'D.C. Cupcakes' will get second season; only Ryan Seacrest certain on 'Idol'

By Lisa de Moraes
Tuesday, August 3, 2010; C01

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF.

TLC has picked up a second season of "D.C. Cupcakes," the network confirmed Monday, though it's unclear how many episodes that involves.

The show stars 30-something sisters Sophie LaMontagne and Katherine Kallinis, owners of Georgetown Cupcake at 33rd and M streets NW.

The first season spanned just six episodes over three weeks -- two each on Friday nights.

About 1.1 million people watched the debut at 10 p.m. on July 16; the second week the audience grew a tick, and by last Friday, 1.5 million were watching the first-season finale in which a local fireman asked for baking lessons -- really? -- which somehow led to a sister vs. sister bake-off at the firehouse.

And, of course, there was the "picky" customer who sent back cupcakes she'd purchased for her daughter's 16th birthday party, leaving the sisters scrambling to redo them -- though, if we'd been the show's plot-summary writer, we would gone with: "Sisters shove picky customer into their industrial oven, turn the heat to 200 degrees, lock the front door and head over to the Ritz-Carlton for a drink."

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Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler may tell you he's joining "American Idol" as a judge, but Fox suits Monday told grief-stricken TV critics that no such deal is in place for anyone to join the network's singing competition next season.

"No one has signed a deal on either side of the camera to be on 'Idol' who wasn't on it last year," Fox Entertainment chairman Peter Rice convolutedly told critics attending Fox's day at Summer TV Press Tour 2010.

Fox seemed unprepared for what Rice called last week's "tremendous speculation" in the press about new judges for the show. Tyler and Jennifer Lopez are leading the pack said to be in the running to help revive the franchise, which, while still America's most popular television series, took a ratings hit last season -- it got beat six weeks in the ratings by ABC's "Dancing With the Stars."

"Much of the information is accurate, and some of the information is wildly inaccurate," Rice said of last week's press pile-on. But he declined to say which is which, explaining, "I am not going to get into speculation . . . however much fun that might be for you -- or your readers."

Those reports broke out like a bad rash immediately after the network announced the departure of last year's Great Idea for replacing Paula Abdul, Ellen DeGeneres, after just one season on the show.

They only made that announcement, Rice said, because they thought it would be "disingenuous" to come to the press tour and talk about Ellen on the show when they knew she was not coming back.

According to Rice, DeGeneres had told the network in June she "did not feel like the show was a good fit for her."

Fox tried to talk Ellen into staying, promising her things would be "different" this coming season. But she persisted and the network finally agreed to look for someone to replace her -- no skin off their nose, since "we were doing it anyway, because Simon [Cowell] was leaving," Rice said.

At some point, the network had the option to tell her "we can't replace you" or "we can move on without you," he continued.

As of last week, they apparently were close enough with a deal to replace Ellen to hit the "send" button on the announcement of Ellen's exit.

Rice and Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly, who was onstage with him warming a chair for a good chunk of their Q&A session, also refused to comment on reports the contract of judge Kara DioGuardi had not been renewed and the show would return to a three-judge format.

"It's a really good question. I'm not going to get into speculation about it," Rice said when asked.

Nor would the men comment on reports that Randy Jackson, the only remaining member of the original judge panel, is coming back to the show when it returns to Fox's lineup in January 2011 (Cowell left the show in May).

E! got more information hanging out at the 2010 Farmers Classic tennis tournament at UCLA (which, E! wanted us to know, is "presented by Mercedes-Benz.") "The only thing that's for sure is Ryan [Seacrest]" is coming back, Jackson told E! at that tourny, adding, "Nothing has been decided."

Likewise, it was ixnay on the ommentcay when asked about reports that former show exec producer Nigel Lythgoe is returning triumphant to the show after having been pushed aside a couple of seasons back when that was their Really Bright Idea for jump-starting "Idol" and revving up ratings.

Rice said he hoped to have a judge panel in place by the time auditions begin in earnest in mid-September.

"I'm doing it," Tyler told celebrity suck-up mag reporters on Saturday about the "Idol" judging gig, as he was heading from his Las Vegas concert to an after-party at Studio 54.

'Glee'-tlemania

An upcoming "Glee" episode will include several tunes written by Paul McCartney, but it nearly didn't happen. Show co-creator Ryan Murphy said he got a "mix tape" from McCartney and, well: "I thought I was being punked."

Murphy opened the package to find two CDs and a handwritten note that said: "Hi Ryan, Hope you can use some of these songs for 'Glee' -- Paul."

"Some of these songs" included the Beatles' ballad "Michelle." "I was gobsmacked -- I grew up [on] the guy," Murphy told TV critics Monday.

Murphy plans to use plenty of McCartney tunes, but the Artist Formerly Known as the Cute Beatle is not getting the full-episode tribute treatment, Murphy said. That distinction is reserved for the likes of Madonna, Lady Gaga and, this coming season, Britney Spears and an unnamed pop star who will be the focus of the post-Super Bowl episode.

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