Bethany Joy Lenz (Dexter) has landed the lead in one of E!’s first two scripted pilots, the Krista Vernoff/Diane Warren drama Songbyrd executive produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron. It centers on Lauren Byrd (Lenz), a character loosely inspired by hitmaker Warren. Lauren, writer of hit love songs, employs a small staff, including her sister, to enable and manage her eccentric yet wildly successful process. But when her ex-fiance reveals himself to be less than the man she remembers, she realizes that she can no longer live in the past and must find a new, true inspiration for her sake and those around her. Uni TV is co-producing with Universal Cable Prods; Michael Morris is directing. Lenz is with Gersh, Untitled and attorney Adam Kaller.
30 Rock alum Maulik Pancholy has booked a series regular role in the Lifetime pilot HR. Written by Glenn Porter, HR centers on Ellen (Alicia Silverstone), the uptight Director of Human Resources for a global company who after a head injury alters her outlook on life, throws standard corporate practices out the window and inspires the business to strive for new ambitions and profits. Pancholy, repped by Gersh and Brillstein’s Jai Khanna, plays Farshid, a Middle Eastern I.T. employee who has repeatedly drawn complaints from co-workers about his loud praying at various times of the day. Farshid is surprised when the newly changed Ellen, instead of firing him, thoughtfully gives him a new office where he can pray without disturbing anyone — but he turns out to be a brilliant con artist.