EXCLUSIVE: There will be a major new female addition to Fox’s House this fall. Odette Annable, who co-starred on another Fox series this past season — the midseason comedy Breaking In — is joining the veteran medical drama as a new series regular, the first regular addition to the cast since the promotion of Olivia Wilde, Peter Jacobson and Kal Penn in Season 4. But fans of Breaking In shouldn’t fret that this might be the nail in the coffin of the underrated comedy starring Christian Slater and Bret Harrison. There is time carved into Annable’s deal for House that would allow her to also do Breaking In should Fox opt to pick up the series for a second season. Producers are keeping details about Annable’s character on House under wraps, but I hear that she meets Dr. Gregory House in prison. As our sister site TVLine recently reported, House will find himself behind bars at the opening of the new season after driving his car into Lisa Cuddy (Lisa Edelstein)’s living room in the May Season 7 finale. I hear Annable will play a doctor at the prison whom House recruits to be a new member of his team of diagnosticians, which means that House will likely return to Princeton-Plainsboro pretty quickly after his stint in the slammer. With Wilde, who plays fellow former jailbird Thirteen, busy in features, she is not expected to be in every episode of House next season. And with original co-star Edelstein making a surprising exit after last season and Amber Tamblyn ending her recurring stint, for now Annable will be the only full-time female cast member next season.
EXCLUSIVE: I hear that House co-stars Robert Sean Leonard and Omar Epps have closed deals to return for the series’ upcoming eighth (and likely final) season, which is inches away from reality as a renewal agreement between Fox and House producer Universal Media Studios is being finalized tonight. Leonard, Epps and Lisa Edelstein are the three original cast members whose current deals expire at the end of this season. Edelstein’s deal is still not done, with the process delayed by the fact that she has been overseas. However, she is expected to close. Star Hugh Laurie has one more year on his three-year contract, and newer cast members, such as Olivia Wilde, also have more time on their deals.
With the Bones pickup out of the way, attention focuses on the other Fox drama embroiled in a renewal drama, House. After a string of deadlines came and went, including one last Friday and another one this Monday, there is still no deal but I hear the hope is to wrap the renewal up by early next week when Fox brass will start piecing together the network’s schedule for next season. It won’t be an easy task as Fox and House producer Universal Media Studios are still apart on the license fee by about 20%. That’s by how much I hear Fox wants to cut the series’ current license fee to about $5 million per episode next season. At this point in a series’ run (House will be entering its 8th season in the fall), the network license fee normally covers the cost of production. But I hear UMS cannot produce House in its current form for $5 million an episode, so it has been unwilling to accept a reduced license fee as it faces the possibility to have to deficit finance a show in its eighth season, something studios rarely do. But then, House is not a typical show as it is estimated to gross some $1 billion for its run from Fox license fees, off-network syndication and international sales as well as auxiliary markets. The network is not budging either, and it got fresh ammunition this week when House hit a new season low with a 2.9/8 in adults 18-49. “Both sides have drawn hard lines and are sticking to them,” one person close to the situation said. “Middle ground is incredibly small, it is a very tiny dot.”
To help bridge the gap, UMS has been crunching numbers as it tries to reduce the budget of the show for next season so it gets closer to the $5 million per-episode license fee offered by Fox. The focus has been on cutting above-the-line costs, including cast compensation. The studio is negotiating with House co-stars Robert Sean Leonard, Omar Epps and Lisa Edelstein, whose deals are up at the end of this season. I hear all three, who are at about $175,000 an episode, have been asked to agree to both doing fewer episodes next season (from 24 to 18 is a scenario I hear) and getting a salary reduction.