"Sleepy Hollow"
“Sleepy Hollow”

UPDATE: In addition to earlier news (read below after the jump) that a new leading lady will be introduced to the series, TVLine is reporting exclusively that Lance Gross (who played FBI boss Daniel Reynolds in the series) and Jessica Camacho (as Agent Sophie Foster) will not be returning to the series (although Camacho is expected to make a guest appearance or two next season; but Gross is not returning at all for the series’ upcoming 4th season). The pair join Nicole Beharie (Abbie Mills) who left at the end of the last season, earlier this year, as well as Zach Appelman (Joe), Nikki Reed (Betsy) and Shannyn Soss (Pandora). So it looks like it’ll be an almost new-look “Sleepy Hollow.” Casting is also said to be underway for a new male villain.

If you missed the earlier report on the casting of a new female lead, read below…

In maybe an act of defiance (given how fans reacted to the exit of star Nicole Beharie at the end of the most recent season), Fox surprisingly renewed “Sleepy Hollow” for a 4th season, despite low ratings, and the loss of a fan favorite character.

I shared my surprise when Fox announced in March of last year that it had renewed the series for a third season, given the sharp drop in ratings the series suffered from season 1 to season 2. For example, its season 1 premiere drew over 10 million viewers, while its season 2 premiere episode drew half of that number, at just over 5 million viewers – a 50% drop. And season 2 ratings only got worse as it progressed, leading to its season finale at the end of February of 2015, which drew just over 4 million viewers during its time slot. And by the end of its most recent season – number 3 – its draw was under 3 million viewers.

In fact, it was the network’s lowest-rated veteran drama this past season, and yet, Fox remained committed to the series. It could also simply be a move to make the series a more attractive property for syndication or streaming, with an added season.

So who’s coming back? Per the Fox press release, Tom Mison, Lyndie Greenwood, Lance Gross and Jessica Camacho.

As for the story, the network says it will focus on “the search for truth about the lives of Witnesses.”

I’m sure that means something to fans of the series (I haven’t watched it since the first season)…

Today, TVLine has learned that Beharie’s character will indeed be replaced – something that wasn’t entirely certain as of the announcement of her exit a few months ago. Crane will get a new leading lady for the upcoming 4th season of “Sleepy Hollow” named Anna, who is described as “a raging supernatural skeptic,” who, per the casting breakdown, “creates conflicts with Crane.” Kind of like Beharie’s Abbie Mills character, right?

In addition, Anna will be a single mother of and 11-year-old daughter named Stella, and a former military officer who recently began working in the Secret Service’s “Basement” which is “a low-priority ‘X-Files’-like” division of the agency, the report states.

She’s further described as “a tough, take-charge personality, punctuated by a wry sense of humor… a born leader [with]has a softer, more caring side which she rarely shows..” She’s also fiercely devoted to her kid – “a protective instinct Crane respects and appreciates.”

Of course I’m sure a first question you all are asking is whether the actress cast for the part will be black as well, since Beharie is a black woman. Per the report, producers are casting “a wide, ethnically diverse net” in their search for a 30-something year old actress (or an actress who can play 30-something), the age range of the character.

Casting “a wide ethnically diverse net” could mean a number of things, so I wouldn’t automatically expect that the actress who will be eventual cast, will be of African descent. Keep in mind that she’s not Abbie Mills, Jenny Mills’ sister; this is an entirely new character.

With “Sleepy Hollow” season 4 set to air beginning in early 2017, as a mid-season replacement, filming has to begin soon, so expect a casting announcement shortly.