In more news that you might have missed…
— Cedric The Entertainer has been cast as a series regular alongside Marcel Spears (The Mayor) and Sheaun McKinney (Snowfall) in the CBS multi-cam comedy pilot, Welcome to the Neighborhood. It centers on “the nicest guy in the Midwest, who moves his family into a tough neighborhood in L.A. where not everyone appreciates his extreme neighborliness. McKinney will play Malcolm, the chill and dryly sarcastic younger son of Calvin and Loretta (yet to be cast). His older brother, Marty (Spears), is the “good” son, and Malcolm is the more street-smart member of the family.
He believes the world doesn’t see him as clearly as he sees it, and under different circumstances, he would be a respected businessman. But as it is, his “business” isn’t something he wants to discuss with strangers like Dave and Gemma (yet to be cast). Spears’ Marty works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an engineer, and he’s considerably more friendly and welcoming than anyone else in his family.
Cedric will play Calvin. “A strong and proud man, Calvin lives next door to new neighbors, the Johnson family, who he regards with disdain and as a pack of interlopers. A natural contrarian, acerbic, even downright misanthropic, Calvin thinks these people will upset the delicate balance that has existed in his neighborhood forever.” Cedric the Entertainer is also a series regular on TBS’ The Last O.G., premiering soon.
— Tyler James Williams has booked a series regular role opposite Scott Foley (Scandal), Lauren Cohan (The Walking Dead) and Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty) in ABC’s hourlong action-dramedy pilot, Whiskey Cavalier. The series follows the adventures of FBI agent Will Chase (Foley) who, following an emotional break-up, is assigned to work with quick, cunning and completely fearless CIA operative Francesca “Frankie” Trowbridge (Cohan) Together, they lead an interagency team of spies who periodically save the world (and each other) while navigating the rocky roads of friendship, romance and office politics. Williams will play Edgar Standish, a rogue NSA analyst who hacked the State Department’s mainframe. A jittery genius, he now has enough super-secret information to get him bought off, imprisoned or killed by a dozen governments — if Will and Frankie don’t get to him first
— Lorraine Toussaint, Frankie Faison and Jerod Haynes have joined what seems to be a promising pilot, an ensemble drama at NBC called, The Village. “The Village is a sprawling ensemble drama. Despite differences in age, race, culture and lifestyle, the residents of a Manhattan apartment building find that the more their lives intertwine, the more complex and compelling their connections become, thus proving that life’s challenges are better faced alongside family, even if it’s the one you make wherever you find it.”
Haynes will portray Ben, a local police officer and tenant of the apartment building. Faison will play Ron, a man who’s very caring and willing to help anyone. Toussaint will play Patricia, a warm, vivacious grandmother figure and social worker who, unable to have her own children, became a caretaker for everyone else. She was one of the most in-demand actresses during pilot season, going with The Village.
— Chris Warren (The High School Musical franchise) has been cast in a series regular role in Eva Longoria’s ABC drama pilot, Grand Hotel. Based on a Spanish format, “the series soapy drama set against the backdrop of a Miami Beach hotel, centering on the family who owns the business, the staff who run it and the explosive secrets they hide under the perfect exterior. Warren’s character will be Jason, described as “kind, funny and friends with everyone on the hotel staff, he’s worked as a waiter at the hotel since his teens, as his mother is the staff manager.” Most known for his role in Disney’s High School Musical franchise, he recently had a major recurring arc on The Fosters.
— Brandon Mychal Smith (Get On Up) has booked one of the leads in the NBC comedy pilot, Like Family. Like Family centers on centers on Aubrey and Artie (Smith) who formed the tightest of sibling-like bonds growing up together in foster care, but are discovering that such closeness makes adulthood even more complicated. Smith’s Artie seems tough, but it’s all surface. His soft spot is Aubrey and he is very protective of his “sister.” Terrified of being poor again, he always has a bunch of jobs going. Unlike Aubrey, he’s cautious about taking risks in life or in love. That’s where Aubrey steps in. Frequently. In October, Smith was cast in a Freeform pilot, Now and Then. No word on the status of that. First gaining fame from several Nickelodeon and Disney Channel shows, Smith had a breakthrough film role in Get On Up, and currently recurs on FXX’s You’re The Worst.
— Leonard Roberts (Major Crimes) and Lauren Luna Velez (Dexter) will join Teyonah Parris in the CBS drama pilot Murder. The pilot is directed by Anthony Hemingway, who is an EP as well. Andrea Demetriades and Michael Chiklis are also series regulars. Based on the British miniseries, “this new take on the investigative drama explores crime through the unique and often-conflicting perspectives of cops and killers, witnesses and victims, friends and family. Shot like a true-crime documentary, the series, which centers on Detectives Mason Garrity (Chiklis) and Ayana Lake (Parris), invites the audience inside the emotional journey of an investigation, allowing them to discern the truth and judge the suspects’ guilt or innocence for themselves.
Velez’s character is Capt. Lili Alvarez, “a trailblazing leader for women in the NYPD who is a strong and supportive squad boss. She always protects the detectives under her command, and she’s keeping a watchful eye on the new partnership of Detectives Garrity and Lake. But her rise through the ranks required personal sacrifice and now leaves her wondering if she neglected her private life for too long.” Roberts is ADA Malachi Sandel, “a talented, charismatic homicide prosecutor whose persuasive skills and charm extend from the courtroom to his active social life. But a new case, coupled with a new romantic interest, has him questioning his choices in work and in life.”
Roberts, familiar from 90s/00s films like Love Jones, He Got Game and Drumline, has had several recurring and series regular roles on television in recent years. Veteran actress Velez, popular from series like New York Undercover and Oz, recently had a recurring stint on How to Get Away With Murder.
— Mamoudou Athie (The Get Down) and Jovan Adepo (Fences) are set to join Elizabeth Olsen’s Facebook dramedy, Sorry For Your Loss. The series is “a dark comedy that explores the life of young widow Leigh Gibbs as she deals with the grief of losing her husband while reconnecting with relationships of her past. Leigh’s journey will teach us that grief is not something merely to endure, medicate away, or “muscle through,” but an essential part of life — even a kind of privilege.” Kelly Marie Tran from Star Wars has also been cast.
Adepo’s character is Danny, “a razor-sharp, constantly simmering, darkly funny, difficult to read, and on the whole just plain difficult dude. Danny always thinks he’s the smartest person in the room, and by his pretty specific and relatively narrow definition of intelligence, he usually is the smartest person in the room.” Athie is in talks to play Matt, the kind of handsome that doesn’t make a big deal out of itself, the kind of warm and funny that makes everyone feel more comfortable in their own skin. Matt was as accessible as Leigh was difficult, everybody’s best friend, five minutes into having a conversation with him, you were his best friend too.
— Rhyon Nicole Brown and Porscha Coleman have both joined the second-half of Empire’s fourth season in recurring roles. Brown’s character is Maya, the daughter of Cookie’s fellow inmate, Poundcake. Born in prison, she was taken from her mother and adopted by upper-middle-class parents, becoming a classically trained dancer. Coleman will be Mercedes, Porsha (Ta’Rhonda Jones)’s sister with a street-hustle mentality as she is trying to jumpstart her singing/rapping career.
— The Handmaid’s Tale and Orange Is The New Black star Samira Wiley will be a co-lead with Theo Rossi and Clive Standen in the upcoming crime drama, Vault. The description: “The film follows a group of small-time criminals, who in 1975 attempt to pull off the biggest heist in American history, stealing more than $30 million from the mafia in the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island.”