TV vets continue to lead pilot casting

Kreuk, Levi, O'Quinn among latest to nab roles

Though much has been made in recent years of film stars migrating to starring roles on the smallscreen, the familiar names in this year’s pilot casting continue to come mainly from the TV world.

Looking back on the past week, Ryan Phillippe is the most prominent thesp primarily from features to take a flyer on a pilot, signing on for the untitled CBS detective drama from Nick Wootton and Greg Berlanti that previously booked Chi McBride. Malin Akerman will co-star with Portia de Rossi on ABC comedy “The Smart One,” and Shawn Ashmore (“X-Men: The Last Stand”) will play a supporting role in Fox’s untitled project from Kevin Williamson that stars Kevin Bacon.

For longtime TV fans, the most noteworthy casting of the week, if not the year, would be Ann Guilbert — who played Millie Helper on “The Dick Van Dyke Show” — joining CBS’ untitled comedy from Louis C.K. and Spike Feresten.

Beyond that, the big names in recent days remain those recently seen on other TV shows, including Sarah Bolger, Ryan Hansen, Kristin Kreuk, Ali Larter, Zachary Levi, Mike O’Malley, Terry O’Quinn, Jonny Lee Miller, Becki Newton, Kal Penn, Autumn Reeser, J.K. Simmons, John Stamos, Michaela Watkins and Madeline Zima.

ABC nabbed several of those names, including O’Quinn, the “Lost” stalwart who has recently recurred on “Hawaii Five-0,” for “666 Park Avenue,” the David Wilcox-penned pilot about supernatural occurrences in a historic New York City apartment building.

In a reunion of Showtime actresses, Blythe Danner positioned herself for her first series regular role since “Huff,” joining the 19th-century set “Gilded Lillys” from K.J. Steinberg (with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers also exec producing), alongside Bolger (“The Tudors”) and Zima (“Californication”).

Penn (“House”) and Watkins (“Saturday Night Live”) are both joining ABC comedy “Prairie Dogs,” from Jackie Filgo and Jeff Filgo, about a relationship between an identity theft victim and criminal, while Simmons (“The Closer”) joined “White Van Man,” the Britcom adaptation by Bobby Bowman that has Kyle Bornheimer as its lead.

Also for ABC, Reeser (“No Ordinary Family”) booked passage on nuclear sub drama “The Last Resort,” starring Andre Braugher; Dania Ramirez (“Heroes”) clocked in for Marc Cherry’s “Devious Maids”; Mimi Kennedy, the character actress recently seen in “Midnight in Paris,” joined Judy Greer starrer “American Judy”; and Nick Kocher (“I Just Want My Pants Back”) landed in the Alphabet net’s untitled single-cam comedy from Adam Sztykiel.

And Jean Smart, most recently recurring on “Harry’s Law,” will play the mother of the Akerman and de Rossi characters in “The Smart One.”

NBC focused mainly on TV resumes with its latest casting as well. “Rescue Me” vet Steven Pasquale will star in “Do No Harm,” about a neurosurgeon who has a dangerous alter-ego, with Alana De La Garza (“Law and Order”), Ruta Gedmintas (“The Borgias”) and Mousa Kraish also cast as regulars.

Michael B. Jordan will partner with showrunner Jason Katims for the third time, following up stints on “Friday Night Lights” and “Parenthood” with hospital drama “County,” starring Jason Ritter. Agam Darshi (“Sanctuary”) and Jess Weixler took supporting roles.

Christine Woods, a past regular on “Perfect Couples” and “FlashForward,” and Nicky Whelan (Australia’s “Neighbours”) will play the female leads in “Daddy’s Girls,” the multicam comedy from Dana Klein about a young woman whose father is dating the mean girl from her high school. Show also stars Brenda Song (“The Suite Life on Deck,” “The Social Network”) and and Cedric Yarbrough (“Reno 911!”).

Ethan Embry (“Brotherhood”) joined the ensemble of Shaun Cassidy’s Western drama “The Frontier”; Aubrey Dollar (“Women’s Murder Club”) scored the lead role in Hilary Winston’s untitled workplace comedy; and Heather Burns (“Bored to Death”) will play a supporting role on “Save Me,” the single-cam religious comedy from John Scott Shepherd starring Anne Heche.

And for Greg Daniels’ NBC adaptation of Blighty’s “Friday Night Dinner,” Aya Cash (“Traffic Light”), Kevin Bigley and Gil Ozeri joined the cast.

CBS’ other casting moves include Miller (“Eli Stone”) taking the lead role in Rob Doherty’s modern-day take on Sherlock Holmes, “Elementary,” while Michael Urie (“Ugly Betty”) will co-star with Sophia Bush (“One Tree Hill”) in “Partners,” the comedy about two male colleagues whose relationship is like a marriage.

Parvesh Cheena (“Outsourced”) was the first person cast in “Friend Me,” a comedy from Alan Kirschenbaum and Ajay Sahgal.

Fox revved its casting gears on several shows, with Hansen (“Party Down”) taking the lead on David Guarascio/Moses Port comedy “El Jefe”; Larter (“Heroes”) is doing the same for Josh Friedman’s “The Asset,” about a unique CIA agent; and Newton (“Ugly Betty”) inked a deal for comedy “The Goodwin Games,” written by Craig Thomas and Chris Harris.

Having just wrapped five seasons on “Chuck,” Levi took the lead role in ensemble comedy “Let it Go,” written by D.J. Nash, about a young father, while Stamos (“ER”) joined previously announced T.J. Miller on comedy “Little Brother,” with Gillian Vigman (“New Girl”) and Rosa Salazar (“Parenthood”) also cast.

O’Malley (“Glee”) will end up appearing on-camera in the pilot he wrote for Fox, “Prodigy Bully,” about a child prodigy from a working-class Massachusetts family. Mike Vogel (“Pan Am”) and Michael Friedman will load onto “Living Loaded,” while Malcolm Barrett (“Better Off Ted”) and Hayes MacArthur (“Perfect Couples”) bounced into “Rebounding.”

Over at the CW, longtime “Smallville” heroine Kreuk committed to half the title package of the reinvented “Beauty and the Beast,” from Jennifer Levin and Sherri Cooper, and Stefania Owen (“Running Wilde”) joined “Sex and the City” prequel “The Carrie Diaries.”

Susanna Thompson (“Kings”), Willa Holland (“The O.C.”) and Katie Cassidy (“Melrose Place”) were added to “Arrow,” the Green Arrow drama starring Stephen Amell.

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth WarrenSecond 2020

    ABC News Sets Moderators, Rules for Third Democratic Debate

    ABC News has announced the moderators for the third Democratic debate, as well as the qualification rules. The debate will be held on Thursday, Sept. 12, and will spill over to Friday, Sept. 13 if more than 10 candidates qualify. The moderating team will consist of chief anchor George Stephanopoulos, “World News Tonight” anchor and [...]

  • James Corden Paul McCartney Carpool Karaoke

    James Corden Got a Little Help From Paul McCartney on His Drive to the Emmys

    Saying “Baby, I could drive your car” has proven to be a very good strategy for James Corden — never more so than when he put Paul McCartney into the highly sought passenger seat. The primetime special “Carpool Karaoke: When Corden Met McCartney, Live From Liverpool” is a contender in five Emmy categories this year, [...]

  • Starz Logo

    Starz Orders Horror Comedy Pilot 'Shining Vale'

    Starz has put out a pilot order for “Shining Vale,” a horror comedy which hails from “Divorce” creator Sharon Horgan and “Trial & Error” co-creator Jeff Astrof. The prospective series is about a dysfunctional family that moves from the city to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place. But no one [...]

  • Bethenny Frankel at the showtime Emmy

    Bethenny Frankel to Exit 'Real Housewives of New York' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Bethenny Frankel is stepping away from the “Real Housewives” franchise. Variety has learned exclusively that Frankel is poised to exit Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York” ahead of its upcoming twelfth season. Frankel first joined the acclaimed reality series back when it premiered back in 2008 before exiting the series in 2010 during the [...]

  • Dolly Parton

    BBC Commissions Dolly Parton Feature Documentary

    The BBC has commissioned a feature length documentary about country music legend Dolly Parton, it announced Wednesday. The documentary, tentatively titled “Dolly’s Country” will air on BBC Two this fall as part of a season of programs dedicated to country music. The broadcaster announced earlier in the day that it had acquired Ken Burns’ upcoming [...]

  • UCP to Develop Ann Shen’s 'Bad

    UCP to Develop Ann Shen’s 'Bad Girls Throughout History' as Anthology Series

    Universal Content Productions (UCP) is developing an anthology series based on Ann Shen’s book “Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World.” The project will be titled “Bad Girls,” with each episode featuring a different influential woman throughout history, including famous figures like Ada Lovelace, Rosa Parks, Mata Hari, and Ruth Bader [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content