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3 TV Castings You Missed: McDermott to CBS, Poehler’s ‘Old Soul,’ and Vince Gilligan’s ‘Battle Creek’ Signs Leads

By Brett Gold - Mar 6, 2014 at 12:31PM

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As we get closer to upfronts, a number of actors are signing up for lead roles on the small screen that could give networks a big advantage come the fall.

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.

(Credit: CBS)

Dylan McDermott, Untitled Kevin Williamson Drama (CBS)

If at first you don't succeed... That's apparently the motto for Dylan McDermott who may be making a return to CBS ( VIAC 5.11% ) in the fall with a new drama following this season's Hostages misfire. The psychological thriller comes from The Following's Kevin Williamson and is centered on detectives from the LAPD's Threat Assessment Unit, which focuses mostly on stalking incidents. McDermott will play Jack Larsen, a detective who transfers to Los Angeles after his past as a NYPD officer forces him to flee the Big Apple.

Impact on network

Honestly, there is NO nice way to summarize the whole Hostages experiment -- it was a bad idea and audiences didn't respond well. However you can't blame McDermott for that failure. Viewers were turned off by the plot, not the players and McDermott was again a hot commodity this pilot season (and rightfully so). Unlike Hostages, this potential series is right in CBS' wheelhouse of procedurals, and McDermott should fit right into the network's stable of stars.

Ellen Burstyn, Rita Moreno, and Fred Willard, Old Souls (NBC)

Comedian Amy Poehler will likely be pulling double duty on NBC (a subsidiary of Comcast ( CMCSA 0.54% )) next season as the Parks & Recreation star's latest project has picked up some megawatt names. Poehler is executive producing a new pilot for the Peacock network called Old Soul starring Orange Is the New Black star Natasha Lyonne as a reformed wild child who now has a business helping the elderly, an age group she relates better to than her own. The premise allows for some industry veterans to once again take center stage. Among the latest to join are Ellen Burstyn (Flowers in the Attic) as Lyonne's aunt and Rita Moreno (Happily Divorced) and Fred Willard (Modern Family) as two of her friends.

Impact on network

Poehler is royalty to NBC in the same way that Tina Fey is and the network will find it hard to pass up having both funny women on the lineup in the fall. With Fey's laugher already a go, expect Poehler's to get a greenlight as well, especially now with this type of cast attached. The only question should be how this will impact Lyonne's other job on Orange. The actress, who overcame her own wild child past to make a successful return to TV, has become a fan favorite on the dramedy, but luckily will likely not have to make any decisions for a while as the Netflix series has already wrapped its second season (which will bow in the summer).

Dean Winters, Kal Penn, and Janet McTeer, Battle Creek (CBS)

CBS' highly anticipated series-to-be Battle Creek started out slow with its casting news, but now it's coming fast and furious. Over the last few days the drama from Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and House topper David Shore has added three leads and brought another top-tier name onto its production team. Creek follows a FBI agent and local detective who are tasked with cleaning up a Michigan town but with very little outside help. Among the trio headlining are Dean Winters (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit), Kal Penn (House), and two-time Oscar nominee Janet McTeer (TumbleweedsAlbert Nobbs), who will be directed by X-Men helmer Bryan Singer. Singer (not coincidentally) also worked with Shore on House.

Impact on network

The show could have casted an ensemble of unknowns and it wouldn't have made a difference given the pedigree behind the scenes. Gilligan and Shore are two "A-list" showrunners and this was a hotly contested project that was sold with a direct-to-series order. The network clearly had faith in the pair and their vision, which now comes complete with a buzzworthy cast and a third talented behind the scenes force. CBS is coming ready for "battle" this fall with Creek and its rivals should have an eye out for this one.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis – even one of our own – helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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