'Deadwood' star to rule over NBC's 'Kings'

“Deadwood” thesp Ian McShane is riding over to NBC, Simon Baker is returning to CBS, and ABC has greenlit the pilot “Captain Cook’s Extraordinary Atlas.”

Those are the headlines from a busy weekend of pilot development. The details:

  • McShane will play the monarch in the Peacock’s drama pilot “Kings,” a modern-day take on the King David tale from Universal Media Studios. Christopher Egan will play David.

    Michael Green (“Heroes”) wrote the pilot for “Kings” and is exec producing.

    Casting of McShane, and internal enthusiasm for the project from NBC U execs, increases the odds that the Peacock will unveil a series order for the project at its 2008-09 schedule announcement Wednesday.

    McShane won a Golden Globe for his role as Al Swearengen, the foul-mouthed saloon owner on “Deadwood.” He’s appeared on network TV before, going back to roles on CBS’ “Dallas” and NBC’s short-lived 1983 sudser “Bare Essence.”

  • Baker — who once starred in the title role in “The Guardian” for CBS — will now play the title character in “The Mentalist,” a Warner Bros. TV-produced project. Baker’s character uses his keen sense of observation to solve crimes (Daily Variety, Feb. 27).

    Joining Baker in the cast are Owain Yeoman (“The Nine”), Amanda Righetti (“The OC”), Shaun Toub (“The Kite Runner”) and Tim Kang (“Third Watch”).

    Baker will next be seen in the feature “Sex and Death 101,” opening this weekend. Upcoming pics include “The Lodger,” with Hope Davis.

  • “Atlas,” from Warner Bros. TV, is a sort of mashup of the Harry Potter books and “Pan’s Labyrinth.” It revolves around a girl who discovers a secret world beneath the human world.

    Tom Wheeler wrote the pilot and will serve as exec producer.

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