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ABC has lined up an impressive cast for its straight-to-series drama Designated Survivor.
Natasha McElhone, Maggie Q, Kal Penn and Italia Ricci will co-star in the drama created by David Guggenheim, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
Starring 24 alum Kiefer Sutherland, the drama centers on Tom, a lower-level U.S. cabinet member (Sutherland), who is suddenly appointed president after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union kills everyone above him in the presidential line of succession. The series is described as a family drama wrapped around a conspiracy thriller about an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.
McElhone is set as Jessica, Tom’s wife who is a smart and strong EEOC attorney. Q is set as Hannah, the lead FBI agent on the Capitol’s bombing who professionally is in command but whose personal life is a mess. Penn, who will also receive a consultant credit, will portray Seth, a speech writer who helps Tom write his first one after the attack; Ricci is set as Emily, Tom’s chief of staff.
For McElhone, the role marks her return to series television following Showtime’s long-running comedy Californication. She’s repped by Paradigm and Myman Greenspan; Q’s credits include the Divergent franchise, CBS’ Stalker and The CW’s Nikita. She’s with CAA, Untitled and Broder Law Group. Penn, whose roles include Kumar in the Harold & Kumar franchise as well as TV’s Deadbeat, Battle Creek and House, is with UTA, Industry Entertainment and Fuller Downs. Ricci is fresh off ABC Family’s Chasing Life and next has a recurring role on CBS’ Supergirl. She’s with ICM Partners, Protege and Felker Toczek.
Safe House‘s Guggenheim will pen the script and exec produce alongside Simon Kinberg, Sutherland, Aditya Sood, Suzan Bymel and Amy B. Harris, with the latter set to serve as showrunner. Nick Pepper and Jacqueline Sacerio are the execs in charge. The drama is a co-production between ABC Studios and eOne-based the Mark Gordon Studios.
An episode count on the straight-to-series entry has not yet been determined, though insiders say it’s likely 13.
Keep up with all the latest pickups, castings and eventual series orders with THR‘s handy guide to pilot season.
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