How often does a TCA panel on a TV show includes a question to the star: “When did you first know that you were adorable?” That happened today during the session for Fox’s new comedy New Girl starring Zooey Deschanel as a dorky girl moving in with three guys. The indie darling was, well, adorable, in her responses, including blushing in dismissing the adorable label. “I don’t think I’ve ever read a role as good for myself,” she said of her part on the show. The producers talked about the casting change, with Lamorne Morris replacing co-star Damon Wayans Jr, who had to pull out after the pilot due to his commitment to ABC’s Happy Endings. Instead of making this a straight recasting, the producers decided to keep the pilot as is with Wayans Jr as one of Jess’ roommates and then have his character move out and introduce Morris in Episode 2 as a new roommate. “We were really happy with the pilot, the chemistry was where we wanted it,” executive producer Brett Baer said. “So we wanted to bring in a new character that would really bring a new energy to the show.” Added Jake Kasdan, director of the pilot and executive producer of the series, “We thought the overall dynamic was very rich and were looking to preserve that but tailoring to a different actor.”
Saturday Night Live alum Tim Meadows has joined NBC’s untitled Kari Lizer project. The workplace comedy centers on Mary (Sarah Paulson), a relationship-challenged woman who, with the help of her co-workers, guides people through unexpected career transitions and downsizings. Meadows, repped by APA and Brillstein Entertainment, will play Mary’s partner, a psychotherapist and the reality check to Mary’s eternal optimism.
Off the Map co-star Zach Gilford has been cast as the male lead in the Fox single-camera pilot Iceland. The project centers on Mackenzie (Kerry Bishe), a twentysomething woman whose fiance recently passed away. Gilford, from WME and D/F Management, will play a guy friend of Mackenzie described as “bad influence.” For Gilford, the casting is in second position to Off the Map. He is the third cast member from the midseason drama to book a pilot this season along with Martin Henderson and Rachelle Lefevre, both cast in NBC’s Reconstruction.
Paul Blackthorne (Lipstick Jungle) has just been cast in the ABC drama pilot The River directed by Jaume Collet-Serra. The horror thriller centers on Lincoln Cole (Joe Anderson) who, after his famous TV explorer father Dr. Emmet Cole (Bruce Greenwood) goes missing way up the Amazon, reluctantly abandons his medical studies and follows in his father’s footsteps. Blackthorne, repped by SDB Partners, Seven Summits & Optimism, will play the producer of Emmet Cole’s long-running documentary series.