Kiefer Sutherland Starrer 'Designated Survivor' Officially Picked Up at ABC

Amy B. Harris, who was set to serve as showrunner on the drama, has exited the series with Jon Feldman set to replace her.
Courtesy of ABC
Kiefer Sutherland in 'Designated Survivor'

It's official: Kiefer Sutherland is returning to primetime.

ABC on Friday officially confirmed that it has picked up Designated Survivor to series (watch the teaser, below.) While the network has yet to formally announce its new schedule, a tweet from the new show's account indicates it will debut in the fall.

Picked up straight to series in December, Sutherland stars as Tom Kirkman, a lower cabinet member who unexpectedly becomes the president after a devastating attack on Washington. He will struggle to prevent the country and his own family from falling into chaos as he is thrust into one of the most difficult presidencies in history. Natasha McElhone, Maggie Q, Kal Penn, Italia Ricci, Adan Canto, LaMonica Garrett and Tanner Buchanan round out the cast.

David Guggenheim (Safe House) created the series and will pen the script and executive produce alongside Simon Kinberg, Sutherland, Aditya Sood and Suzan Bymel. Amy B. Harris, who was set to serve as showrunner, will not continue on with the series. Jon Feldman (Blood and Oil) is set to replace her as showrunner as the drama is already planning some creative changes. Nick Pepper and Jacqueline Sacerio are the execs in charge. The project is a co-production between ABC Studios and eOne-based the Mark Gordon Studios.

For Sutherland, the drama marks his return to primetime following Fox's 24: Live Another Day reboot and gives the actor-producer two series on the 2016-17 broadcast schedule as he also will serve as an exec producer on Fox's 24: Legacy reboot, an entirely new take on the franchise with a new cast of characters. (Sutherland is not expected to appear onscreen.)

Insiders tell The Hollywood Reporter that Designated Survivor was one of ABC's best-testing pilots ever. The series comes as the network is looking to focus more on procedural fare under new entertainment group president Channing Dungey. The new project gives ABC — known for its soapy dramas like Grey's Anatomy and Nashville — a rare procedural with a male lead.

Additional series pickups are expected to come in the next two weeks ahead of the broadcasters' upfront presentations to Madison Avenue ad buyers in New York.

Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new series pickups with THR's handy scorecard and follow the pilot crop status here. For full upfronts 2016 coverage, go to