Gillian Anderson Returns To Network Television, And Jamie Bell Lands AMC Pilot

The pilot casting is still in full swing this week. Greg Grunberg has been cast in an ABC pilot, Six Feet Under’s Rachel Griffiths has been reduced to a summer counselor in an NBC summer series, Alicia Silverstone will play the lead in a Lifetime series, and Maya Rudolph is looking to topline a variety show.

But the two biggest casting announcements came last night, and the first is Gillian Anderson (Scully on The X-Files) and her return to network television as a series regular (she has a guest arc on NBC’s upcoming Hannibal). She will play the lead in an NBC conspiracy drama. Per THR, the series “centers on an unlikely puppeteer who will bring everyone from CEOs to the president of the United States to their knees by threatening the things they hold most dear.” Puppeteer? Surely, that’s not literal. That would be weird.

Anderson will play Meg Fitch, the CEO of a conglomerate. She’s horrified to learn of the mass abduction of her daughter Amber and her private-school classmates. Long estranged from her sister, Agent Susie Dunn (Rachel Taylor), with whom she shares a shocking secret that explains their alienation, Meg will use her own intelligence and judgment to do whatever it takes to get her daughter back.

There are currently 100 pilots in production at the networks right now (a HUGE number) and most of them have marquee stars, so don’t put too much stock in the potential return of Anderson or anyone who is not Michael J. Fox. However, AMC’s pilots have a much higher rate of success, because they are more selective in what they produce. Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot) has signed on as the lead in their Turn. As TVLine notes, the project is based on Alexander Rose’s book Washington’s Spies: The Story of America’s First Spy Ring. The series centers on “hard-working New York cabbage farmer Abraham Woodhull (Bell), who forms a group of spies with his pals in the summer of 1778. The gang winds up helping America greatly in its fight for independence.”

I suppose I could see that as a decent companion piece to Hell on Wheels, but I seriously doubt it will do much to fill the vacuum left once Breaking Bad leaves the air (and Mad Men, after next year). AMC really needs to pick up the pace; they can’t ride on the success of The Walking Dead forever, especially when they’re also churning out crap like Small Town Security and pushing The Killing far beyond its expiration date.