NBC series largess extends to Purefoy

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NBC is closing in on its "Philanthropist," with James Purefoy in negotiations to play the lead in the midseason drama series.

Meanwhile, the new comedy series "Kath & Kim" is on the move again, this time swapping places with "30 Rock."

"Philanthropist," from UMS, centers on a renegade billionaire (Purefoy) who uses his wealth, connections and power to help people in need no matter the risks or costs.

NBC brass had courted the British-born Purefoy for some time, including flying the "Rome" star from the U.K. to Los Angeles for a meeting.

The casting of the lead comes nearly a year after NBC gave the project a 13-episode series order and three months after the network put it on its 2008-09 schedule.

It also follows the recent change at the helm of "Philanthropist," with David Eick taking over following the departure of original writer/executive producer Tom Fontana and exec producer Barry Levinson.

Peter Horton is set to direct the pilot for the series, which is slated to premiere in the Monday 10 p.m. slot in midseason.

Earlier this year, CAA-repped Purefoy was attached to "The Saint," an independently produced two-hour backdoor pilot with Levinson on board to direct, but the project didn't go forward.

"Kath" will now air in the Thursday 8:30 p.m. slot, following "My Name Is Earl."

NBC originally scheduled "Kath" on Tuesday night back in April. In May, the network moved it to the post-"The Office" Thursday 9:30 p.m. slot.

"Kath," whose original order was recently upped from six to 13 episode, has been deemed more compatible with "Earl," which led to the switch to 8:30 p.m.

Based on an Australian format, "Kath" stars Molly Shannon and Selma Blair as brassy mother and daughter who prefer the finer things in life like acrylic nails, big hair and faux diamond chips. (partialdiff)
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