Television production ramps up quickly


Anticipating the end to the WGA strike after the vote last night, TV producers were back at work this week plotting the springtime reblooming of their shows, reported USA Today. Many series will restart production within two weeks, even sooner than expected, the story said.

"The missive from the network was, ‘How fast and how many?’ " Josh Schwartz, producer of CW’s Gossip Girl, told the paper.

He expects to resume production in two weeks for five or six spring episodes and might produce more for late summer.

Like some other newcomers, his NBC drama Chuck will sit out until fall. CW also has ordered new episodes of Smallville, Reaper, One Tree Hill, The Game and Supernatural for spring. Girlfriends ended its eight-year run Monday.

Other series’ plans, according to the story:
• For ABC’s Lost, "we’re looking at trying to make five more" episodes beyond the eight already completed, says executive producer Carlton Cuse. The original plan was to film 16, but the remaining three will be rolled into next season. Cuse says writers will "accelerate our storytelling" to get to the end point they had already mapped out for this season. "It’s a little bit like driving cross country to Boston. If the goal is to get there two days earlier, we will have to take more interstates and fewer rural byways."

• Fox’s 24 resumes production next month on 16 remaining episodes and will continue shooting through July, even though viewers won’t see them until early 2009. The show is shooting early to avoid losing some character actors who are crucial to the plot but aren’t signed to long-term contracts.

"So many of our characters aren’t regulars," says executive producer Howard Gordon, so some will be busy with movie roles or pilots that will now conflict with 24’s schedule. "The actors tend to have more freedom, so we need to juggle."

•Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry expects to do seven more episodes, even if it means long hours.
"I had three months to rest up, and I don’t mind staying up a few late nights." He’ll "trim away some ideas and get to the bare bones" of the story arc he had mapped out for the rest of this season. ABC had asked about quickly starting work on Season 5, but Cherry says it will be "pretty much impossible" to plot a new season without a break. "I can’t do that on the fly."

• Ed Bernero, executive producer of CBS’ Criminal Minds, says the show won’t need to start from scratch; it already has story lines approved and drafts written from before the strike. "For us, it’ll kind of be like we went home on a Friday and came back Monday, and we’re up and running. We should be shooting by mid-next week."
CBS will add four to six new episodes to all of its dramas except Shark and The Unit; it will add up to eight episodes of Two and a Half Men, Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother, which could start airing by mid-March.

•My Name Is Earl creator Greg Garcia plans nine half-hour episodes for spring, including a double-length premiere and finale for early April and mid-May. He plans to start shooting Feb. 25. "We had some ideas kicking around," Garcia says. "We’re not starting completely fresh."

• ABC’s Boston Legal plans eight episodes to air in April and May in addition to the two finished installments scheduled to air tonight and next week.

"We’ll pick up where we left off," says creator David E. Kelley, who had partially written the next script before the strike began Nov. 5. "The challenge always when you come off a hiatus is to shake off the cobwebs."