Danner drawn to ‘Presidio’

O'Connell on 'Fire' in pilots

Jerry O’Connell (“Tomcats,” “Jerry Maguire”) has agreed to fight for NBC’s “RomeFire,” while stage and screen veteran Blythe Danner (“Meet the Parents”) is heading over to CBS’ “Presidio Med,” as the networks continued firming their pilot plans Wednesday.

Here’s the latest:

  • O’Connell, who has appeared in recent episodes of NBC drama “Crossing Jordan,” has taken the role of Ryan Wheeler, one of four firefighter pals in multicamera half-hour “RomeFire,” to which NBC has committed 13 episodes. Thesp joins Jessica Capshaw, Stephen Dunham and David Ramsey, who already have been cast as firefighters in a small town called Romeo. Warner Bros. TV and NBC Studios are producing the project that “Friends’ ” Greg Malins and Kevin S. Bright are writing-exec producing and directing, respectively. O’Connell, Capshaw and Dunham are repped by Endeavor.

    O’Connell told Daily Variety that there was one big reason behind his decision to take the job: Malins. “Greg Malins, he’s a stud when it comes to half-hour. I had one meeting with him, and that was it. Not only did I want to work with him, I want to be his best friend.”

    O’Connell added that he thinks half-hour comedy “is really going to be the best arena for me. … I grew up on it. In fact, I was raised by three parents: Jack Tripper, Mrs. Garrett and Mr. Drummond.”

  • Danner, who is repped by ICM, will portray Harriett Lanning in “Presidio Med,” to which CBS has committed 13 episodes. She joins Dana Delany and Anna Deavere Smith, who already have joined the cast of the John Wells Prods.- and Warner Bros. TV-produced drama. John Wells and Lydia Woodward are exec producing. Chris Chulack is directing.

  • Duane Martin (former Fox series “Getting Personal”) has been cast opposite “ER’s” Ming-Na in ABC’s interracial-couple comedy pilot from John Ridley. Touchstone Television is producing. Ridley is writing-exec producing, while Nina Wass and Gene Stein also are exec producing.

  • Bryce Johnson (“Popular”) has been cast as rebellious high school basketball star A.J. McCullough in hourlong WB pilot “In My Life.” He joins Dana Wheeler-Nicholson, Mark Moses, Trevor Fehrman, Billy Kay and Edwin Hodge in the pilot about the integration of a high school in Baton Rouge, La., in 1965. The show, written by Ira Ungerleider, is executive produced by him as well as Francis Ford Coppola and Maira Suro. The show’s studio is Turner Television, and its production company is American Zoetrope. Johnson is repped by Metropolitan Talent Agency and Gekis Management.

  • Gretchen Egolf, who is repped by ICM, has been cast in ABC’s untitled Larry Gelbart project as the daughter of John Larroquette’s media baron character. Martin Landau, Patrick Dempsey, Balthazar Getty and Robert Sean Leonard already have been cast. Touchstone Television is producing.

  • Stephen Root (“Newsradio”) has been cast as Charles, the headmaster, in ABC comedy pilot “Dexter Prep,” which Touchstone Television and Brad Grey Television are producing. Melanie Deanne Moore and Andrew Bilgore also have been cast. Trio joins Ed Kerr, who already has been cast as the new teacher in an all-male boarding school, as well as Nicole Sullivan. Paul Simms is writing and exec producing; James Burrows is directing.

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