As we get closer to this year's upfronts, the networks are closing deals on a daily basis for their new top-tier projects. From movie stars looking to make the leap to TV to old favorites in new roles, it's hard to keep track of all the familiar faces you may see on your screen in 2014.
Nathaniel Buzolic and Lucien Laviscount, Supernatural: Tribes (The CW)
The smash hit Supernatural on The CW (a subsidiary of CBS (NYSE: CBS)) is moving full steam ahead with its spinoff, tentatively titled Supernatural: Tribes. This week it signed two of its leads as production is set to begin soon on the embedded pilot. Vampire Diaries actor Nathaniel Buzolic and British actor Lucien Laviscount (Skins) have been chosen to topline the project, which will be set in Chicago.
Buzolic will play David Hayden, a shapeshifter from one of the city's ruling monster families who is content to live as a human. Laviscount will play Ennis Roth, a police rookie who embarks on a war against monsters after his fiancée become collateral damage during one of their battles for power. Watch for more casting announcements ahead of the episode's April 29 debut.
Impact on network
Supernatural: Tribes is one of The CW's two big pilots being groomed for the 2014-2015 season (along with Flash), and fans have been anxiously awaiting casting news. While neither is as big of a name as Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki were when they first joined the original Supernatural, they each have the potential to be down the road. Network head Mark Pedowitz made a great point last year when discussing its Flash project when he said "if we get a name [actor], great, if we don't get a name [actor], they'll become a name." Just as that statement applies to Flash, it will apply to Tribes.
Elisha Cuthbert, One Big Happy (NBC)
Ellen DeGeneres has shown she can clearly do it all, and this fall she'll be a driving force behind one of NBC's (a subsidiary of Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA)) most anticipated pilots, One Big Happy. This week the show snared 24 actress Elisa Cuthbert as the co-lead, where she'll reunite with one-time Happy Endings co-star Nick Zano. The pair play longtime platonic friends (one straight, one gay) who decide to have a baby together via artificial insemination, but things get complicated when Zano's character impulsively marries a woman he believes is his soul-mate just as Cuthbert's character gets pregnant.
Impact on network
The casting (first reported by Deadline) is a nice win for NBC, which again will likely be starting from scratch with its comedy slate following the failures of The Michael J. Fox Show and Sean Saves the World. While Cuthbert will bring her smaller but loyal Happy Endings fans with her, the bigger draw here will be having Ellen involved behind the scenes. On paper that could help build buzz for the series should it be picked up. Then again it turned out having a big name like Ryan Murphy behind The New Normal in 2012 didn't really to seem to make an impact as the show was ultimately canceled.
Milo Ventimiglia and Barry Sloane, The Visitors (ABC)
Between V and The Neighbors, you could say ABC (a subsidiary of Disney (NYSE: DIS) enjoys airing TV series with an alien theme and this fall it will have another one on its roster. The Visitors is a drama that chronicles a race against time to defeat a mysterious (and unseen) alien enemy with a plan to destroy the world by using its most precious resource against us.
This week ABC signed Heroes star Milo Ventimiglia to play John Doe/Drew, a character described as being covered in "strange tattoos and diagrams and speaks a strange language." The same day the network revealed Revenge's Barry Sloane's also come on board as Wes, a former FBI agent who now works the Special Projects Division of the Department of Defense. Wes investigate military threats that are best kept outside of the public spectrum.
Impact on network
Both Ventimiglia and Sloane are popular among the female demo and Ventimiglia was an actor in high demand this pilot season. Sloane meanwhile is still contracted to ABC's Revenge but was given permission by the show's producers to take on the pilot. It remains to be seen if Sloane will be (or was always going to be) written out of the network sudster, but that's now a real possibility should the show get picked up. Should both actors end up fronting the show, it will give ABC a strong set of leads that should bring in the female demographic the network specializes in while also appealing to the male audience executives are always hoping to entice.
Brett Gold owns shares of CBS. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.