Vartan doing 'Time' with TNT

Henderson, Stults take leads for ABC; trio joins 'NCIS' offshoot at CBS

Michael Vartan has been tapped to co-star opposite Jada Pinkett Smith in TNT's upcoming series "Time Heals," Geoff Stults has landed the lead in the ABC drama pilot "Happy Town," Martin Henderson is set to star in ABC's drama pilot "Inside the Box," and Louise Lombard, Peter Cambor and Daniela Ruah will play leads in CBS' "NCIS" spinoff.

Additionally, ABC has handed out a director-contingent order to the comedy "Funny in Farsi," and Charles McDougall has been tapped to helm CBS' cast- contingent drama pilot "The Good Wife."

The Sony TV-produced "Time," set to premiere this year, centers on Christina Hawthorne (Pinkett Smith), director of nursing at a North Carolina hospital.

"Alias" alum Vartan will play Tom Wakefield, the director of medicine. He replaces Jeffrey Nordling, who played the role in the pilot.

The "Twin Peaks"-esque "Town" is set in a small community grappling with a murder — its first crime in seven years — and centers on Tommy (Stults), the new sheriff who must solve the case.

The ABC Studios project marks a reunion for "October Road" co-star Stults and creators Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg, who penned "Town."

ABC Studios' "Box," executive produced by Shonda Rhimes, is set in a Washington network news bureau and centers on Catherine, an ambitious news producer. Henderson will play Jake, Catherine's right-hand man.

For the New Zealand-born Henderson, this is his second time playing the male lead in an ABC drama pilot. In 2007, he played John Smith in the network's TV adaptation of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith."

On the backdoor pilot for the "NCIS" spinoff, which will air as an "NCIS" episode in the spring, Lombard, Cambor and Ruah would join Chris O'Donnell and LL Cool J, who are in negotiations for other leads.

Lombard will play Clara, a role perceived as the female lead on the ensemble drama. A former major in the military police, Clara is an intelligent investigator.

Cambor will play the quick-witted Nate, an operational psychologist. Ruah will play Kensi, a bright young investigator who studied forensics and criminology in college.

The British Lombard, repped by Luber Roklin Entertainment and U.K.'s United Agents, is joining the "NCIS" franchise after a stint on another hit CBS crime procedural, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," where she played Det. Sofia Curtis for three years.

The single-camera "Farsi," from ABC Studios, is based on a memoir by Firoozeh Dumas that chronicles the Iranian native's experience growing up in Newport Beach, Calif., in the 1970s.

The book was adapted for TV by Jeffrey Hodes and Nastaran Dibai.

McDougall, who helmed the pilot for "Desperate Housewives," will tackle another female-driven project, the CBS Par-produced "Wife," a show about a politician's wife who pursues her original career as a defense attorney. (partialdiff)