Two 'Under' contract for A&E drama


Henry Thomas has been tapped to star in and Charles S. Dutton has signed on to direct the A&E drama pilot "Under."

The casting of Thomas lifts the cast contingency on the Fox Television Studios project.

"Under" centers on a young thug (Thomas) who, after being marked for death by the mob and turning state's evidence against them, joins the witness protection program. He becomes an NYPD patrolman but is unable to escape his past.

A&E senior vp drama programming Tana Nugent Jamieson said she knew Thomas was "the person we'd been looking for" when he came in to audition for the lead role, which she referred to as a "complex character."

"He's very well-known but also very fresh right now, and he's never done this kind of character," she said. "He's got the depth, and we're very happy to have him on board."

Nugent Jamieson also praised Dutton's body of work as a director, including HBO's "The Corner" and Showtime's "Sleeper Cell."

"He's the perfect director for this unique script," she said. "The lead character is one who has seen both sides of the law, and I think you have to have someone who understands and has shot that."

The project, created by Charles Murray, is executive produced by Gary Randall and Nancy Miller (HR 9/11). Murray also wrote the pilot, which goes into production next month in Vancouver.

Thomas, whose recent credits include the TNT anthology series "Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King," next appears in the films "Sweet Flame" and "Red Velvet." He is repped by Gersh and manager Colton Gramm at Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Dutton is helming and starring in Lifetime's upcoming original movie "Racing for Time." He also directed and appeared in the feature film "Against the Ropes." He's repped by manager Sherry Marsh at Marsh Entertainment.