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Every pilot-casting season starts with a flurry of offers to a handful of actors who quickly become the season’s most sought-after leads.
The hottest names at the top of pilot wish lists this year include Julianne Moore, Maria Bello, Christina Applegate, Matt Dillon and Jason Isaacs. All have received multiple offers.
The Oscar-nominated Moore, who successfully tested the TV waters with a guest-starring turn on NBC’s “30 Rock,” has been pursued for at least two pilots so far: NBC’s “Prime Suspect” remake and another redo, ABC’s direct-to-series “Scoundrels,” based on the New Zealand series “Outrageous Fortune.”
Both projects, as well as NBC’s “Chase,” a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced fugitive-apprehension drama pilot, are showcases for a strong female lead character, which explains the producers’ desire to go after accomplished actresses.
Bello also has been approached for the role originated by Helen Mirren in “Suspect,” while “Scoundrels” also went after Demi Moore.
The actresses approached for “Chase” include Bello, Tea Leoni and Applegate, who also had an offer for CBS’ female-centered comedy pilot “Open Books.”
Dillon, who largely has steered clear of TV, had gotten feelers for NBC’s new take on “The Rockford Files” from “House” creator David Shore, and he was talked about for “Ridealong,” Shawn Ryan’s cop drama at Fox.
Isaacs, a hot item since wrapping the Showtime series “Brotherhood” in 2008, had to skip last year’s pilot season because of his commitment to the “Harry Potter” movies. He also has been in talks for “Ridealong” and was approached for the lead on ABC’s cop-drama pilot “187 Detroit.”
Also in demand are Katee Sackhoff on the female side and Michael Chiklis and Josh Lucas on the male side.
While most actors on the hot lists flirt with the idea but ultimately end up passing, one or two a year take the plunge. Recent examples include Simon Baker, now star of CBS’ hit sophomore dramedy “The Mentalist”; Peter Krause, who recently segued from ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money” to NBC’s “Parenthood”; and Applegate, who, after years of turning down scripts, said yes to ABC’s “Samantha Who?”
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