As The West Wing and Will & Grace begin the final march to a finale, there is darned little left on television that I watch. Lost and Medium are still about, and as always, the networks are scrambling to copy the successful shows. Now, I’m no network suit, but I can clearly see that the shows which become hits are always the ones that are new and break the mold. So, why do they always rush unoriginal copies into production? Cases in point:
RAINES (NBC) – Linda Park (Ensign Hoshi Sato on “Star Trek: Enterprise”) and Matt Craven (Capra on “Assault on Precinct 13”) have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an eccentric, brilliant cop (Jeff Goldblum) who talks to dead victims that help him solve his cases. They’ll play Sally Lance and Captain Daniel Lewis in the NBC Universal Television-based hour, which also stars Dov Davidoff, Luis Guzmán and Nicole Sullivan. Graham Yost is behind the project, which Frank Darabont is directing.
Copies of “Alias”
COMPANY TOWN (CBS) – Esai Morales (Lt. Tony Rodriguez on “N.Y.P.D. Blue”) has snagged a role on the drama pilot, about government officials who live in the same Washington, D.C. suburban neighborhood. He’ll play Ray Dupre, who’s detailed in the casting notice as: “40’s. Ray is a completely undercover CIA agent who keeps a low profile and is usually seen in the company of the much younger Jessa, who is presumed to be his wife or girlfriend by curious neighbors. As one who oversees covert missions, he is actually readying Jessa for her next assignment. Although their relationship is strictly professional, there are moments where he detaches himself from his mentor façade and feels genuine concern for his new trainee.” Morales joins the previously cast Blair Underwood, Catherine Bell, Gary Cole, Michael Michele and Sherry Stringfield in the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which comes from creator Elwood Reid, executive producer Larry Sanitsky and director Thomas Carter.
EDISON (CBS) – Joe Manganiello (Scott on “So Notorious”) and Arija Bareikis (Det. Annie Capra on “Crossing Jordan”) have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about an L.A. detective (John Leguizamo) who relies on impersonations and disguises to solve crimes. Manganiello will play a former hockey player-turned-AA group leader in the CBS Paramount Network Television/Touchstone Television-based hour, while Bareikis’s character wasn’t specified. The duo join the previously cast Currie Graham and Deidrie Henry in the project, which Kevin Rodney Sullivan is directing from a script by Ron Milbauer and Terri Hughes. Leguizamo and David Hoberman also serve as executive producers.
Boston Legal (or any other lawyer show)
IN THE SHADOW OF THE LAW (CBS) – Harry J. Lennix (Jim Gardner on “Commander in Chief”) and Monet Mazur (Fiona on “Monster-in-Law”) have both joined the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of smart legal associates trying to make partner at a powerful Washington, D.C.-based law firm while dealing with a host of moral, ethical and legal challenges. Lennix, whose involvement is in second position to his duties on “Chief,” will play Finn with Mazur set as Katja. Carol Mendelsohn is behind the CBS Paramount Network Television-based hour, which Danny Cannon is directing. Alan Tudyk, Jacob Pitts, Joshua Jackson and Kevin Pollak also star.
Remember Twin Peaks?
SECRETS OF A SMALL TOWN (ABC) – Matt Long (Jack McCallister on “Jack & Bobby”), Lucy Hale (“American Juniors”), Samantha Mathis (Maria Castle on “The Punisher”), Leighton Meester (Savannah Barnett on “Surface”), Jacob Smith (Tommy Ferguson on “Miracles”) and Brian Van Holt (Sean Cavennaugh on “Threshold”) have all reportedly joined the cast of the drama pilot, about the murder of a teenage girl and the disappearance of her sister in a small town – events which kick off a chain reaction that leads to both emotional and humorous discoveries that have been long buried. No details about their characters – Chad, Tisha, Sam, Kayla, Peter and Tom – were released. The group joins the previously cast Angie Harmon, Denise Richards, John L. Adams, John Terry, Sean Patrick Flanery and Tyler Christopher in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which comes from creator Charles Pratt, Jr. and director Adam Davidson. Bert Salke and Chris Brancato also serve as executive producers.
How about St. Elmo’s Fire?
SIX DEGREES (ABC) – Bridget Moynahan (Ava Fontaine Orlov on “Lord of War”) is in talks to join the cast of the drama pilot, about a group of six post-college young adults whose lives intertwine in various ways. She’d play Whitney in the Touchstone Television-based hour, which also stars Campbell Scott, Dorian Missick, Erika Christensen, Hope Davis and Jay Hernandez. Raven Metzner and Stu Zicherman are behind the hour, which is also executive produced by Bryan Burk, J.J. Abrams and Thom Sherman. Rodrigo García is directing.
And dipping way back in the past, The Fugitive
RUNAWAY (The CW) – Karen LeBlanc (Rayven Pierre on “Kevin Hill”) and Susan Floyd (Jessica Sheets on “Law & Order”) have both booked roles on the drama pilot, about a family who, after the husband/father’s (Donnie Wahlberg) murder conviction, decide to become fugitives in the hopes that they can buy him enough time to prove his innocence. LeBlanc will play Angela, a U.S. Marshal on their tail, while Floyd’s character wasn’t specified. Dustin Milligan, Leslie Hope and Nathan Gamble also star in the Sony Pictures Television-based hour, which comes from executive producers Chad Hodge, Darren Star and Ed Zuckerman. Mikael Salomon is directing from a script by Hodge.