Mark-Paul Gosselaar has been tapped as the male lead in ABC’s new comedy series Mixed-ish. In the Black-ish prequel about young Rainbow Johnson, Gosselaar will play Bow’s father Paul Johnson. He replaces Anders Holm who played the role in the original backdoor pilot episode of Black-ish. Gosselaar only became available in May when his most recent series, Fox’s vampire drama The Passage, was canceled after one season.
Written by Peter Saji and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, in Mixed-ish, Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) recounts her experience growing up in a mixed-race family in the ‘80s and the constant dilemmas they had to face over whether to assimilate or stay true to themselves.
Bow’s parents Paul (Gosselaar) and Alicia (Tika Sumpter) decide to move from a hippie commune to the suburbs to better provide for their family. As her parents struggle with the challenges of their new life, Bow and her siblings navigate a mainstream school in which they’re perceived as neither black nor white.
Arica Himmel stars as young Bow Johnson. Co-starring in the series are Christina Anthony as Denise; Mykal-Michelle Harris as Santamonica Johnson; and Ethan Childress as Johan Johnson.
Mixed-ish originated as a planted spinoff, which was intended to air as a “Becoming Bow” episode of Black-ish this past spring. In light of the Mixed-ish series order, that episode ended up being held for next season and will feature Gosselaar as Paul. Mixed-ish was one of several newly picked up broadcast series to undergo recastsings this year.
Karin Gist serves as showrunner and executive producer. Saji and Barris are writers and executive producers along with Ross, Randall Winston, Artists First (Brian Dobbins), Cinema Gypsy (Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland) and Anthony Anderson. Anton Cropper directed the pilot. The series is produced by ABC Studios, part of Disney Television Studios
Gosselaar, who started his acting career in comedy as a star on Saved By the Bell, segued to drama with lead roles on such series as NYPD Blue, Raising the Bar, Pitch and The Passage. He had returned to comedy occasionally, including headlining NBC’s sitcom Truth Be Told, and also starred in the TNT legal dramedy Franklin & Bash.
The casting in Mixed-ish comes on the heels of Gosselaar signing with WME. He also is repped by Luber Roklin Entertainment and Jamie Mandelbaum