Jean Smart, who had been pursued for multiple comedy pilots this season, is set to co-star opposite Portia de Rossi in ABC’s dueling sisters single-camera comedy pilot The Smart One. (Maybe the title spoke to her — it had her name written all over it, literally). The project, written by Don Todd, centers on a brilliant and successful woman (de Rossi) who has to go to work for her less brainy but more popular sister — a former beauty queen, weather girl … and now big-city mayor. Emmy winner Smart, who recurs on Harry’s Law, will play the sisters’ mother. Ellen DeGeneres, Todd and Lauren Corrao are executive producing for Warner Bros TV.
Emily Swallow and Sarayu Rao are the latest to board David E. Kelley’s TNT medical drama pilot Chelsea General. Based on CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta’s upcoming novel Monday Mornings, the project starring Alfred Molina and Ving Rhames follows the lives of five surgeons as they push the limits of their abilities and confront their personal and professional failings. Swallow will play Dr. Michelle Robidaux, a young resident at Chelsea General who is still learning the ropes. The actress, repped by Don Buchwald/Fortitude and Gallant Management, originally tested for another role in the pilot that went to Jennifer Finnigan, but the producers liked her a lot and invited her to test for Dr. Robidaux. Rao, repped by SDB Partners, will play Dr. Sydney Saxena, a fast-talking, Olympic multi-tasker whose dedication to being a doctor consumes her 24/7, even to the detriment of her relationships.
Austin Basis (Life Unexpected) is back at the CW and CBS TV Studios with a regular role in the drama pilot Beauty And The Beast, which just cast Kristin Kreuk as the female lead. Loosely based on the 1980s CBS series starring Linda Hamilton, CW’s Beauty And The Beast is described as a modern-day romantic love story with a procedural twist. It centers on Catherine (Kreuk), a tough-minded NYPD homicide detective and the Beast, Vincent Koslow, the survivor of a military experiment that went disastrously wrong. Basis will play Vincent’s friend JT.