Casting Update: Hayden Panettiere, Matthew Perry, Minnie Driver book pilot leads
In case you hadn't noticed, it's pilot casting season, and the last couple of days quite a few bold-faced names found their potential new homes on the small-screen. Below we've put together a little roundup for you that covers most of the higher-profile thesps:
- Former "Heroes" actress Hayden Panettiere has joined the cast of the ABC drama pilot "Nashville", according to Deadline. The show is being billed as a primetime soap set against the backdrop of the country-music industry. Panetierre will play rising teenage singing sensation Juliette Barnes, one of the pilot's two central roles. The other, a veteran female country music star whose career has stumbled in recent years, has yet to be filled. Panettiere joins the previously-cast Jonathan Jackson ("General Hospital") and Powers Boothe ("24", "Deadwood") in the potential new series.
- Meanwhile, "Friends" alumnus Matthew Perry is returning to the Peacock network for another go, signing on to star a single-camera dramedy pilot entitled "Go On", which comes, appropriately enough, from former "Friends" co-showrunner Scott Silveri. Perry, who will serve as co-executive producer, is set to star as "an irreverent yet charming sportscaster" who suffers a loss and must learn to move forward with the help of a mandatory support group. Actresses Julie White ("Cavemen") and Suzy Nakamura ("Men of a Certain Age") were previously cast in the pilot, which will be directed by Todd Holland (whose "Free Agents" crashed and burned at the network last fall). Deadline first reported the story.
- Minnie Driver, whose last regular series gig was the short-lived FX series "The Riches", has signed on to star opposite Andrea Anders ("Necessary Roughness") in "Lady Friends" an NBC comedy pilot created by Kari Lizer ("The New Adventures of Old Christine", "Will & Grace"). The show centers on two life-long friends who remain close despite having taken very different paths in life. Driver will star as the erratic Jen, who can't seem to get things right no matter what she does, while Anders is playing Nicole, who leads a relatively charmed existence. According to Deadline, Driver was pursued for a month by the network, which had to persuade ABC to release the actress from a talent-holding deal.
- Amy Smart, who currently recurs on the Showtime dramedy "Shameless", has been cast alongside Karolina Wydra in the NBC drama pilot entitled "Bad Girls", an adaptation of the popular U.K. series about a women's prison that ran for eight seasons on ITV. Smart will play a gorgeous blonde woman from Orange County who is serving time for running up charges on her friend's credit card, while Wydra will play a sexy, manipulative fellow inmate. The latter actress currently has a recurring role on "House", as the title character's green-card wife Dominika.
- Speaking of "Smart", we wonder if former "King of Queens" star Leah Remini was "smarting" after her recent dismissal from morning chat show "The Talk" - but no matter. The actress has just booked a role on an ABC single-camera comedy pilot entitled "White Van Man", which is based on a BBC3 series about a man who's reluctantly forced to take over his father's handyman business. The lead character will be played by Kyle Bornheimer (from the short-lived ABC comedy "Romantically Challenged") in the American version, while JK Simmons ("The Closer") has signed on for the father role. Remini, meanwhile, will play a masseuse with a teenage son (Jonny Pemberton) who is also the younger sister of Simmons' character. Former "House" recurring player Edi Gathegi also joined the cast previously.
- Though she's arguably better-known as a Jenny Craig spokesperson these days, former "Less than Perfect" star Sara Rue is returning to her frequent home ABC for another go, this time in the Reba McEntire comedy pilot "Malibu Country". The show, which was created by former "Reba" writer/executive-producer Kevin Abbott, will see McEntire starring as the ex-wife of a country-music star who moves her family from Nashville to a small house in Malibu after discovering that he's not only been cheating on her but also burned through the majority their finances. Rue will play Reba's new neighbor, a trophy wife with oversharing issues.
So there you have it, friends! Sound off with our thoughts on any of the above in the comments!