×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Pauley Perrette, Rob Reiner & More Join ABC’s Gay Rights Event Series ‘When We Rise’ (EXCLUSIVE)

ABC’s gay rights miniseries “When We Rise” has filled out its cast with a slew of A-list guest stars, Variety has learned exclusively.

Rob Reiner, T.R. Knight, Phylicia Rashad, Richard Schiff, Mary McCormack, Arliss Howard, Henry Czerny, William Sadler and “NCIS” favorite Pauley Perrette will appear in the highly anticipated project in undisclosed roles.

The casting news comes as “When We Rise” wraps shooting today in Vancouver.

The group of guests join “When We Rise” regulars Guy Pearce, Mary-Louise Parker, Rachel Griffiths, Michael K. Williams and and Ivory Aquino, plus previously announced guest stars Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Denis O’Hare and David Hyde Pierce.

“When We Rise” — hailing from “Milk” scribe Dustin Lance Black — chronicles the personal and political struggles, setbacks and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today. The period piece tells the history of the gay rights movement, starting with the Stonewall Riots in 1969.

Pearce will star as LGBT activist Cleve Jones, who joined the gay liberation movement in 1972 and was befriended by pioneer gay rights leader Harvey Milk. Parker will play women’s rights leader Roma Guy, who co-founded the San Francisco Women’s Building, and Griffiths will play her wife, social justice activist Diane, who joined the Women’s Movement in the 1970s in San Francisco. Williams will portray African-American community organizer Ken Jones, and Aquino will play the role of transgender activist Cecilia Chung.

Goldberg will play Pat Norman, the first openly gay employee of the San Francisco Health Department; O’Donnell will play Del Martin, co-founder of the first lesbian organization in the country; Denis O’Hare will play Foster, openly gay Democratic party organizer; and Pierce will play Cleve’s (Pearce) father, Dr. Jones.

Young actors Austin McKenzie, Emily Skeggs, Jonathan Majors and Fiona Dourif will play the younger versions of the main characters in the event series.

“When We Rise” marks a reunion for both Knight and Czerny and the network, as Knight starred in the early seasons of ABC’s long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and Czerny played the villainous patriarch in the soapy drama “Revenge.”

“When We Rise” will be exec produced by Black and Gus Van Sant, who is directing the two-hour premiere, plus Laurence Mark and Bruce Cohen. Black, Dee Rees and Thomas Schlamme are also directing episodes. ABC Studios is producing the eight-hour, seven-episode event series.

More TV

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Series Mania: De Mensen, Reel One

    Series Mania: First Details on Co-Pro Pitching Project 'Capturing Big Mouth' (EXCLUSIVE)

    LILLE, France — Belgian production company De Mensen, which has just been acquired by France’s Newen, has teamed with Reel One Entertainment on a new cross-continental thriller series, “Capturing Big Mouth. The series will be pitched Monday at this year’s Series Mania Forum Co-pro Pitching section. It chronicles the unlikely rise and eventual fall of [...]

  • Daily Show Viacom

    Viacom, DirecTV Make Progress in Contract Talks, No Blackout After Deadline Passes

    UPDATED: Viacom and DirecTV executives went down to the wire Friday on a combative contract renewal negotiation with high stakes for both sides. The companies stayed in talks past the midnight Eastern contract expiration and the channels stayed up on AT&T’s platforms. Sources indicated early Saturday that the threat of a blackout had been averted. [...]

  • ABBY'S -- "Pilot" Episode 101 --

    TV Review: 'Abby's' Starring Natalie Morales

    “Abby’s,” NBC’s new comedy about a cranky bartender (Natalie Morales) and her inner circle of regulars, is aware of the inevitable “Cheers” comparisons. Created by “New Girl” writer Josh Malmuth and executive produced by uber-producer (and unabashed “Cheers” superfan) Mike Schur, “Abby’s” therefore makes a few key choices in order to differentiate itself as its [...]

  • Ryan Murphy Walk of Fame

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Sets Premiere Date for Ryan Murphy's 'The Politician'

    In today’s roundup, Netflix announces the premiere date for Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” series, and Kristin Cavallari will host “Paradise Hotel” on Fox.  DATES Reality star Kristin Cavallari will host Fox’s reboot of “Paradise Hotel,” an unscripted dating show in which a group of singles will check into a tropical resort and compete to check [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content