Next week is poised to be a busy one for pilot castings, as the first wave of (largely) far-fetched offers is coming to a close and broadcast networks hone in on top stars.
With about 20 fewer pilots to select from this season, the competition is especially fierce among the broadcast networks, who again are forced to compete for talent against cable networks and streaming services who offer shorter orders, cache and big bucks.
Happy Endings favorite Damon Wayans Jr. has again emerged as one of, if not the most sought-after star this pilot season, juggling multiple comedy offers from Fox, CBS and NBC. SNL grad Maya Rudolph has received offers for pretty much all of the buzziest comedy pilots this season, despite the fact that she's unlikely to accept any of them in favor of developing for herself.
Among proven TV stars fresh off signature shows, Castle grad Nathan Fillion has been offered both high-profile genre dramas as well as comedies following his recurring role on ABC's Modern Family. Bloodline star Linda Cardellini, The Strain's Corey Stoll, Bates Motel's Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga, The Walking Dead's Michael Cudlitz and Steven Yeun, Masters of Sex's Lizzy Caplan, Salem's Janet Montgomery, Rizzoli and Isles' Sasha Alexander, Grey's Anatomy's Sara Ramirez and newly minted Golden Globe winner John Lithgow of The Crown (and NBC's upcoming Trial and Error) are all juggling multiple offers from various networks. Gilmore Girls favorite Lauren Graham is also said to have been offered half-hour projects.
Other in-demand leading men who are fielding offers for dramas include Grey's Anatomy's Patrick Dempsey, Dennis Quaid, Limitless alum Jake McDorman, John Cho (Harold and Kumar), Josh Duhamel (Battle Creek), Demian Bichir (the Bridge), Anders Holm (Workaholics), Chris Messina (The Mindy Project), Glenn Howerton (It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and Ramon Rodriguez (Gang Related).
Perennial pilot season favorite Christina Applegate has also received interest for a pair of high-profile comedies from established producers, though it's unlikely she'll engage. Sarah Shahi, who did CBS' Nancy Drew last year, has emerged as perhaps the most in-demand drama actress. Kiernan Shipka (Mad Men), Pitch Perfect's Anna Camp, Natalie Morales (The Grinder) and Jennifer Connelly are also receiving multiple calls. Westworld breakout Jimmi Simpson is also in demand at broadcast and cable, as is Good Girls' Genevieve Angelson and The Martian's Michael Pena.
Then of course there's offers for stars like Catherine Zeta-Jones, Dustin Hoffman, Zachary Quinto and Andy Garcia that, given the way the line between film and TV is blurring, almost seem like they could happen.