EXCLUSIVE: Kevin Bacon is headed to primetime. In a big casting coup, I’ve learned that the feature actor is set to topline Kevin Williamson’s Fox drama pilot. This marks the first major series role for Bacon who had been heavily pursued by broadcast and cable networks for years. But in a twist, I hear that Bacon has committed to doing 15 episodes a season vs. the standard 22 for a broadcast series. That lightens the load on the actor who can continue to do multiple features a year and spend time with his family. It also plays into Fox’s strategy of exploring new ways for airing shows, something Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly talked about at TCA last month. The high quality of many cable drama series is being attributed in part to shorter seasons that allows for tighter, more compelling storytelling.

The untitled Kevin Williamson project, from Warner Bros TV and Williamson’s studio-based Outerbanks Entertainment, is described as an edge-of-the-seat thriller about a diabolical serial killer who uses technology to create a cult of serial killers, and a retired FBI profiler (Bacon) who finds himself in the middle of it. The genre of the project and the casting of Bacon is reminiscent of Fox’s signature thriller 24, which also tapped a feature actor, Kiefer Sutherland, for its lead. Marcos Siega recently signed on to direct the pilot, written and executive produced by Williamson, creator of Dawson’s Creek, the hit Scream horror movie franchise and co-creator/executive producer of the CW’s Vampire Diaries and Secret Circle.

After a handful of TV jobs very early in his career, Bacon quickly segued to features. His only TV acting gig over the past 3 decades was his starring role in the HBO movie Taking Chance, which earned him a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination. He just wrapped R.I.P.D and will next be seen in the Billy Bob Thornton-directed Jayne Mansfield’s Car, which premieres at the Berlin Film Festival. Bacon, repped by WME and the Schiff Co., was most recently seen in X-Men: First Class last summer. While firmly planted in features, Bacon knows a thing or two about playing a cop on a crime series — his wife Kyra Sedgwick has done it on the TNT hit Closer for 7 seasons. That series also is produced by Warner Bros. TV.