A&E’s crazy for Swayze in ‘Beast’

Actor to play a defiant undercover FBI agent

A&E has engineered its first major scripted-series talent signing, landing Patrick Swayze to star as a rules-bending undercover FBI agent in “The Beast,” the pilot for a proposed series.

Also signed, as Swayze’s naive young partner, is Travis Fimmel, who starred in the 2003 WB series “Tarzan.”

“The Beast” is one of four cast-contingent pilots that A&E plans to commission in the next few weeks; the network’s strategy is to choose at least one of them to proceed to series for next summer.

The three other pilots, all close to final casting, are “The Cleaner,” from CBS Paramount TV, about an ex-addict who helps people over their addictions; “Danny Fricke,” from Sony Pictures TV, which focuses on a hard-bitten female detective in Los Angeles; and “Under,” from Fox TV Studios, about a New York City cop who can’t escape his criminal past.

All of the pilots have crime themes because A&E plans to use its successful rerun series “CSI: Miami” and “The Sopranos” as promotional vehicles for the new shows.

“The Beast” zeroes in on the tension between the Swayze character, with his end-justifies-the-means philosophy, and the more idealistic Fimmel character, who admires his partner but is uneasy about his corner-cutting methods. Tana Jamieson, senior VP of original-drama programming for A&E, said the “Beast” pilot will shoot either in Chicago or Toronto when it begins production at the end of November.

The exec producers of “The Beast,” a Sony Pictures TV production, are Allan Loeb and Steven Pearl for Scarlet Fire Films, and Cory Concoff for Fuel Filmworks. The writers are William Rotko and Vincent Angell.