Morris Chestnut is set as the lead in Fox’s untitled Todd Harthan drama pilot (formerly Rosewood), a close-ended procedural written/executive produced by Todd Harthan and directed by Richard Shepard. Produced by 20th TV, it centers on Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, Jr. (Chestnut), a gifted, charismatic private pathologist who can read living and dead bodies like a book.

Chestnut’s casting as the Rosewood character, which was conceived as African American, marks another step forward for Black actors. Once considered doomed, broadcast drama series with Black leads are thriving at the top of the TV ratings with Fox’s Empire and ABC’s Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. (CBS also has summer drama Extant starring Halle Berry.)

Chestnut most recently was a series regular on the first season of TNT’s action drama Legends. He will return as a guest star in several episodes of the second season of the show, which comes from 20th TV’s cable division Fox 21 TV Studios. Harthan and Shepard are executive producing the Fox pilot with Wyck Godfrey & Marty Bowen.

Chestnut, who starred in Universal’s breakout The Best Man Holiday, is currently shooting the lead in the Sony Screen Gems feature When The Bough Breaks, directed by Jon Cassar. He just wrapped another film for Screen Gems, The Perfect Guy — both part of a three-picture deal with the Sony label he signed in November  — as well as Bus 657, opposite Robert DeNiro and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Chestnut’s series credits also include Nurse Jackie, which earned him an NAACP Image Award, and American Horror Story. He is repped by Gersh and LINK Entertainment.