Abigail Spencer (Mad Men) has landed the female lead opposite Eric Roberts in ABC’s drama pilot Grace, from writer Krista Vernoff. A dysfunctional family drama set in the world of professional dance, it centers on Michael Grace (Roberts), a famous choreographer who tends to sleep with his dancers and has three daughters with different mothers. He is in danger of losing his studio until his daughter Sarah (Spencer), a former dancer-turned-lawyer, decides to buy her father’s studio and run it for him before he loses it. Spencer, repped by ICM and Untitled, recently filmed the features Cowboys and Aliens and A Haunting in Georgia.
Oscar-winning feature writer Stephen Gaghan is making a return to television with a pilot at NBC. In his latest pilot order to a big-name writer, new NBC programming chief Bob Greenblatt has given the green light to Gaghan’s drama S.I.L.A., which will be produced by 20th Century Fox TV and Chernin Entertainment. Gaghan, who won an Oscar for writing Traffic and earned another Oscar nom for writing Syriana, originally penned S.I.L.A. 18 months ago, with the script recently finding its way to Greenblatt. The project is described as a complex drama in the style of Traffic and Syriana set in the world of crime, law enforcement and politics in sprawling modern-day Los Angeles. In addition to writing, Gaghan, who has helmed two movies, including Syriana, will also direct the pilot. He is executive producing with Peter Chernin and Katherine Pope.
S.I.L.A.was laid off at Chernin Entertainment and 20th TV because of Gaghan’s existing relationships there. Through a deal at 20th TV, Gaghan has a drama and animated projects set up at Fox, also through Chernin Entertainment, which he is supervising along with his development executive Suzanne Joskow. On the feature side, Gaghan has Dead Spy Running, a feature at Warner Bros. that he is writing with an eye to direct. Kevin McCormick and McG’s Wonderland are producing.