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Question: How will Meredith deal with Lexie’s death on Grey’s Anatomy? —BP
Ausiello: She deals with it by throwing herself into her work — and taking a hard line with the fresh crop of interns. “I don’t know if she’s angrier or meaner, but she’s a lot more no-nonsense,” explains exec producer Shonda Rhimes. “She doesn’t have a lot of patience for less than perfect. She’s very good at what she does, and after her experience in the woods, takes saving lives very, very seriously.” Mer won’t be in denial forever though. Rhimes tells me that there’s a “lovely episode” coming up where Mer is forced to deal with the loss. “We sort of build to the idea where Meredith, who tends to clamp down because that’s her way, finally has a moment when she really mourns.”
Question: Mother of three here with not a lot of extra time on my hands. But if I were to pick one new show this season to watch, what should it be? My current faves are Once Upon a Time, HIMYM and Bones, to give you a hint at my taste. —Melissa
Ausiello: Nashville. It’s so good you won’t think twice about neglecting your kids to watch it.
Question: We haven’t heard a ton about what’s in store for Sam on Glee this season — aside from his breakup with Mercedes. Got anything? —Joy
Ausiello: Trouty Mouth is going to be quite the big fish in Season 4. In addition to getting a mysterious new love interest (guesses!?), Chord Overstreet’s senior will play a much more vital role in New Directions. “Toward the end of last season we got how to write for [Chord] and [who] the Sam character was,” notes exec producer Brad Falchuk. “And he really stepped up. It’s nice having him be, in terms of the guys there in the choir room, the male lead right now. He’s definitely carrying the weight that he needs to carry there, in a way that was very different than Cory [Monteith] or Mark [Salling]. He has a very specific innocence to him.”
Question: I’m missing Up All Night more than I thought I would. Any news on the new season? —Noa
Ausiello: Reagan is about to find out that if there’s one thing harder than having a kid, it’s being a grownup. In an upcoming episode, her ill-fated attempt to impress a twentysomething hipster gets her smacked with the dreaded “m” word: ma’am!
Question: Any Modern Family scoop? —Tamara
Ausiello: Judging from the casting call that the show’s put out for trick-or-treaters for an upcoming episode titled “Open House of Horrors,” I’d say the Dunphy-Pritchett clan is going to try to get past the “frightful” events that transpired two years ago, when they last tried to celebrate Halloween. Cue Claire meltdown in 3, 2…
Question: Do you have any CSI scoop? —Sharp
Ausiello: Despite threatening to quit in the finale, Nick remains part of the team when the show returns on Sept. 26 — but just barely. “Emotionally, we will find Nick in a very dark place in the premiere,” previews exec producer Don McGill. “He really is in an existential crisis, where he is wondering what the purpose of his mission as a CSI really is and whether it’s worth all the pain, suffering and hours [considering] the bad guys sometimes do get away despite your best efforts. We will be carrying that thematically throughout the season. He will be struggling with his conscience in a way.”
Question: How long will Ben be in D.C. on Parks and Recreation? Not thrilled with the idea of him and Leslie being apart! —Pete
Ausiello: Although Ben’s out-of-town gig was supposed to last six months, I have to imagine that he and Leslie will be hand in hand (and all hands on deck!) when we’re introduced to his parents. Mom’s a Stockard Channing type, classy and educated —with a bit of bite underneath. For Dad, think Barry Bostwick — a grownup preppy with a Hawaiian girlfriend half his age.
Question: I’m already going through withdrawal from Pretty Little Liars! Any chance you (or your special A-team) have any scoop? —Estee
Ausiello: The sudsy smash returns Oct. 23 with a standalone Halloween episode that picks up a few weeks after last week’s summer finale left off. “It takes place on a train and it’s really a wonderful episode,” raves EP Oliver Goldstick. “The costumes are just brilliant. We pulled out all the stops.” Bonus scoop: The ‘ween-themed hour will ends with a doozy of a cliffhanger.
Question: Any recent news on The Big Bang Theory? — Gabby
Ausiello: Could we be about to get a look at Howard’s mother?!? Possibly, since this season, she’s even getting her own boyfriend — Dr. Schneider, a middle-aged schlub of a dentist.
Question: I finally got caught up on Season 3 of The Vampire Diaries. Now I can’t wait for Oct. 11! Any juicy scoop to share? —Kristy
Ausiello: During November sweeps, Elena is going to get a crash course in Vampirism 101 — specifically, how does one feed on humans without killing them? Two questions you should be asking yourself: Who escorts her to Bloodsucker U? And what’s this guy doing there? In other VD news, did you see this?!
Question: Do you have spoilers on Addison’s final season of Private Practice? Is there a chance Kate Walsh will change her mind and stay? —Cara
Ausiello: I suppose there’s always a chance, but it’s a very slim one. “Kate and I have been working together for a long time and I really consider her a friend,” notes Walsh’s boss, Shonda Rhimes. “I feel like she knows what she wants to do and is very clear about it — and not in a way that feels bitter. She’s just ready. Everyone has their moment when they think to themselves, ‘Okay, I’ve done this; I’m ready for a new challenge.’ I don’t think that she will change her mind.”
Question: Any scoop on Switched At Birth? – Miguel
Ausiello: Bay’s rebound boyfriend from Monday’s premiere? “He comes back!” reveals Vanessa Marano. “As we all know, Bay likes her boys. We did a count, and she has had the most boyfriends on the show — and that includes Regina, who, as we know, has had many good-looking men herself.” So will fists fly between her new guy and her other ex, Emmett? “Actually, there is a fight this season — a big fight. But not between those two characters actually — though Emmett is involved.”
Question: Is David Costabile (aka Hardman) off Suits for good? —Jeremy
Ausiello: “I would like to see him back,” says exec producer Aaron Korsh. “It’s unclear whether it’s going to be in the next six episodes or the following season.” Regardless of whether he returns in the flesh, the character’s spirit will loom large when the second half of Season 2 picks up early next year. “His [departure] is going to leave a power vacuum and allow for some changes within the firm,” teases Korsh. “It will shift the perception of Pearson Hardman in the legal community and possibly make them a little bit more vulnerable than they thought. Sometimes, you get weaker before you get stronger.”
Question: Will Jimmy Darmody appear on Boardwalk Empire during Season 3? Maybe in flashbacks? —Olga
Ausiello: Early into Season 3, Nucky’s late protégé turns up in a flashback, but it’s old footage not new. Jimmy’s presence is mostly felt whenever his demarbled mother Gillian (now the proud co-owner of a brothel!) sashays into view. The incestuous menace has hired Richard Harrow to help rear little Tommy, but he’s under strict orders not to regale the orphan with stories of his late parents. Margaret, meanwhile, continues to channel her inner feminist trailblazer by spearheading a women’s health initiative with the aid of a cute doctor. Bonus Scoop: Empire boss Terrence Winter gets a gold star for casting Bobby Cannavale as Nucky’s new scary-ass nemesis, Rosetti. The psychopath makes Gillian look like Mother Teresa.
Question: I’m so ready for new episodes of Haven. Do you have any scoop on what’s coming? Last we saw Nathan had a gun to Duke. I gotta know what’s coming! —April
Ausiello: The Sept. 21 season premiere overfloweth with testosterone as Nathan and Duke have at each other in a donneybrook tinged with more than a little supernatural weirdness. Luckily, heads cool in time to track down MIA Audrey, who’s been abducted by a faceless figure hungry for intel on “The Colorado Kid.” One Close Encounters of the Third Kind homage later, the hour closes with the introduction of many new questions about Audrey’s past, including one raised by a warning message she left for the world 20some years ago.
Question: Any chance Axl’s love life will heat up now that he’s heading into his senior year of high school on The Middle? –Katrina
Ausiello: She hasn’t been cast yet, but executive producer Eileen Heisler says a new romantic interest is definitely in the cards for the Heck family’s oldest child. “She won’t be one of the typical cheerleaders he usually dates,” Heisler says. “Expect a little sparring, a little more mind fun than Axl’s used to having. Someone who’s a little Tina Fey-esque, perhaps.”
Question: Can you give us some scoop about Alicia and Peter’s relationship on The Good Wife? The finale showed signs of a reconciliation between the two of them! —Emilie
Ausiello: I hear they start the season on very cordial terms, but I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call them reconciled. In other Good news, Alicia’s heretofore untapped power and influence at ailing Lockhart Gardner will come into play a big way in the first two episodes.
Question: Anything about The Mentalist! —Sonia
Ausiello: Amanda Righetti’s real-life pregnancy (which, as we previously reported, will not be written into Van Pelt’s storyline) will create a vacancy on the show’s canvas this spring — one that may or may not be filled. “It’s hard to say how long [she'll be gone] because these things are not predictable,” admits exec producer Bruno Heller, adding, “We’re talking about [whether to bring in someone new] now. But we’re not going to replace her just to have another face in the room. It depends. If we come up with a good story, then yes. If not, no.” Heller goes on to say it’s unlikely her departure will be turned into a major plot point. “We’ll explain [her absence],” he explains. “But this is not the kind of show where we do elaborate, stunty exits… I think we will find something a little more normal for her absence and not [have] her in jail or on charged with murder or kidnapped or anything like that.”
Question: I would highly appreciate any Nikita scoop. —Joseph
Ausiello: Nikita is forced to work with one of the Dirty Thirty ex-Division agents she’s hunting when a mission puts the two in Ari’s (and perhaps Amanda’s?) crosshairs.
Question: Any juicy new scoops on Once Upon a Time? The second season isn’t arriving fast enough! —Trippie
Ausiello: As a power struggle ensues in the newly magically enriched Storybrooke, Episode 2 will flash back to when the Evil Queen first met Rumplestiltskin. Also, series cocreator Adam Horowitz told Matt Mitovich that the show got Sebastian Stan back as the Mad Hatter for no fewer than three of the early batch of episodes — “and he doesn’t just show up to say, ‘Hey, I’m still here.’ He has his own story, because his daughter is still out there.”
Question: Will Gossip Girl‘s premiere jump ahead a few months? Or will it pick up right where the finale left off? —Sandy
Ausiello: The answer to both questions is yes. The opener picks up where May’s cliffhanger left off as a means to quickly “check in with all of the characters,” explains exec producer Stephanie Savage. “And then we jump ahead four months to present day.”
Question: We haven’t really had many Gossip Girl tidbits about Chuck and Blair. Care to fix that? — Danielle
Ausiello: That trailer pointing to a reconciliation for the star-crossed Upper East Siders “is not misleading,” confirms exec producer Stephanie Savage, who teases that “things get pretty steamy” between them in their hotel room in Monte Carlo. “But the stakes are really high. They can’t rush into anything or do anything half-baked.”
That’s a wrap! Please send questions, comments, and anonymous tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. (Additional reporting by Michael Slezak, Megan Masters and Vlada Gelman)Follow @MichaelAusiello