Many TV series face uncertain futures

3/13/2008 Without belaboring the obvious (ABC's "Cashmere Mafia" isn't coming back; Fox's "Bones" is), here's the latest industry buzz on some of the most talked-about titles:

- "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles." Fans need not worry: Sources say that "Terminator" will be back. Fox executives like the creative product and thought the finale's performance last week was solid. The network also spent a considerable amount marketing the show, giving Season 2 some cost benefit. Also: The fourth "Terminator" movie comes out in 2009, and as "The Simpsons Movie" proved, there are promotional advantages to film-TV synergy.

- "Scrubs." The dead comedy-turned-backroom hot commodity remains poised to jump to ABC from longtime home NBC. The cast has been told to return to work March 24. Cast member John C. McGinley said recently that he was told that "the 18 episodes we're going to do starting that day will be on ABC next fall." But the show's producer, ABC Studios, insists the work is just "reshoots." Just, you know, everyday reshoots of a series NBC has refused to order more episodes of.

- "How I Met Your Mother." Granted, "Mother" usually is the weakest ratings link in CBS' Monday night comedy lineup. But that lineup sets a high bar, representing the most successful comedy block on television. The headline-making stunt casting of Britney Spears in an upcoming episode is sure to boost viewership. Not to mention, CBS' comedy-starved rivals would be tempted to snatch up the show if canceled. Verdict: Probably not going anywhere.

- "Knight Rider." The February movie performed well for NBC. Sources say the network is in talks with a producer who is familiar with NBC primetime, which suggests a regular series order is likely.

- "Moonlight." CBS is playing wait-and-see with this Friday night show about a vampire private detective. The network is curious whether the show's fans return once it comes back from its strike-induced hiatus. But "Moonlight" fans are passionate, the show fits well into CBS' Friday night alternative crime block and an eventual pickup is probable.

- "Jericho." CBS must decide quickly since only three episodes remain in Season 2, and the network has to choose Ending A or Ending B. Two conclusions to the season have been shot. One puts a narrative lid on the apocalyptic series (lest protesting fans pelt CBS executives with thousands of pounds of nuts again), the other more of a cliffhanger. CBS notes that the show gains from DVR viewership and online viewing, but after its performance the past two weeks, most doubt the citizens of "Jericho" will live to fight another season.

- "Reaper." Critics loved the pilot of the CW's supernatural drama, then griped that the series lost its way. The show returns Thursday night against ABC's "Lost" and needs divine intervention to come back strong enough to make the network add it to its list of previously announced pickups. The chances for the CW comedy "Aliens" look even slimmer.

- "Law & Order." The longest-running primetime drama on television will come back for a 19th season, sources say, with new co-star Anthony Anderson. USA Network's "L&O: Criminal Intent," which is recycled on NBC, looks likely to return.

- "Friday Night Lights." NBC is in talks with DirecTV for the satellite broadcaster to share the costs for a third season in exchange for some exclusive distribution opportunities.

- "Prison Break." Producers are pitching a Season 4 story arc to Fox, which is expected to pick up the show.

- "According to Jim." ABC's perennial bubble show is looking likely to escape the ax one more time.

- " 'Til Death" and "Back to You." Despite modest returns, both Fox comedies probably will return in the fall.

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