Maggie Q to star as CW's 'Nikita'

7:00 PM PST 02/18/2010 by Nellie Andreeva, AP

Roselyn Sanchez tapped as the lead in ABC's 'Cutthroat'

In a pilot season shaping up as the most diverse ever for leads in dramas, Maggie Q is in talks to play the title character in the CW's "Nikita" reboot and Roselyn Sanchez has been tapped as the lead in ABC's "Cutthroat."

The casting of Maggie Q is particularly significant as it jumps off an iconic character historically portrayed as Caucasian, first by Anne Parillaud in Luc Besson's 1990 film, followed by Bridget Fonda in the 1993 redo "Point of No Return" and Peta Wilson in the 1997 USA Network series.

The CW pilot's premise of a new Nikita being trained to replace the original one after she goes rogue gave creator Craig Silverstein an opportunity to break the stereotype, and he wrote the lead as "beautiful and exotic."

The pending hire of Maggie Q in "Nikita," from WBTV and McG's Wonderland, would mark the highest-profile series role for an Asian actress on a broadcast drama series and the highest-profile CW minority casting in the network's four-year history.

Hawaii-born Maggie Q made a name for herself as a Hong Kong action movie star before landing roles in "Mission: Impossible III" and "Live Free or Die Hard."

"Cutthroat," from 20th TV, is a one-hour dramedy centering on Nina Cabrera ("Without a Trace" alumna Sanchez), an upscale Beverly Hills widow and soccer mom who runs an international drug cartel.

The Cabrera role was envisioned and written as a Latina by creators Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters.

That also was the case in another 20th TV pilot, CBS' CIA drama "Chaos," directed and executive produced by Brett Ratner, whose lead was conceived as a Latino man and recently cast with Freddy Rodriguez.

It already has been a breakthrough pilot-casting season in drama-lead diversity. Other high-profile pilots so far this season that have opted for minority leads include Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Boris Kodjoe, who topline J.J. Abrams' NBC action pilot "Undercovers"; Forest Whitaker, who leads CBS' "Criminal Minds" spinoff; and Laz Alonso, who tops Fox's action drama "Breakout Kings," directed and executive produced by Gavin Hood.
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