EXCLUSIVE: Actor-comedian-singer Charles Esten (Enlightened) is set to co-star in ABC’s drama pilot Nashville. Written by Callie Khouri, directed by R.J. Cutler and produced by Lionsgate and ABC Studios, Nashville is described as a family soap about love, country music, family, politics and sex, all set against the backdrop of the Nashville music scene. It centers on 40-year-old Nashville fading superstar Rayna James (Connie Britton) whose label requires her to team up with teen sensation Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere) on tour–or else face the loss of her own tour and the label’s promotion of her latest record, whose sales have been underwhelming. Esten, repped by Stone Manners Salners, will play Deacon, songwriter, lead guitar player, and Rayna’s former lover.
Suleka Mathew (Hawthorne) and Jaime Ray Newman have been added to the cast of ABC’s drama pilot Penoza, written and executive produced by Twilight scribe Melissa Rosenberg. Based on a Dutch format, it centers on Martha (Radha Mitchell), the widow of an assassinated criminal who is forced to adopt her husband’s role in a crime syndicate in order to protect her family. Mathew, repped by SDB Partners and John Crosby Management, will play Marta’s best friend Dina. Newman will play Marta’s younger sister Kat. Also cast in the pilot are Sterling Beaumon and Jacob Salvati as Marta’s sons.
Louise Lombard has joined Fox’s untitled Karyn Usher drama pilot. Written by Usher and directed by Brett Ratner, the project centers on Jane Forsythe (Saxon Sharbino), the orphaned 14-year-old daughter of a CIA operative who encounters mysterious rogue agent Kevin Lear (Julian McMahon) who serves as her surrogate father and professional mentor in the spy world. Lombard, repped by Paradigm and Affirmative Entertainment, will play Kevin’s former lover Wendy, a CIA operative who offers to help him raise a teen girl.