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Pilot Watch: Power Ranking 10 High-Profile Casting Decisions

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 20, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Industry | February 20, 2013 |

Welcome to another edition of Pilot Watch, where we briefly run down the latest casting announcements. “Briefly,” because, despite the considerable talent involved, most of the series will never see the light of day. If you want to know more about the projects, click on the links.


1. Kyle Chandler — The “Friday Night Lights” alum has joined one of the pilots with the best chance now at a greenlight. Showtime’s “Vatican,” which also stars Matthew Goode, is said to evoke :The Sopranos” and “Upstairs, Downstairs.” “Vatican” is described as a provocative contemporary genre thriller about spirituality, power and politics set against the modern-day political machinations within the Catholic church. Chandler will play Cardinal Thomas Duffy, “the charismatic yet enigmatic Archbishop of New York, whose progressive leanings (he has ordained a woman) excite some and alarm others within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.”


2. Tricia Helfer — Helfer, of “Battlestar Gallactica” fame, joins “Killer Women” as Molly Parker in a drama about the only woman in the notoriously male Texas Rangers. It’s based on an Argentinian series.


3. Mandy Moore — The beloved Mandy Moore, who generally bounces around crappy projects well beneath her, will be one of the leads in “Pulling,” a single-camera comedy for ABC based on a British series that revolves around three dysfunctional women in their 30s living their lives the way they want, even if society tells them they should have it all figured out by this point. Moore will play Louise, “who is optimistic and desperate to snag a husband — but her man-hungry tactics typically backfire. “


4. Catherine O’Hara — O’Hara will join “My Future Assistant” (not to be confused with Krysten Ritter’s pilot, “Assistance”), a comedy that “revolves around assistants at a big New York law firm who band together as a family to help one another cope with the obnoxious, overbearing bosses who challenge their sanity on a daily basis.” O’Hara will play one of the obnoxious, overbearing bosses.


5. Michael Pena — Pena, who just missed the cut as one of the 15 most prolific actors of the last five years, joins “The List” for Fox. It’s sounds fairly generic. “The project centers on the intense Deputy U.S. Marshal Soto (Peña) who, when members of the Federal Witness Security Program start getting killed, leads the hunt for the person who stole “the list” - a file with the identities of every member of the program. “


6. Jason Lee — Jason Lee moves from “My Name Is Earl” and “Memphis Beat” will take the lead in CBS’s “Second Sight,” about a detective with the New Orleans Police Department who’s concealing a troublesome secret. He has an ocular disorder, which causes him to have horrifying and visually stimulating anxiety dreams and hallucinations. Sounds like a high-concept procedural, which CBS does great with.


7. Ari Graynor — The “Fringe” and “Sopranos” alum has nabbed the lead in CBS’s “Bad Teacher,” based on the Cameron Diaz movie. She’ll play the Cameron Diaz role.


8. Rachelle Lefevre — The Stephen King series for CBS has already added Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad”) as the villain. The Twilight star will join a cast that includes Jolene Purdy, Nicholas Strong, Britt Robertson, Alex Kotch and Natalie Martinez. Lefevre will play “an investigative reporter who’s just moved to Chester Mills who forms an interest in an Army veteran (Mike Vogel) on mysterious mission.”


9. Tate Donovan — Donovan — who is NEVER without a job (in fact, he’s currently on NBC’s “Deception,” which almost certainly won’t get renewed) — joins Toni Collette in “Hostage,” which is based on the Israeli format. The series revolves around a family caught in the middle of a grand political conspiracy. Donovan will play Brian, a former Ivy League “golden boy” who is attempting to cover up the fact that his real estate career is floundering, forcing him to rely on his wife (Collette) to keep the family afloat.


10. Peyton List — List — of “Mad Men” — joins Greg Berlanti’s latest stab at a superhero series, “Tomorrow People” and this one sounds like most of the rest: In the vein of “X-Men” and “Heroes,” the series “revolves around several young people from around the world who represent the next stage in human evolution, possessing special powers, including the ability to teleport and communicate with each other telepathically. “

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.