×

Pilot parts scarce for newbies

TV casting shows need to work way up the food chain

There’s almost no such thing as an unknown anymore in TV. Though plenty of roles remain to be filled in this season’s TV pilot casting, true newcomers remain relatively few and far between.

Over the past week, familiar thesps once again grabbed a healthy majority of roles, including Powers Boothe, Anthony LaPaglia, John Leguizamo, Mary McCormack, Ken Olin, Bill Pullman, Lily Tomlin and Bradley Whitford.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg in a week that also saw the casting of Clancy Brown, Lucy Davis, Chris Egan, Scott Foley, Greg Grunberg, Rachael Harris, Erinn Hayes, Jay Hernandez, Kyle Howard, Tyler Labine, Brian F. O’Byrne, Lucy Punch, Judy Reyes, Brandon Routh, Roselyn Sanchez, Jurnee Smollett, Scott Speedman, Mena Suvari, Aimee Teegarden, Lee Tergesen, Ashley Tisdale, Julie White, Larry Wilmore and others.

The castings come in a week in which one notable film actor, Ryan Phillippe, dropped out of a CBS pilot (“Golden Boy” with Chi McBride), while another, Mira Sorvino, entered into final negotiations to join another (“Trooper”).

McCormack, whose five-season starring role on USA’s “In Plain Sight” ends with a series finale in May, will shift to comedy with a lead in ABC’s untitled Kari Lizer multicam project. McCormack will play a high-powered executive who finds herself out of work and focusing on becoming a full-time mom.

Whitford, like McCormack a “West Wing” alum, will team with Ali Larter on Fox’s CIA drama “The Asset,” from Josh Friedman.

Two former “Friday Night Lights” actresses are taking on new roles, with Teegarden starring in “The Selection” for the CW and Smollett in NBC’s adaptation of U.K. prison drama “Bad Girls.” In “Selection,” from “Vampire Diaries” vets Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain, Teegarden plays a poor young woman of the 24th century who could become queen of a war-torn nation, while Smollett will join the cast of the project from John Wells, Nancy Pimental and Andrew Stearn.

ABC nabbed Leguizamo for another British-born skein, multicam comedy “Only Fools and Horses” from Steven Craag and Brian Bradley, about two streetwise brothers working on becoming millionaires, with Dustin Ybarra co-starring.

Also for the Alphabet net, LaPaglia, Olin (“Brothers and Sisters”) and Natalie Mendoza (“Hotel Babylon”) entered into “Americana,” the Michael Seitzman-penned soap set in the fashion design biz, while LaPaglia’s “Without a Trace” co-star, Sanchez, Reyes (“Scrubs”), Angelique Cabral and Rebecca Wisocky (“American Horror Story”) have conspired to join Marc Cherry’s “Devious Maids,” along with previously cast Ana Ortiz and Dania Ramirez.

Another “Brothers and Sisters” alum, Dave Annable, will take up residence at supernatural drama “666 Park Avenue” with Terry O’Qunn, while Tomlin (“Damages”) joined Reba McEntire starrer “Malibu Country” and Hayes (“Childrens Hospital”) the untitled Mandy Moore project.

O’Byrne (“Prime Suspect”), Matt Long, Brigid Brannagh and Maury Sterling joined ABC’s 19th-century drama “Gilded Lilys,” Chris Egan (“Kings”) booked “Beauty and the Beast” and Speedman (“Felicity”) and Dichen Lachman (“Dollhouse”) are on board for Andre Braugher starrer “The Last Resort,” from Shawn Ryan and Karl Gajdusek.

Tergesen (“Oz”) is in ABC mob drama “Penoza” from Melissa Rosenberg, and Boothe and Jonathan Jackson (“General Hospital”) will travel to family soap “Nashville.”

Scott Michael Foster (“Greek”) joined mystery drama “Zero Hour” from Paul Scheruing, and Yaya DeCosta is in the untitled drama from Roland Emmerich and Harold Kloser.

Over at CBS, Routh (“Superman Returns,” “Chuck”), Davis (Blighty’s “The Office”) and Elizabeth Regen will round out the cast for the David Kohan-Max Mutchnick comedy “Partners,” in which Routh will play the boyfriend of Michael Urie’s character.

In addition for the Eye, Grunberg (“Heroes”) will co-star with JoAnna Garcia Swisher in the untitled Greg Malins/Greg Berlanti project comedy about two longtime friends who might be on the verge of a relationship, while the ensemble for another untitled CBS romantic comedy, from Nick Stoller, hooked Brie Larson (“United States of Tara”).

Tisdale (“Hellcats”) joined the untitled Louis C.K./Spike Feresten comedy about young dreamers, and Harris did the same for the untitled laffer from Larry Dorf, Ben Falcone and Melissa McCarthy that stars Falcone — McCarthy’s husband and “Bridesmaids” co-star — as a man who loses everything in the real-estate meltdown and has to move back with his parents.

Should Sorvino ink the deal for “Trooper,” about a mother who becomes a New York state officer, she will be accompanied by Hernandez (“Six Degrees”). “Trooper” comes from Aron Eli Coleite, with Jerry Bruckheimer as one of the exec producers.

For NBC, Pullman and Brittany Snow joined Josh Gad in White House family laffer “1600 Penn,” from Gad and Jon Lovett. Howard (“My Boys”) and Suvari (“American Reunion”) will co-star in Hilary Winston’s untitled revenge-of-a-shy woman comedy, Labine (“Mad Love”) and Bobby Lee (“Mad TV”) signed on for Justin Kirk-fronted “Animal Kingdom,” White (“Grace Under Fire”) will fill out the cast for Scott Silveri penned comedy “Go On” and Melissa Davenport (“Shameless”) will do the same for Anne Heche starrer “Save Me.”

Collette Wolfe (“Young Adult,” “Cougar Town”) grabbed the lead in Stephen Falk comedy “Next Caller Please,” one of two “Odd Couple”-like pilots this year involving public radio hosts. Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “Teachers”) and Georgia King found “The New Normal,” with previously announced Andrew Runnels in a single-cam comedy about a surrogate mom and a gay couple aiming to start a family.

Zach Cregger (“Friends with Benefits”) will be one of the immature thirtysomething parents in an untitled NBC multicam from Charlie Grandy with Jimmy Fallon exec producing.

On the drama side for the Peacock, Taylor Kinney (“Trauma”) returns to the network with Monica Raymund (“Lie to Me”) in “Chicago Fire,” from “3:10 to Yuma” writers Derek Haas and Michael Brandt, and Erik Jensen joined the wagon of Shaun Casssidy’s period Western “The Frontier.”

With Fox, Foley joined Becky Newton in single-cam comedy “The Goodwin Games,” from Carter Bays, Craig Thomas and Chris Harris. Foley and Newton play children who stand to inherit a fortune if they can abide by the indiosyncratic terms of his will.

Other castings for Fox included Larry Wilmore (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”), Anna Maria Horsford (“The Shield”) and Sugar Lyn Beard (“50/50”) in “Living Loaded,” featuring Donald Sutherland and Mike Vogel. Lucy Punch (“You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger”) joined the retitled “Ned Fox Is My Manny,” and Jesse Lee Soffer and James Carpinello entered the ensemble for Josh Berman and Robert Wright’s untitled Fox drama about a surgeon with ties to the mob.

And rounding out things for the CW, Michael Rady (“Melrose Place”) and Kelly McCreary nabbed parts in the Jennie Snyder Urman and Dan Jinks hospital drama “First Cut,” Austin Basis (“Life Unexpected”) was added to the network’s version of “Beauty and the Beast” starring Kristin Kreuk and Colin Donnell (“Pan Am”) joined the ensemble for Green Arrow drama “Arrow.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun

    Viacom Channels Grab 'Seinfeld' Cable Rerun Rights

    Viacom has sealed a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the cable rights to “Seinfeld” starting in October 2021. The deal comes on the heels of a blockbuster new deal between Sony and Netflix for the streaming rights to the beloved NBC sitcom that also begins in 2021. “Seinfeld” reruns have been a staple of [...]

  • Soho House

    Soho House Lands In Downtown Los Angeles

    Warner Music, Spotify and Lyft are poised to welcome a new neighbor to downtown Los Angeles’ Arts District with Soho Warehouse, the third California outpost of the Hollywood-loved members-only club — and the largest North American opening to date. Hot on the heels of the Soho House Hong Kong debut earlier this summer, the private [...]

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers

    Samsung Makes Bid to Keep Viewers From Skipping Fox Ad Breaks

    Fox is hoping to knit together the seconds-long divide between a TV program and the commercials that support it. During ad breaks for a few football broadcasts, tomorrow’s run of the Emmys and Wednesday’s season premiere of “The Masked Singer,” the network will kick off ad sessions with special show promos that display artistic renderings [...]

  • Patria

    HBO Europe Unveils ‘Patria’ Footage to Captive San Sebastian Audience

    SAN SEBASTIAN — Amid large expectation, HBO Europe has revealed first footage giving a first sense of tone and pace of its Spanish original series “Patria.” A packed-to-overflowing press conference on Saturday morning at the San Sebastian Festival can be read as one sign of the potential popularity of the eight-part series. The panel sneak-peek [...]

  • Topic Studios

    Layoffs Hit Topic Studios as TV Division Relocates to West Coast (EXCLUSIVE)

    A small round of layoffs has hit Topic Studios this week in the television division, insiders familiar with the company told Variety. One of the insiders said three executives at the New York-based producer and distributor are out: senior vice president of scripted programming and Viacom alum Lisa Leingang, vice president of development Mona Panchal [...]

  • Peter Weber and Mike Johnson

    'The Bachelor's' Mike Johnson on Diversity and New Leading Man Peter Weber

    ABC named its newest star of “The Bachelor” this week, officially making Peter Weber the leading man for Season 24 of the long-running dating show. Social media backlash ensued following the announcement due to ABC’s selection lacking diversity, yet again. Since the dating franchise began in 2002, there has been only one “Bachelorette” of color [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content