By Joe Cunningham | The Playlist March 13, 2012 at 10:39AM
Here's a bit of small screen news, and what you can expect on the box in the next little while:
"The Big Bang Theory" remains as popular as ever, and we can only imagine that's down to attracting the geek crowd to the kind of broad Chuck Lorre sitcom they would normally avoid. Now in its fifth season, the show is starting to attract some phenomenal guest stars (with Leonard Nimoy appearing a few weeks ago) and now they've snagged their dream cameo for the episode that will air on April 5th - none other than Stephen Hawking. The scientist has regularly been mentioned on the show and is a hero of many of the main characters. He's previously provided his voice for episodes of "Futurama" and "The Simpsons," but he's going one better here and we may even tune in to see how they write him into the show.
Alongside Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse was a showrunner on "Lost" for six years and we've been surprised to see so little from him since the show ended in 2010. But that's about to change, with Cuse joining A&E's "The Bates Motel" -- a prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" which will tell the story of how a young Norman Bates turned into a serial killer. Described as "Twin Peaks" meets "Smallville" (and likely helped into development by the success of "American Horror Story"), Cuse will act as an exec producer and oversee the writing and production of a six-episode run if the pilot is picked up.
A&E will also be working with Michael Bay, but on an unscripted competition reality series produced by Bay's Platinum Dunes and Shed Media. Bay will exec produce the series which "promises to test the strength of the family unit like never before." Will families have to sit through the entire Platinum Dunes back catalogue, perhaps?
Remember how we heard news that Seth MacFarlane was rebooting "The Flintstones" and openly wept? Well, keep weeping, because that's still happening. MacFarlane has been talking at SXSW about the show and told of his plans to keep the pilot -- which is currently being written -- more or less the same in terms of the original look and feel of the show. "We're kind of shooting for the level of edge in mid-'90s 'Simpsons' - you're not going to see abortion jokes," he told the gathered crowd. So we suppose that's something, and we're more confident now that MacFarlane won't be destroying a beloved series. But, why bring them back at all?
And finally, Carla Gugino and Sigourney Weaver are set to star alongside each other in the USA series "Political Animals." The show is a fictional look at "a former first family that exposes a dynasty weakened by political ambition, lust and greed." Weaver will play the divorced former First Lady, and newly appointed Secretary of State who recently lost the presidential nomination -- so basically a warped version of Hilary Clinton. Gugino meanwhile will play a Pulitzer Prize-winning DC journalist who's bent on destroying Weaver's career. The 6-episode series sounds like it could be interesting, and we'll be keeping our eye on it now thanks to the strong cast. [THR/THR/Deadline/AVClub/Deadline]