Sigourney Weaver is heading to the small screen.
Weaver will star as Elaine Barrish, the divorced former first lady and newly appointed secretary of state who throws herself into the job after recovering from the dissolution of her marriage and losing the presidential nomination. Elaine will rely heavily on her son Doug (Happy Endings‘ James Wolk), an ambitious politico who also serves as her chief of staff but is tormented by his twin brother’s battle with addiction. Brittany Ishibashi (Parenthood, Fairly Legal) co-stars as Doug’s fiancee.
Weaver picked up Academy Award nominations for her roles in Gorillas in the Midst, Working Girl and Aliens. The Avatar star is repped by UTA and Jackoway Tyerman.
Berlanti (Brothers & Sisters) wrote and will direct the pilot as well as serve as an executive producer with Mark (Dreamgirls). Melissa Kellner Berman of Berlanti Productions is attached as a co-executive producer on the project, which hails from Warner Horizon Television.
Animals is one of several high-profile projects set up by USA co-presidents Chris McCumber and Jeff Wachtel, who were promoted to their posts last spring. In addition to their USA’s reality foray with Kurt Warner-hosted The Moment, cable’s No. 1 network is developing the Nathan Lane-led comedy pilot Local Talent and Jeff Eastin’s hourlong drama Graceland. The network is adding Common Law to its batch of dramas in the summer.
For its part, Animals joins a growing cadre of political-themed projects emerging across the TV dial. Among the others: HBO’s vice presidential comedy Veep, NBC’s first family development project 1600 Penn and Hulu’s political campaign-centric Battleground.
Weaver marks the latest in a line of feature stars heading to the small screen this development season. She joins Kevin Bacon (Fox’s Kevin Williamson serial-killer drama pilot), Dennis Quaid (CBS’ untitled Ralph Lamb Western) and Mira Sorvino (CBS’ Trooper), among others.