Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: Mercy star Taylor Schilling is returning to television as the lead in Orange Is The New Black, Netflix’s new 13-episode hourlong series from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. Schilling has been in demand after her starring role opposite Zac Efron in the romantic drama The Lucky One, which grossed $60 million in the U.S. box office this spring. Following her breakout role as the lead of the 2009 NBC drama series Mercy, Schilling had been focused on features but was drawn back to TV by Kohan’s script, her first since Weeds.

Like Weeds, Orange Is The New Black has a strong female lead, which attracted interest from a number of actresses. Based on the book by Piper Kerman, Orange Is The New Black is a one-hour drama, with comedic elements, about Piper (Schilling) an engaged Brooklynite whose decade-old relationship with a drug-runner in college results in her arrest and multi-year detention in a federal penitentiary. Lacking any real-world experience to deal with this harsh new environment, Piper immerses herself in women’s prison culture and finds acceptance, tears, laughter, and love amidst an outspoken group of inmates.

Also like Weeds, Orange Is The New Black is produced by Lionsgate TV where Kohan is under an overall deal. Schilling, repped by Gersh and 3 Arts, just wrapped the feature Stay. Orange Is The New Black is one of three straight-to-series projects Netflix has in production, along with drama House Of Cards and the Arrested Development reboot.

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