×
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

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • R. KellyR. Kelly in concert at

    'Surviving R. Kelly' Producers on the Lifetime Doc's Ripple Effect

    The ripple effect of “Surviving R. Kelly” continues to widen more than a week after the documentary aired on Lifetime, renewing public interest — and outrage — over the litany of sexual abuse allegations against the R&B artist. Lady Gaga and Phoenix have apologized for working with him. Chance the Rapper and other artists are said to [...]

  • Yellowstone

    Viacom Lays Off Paramount Network Staffers Amid Reorganization (EXCLUSIVE)

    Viacom has laid off a number of staffers in its entertainment group, with the majority of the affected employees hailing from Paramount Network, Variety has learned exclusively. A Viacom spokesperson declined to comment. But a source with knowledge of the situation that the number of affected employees was fewer than 20, or less than 2% of [...]

  • The Last OG

    TV News Roundup: 'Last O.G.' Sets Season 2 Premiere Date on TBS

    In today’s TV News Roundup, “The Last O.G.” announces its Season 2 return date and Variety has the exclusive first look at Fox’s new legal drama “Proven Innocent.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has announced its new limited series “Black Earth Rising” will launch on Jan. 25. The contemporary thriller series stars Michaela Coel as Kate Ashby, a Rwandan girl [...]

  • Matt Walsh

    'Veep' Star Matt Walsh to Lead ABC Comedy Pilot 'Happy Accident'

    Matt Walsh has been tapped for a lead role in the upcoming ABC single-camera comedy pilot “Happy Accident.” In the series, two Pittsburgh families – a father (Walsh) with three adult daughters, and a hotel lounge singer with her med student son – are forced together after a decades-old secret is revealed. Walsh currently stars in [...]

  • Jane Fonda

    'Grace and Frankie' Renewed for Season 6 at Netflix

    Netflix has renewed “Grace and Frankie” for a sixth season ahead of the Season 5 premiere this Friday. The series stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the titular characters who found their lives turned upside down when their husbands (played by Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, respectively) revealed they were gay and left the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content