Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: In a major casting coup for their FX drama pilot American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have tapped Jessica Lange to star in a lead role opposite Connie Britton. This marks the first foray into TV series for the two-time Oscar winner.

The premise of American Horror Story is under wraps, but a breakdown for the pilot listed two main characters: Ben Harmon, a sensitive therapist, and Vivien Harmon (Britton), his gorgeous wife who is a force to be reckoned with. Lange will play their nosy neighbor. Murphy and Falchuk are now rewriting the script to expand the role for Lange, turning it into a full-fledged third lead. In the pilot, Lange also joins Denis O’Hare, who plays Larry the burn guy, while the role of Ben is yet to be cast.

Murphy is set to direct the pilot, from 20th Century Fox TV, which will start production later this month, after Murphy and Falchuk wrap production on Glee. Murphy and Falchuk are executive producing American Horror Story with Dante Di Loreto. FX was already high on the pilot, with president John Landgraf saying that he was targeting it for a fall series launch. Getting a marquee name like Lange in addition to Britton is sure to further boost the projects’ chances for a series order. Lange, repped by WME and Untitled, most recently starred in the HBO movie Grey Gardens, which earned her an Emmy. She will next be seen opposite Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum in the feature The Vow, helmed by her Grey Gardens director Michael Sucsy.

TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.