Grey’s Anatomy” as it deals with the aftermath of the plane crash.

On TV tonight: ‘Vegas’

FIN01_VEGAS_Peoplead_FN_R03_BV09_BW1_Trim.JPG “Vegas,” 10 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): This new crime drama is one of three new series launching tonight. The other two are the FOX comedies “Ben and Kate” and “The Mindy Project.”

“Vegas,” a series based on a true story, takes a look at the early days of the Nevada gambling center with the main focus being the efforts of rancher-turned-sheriff Ralph Lamb (Dennis Quaid). He’s a guy who would rather take care of his farm but gets pressed into helping out the growing community.

The series has good odds of surviving because of the two lead actors.

This is the first regular series role for Quaid and he brings a good ol’ boy grittiness to the performance that will make the character a favorite. Equally as entertaining is Michael Chiklis as mob boss Vincent Savino. Very few actors can play likable bad guys the way Chiklis can and he’s in prime form with this show.

CBS has had good success with 10 p.m. dramas and this looks like the next winner for the network.

On TV tonight: ‘Survivor: Philippines’

101649_D0779b.jpg “Survivor: Philippines,” 8 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): The new season of contestants trying to outwit and outplay each other begins with some familiar faces.

Returning is Michael Skupin who left “Survivor: Australian Outback: in 2001 as the first ever medical evacuation on the series after he burned his hands after passing out into a fire from smoke inhalation on day 17. Jonathan Penner also returns. He had to leave “Survivor: Micronesia” in 2008 because of a knee infection on day 15. And, Russell Swan gets a second chace. He left “Survivor: Samoa” in 2009 due to dehydration on day 15.

You also might recognize Lisa Whelchel, who starred on the TV series “The Facts of Life” and Jeff Kent, who played for the San Francisco Giants.

It will be interesting to see if the returning players have an advantage because of their previous experience. It will also be interesting to see whether or not the celebrity contestants become early targets.

Jonathan Kite puts accent on CBS comedy

101493_D0060b-1.jpg Actors like Jonathan Kite are the unsung heroes of comedies. You probably don’t even recognize his name, but if you watch the CBS comedy “2 Broke Girls,” you’ve seen his work. He plays the lecherous short order cook Oleg.

Kite joins the long line of accent actors who aren’t necessarily the star of a scene but pop in to put an exclamation mark on the joke. It’s an art perfected by the likes of Christopher Lloyd on “Taxi,” Polly Holliday on “Alice” and Michael Richards on “Seinfeld.”

Kite says his character only works because the writers make his appearance in a scene feel organic. It’s not like he was added in after everyone was done.

While he’s not the star of the show, Kite works just as hard as “Broke Girls” Kat Dennings or Beth Behrs.

“When I am back in the kitchen, I’m actually doing something and not just waiting to come in,” Kite says. “People who have sat back there with me are amazed that I’m going through a routine I’ve worked out every single time.

“I’m not sitting back there because there’s not an organic nature to that. You have to be a part of what’s actually happening.”

It helps that Kite worked as a short order cook when he was in college.

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CBS in very good spot

Unforgettable.JPG Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, has plenty to brag about at the annual Television Critics Association summer tour. Her’s is the most watch network with shows like “NCIS,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Amazing Race.” Things have gone so well, the network will only launch four new shows in the fall — “Partners,” ‘Vegas,” “Made in Jersey” and “Elementary.” Three of those new shows have strong potential to be around for a second season.

CBS also picked up 60 Emmy nominations this year, up from 50 last year. That’s amazing considering how strong cable programs have become with the TV awards.

The most interesting thing is what Tassler isn’t saying. This is the first press tour in years that “Two and a Half Men” isn’t a major point of conversation.

In other words, news from CBS is rather light. Here are a few highlights:

On cancelation of “CSI: Miami” over “CSI: New York”: “Saying good-bye to a ‘CSI (Miami)” this year was a very big deal. That show has been extraordinarily successful for us. It was a jump ball. What we looked at was Friday night versus Sunday night. We looked at the flow on Friday night for ‘New York’ versus ‘Miami.’ So it was a very tough choice.”

On low ratings of summer reality show “3″: “It was a show we tried, we were excited about. It didn’t quite get traction. I think overall the summer has been a little bit soft for everybody. For us, we usually have a steady diet of repeats and reality, which is still good business for us. Even with repeats being a little bit softer, it’s still, for us, a real profit center for the company. I think reality is challenging and intriguing in so many ways. You’re obviously looking for a headline. You’re looking for something to get people talking.”

On the role of social media: ” I think for us social media has been an extraordinary experience. It’s given us insight and a window into sort of cultural and social topics, ideas to watch how topics are trending real time. To see what has really stimulated a social conversation has given us great information that we can use in the body of the shows themselves. For example, we had there’s a promo clip that you’re going to see on ‘Big Brother’ where Ashley and Ian are being tied to the Sheldon and Penny of reality television. That was generated by a tweet that came from one of our fans.”

On bringing back “Unforgettable” next summer: “When you think about that there was only one other show more highly rated that ‘Unforgettable’ at the time, which was ‘Castle,’ it was a really tough decision. We had a very strong schedule. We had very strong pilots going in. And we had very strong research on the show. So we did not want to let it go. We saw this as a window of opportunity to put the show on for next season and we jumped at it.

CBS orders four new shows

CSI MIAMI.JPG CBS has such a strong lineup the network has ordered only four new series for the 2012-2013 season. They include three dramas — “Elementary,” “Vegas,” “Made in Jersey” — and the comedy “Partners. The new shows join 19 returning series.

The biggest change is the cancelation of “CSI: Miami.” Network executives have been talking for months about losing one or more of the shows from the “CSI” franchise. Keep an eye on “CSI:NY” as it probably will be one of the next shows to go.

CBS is moving “Two and a Half Men” from its longtime home on Mondays to air behind “Big Bang Theory” on Thursdays. Considering the failures that have been in that 8:30 p.m. time slot, this is a strong move.

Other CBS shows getting the ax were the freshman series “How To Be a Gentleman,” “Unforgettable” and “A Gifted Man.” “Rob” and “NYC 22″ also got booted. There’s no word on the fate of “Rules of Engagement.”

As for the new shows, “Elementary” is a contemporary look at detective Sherlock Holmes in New York City starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu while “Vegas” has Dennis Quaid playing a Las Vegas sheriff who battled the mob in the ’60s.

Janet Montgomery plays a first-year lawyer in “Made in Jersey.” And, “Partners” is a comedy about two very different life-long best friends and business partners and their significant others. It stars David Krumholtz and Michael Urie.

“Undercover Boss” will return later in the year.

The new 2012-2013 schedule is as follows:

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More network shows on chopping block

GCB.JPG There’s no official word on what CBS, ABC and the CW have planned for the 2012-2013 TV season, but here’s an unofficial look at what the networks will be dropping.

CBS canceled “How to Be a Gentleman” weeks after it launched. Also on the list to get the boot are “A Gifted Man,” “Rob,” “Unforgettable,” “NYC 22″ and veteran cop drama “CSI: Miami.” No word on the what’s happening with “Rules of Engagement.”

ABC dumped “Man Up!” and “Charlie’s Angels” a long time ago. “Pan Am” also didn’t take off for the network.

The surprise is that “GCB” won’t be back. It looked like the successor to “Desperate Housewives” but now both shows are gone.

Also leaving the lineup will be “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” “Work It,” “Missing” and “The River.” “Cougar Town” leaves ABC for new life on the cable channel TBS.

“H8R” died early for the CW and viewers knew this was the last season for “One Tree Hill.” Add to the departing list “The Secret Circle” and “Ringer.”

On TV tonight: ‘Two and a Half Men’

TAHM_922P_1077r.jpg “Two and a Half Men,” 9 p.m. KGPE (Channel 47.1): The departure of Charlie Sheen from the CBS Monday-night comedy was such a nasty affair, the only way he would ever make a return to the show is over his own dead body.

That sort of happens tonight.

After Alan (Jon Cryer) suffers a minor heart attack, he’s visited in the hospital by Charlie’s ghost. No, Sheen doesn’t return to offer words of wisdom from beyond. It is Academy Award winner Kathy Bates, who takes time away from her NBC series “Harry’s Law,” portraying the departed Charlie Harper.

It would have been nice to see Sheen back on the show. But, the idea of Bates playing Charlie is a far more interesting casting.