October 18, 2012 10:30am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Wizards of Waverly Place's' Jake T. Austin to Co-Star in Jennifer Lopez's ABC Family Pilot (Exclusive)
Jake T. Austin is jumping from Disney Channel to ABC Family.
The Wizards of Waverly Place alum has joined the cast of ABC Family's drama pilot The Fosters, The Hollywood Reporter has learned exclusively.
The hourlong drama from producer Jennifer Lopez revolves around Stef (The West Wing's Teri Polo) and Lena Foster (Rescue Me's Sherri Saum), a mixed-race lesbian couple who are parents to a biological son Brandon (David Lambert) as well as several adopted children. When Lena decides to take in Callie (Maia Mitchell), a troubled teen with an abusive past, the girl's disruptive ways threaten to turn the Fosters' lives upside down.
Austin will play Jesus Foster, Mariana's bilingual fraternal twin who may not be as book smart as his sister but is more sensible and pragmatic than she is. He's a charming, hyperkinetic kid who's on Ritalin.
The casting comes after Austin wrapped his four-season stint on Disney Channel's original series Waverly, where he played Max Russo, one of three wizards, for more than 100 episodes of the series. He'll reprise the role in the network's upcoming special.
Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige (Queer as Folk) penned the pilot, which will be executive produced byLopez's Nuyorican Productions. Simon Fields, Bredeweg, Paige and Greg Gugliotta executive produce the pilot, which is currently in preproduction for a November shoot in Los Angeles.
Austin, whose credits also include Law & Order: SVU and Drop Dead Diva, is repped by Paradigm, Principato-Young and CESD.
The pilot has already raised flags for anti-gay conservative group One Million Moms, which called on its members to protest the series for "attempting to redefine marriage and family by having two moms raise these children together."