EXCLUSIVE: Former Heroes star Hayden Panettiere is heading back to primetime with a starring role in ABC’s drama pilot Nashville. Written by Callie Khouri, directed by R.J. Cutler and produced by Lionsgate and ABC Studios, Nashville is described as a family soap about love, country music, family, politics and sex set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene. It centers on 40-year-old Nashville superstar Rayna James who is stunned to find that her star is fading and her label requires her to team up with teen sensation Juliette Barnes (Panettiere) on tour–or else face the loss of her own tour and the label’s promotion of her latest record, whose sales have been underwhelming. On Nashville, Panettiere, repped by WME and Brookside Artist Management, joins previously cast Robert Wisdom, Powers Boothe, Clare Bowen and Jonathan Jackson. The actress, best known for her role as cheerleader Claire Bennett on the NBC drama Heroes, recently toplined the Lifetime telefilm Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy and co-starred in the feature Scream 4. In addition to acting, Panettiere also has done singing on the side, recording several songs. Here is the music video for her debut single, the 2008 Wake Up Call:
Veteran Christpher Lloyd has been tapped to star opposite John Leguizamo and Dustin Ybarra in ABC’s multicamera comedy pilot Only Fools And Horses. Based on the British format, the multicamera comedy chronicles the misadventures of two streetwise brothers, Del (Leguizamo) and Rodney (Ybarra), and their aging grandfather (Lloyd) as they concoct outrageous, morally questionable get-rich-quick schemes in their quest to become millionaires. Also cast in the pilot is BJ Bales (Happy Endings) as Trigger, a ghetto-talking con man who is Del and Rodney’s perpetual enemy. Lloyd is with Gersh and Freedman Management; Bales is with APA and Principato-Young,
Majandra Delfino (The Great State Of Georgia) has been cast in ABC’s single-camera pilot starring Mandy Moore and directed by Shawn Levy. The project, written by Bob Fisher and Stacy Traub, centers on newlyweds Annie (Moore) and Ben, who get the opportunity of a lifetime to run a hip, new restaurant in Annie’s hometown bringing her closer to her needy and high-maintenance family. APA-repped Delfino will play one of Annie’s sisters, who is divorced and living at home. 20th Century Fox TV is producing with Shawn Levy and Marty Adelstein’s studio-based banner.
EXCLUSIVE: After a decade at Warner Bros TV, writer-producer Rina Mimoun is moving to ABC Studios where she has signed a two-year overall deal. Under the rich seven-figure pact, Mimoun will develop new projects for the studio and join its upcoming series Mistresses as an executive producer. The soap, based on the British format, was recently given a straight-to-series order for a summer 2013 launch. It was written by The Nine co-creator KJ Steinberg, who is executive producing with Bob Sertner, Ecosse Films’ Douglas Rae and now Mimoun. With Steinberg busy working on her ABC/ABC Studios pilot Gilded Lilys, Mimoun and Sertner will oversee day-to-day operations on Mistresses for the time being. Mimoun’s deal with ABC Studios starts in June, but I hear she is been loaned out by Warner Bros TV so that she can start work on Mistresses right away.
UPDATE: Nicollette Sheridan Will Be First On Stand As ‘Desperate Housewives’ Trial Wraps Opening Statements
Freelance writer Dominic Patten is a Deadline contributor
3RD UPDATE, 4:35 PM: Stephen McPherson killed Edie Britt. That’s according to defense lawyer Adam Levin in his opening statement late this afternoon. Levin claims that the former ABC Entertainment president gave Desperate Housewives creator/executive producer Cherry the OK to kill off Nicollette Sheridan’s character on the series — months before an alleged head-slapping incident between the actress and Cherry. Levin told jurors that on May 22, 2008, Cherry along with fellow Housewives exec producer Bob Daily went to then-ABC Studios boss Pedowitz and asked him if they could kill off Sheridan’s character in a “tentpole” Season 5 story arc. Pedowitz agreed, and that same day the group went to McPherson with the idea. “The evidence will show,” Levin said, “that Mr. McPherson agreed”. Along with Sheridan and Cherry, who were both in court today, Pedowitz, Daily and McPherson are scheduled to testify in the two-week trial. “People die all the time on television”, Levin said, citing the collective decision. “It can increase buzz and revenue”. Levin also all but claimed that Sheridan’s assertion that Cherry hit her on set in September 2008 was the actress attempting to generate buzz and revenue for herself. Sheridan, “suffered no injury” when Cherry “lightly tapped” her on the head while giving her on-set direction that day. “She didn’t even have a red mark; she didn’t even take an aspirin,” Levin told the jury, dismissing the plaintiff’s contention that the actress was “hit hard,” as her lawyer claimed earlier. “The evidence will show she went to her trailer and the first call she made was to check her voicemail”. Concluded Levin: “Ms. Sheridan was not battered nor wrongfully terminated”. The trial continues Thursday.
2ND UPDATE, 4:15 PM: Both opening arguments have ended. Sheridan is schedule to be the first witness on the stand tomorrow morning at 9:15 and is expected to testify all day Thursday and the entire half-day session Friday.
The high-profile documentary directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil) debuted at the recent Sundance Film Festival. Fran Walsh and Peter Jackson produced the film with first-time producers Damien Echols (a subject of the film) and …
EXCLUSIVE: With two drama series orders under its belt, Hannibal at NBC and Hemlock Grove at Netflix, five-month-old Gaumont International Television is staffing up. The company, a Los Angeles-based TV production division of French movie studio Gaumont, has hired veteran executives Elisa Roth, Marc Hirschfeld and Andy House in top executive positions under Gaumont CEO Katie O’Connell and COO Richard Frankie. This marks a reunion for O’Connell, Roth and Hirschfeld who worked together at NBC as head of departments: NBC drama (O’Connell), Universal TV drama (Roth) NBC/Universal casting (Hirschfeld). All 3 left in the big executive shakeup at the network in December 2008.
At GIT, House will serve as Head of Production, Elisa Roth as Head of Creative Affairs and Marc Hirschfeld will supervise casting. Also on board is Alison Engel as VP of Creative Affairs. “As part of our growth strategy it was the perfect time to bring Andy, Elisa and Marc on board,” said O’Connell, while Franke called them “highly respected senior television executives with deep relationships in the global television community.” The deal with Hirschfeld is non-exclusive.
In his first executive hire, NBC Entertainment’s EVP Communications Richard Licata has brought in a former member of his team at Showtime. Dianne Hatlestad, who exited Showtime in the recent restructuring of the network’s communications department under new head …
If you were watching the Oscar Red Carpet arrivals on Sunday, you saw Sacha Baron Cohen’s character from The Dictator get handled roughly by two burly security guys after dumping what he said were the ashes of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il over Ryan Seacrest’s tuxedo. It looked like he was going to be carted off in handcuffs, but what happened after?
Baron Cohen wasn’t removed. He was merely hustled away from the ash-covered Seacrest, and while he was relieved of his urn, Baron Cohen continued to parade in character for a quarter mile of Red Carpet soundbites. He didn’t attend the Oscars, but that wasn’t the Academy’s choice. I’m told the Academy bent over backwards to welcome Baron Cohen. Aside from okaying his Dictator garb choice, they set aside a dressing room so that he could change into a tux after and attend the ceremony. Once he completed that lap, Baron Cohen then entered the dressing room and emerged in his tux. But he did not use the Oscar tickets; he ducked out, got in a limo and headed right over to Vanity Fair’s viewing dinner party at the Tower Hotel. He never even sat down in the auditorium.