'Newsroom' Alum Joins Lifetime's Nicholas Sparks Pilot (Exclusive)

Joel Johnstone will have a recurring guest role on "Deliverance Creek" should the two-hour backdoor pilot go to series.
Bobby Quillard
Joel Johnstone

Lifetime is adding a Newsroom alum to its Nicholas Sparks drama.

Joel Johnstone, who recurred on the second season of HBO's Aaron Sorkin drama, has been added to the cast of Deliverance Creek, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The two-hour backdoor pilot is set at the end of the Civil War and follows Belle Barlowe (Lauren Ambrose) as she faces uncertainty as she attempts to defend her family’s land by any means necessary. When the corrupt bank that runs their town pushes Belle into becoming an outlaw, the stakes become personal, setting off a chain of events that force her to question whether it's better to be good or to survive. 

Johnstone will play Ben Crawford, the nephew of the local bank owner who is a bank official in love with Belle's sister Hattie and has been helping her smuggle runaway slaves out of the area -- an avocation that could have deadly consequences for both of them. Should the pilot move to series, Johnstone would be credited as a recurring guest star.

He joins a cast that also includes Wes Ramsey (Pretty Little Liars), Cyril Balfour, Yaani King (Mad Men), Riley Smith and Christopher Bacus.

Melissa Carter (Jane by Design) will write and executive produce the Warner Horizon Television drama alongside Sparks and the author's longtime literary agent, Theresa Park, via their year-old production company, Nicholas Sparks Productions. Elise Henderson, head of TV at Nicholas Sparks Productions, is on board as a co-EP. Jon Amiel will direct.

Johnstone played Cameron, a Mitt Romney campaign staffer, on Newsroom's second season. He also has a role in HBO's upcoming comedy Getting On. Johnstone, repped by Working Entertainment, wrote, directed and starred in the comedic short The Pilgrim & the Private Eye. He most recently wrapped a supporting turn in Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. His TV credits include episodes of Criminal Minds and Ed.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit