November 01, 2013 10:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Nikita's' Shane West Set as Male Lead in WGN America's 'Salem'
Weeks before Nikita's final season begins, star Shane West has already found his follow-up gig.
The actor, who has played Michael for four seasons on The CW's action drama, has been tapped to star in WGN America's Salem, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The 13-episode drama is set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts and explores what really fueled the town's infamous witch trials. The series will look to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this ignominious period in American history. The witches featured are real, but they are not who or what they seem. The series, centered on an epic romance wrapped around an explosive revelation, delivers a bold new vision of Salem -- and an even bolder new vision of witches.
West will play the male lead, John Alden. He's described as being handsome, tough, pragmatic, wry-humored, not a man to suffer fools, a hardened veteran of 10 years of war and captivity at the hands of the Indians, who returns to his native Salem to find it consumed in witch-hunt frenzy, led by Cotton Mather (Fringe's Seth Gabel).
Also joining the cast is The Tudors alum Tamzin Merchant as Anne Hale. The character is said to be beautiful, intelligent, forthright, confident, a talented artist, despite the fact that it's no pastime for a young lady in 1690s Salem. She is attracted to the newly arrived John Alden (West), unaware of his history with Mary Sibley (Made in Jersey's Janet Montgomery). Anne is a fearless girl, who goes alone into the graveyard at night to sketch the gravestones, where she runs into Alden, whom she'd like to draw, and Mary, who unbeknown to Anne is about to become her formidable enemy.
West joins a cast that also includes fellow Nikita alum Xander Berkeley, who plays Magistrate Hale. In addition to Nikita, which begins its final season Nov. 22, West's credits include ER, Once and Again and features The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and A Walk to Remember. He's repped by UTA, Luber Roklin Entertainment and Fuller Downs.
Merchant (Jane Eyre, Pride & Prejudice) is with ICM Partners, Authentic and Curtis Brown.
Brannon Braga (24, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Terra Nova) created and penned the series alongside Adam Simon (The Haunting in Connecticut). The drama hails from Fox 21 (Homeland, Sons of Anarchy). Braga and Simon executive produce alongside Prospect Park's Josh Barry and Jeff Kwatinetz. Richard Shepard will direct the pilot.