The latest television news from Kylie Miller and Dar­ren Dev­lyn

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Ben­son gets her man

AF­TER nine sea­sons as a singleton driven by her work, Law & Or­der: SVU pro­duc­ers have fi­nally given their lead­ing lady, De­tec­tive Olivia Ben­son (Mariska Har­gi­tay, right), a man. Bill Pull­man joins the cast next month as Kurt Moss, ed­i­tor of fic­tional New York news­pa­per The Ledger. He will be seen on Chan­nel 10 from June. CHAN­NEL 9 has it flagged as com­ing soon, so the net­work will be dis­ap­pointed with the in­ter­na­tional re­sponse to its Bri­tish drama Rock Ri­vals, which bombed when it was launched on ITV. From the pro­duc­ers of Foot­ballers Wives and Bad Girls, Rock Ri­vals stars Michelle Collins (above) and Sean Gal­lagher as Ka­rina and Mal Faith, tal­ent show judges whose dis­in­te­grat­ing mar­riage is played out through on-screen bick­er­ing, bitch­i­ness and re­venge. Ac­cord­ing to re­views, it draws much of its in­spi­ra­tion from the re­al­ity show The X Fac­tor but is not as good. Chan­nel 7 doesn’t fare much bet­ter— it picked up ITV’s other big 2008 drama The Palace, now con­sid­ered one of the big­gest flops of the year.

Ri­vals re­sponse rocks Nine

IT HASN’T set the rat­ings on fire in Aus­tralia, but that hasn’t stopped Amer­i­can net­work NBC from pick­ing

US goes Chop­ping

up The Chop­ping Block— though the US ver­sion will dif­fer from the Aussie one. Bor­row­ing from Seven’s for­mat My Restau­rant Rules, the US ver­sion of The Chop­ping Block runs as an eight-episode elim­i­na­tion se­ries with eight cou­ples split into two teams open­ing two neigh­bour­ing restau­rants in cen­tral Man­hat­tan. Teams will be given tasks such as de­sign­ing the space and gen­er­at­ing buzz be­fore judges and a food critic eval­u­ate their ef­forts. A cou­ple is elim­i­nated from the los­ing team each week. Se­ries cre­ator Ju­lian Cress says NBC loved the name and were fans of the Aus­tralian show. ‘‘But for Amer­ica they wanted a much big­ger show, a com­pe­ti­tion that could be staged over months rather than days with a sin­gle win­ner. So we went back to the draw­ing-board and cre­ated a brand new for­mat where cou­ples will be forced to work to­gether in teams and com­pete to run restau­rants right next door to each other.’’ Bri­tish chef Marco Pierre White is host­ing.

Bowler’s many hats

Mul­ti­ple choice

TONI Col­lette is the latest Aus­tralian star to land a role in a US pilot, star­ring op­po­site Sex THOUGH the HBO se­ries star­ring Aussie ac­tor Grant Bowler has been dropped be­fore go­ing to air, we hear Bowler has scored more episodes in the hit US se­ries Lost. Bowler, who starred op­po­site Lily Tom­lin in 12 Miles of Bad Road be­fore pro­duc­tion was stopped by the writ­ers’ strike, is in New Zealand film­ing a new se­ries of Out­ra­geous For­tune. Bowler also stars in the new Chan­nel 9 drama Canal Road. and the City’s John Cor­bett in United States of Tara. Col­lette plays a wo­man with mul­ti­ple per­son­al­ity dis­or­der with Cor­bett (Car­rie Brad­shaw’s hunky boyfriend, Aidan) as her long-suf­fer­ing hus­band.

Prime movers

ACT­ING vet­eran Bud Ting­well (left) plays Win­ston Churchill to Matthew King’s Robert Men­zies in the drama­tised doc­u­men­tary Men­zies and the Fate of Aus­tralia, com­ing this year to ABC1. One of sev­eral do­cos be­ing made this year as part of Film Aus­tralia’s Mak­ing His­tory ini­tia­tive, Men­zies is di­rected by Steve Jo­drell and uses the for­mer prime min­is­ter’s di­aries, let­ters and broad­casts, along with the anal­y­sis of schol­ars, to show how mod­ern Aus­tralia was forged in the fires of the Lon­don Blitz. It is be­ing pro­duced by Melbourne’s 360 De­gree Films.

The good guy

FROM Sher­wood For­est to the jun­gles of M15, Richard Ar­mitage is join­ing Spooks as agent Lu­cas North. Ar­mitage, who has a con­tin­u­ing role as the das­tardly Guy of Gis­borne in the ABC’s Robin Hood, is thrilled to have the chance to play a good guy. ‘‘Lu­cas North is cer­tainly a nicer piece of work than Guy of Gis­borne, though he does have a dark side too,’’ he says.

Bright Sparks

BUFFY the Vam­pire Slayer’s Michelle Tracht­en­berg will ap­pear in Gos­sip Girl, ac­cord­ing to The Hol­ly­wood Re­porter. Tracht­en­berg will play Ge­orgina Sparks, a char­ac­ter con­ceived in the Ce­cily von Ziege­sar books on which the se­ries is based.

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