Producer Dick Wolf has tapped Kyle MacLachlan to play the title role in “The Invisible Man,” a one-hour drama for the Fox Network’s fall schedule. Universal TV is producing. It’s MacLachlan’s first series foray since he was twice Emmy nominated for his role as pie-loving FBI agent Dale Cooper in David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks.”
The series was hatched by Wolf and Bob Crais, author of the Elvis Cole mystery novels. Though based on the H.G. Wells novel, it will be set in modern day New York, where the show will be shot (like Wolf-produced series “Law & Order” and “New York Undercover”). Donald Petrie, coming off the special-effects feature “My Favorite Martian,” will direct the pilot.
Wolf wouldn’t divulge the commitment Fox has made to the series, but Universal Television prez Ken Solomon said Fox prexy Peter Roth is keen on it. “Peter’s been open about it being one of his favorite projects and has spoken about it as a series commitment,” Solomon said.
“It will lean creatively toward the kind of strong complex, realism that has made hay for Fox with ‘X-Files’ and ‘Millennium,’ ” Solomon said. There are a lot of places on the schedule for it, and clearly one is Friday, where it could be paired with ‘Millennium.’ Or they could both migrate to another night.”
MacLachlan plays a man made invisible by a scientific experiment gone awry, in which the military tries to render troops and military hardware invisible. He’s then pursued by numerous factions.
“Let me reassure you, he’s not invisible all the time, we’ve found a way where you can see him for much of the show,” said Wolf. “That was the big mountain to climb, but without giving too much away, we’ve got it licked.
“The idea of being invisible brings about all kinds of possibilities. You’re hidden, but nothing is hid-den from you. You can see what people are really saying about you when they think you’re not there. Lo and behold, basically every paranoid delusion you have is absolutely true.”
Despite MacLachlan’s quirky turns in “Twin Peaks” and the films “Blue Velvet” and “The Hidden,” Wolf said the actor’s best suited for a heroic role.
MacLachlan is managed by Addis-Wechsler’s David Seltzer, agented by UTA and lawyered by Alan Wertheimer.
BAER BROADENS HORIZONS: “ER” producer Neal Baer is near a three-year overall deal with War-ner Bros. in which he’ll continue on the series, consult on an NBC pilot and create his own medical drama for the WB netlet. The most remarkable thing about Baer’s success is that he’s when he’s not doctoring “ER” scripts, he’s doctoring children as a practicing pediatrician.
Baer began as a writer when his boyhood friend John Wells gave him “China Beach” script assign-ments. His plan to swap scripts for a scalpel ended when Wells sent him a 20-year-old series pilot by Harvard med school grad Michael Crichton.
“It was exactly like my life,” said Baer. “He caught what it’s like to be a resident .” Baer was hooked, and got Harvard to let him fulfill his elective requirements at UCLA so he could work as a staff writer on the show. By the time Baer graduated Harvard with a degree in pediatric medicine at age 38 in 1996, he was a full-fledged producer on TV’s highest rated show.
“I did weekend rounds at the Venice Family Clinic and was treating people literally on Saturdays, and figuratively the rest of the week,” said Baer. “I found I liked taking care of patients and love telling stories about it on the show.”
Baer is one of two practicing physicians on the “ER” staff (Lance Gentile is the other), and their first-hand knowledge of the ER lends weight and credibility. He’s also writing “Doctors Without Borders,” a Fox feature drama about a young surgeon who joins the well-known group of doctors that operates in war-torn countries.
With the inevitable writer’s cramp, when will he find time to write prescriptions? “My goal is to be able to practice one morning a week in a clinical setting,” Baer said. “I certainly won’t have time for private practice, but I like taking care of kids.”
Baer is repped by Paradigm’s Debbee Klein and Valarie Phillips, is managed by Liz Robinson and lawyered by Michael Gendler.
SEIN OF TIMES: After kissing goodbye to the NFL with a 45 rating on Super Bowl XXXII, NBC is eyeing the same kind of three-hour ratings blockbuster when it bids farewell to its cornerstone comedy “Seinfeld.” Sources said NBC will turn the May 14 finale into a two-hour special, followed by the season finale of “ER.” The web has proposed to Jerry Seinfeld and Castle Rock that the one-hour Larry David-scripted finale be preceded by an hourlong tribute special. The web’s not locked on a format, but it’ll likely consist of highlights, or perhaps a mock documentary on the making of the series.
While “Seinfeld” will be hard-pressed to eclipse the all-time best 60.3 rating/77 share that the final episode of “MASH” drew in pre-cable days, a two-hour block leading into the final episode of TV’s top-rated drama puts NBC in position to draw Super Bowl-sized ratings, and certainly the all-time highest rated three-hour primetime block.
GOING UNDERGROUND: Michael Goorjian, who left a regular role on “Party of Five” to become a filmmaker, has wrapped his first feature. “Oakland Underground” is a dark comedy he wrote and directed about a documentary crew that investigates the occult and gets caught up in it. He hopes to play the festival circuit, and now takes acting jobs to finance his directing aspirations.
He just wrapped “SLC Punk,” a pic about the punk infiltration of Salt Lake City and will guest on “Party of Five.” He’s repped by ICM’s Nick Styne and managed by Leonard Grant.