EXCLUSIVE: Former Law & Order star Jesse Martin, who toplined the ABC/ABC Studios drama pilot Hallelujah this past season, is staying at the network, signing a talent holding deal with ABC and ABC Studios. The rich one-year pact is tied to Marc Cherry’s Hallelujah, which didn’t make the cut to series in May but is still alive and is being retooled. Cherry is now writing a new script for the project, set in the town of Hallelujah, Tenn., which is being torn apart by the forces of good and evil. While the cast’s options expired at the end of June, there had been talk about 2 actors from the pilot, Martin and Lost alum Terry O’Quinn. Martin’s talent deal will make him available to reprise his role in the pilot, which tested very well, should the reworked Hallelujah be picked up. O’Quinn is also available as the role on Hawaii Five-O he recently booked is recurring, not regular. Under Martin’s deal with the network, Martin will look at Hallelujah as well as ABC pilots targeted for next season. As for Cherry, who has executive produced and showrun his hit Desperate Housewives for the past 7 years, he is expected to serve as a consultant on the ABC dramedy next season while focusing on development. Cherry’s efforts are currently concentrated on the new Hallelujah script, which he is expected to finish in the next couple of weeks, and I hear he also has other ideas in the hopper, including returning to the half-hour comedy genre where he started his writing career. Martin, repped by ICM and manager Bob McGowan, will next be seen in the feature Joyful Noise opposite Queen Latifah.
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