Pitch star Mark-Paul Gosselaar is staying in the Fox/20th TV fold with a starring role in their off-cycle drama pilot The Passage, co-produced by Scott Free and Matt Reeves’ 6th and Idaho. Also cast in the project, based on author Justin Cronin’s bestselling fantasy book trilogy, are child actress Saniyya Sidney (FX/20th TV’s American Horror Story), Time After Time star Genesis Rodriguez, Brianne Howey (Fox/20th TV’s The Exorcist), BJ Britt (Fox/20th TV pilot Behind Enemy Lines) and Jennifer Ferrin (Time After Time).
The pilot takes advantage of its off-cycle timing by casting several actors who just became available after their series were canceled (Gosselaar, Rodriguez and Ferrin) or their pilot did not go forward (Britt). The Passage also reunites Pitch star Gosselaar with Britt, who recurred on the baseball series.
Written by Liz Heldens and directed by Marcos Siega, The Passage is described as an epic, character-driven thriller that morphs into a post-apocalyptic odyssey. The project recently received an order for a second script as it eyes a potential midseason launch.
The story in The Passage is told in two timelines. In the present, a 10-year-old Amy Bellafonte (Sidney) seems to have special powers that allow her to communicate with “virals,” terrifying monsters that once were human. Through flashbacks, Amy tells her tale, which is directly tied to the genesis of these creatures.
After her mother died, Amy is retrieved from foster care by FBI agent Brad Wolgast (Gossellaar) for Project Noah, a secret, government-funded, medical research facility in Colorado, where a drug is being tested that turns people into lethal killing machines but also unleashes psychic abilities. But a tragedy in Wolgast’s past makes this impossible for him. As Wolgast escorts Amy to Project Noah, they form a bond and the two of them flee, almost making it to Canada before being caught.
As the story follows Amy both in Colorado and in California, it becomes clear the young girl may be the key to saving humanity. Sarah (Ferrin), Peter (Britt) and Alicia (Rodriguez) fight to stop the infection that threatens mankind. Howey plays Shauna, a convict used as a test subject in Project Noah.
The pilot shoots in Atlanta beginning this month. Matt Reeves, Adam Kassan, Ridley Scott, David W. Zucker, Heldens and Siega executive produce.
Gosselaar, repped by CAA and Luber Roklin Entertainment, also toplined TNT’s Franklin & Bash and Raising The Bar. Rodriguez, repped by UTA, DePaz Management and Jackoway Tyerman, played the female lead on ABC’s short-lived drama Time After Time. Sidney, repped by Abrams and LA Management, had a big year with roles in both Hidden Figures and Fences. Howey, repped by UTA and Untitled, also did an arc on the Fox/20th TV comedy Scream Queens. Britt, repped by Joseph Le/Primary Wave, also recurred on Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Being Mary Jane. Ferrin, repped by Gersh and Untitled, also has a role on Steven Soderbergh’s The Knick and will be seen in his upcoming HBO mini Mosaic.