House alum Kal Penn, Nikita leading lady Maggie Q, Californication‘s Natascha McElhone and Chasing Life star Italia Ricci are set to co-star opposite Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor, ABC’s straight-to-series conspiracy thriller drama about a low-ranking Cabinet member becoming President of the U.S. Penn, who has White House experience — he served as the associate director for the Office of Public Engagement for President Barack Obama — also will serve as a consultant on the project. Paul McGuigan is directing.
Designated Survivor, written on spec by David Guggenheim and executive produced by Simon Kinberg, hails from the Mark Gordon Company Studios and ABC Studios. In it, Tom Kirkman (Sutherland), a lower level United States Cabinet member, is suddenly appointed President after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession. This is a family drama wrapped around a conspiracy thriller about an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.
Penn plays Kirkman’s speech writer. Ricci plays Tom’s no-nonsense Chief of Staff Emily. Maggie Q plays Hannah, the lead FBI agent on the bombing of the Capitol. McElhone play’s Tom’s wife, an EEOC attorney.
Creator Guggenheim executive produces the series alongside Amy B. Harris, who serves as showrunner, Kinberg, Sutherland, Aditya Sood and Entertainment 360’s Suzan Bymel.
Designated Survivor reunites Penn with Sutherland — Penn recurred on Season 6 of Sutherland’s Fox drama series 24. Penn is repped by UTA and Industry Entertainment. Maggie Q recently toplined CBS’ crime drama Stalker last season. She also co-stars in the Divergent movie franchise.
Following the recent end of Chasing Life, Ricci is recurring as Silver Banshee on Supergirl. She is repped by ICM, Protégé Entertainment, Coast to Coast and Felker, Toczek, Suddleson LLP. McElhone recently co-starred in the National Geographic miniseries Saints & Strangers. She is with Paradigm.