John Lithgow is returning to NBC.
The former 3rd Rock From the Sun star, as well as former The View co-host Sherri Shepherd, have signed on to star in the network’s legal comedy pilot The Trail, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
The Trail is described as a serialized single-camera comedy following a young big-city lawyer and his oddball defense team during a high-profile murder trial in a small Southern town.
Lithgow will play the man on trial, Larry Henderson. A smart but slightly clueless poetry professor at a South Carolina community college who is accused of killing his wife, Larry finds the whole notion of being charged with murder absurd, but he has a couple secrets that could really derail his defense.
Shepherd will play Anne, the well-meaning and enthusiastic assistant/receptionist at a makeshift law office in East Peck, S.C. She suffers from facial blindness — the inability to recognize people by their faces — along with a host of disorders that make her job as a member of Henderson’s defense team much more difficult.
The Trail, which NBC picked up to pilot last month, hails from writer and executive producers Jeff Astrof and Matt Miller (Chuck) and director Jeff Blitz. Warner Bros. Television will produce in association with Barge Productions and Good Session Productions.
This is the network’s latest attempts to find new hits with veteran talent. Cheers star Ted Danson will star in the comedy Good Fortune, which has already been picked up to series, and other network vets including Jack McBrayer (30 Rock) and Milo Ventimiglia (Heroes) will also topline pilots for the network, which is trying to rebuild its comedy slate that currently contains only two returning series — Undateable, which just wrapped its third season, and sophomore series The Carmichael Show.
Lithgow’s more recent TV credits include Dexter, How I Met Your Mother and the forthcoming Netflix series The Crown. He is repped by UTA, Anonymous Content and Walter Teller.
Shepherd’s other credits include her self-titled Lifetime sitcom, Less Than Perfect and The Soul Man. She is repped by ICM Partners and Darris Hatch Management.