J.J. Abrams goes 'Undercovers,' TNT gets good 'Mentalist' vibe

jjabrams_290.jpg J.J. Abrams is re-entering the spy game.

The mastermind behind "Alias" will executive produce and possibly direct his Warner Bros. pilot "Undercovers" at NBC, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

the network describes "Undercovers" as a twist between the "Bourne" franchise and "Mr & Mrs. Smith."

Abrams has directed the first episode of "Lost", and episode of "The Office" and moved on to helming theatrical fare such as "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible 3."

Other TV news:

 - TNT has swooped in to snatch up CBS' "The Mentalist" with a syndication deal to begin running the show weekly in fall 2011 and launch all-out in 2012. The more than $2 million an episode isn't cheap, but TNT has been a busy little buying bee lately, taking "Southland" off NBC's hands after the network dropped it from its schedule before any of the sophomore season episodes could air.

 - A&E has greenlighted the Matt Passmore-starring pilot "Sugarloaf," about ex-Chicago cop Jim Longworth, who gets kicked off the force after being wrongfully accused of having an affair with the captain's wife and then joins the state police in a small Florida town.

 - A&E has also cast Jeffrey Nordling, John Heard and Michael Arden to star opposite Radha Mitchell in the drama pilot "The Quickening," about homicide detective Maggie Bird (Mitchell) who's been demoted to pushing pencil after she's been diagnosed as bipolar. Nordling will play her loyal former partner who now runs a detective agency, Arden will play her doctor and Heard will be portray her boss.

 - Meanwhile, over on Cartoon Network, two original scripted live-action series: "Tower Prep" and "Unnatural History" have been picked up for 13 episodes each. "Prep" is an action thriller revolving around a teen (Drew Van Acker) who attends a prep school for students with "unique potential," while "History" is an action-mystery series centered on a high school student whose world travels with his anthropologist parents has given him some specialized skills that come in handy with mysteries involving the national museum.

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