8:42pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'American Horror Story' Enlists Michael Chiklis for 'Freak Show'
The cast and creators of FX's American Horror Story returned to the PaleyFest stage Friday with another special announcement: Michael Chiklis is joining the season four cast.
The Emmy and Golden Globe winner will return to FX six years after The Shield ended its run and co-star in American Horror Story: Freak Show, creators announced Friday night at PaleyFest, where the actor made a surprise appearance.
Season four of the FX anthology will be set in Jupiter, Fla., in 1950 and will again star Jessica Lange. This time, the Emmy winner will portray a German expat managing one of the last remaining freak shows in the country.
Returning cast members include Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, Frances Conroy and Kathy Bates -- who also made a surprise appearance on Friday's panel. They'll play performers that Lange's character has rescued. Denis O'Hare and Emma Roberts are also in talks to return for season four of the series, which reboots itself every season with a completely new story and often features largely the same cast of repertory players. Chiklis will be making his AHS debut. Chiklis' casting announcement comes a year after the AHS gang used the PaleyFest stage to announce its recently concluded third season would carry the Coven subtitle.
The panel was high on laughs as the cast and producers reminisced about Coven and their New Orleans experience, but was low on new details about Freak Show as producers typically keep plot details under wraps. Chiklis will be playing the father to Peters' character and ex-husband to Bates' character. Showrunner Ryan Murphy also revealed that everyone on the PaleyFest stage would be returning in season four in "some capacity" including Gabourey Sidibe and Jamie Brewer. Other panelists Friday included Paulson, Roberts, Peters, Bassett, Conroy, O'Hare and Bates as well as producers Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Tim Minear and Dante DiLoreto. Star Lange -- and fan favorite Lily Rabe -- were not in attendance. (Lange was on spring break with her grandchildren and Rabe was in production and unable to attend.)
"My heart was pounding like it is right now. It is a Freak Show, oh man!" Chiklis said from the stage after Murphy announced his casting and the actor surprised the audience and took a seat on the panel. Murphy revealed that he'd long pursued Chiklis for AHS and noted that there will be some members of the season one and two casts that return for Freak Show.
The new season will film for the second year in New Orleans but be set in Florida.
For Chiklis, the role marks his latest TV gig following CBS' Vegas and ABC's No Ordinary Family, both of which were canceled after one season. His seven-season role on Shawn Ryan's The Shield earned him two Emmy noms for best actor (and one win) as well as three Golden Globe mentions (and one win). The actor -- whose film credits include the Fantastic Four features -- received multiple pilot offers this season. He's repped by WME, Management 360 and Stone Meyer.