Stars You May Not Know Are In TV Pilots For Next Season

Viola Davis- How To Get Away With Murder (ABC Drama)

The two-time Oscar nominee has somehow been lured to a TV regular gig, not on a cable or pay network. This is a huge deal for ABC, yet somehow they didn’t pick this up to series immediately. I can’t think of a reason this shouldn’t get some kind of an episode order, just to test the waters with Davis.

Jamie Lee Curtis- Only Human- (CBS Drama)

After trying to lure Curtis to TV for years, the industry finally succeeded with Only Human.

Katherine Heigl- State Of Affairs (NBC, Drama)

Her film career clearly not working out for her, Heigl is returning to TV, which is still a big deal.

Taraji P. Henson and Terrence Howard- Empire (FOX, Drama)

Two Oscar nominees toplining a Fox drama? Add to that the pilot is created and directed by Lee Daniels (Precious, The Butler), written by Danny Strong (The Butler), and also produced by Bryan Grazer, and you have quite a strong shot at a series order.

Ryan Phillippe, Juliette Lewis, Clifton Collins Jr, KaDee Strickland- Secrets and Lies (ABC, Drama)

Phillippe would have been enough to make this project interesting, but add on Oscar-nominee Lewis, as well as Collins Jr, and Private Practice’s Strickland, and this is a buzzy pilot indeed.

Octavia Spencer- The Red Band Society (FOX, Drama)

Oscar Winner Octavia Spencer stars in a Steven Spielberg produced drama.

Matt Dillon, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Carla Gugino, Hope Davis, Juliette Lewis, Justin Kirk, Shannyn Sossamon, Toby Jones- Wayward Pines (FOX, Drama)

Say what you want about M. Night Shyamalan’s directing, but he really drew quite a crowd for his FOX limited series. That’s an impressive cast, with four Oscar nominees.

David Strathairn (with Kevin Alejandro and others)- Clementine (ABC, Drama)

David Strathairn, who was horribly underused on SyFy’s Alphas (he’s an Oscar nominee for Christ sakes!), landed a series lead on a buzzy ABC sci-fi drama about a psychic. Kevin Alejandro, who is an undervalued player across many series, as well as Mykelti Williamson and Edwin Hodge, support.

Anthony Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, and Tracie Ellis Ross- Black-ish (ABC, 1/2 hour comedy)

The lack of black sitcoms currently on the air, and three well-known black actors starring in the show, should garner a pick-up. Anderson has had series gigs before, and Fishburne is currently on Hannibal, but Tracie Ellis Ross hasn’t had a high profile gig since Girlfriends was cancelled.

Matthew Perry- The Odd Couple (CBS, 1/2 hour comedy)

Who wouldn’t love to see Matt LeBlanc play opposite Perry? I mean, come on. I’m still not over Go On’s cancellation. One of these seasons, I’m sure we’ll see a TV show starring every friend (Aniston’s will probably be on HBO).

David Schwimmer- Irreversible-  (ABC, 1/2 hour comedy)

In addition to Matthew Perry’s sitcom getting a pilot order at CBS, Schwimmer has a pilot order at ABC. Might we see a few Friends in the fall?

Debra Messing- The Mysteries Of Laura (NBC, Drama)

Having a year between her and Smash, Messing feels it is time to return to NBC drama. I guess. Why can’t she do another comedy?

Greta Gerwig- How I Met Your Dad- (CBS 1/2 hour comedy)

Gerwig landed the top spot in the How I Met Your Mother companion series. I’m surprised she was willing to stall her promising film career, having just landed a Golden Globe nomination for Frances Ha.

Rainn Wilson, Dennis Haysbert, Camryn Manheim, Mamie Gummer, Thomas Dekker- Backstrom (FOX, Drama)

Wilson’s first series gig post- The Office has a 13 episode order. Of course, his supporting cast of Haysbert (24), Manheim (The Practice), Gummer (The Newsroom), and Dekker (The Sarah Connor Chronicles) is awesome too.

Rob Lowe and Rob Riggle- The Pro- (NBC, comedy)

Lowe, famous for leaving hit shows (The West Wing, Brothers and Sisters, Parks and Recreation), is starting his own NBC sitcom with Rob Riggle (who was rumored to be getting a Modern Family spinoff at one point).

Scott Bakula (with Lucas Black and Paige Turco)- Untitled NCIS Spinoff (CBS, Drama)

After having failed to launch Red last year, CBS is trying another NCIS spinoff, with Bakula as the lead. Will this one be successful in getting a series order?

Mary Louise Parker- Feed Me (NBC, Comedy)

Her first series starring gig since Weeds. She proved herself adept at anchoring a long running sitcom once, so NBC will likely give her the chance again (even if the title is awful).

Ashley Judd- Salvation (NBC, Drama)

Ashley Judd tried once with Missing, and will try again at a TV series gig with Salvation. Hopefully she’ll have better luck in this Texas mega church drama.

Janet McTeer and Kal Penn- Battle Creek (CBS, drama)

Already has a 13 episode commitment, and Oscar nominee Janet McTeer behind it. You might remember McTeer from Albert Nobbs.

Will Forte- The Last Man On Earth (FOX, Comedy)

Forte, hot off of the Oscar nominated Nebraska, managed a blind series commitment for his first series-starring gig.

Grant Gustin, Jesse L. Martin, Tom Cavanagh, Danielle Panabaker- The Flash (The CW, Drama)

Gustin (Glee) was an interesting choice to play The Flash, but the CW decided to pedigree the show a bit by adding Martin (Law and Order), Cavanagh (Ed), and Panabaker (Shark) to the cast. There is literally zero chance this doesn’t get a fall pick-up.

Cristin Milioti (and Ben Feldman)- A to Z (NBC, 1/2 hour comedy)

Using all the good will for being “the mother” on How I Met Your Mother, Milioti has already landed a series for next fall, and it is executive produced by Rashida Jones. While A to Z hasn’t officially been ordered to series, it has a pilot order, and Milioti, who is definitely seen as “in demand” right now. Add to that Ben Feldman who has bounced around on everything from Mad Men to The Mindy Project, and you have a show that seems like a decent shot at being a midseason replacement.

Jennifer Carpenter, Keir Gilchrist, Jack Davenport- Sea Of Fire (ABC, Drama)

Carpenter landed her first post-Dexter series lead role, Gilchrist is fresh off of The United States of Tara, and Davenport is reviving his career post-Smash. These three are accompanied by Amanda Detmer, Jeffrey Nordling, and others. It’s a solid ensemble, but the big draw here is Carpenter.

Casey Wilson, Tim Meadows, Ken Marino- Marry Me (NBC, Comedy)

Fans of the cult-hit Happy Endings will be happy to know (happy intended) that their Penny has found another series. Too bad it’s not a show about Penny, because that would be Ah-mah-zing. Side note: Wilson’s BFF June Diane Raphael also has an NBC sitcom in the works, produced by Wilson!

Justin Long- Sober Companion (FOX, Comedy)

Justin Long might be anchoring a sitcom in the fall. It’ll be his first series starring gig.

David James Elliot, Jane Kaczmarek, and Jon Heder- Here’s Your Damn Family- (FOX, 1/2 hour Comedy)

Elliot (JAG), Kaczmarek (Malcolm In The Middle), and Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) team for a new sitcom at FOX.

Treat Williams, Anna Friel, Peter Facinelli, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje- The Odyssey- (NBC, drama)

Williams (Everwood), Friel (Pushing Daisies), Facinelli (Nurse Jackie), and AA-A (Lost) team up for an NBC drama. That’s a lot of TV pedigree.

Anna Gunn, David Tennant, Jacki Weaver, Nick Nolte,  Michael Pena, Jessica Lucas, Kevin Zegers- Gracepoint- (FOX, Drama)

Fox’s remake of Broadchurch has quite the cast, including Oscar nominees Weaver and Nolte, and Emmy winner Gunn. I’m impressed.

Meagan Good and Skeet Ulrich- Babylon Fields (NBC, Drama)

From producer Michael Cuesta (Homeland), comes a series they have tried already twice to get on the air. With Good (Deception) and Ulrich (Jericho) on board, is third time the charm?

Tea Leoni and Tim Daly- Madam Secretary (CBS Drama)

Two TV stars uniting for a TV drama about a female Secretary of State from producer Morgan Freeman? Sold.

Jane Krakowski- Dead Boss (FOX, Comedy)

The 30 Rock vet has found her series starring gig.

Kate Walsh- Bad Judge (NBC, Comedy)

Having survived Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, Kate Walsh will venture into comedy this pilot season. Her show is buzzy, and should get a series order.

Krysten Ritter- Mission Control (NBC, Comedy)

The Bitch in Apt 23 is back, just at NBC this season, and doing a NASA comedy. Hmmm…

Natasha Lyonne (with Rita Moreno, and Amy Poehler EP)- Old Soul (NBC, Comedy)

Amy Poehler created this show, which stars Natasha Lyonne, and co-stars Rita Moreno. David Wain is directing the pilot. It should be quirky and awesome.

John Mulaney, Martin Short, Nasim Pedrad, Elliot Gould- Mulaney (FOX, Comedy)

John Mulaney has been a TV target for the past couple cycles, as various networks have tried to get him a sitcom that works. This time, they’ve stacked the deck in the supporting cast with some very funny and recognizable faces. Good for him. It’s about time.

Craig Robinson (with Jean Smart, Larenz Tate, and Jane Adams)- Mr Robinson (NBC, Comedy)

Craig Robinson’s series gig was actually ordered a while back, for 6 episodes. I wonder if NBC is planning on ever showing us those episodes, or if the show is headed for a summer burn off?

Milo Ventmiglia (with Barry Sloane and Lily Rabe)- The Visitors (ABC Drama)

Milo is a TV regular, so it’s not surprising he’s got a pilot order. Sloane (Revenge) and Rabe (American Horror Story) help elevate the visibility of the pilot.

And yes, there is a Constantine show, and Gotham also in the works.

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