Pilot Watch: Eric McCormack Turns Heart Surgeon, Donald Faison Goes Reserve

With all the casting news coming forth for pilots in development I’m beginning to think we should re-title this “Casting Watch.” This week found some big stars looking for work on the small screen – hey, we’re all struggling these days, aren’t we? Even names like Richard Dreyfuss, Chevy Chase, Freddie Prinze Jr., Eric McCormack, and Christine Baranski need a paycheck. Okay, maybe they don’t, but we’re happy to pretend if that’s what it takes to get them back on TV! Read on for what The Hollywood Reporter unearthed from the casting couches over at ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox:

Starting with ABC:

– How about a B-list actor coming back to TV to play a B-list superhero? ABC announced that Freddie Prinze Jr. will join the cast of “No Heroics,” a pilot about four B-list superheroes living among us. He joins Paul Campbell, Eliza Coupe and Arielle Kebbel, who’ve already signed on, to play Bradley aka Ultimatum, an A-list cocky, ambitious Alpha male with lots of women, fame and money. Sounds like him circa 1999! We kid. Excited to (potentially) have you back, Freddie!

– Beau Garrett and Mike Vogel will play the two leads of ABC’s “Empire State,” about a contemporary Romeo-and-Juliet couple; the blue-collar man (Vogel) who falls in love with the daughter (Garrett) of a wealthy businessman who just so happens to be his father’s nemesis. Don’t you love how that happens? Ana De La Reguera will also join the cast.

– Tim Peper, Stephanie Lemelin and Baron Vaughn are getting “Canned,” – though only on the new show if it gets picked up. Peper and Vaughn will play two friends who were fired in mass corporate lay-offs and Lemelin will play Peper’s girlfriend and co-worker who not only keeps her job but is promoted. Here’s hoping for the other two that life won’t imitate art.

– Matthew Lillard and Janet Varney are set to lead on ABC’s untitled Jeff Strauss comedy about marriage and parenthood through three couples. Lillard and Varney will play better halves for two of the couples.

– Larry Joe Campbell will lay down the law on “The Law,” about reserve LAPD officers led by Cedric the Entertainer. Campbell will play Cedric’s training officer and joins cast members Donald Faison and Mercedes Masohn.

– Maybe you can’t trust Eric McCormack. The former Will & Grace star currently seen on TNT’s “Trust Me” just signed on for the untitled Tad Quill half-hour pilot which can’t bode well for his current show. He joins cast members Reno Wilson, Jolie Jenkins and Constance Zimmer on the show about two friends who embark on very different lives: Dean (McCormack), a heart surgeon with a new baby, and Seth (Wilson), a contractor with a new empty nest. Jenkins will play Dean’s wife, and Zimmer will play Seth’s wife.

– “Pulling”, the comedy pilot based on the British version just pulled in Lindsay Sloane, Mary Elizabeth Ellis and Charlie Finn to star. The show will revolve around three single thirty-something women, two to be played by Sloane and Ellis, who live together after one (Sloane) breaks off her engagement the day before her wedding. Finn will play the jilted fiancé making for a surefire awkward situation. In other words, classic TV.

– Holly Robinson Peete and Josh Braaten are joining “The Bridget Show.” They join star Lauren Graham who plays a popular talk show host and relationship expert who walks away from her career for her boyfriend only to be dumped. Robinson Peete will play a guest therapist on Bridget’s show who takes over the show after she leaves and becomes a daytime maven – and likely, the competition. Braaten will play a stoner cousin of Bridget’s recent ex.

CBS Landed….

– ER alum Sherry Stringfield for the drama “Back,” about Richard, played by Skeet Ulrich, who shows up after being presumed dead following the 9/11 attacks. Stringfield will play his former wife who has remarried. Besides feeling a bit too soon for this topic, does anyone else think this rings a bit like “Cast Away”?

– Oscar winner Richard Dreyfuss will play Dad to Jason Biggs in Mitch Hurwitz’s (Arrested Development) comedy pilot, “Happiness Isn’t Everything.” “Happiness,” is about adult siblings whose parents who are too involved in each other’s lives.

– Warren Christie and Denzel Whitaker (no relation to Forest) will star on “House Rules,” a show about the freshman class of Congress and the love-hate relationship between a school teacher-turned-congresswoman (Zoe McLellan) and the House Speaker’s chief of staff, to be played by Christie. Whitaker will play a former student of the teacher working for her part time.

– Rachel Nichols and Laz Alonso are joining CBS’ U.S. Attorney drama, about a team of New York federal prosecutors. Nichols and Alonso will play two of these lawyers.

– Archie Panjabi, Christine Baranski, and Chris Noth are all signing up for “The Good Wife,” about a politician’s wife (Julianna Margulies) who gets a job at a top law firm. Panjabi will play a co-worker who is described as a bisexual Bollywood Erin Brockovich. Quite the image, no? Baranski would play a top litigator at the firm and Noth will play a recurring character, a former DA in jail from of a sex scandal. How “Big” of him.

– David Wilson Barnes was tapped for the lead on “Eastman’s,” a pilot about a family of doctors. He’ll play a cardiologist who is one of the five siblings.

NBC is thinking of employing:

– Chevy Chase, who may be finally ready for primetime. The SNL and bona fide movie star is looking to return to TV with the comedy pilot “Community,” about Jeff (Joel McHale), a lawyer who is sent back to school after his college degree is deemed invalid. Chase will play another student at the community college who has been married five times.

– British import Sophie Winkleman landed the lead role of Charlotte on “100 Questions for Charlotte Payne.” The show follows Charlotte as she navigates working at a dating service with life in New York.

– Lindsey Broad is joining “State of Romance” as the lead role of Emily in this pilot described as a modern day “Pride and Prejudice.” The show centers on Emily and Mike who meet awkwardly on a plane and likely enter a state of romance.

– Jaime Lee Kirchner will scrub in for “Mercy,” a show about three nurses with Kirchner playing one of them.

– Here’s the next show trying to be the next “American Idol” – “The Sing Off,” a new reality competition series that will feature a cappella singing. Seriously. Eight episodes were ordered and will premiere either this summer or next fall when Idol is on hiatus. They’re not stupid. So if all you AI fans need your fix, NBC is hoping you’ll choose this venture which will reward a winner with a Sony Music recording contract. Can I make a plea for The Office’s Andy Bernard (played by Ed Helms) to appear in his a cappella singing character?

And last, but never least, is Fox:

– We also care about directors. Brett Ratner has signed on to direct and executive produce Fox’s comedy “Cop House,” about a half-way house for troubled cops. Does such a thing really exist? Regardless, he’ll take the helm of the show starring Tony Hale as well as Rachael Harris and Ajay Naidu both of whom just joined the cast. Harris will play the only female cop, sent to the house after posing nude in Hustler. Naidu will play a cop with a drinking problem.

– Colton Dunn will round out the cast of “Brothers,” joining Michael Strahan and Darryl Mitchell in this comedy pilot.

And there you have it. Who knows who the recession could bring us next week? If not a stimulus check, I’d gladly take an old favorite back on the small screen. Who would you like to see? Let us know in the comments below!

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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