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Fox at TCA: Seth MacFarlane Remaking Cosmos (Really); Zooey Deschanel Sprinkles Pixie Dust

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It was a packed day of sessions for Fox shows Friday at the TCA TV critics’ tour, including presentations for the dinosaur drama Terra Nova and reality-TV megafauna The X Factor. Here’s a sundry round of tidbits from the rest:

* When Fox held its upfronts presentation this spring, it had some programming news for the 2013 season: Seth MacFarlane would be remaking The Flintstones. Surprising, but understandable. At TCA, programming head Kevin Reilly announced that come 2013, Seth MacFarlane would be rebooting… Cosmos. Yes, that Cosmos. And not as a raunchy, non-sequitur-filled cartoon, but an honest-to-God documentary series hosted by honest-to-God astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson of Nova. Reilly recognized that the show “doesn’t feel like a natural fit for Fox,” leading me to wonder whether MacFarlane is making the series simply to prove that there is no request Fox will refuse him. I’m only hoping there’s room for Roger the alien from American Dad.

* The first questions of Reilly’s session concerned the behind-the-scenes controversies at Glee. (In a nutshell, after Ryan Murphy gave an interview saying that Lea Michele, Chris Colfer and Cory Monteith would be leaving as series regulars after season 3; the actors complained about learning about all this on Twitter; and Murphy fired back, saying that the controversy had scuttled discussions about a possible spinoff.) Reilly’s response, and I’m paraphrasing: Homina, homina, homina. More specifically, Reilly dismissed the uproar as a “two-day story,” said that relations on the set were great and that he was seeing fantastic “back to basics” scripts for season three. Which is to say he didn’t so much answer the questions as say they weren’t worth answering (the spinoff, for the record, is still possible but on hold, he said), but if the bit about good scripts is true, I’ll take that.

* At the panel for I Hate My Teenage Daughter, Jaime Pressly said that after My Name Is Earl, despite having won an Emmy for playing Joy, she was worried she might never get a show again because of typecasting. Producers, she said, would assume “She must be just like her character. Um, thanks, I guess?”

* And kicking off the day was a panel for new Fox comedy New Girl, starring Zooey Deschanel, who had a smitten press corps asking her questions about why she was so adorable. OK, I’m paraphrasing; to be fair, the literal phrasing of one question to her was, “When did you first know you were adorable?” Deschanel’s reaction? She squirmed awkwardly, clamped her hands to her head and said, “My mom told me when I heard compliments to cover my ears!” It was adorable! Then a cartoon bunny hopped up and handed her a fresh blueberry pie, and she served it to all of us–wearing a ’50s-vintage thrift-shop apron–before announcing that she had to get home before the dwarves came back from work.