March 05, 2013 7:00pm PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Southland's' Ben McKenzie to Star in CBS Drama From 'Mentalist' Boss
Ben McKenzie may be heading to CBS.
The Southland star has been tapped to co-star in the network's Bruno Heller drama pilot The Advocates, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Advocates revolves around a female lawyer and a male ex-con who team as "victim advocates" and go to the edge of the law to right wrongs and fight for the underdog.
McKenzie will play Henry Bird, the ex-con, who was recently freed after being unjustly imprisoned for 16 years. He uses his mental and physical skills -- as well as his sixth sense for danger -- to help Shannon Carter, a former district attorney, with her victim-advocate work.
Mentalist showrunner Heller will write and executive produce the Warner Bros. Television drama with David Nutter (Arrow) on board to exec produce and direct the pilot. CCH Pounder and Esai Morales co-star.
The role is in second position to McKenzie's TNT critical darling Southland, which is halfway through its fifth season. The future of the Ann Biderman, John Wells and Christopher Chulack series has yet to be decided.
In addition to Southland, McKenzie's credits include The O.C., where he starred as Ryan Atwood for nearly 100 episodes, and features 88 Minutes and Junebug. He's repped by CAA, Management 360 and Ziffren Brittenham.
McKenzie becomes the latest actor to land a pilot in second position so far this season. He joins Up All Night's Will Arnett (CBS' "unauthorized" Greg Garcia project); 1600 Penn's Benjamin Stockham (NBC's About a Boy); Guys With Kids' Zach Cregger (NBC's Assistance); Community's Ken Jeong (ABC's Spy); and Deception's Tate Donovan (CBS' Hostages).