On February 8, Christina Ricci was cast as the lead in NBC's comedy pilot Girlfriend in a Coma. Based on the Douglas Coupland novel about a thirtysomething who wakes up from an 18-year coma to discover she has a daughter about to graduate from high school — and inevitably doomed to be retitled something generically dim like Wake Up! — the project seemed like a good fit for the wry actress. Ricci had been in search of something to smirk about for years, doubly so since her first foray into TV, 2011’s Pan Am, crashed shortly after takeoff. Girlfriend features a tart script from Nurse Jackie creator Liz Brixius — a childhood friend of network president Bob Greenblatt — and seemed to inch ever closer to pickup on February 15 with the casting of tweenage famebot Miranda Cosgrove as the daughter Ricci's never met. Then, on Tuesday, Ricci was suddenly out. It was a fatality so swift only Wednesday Addams could appreciate it.
Pilot season comes for us all, and today, it's come for the stars of the 1980s.
James Spader. The former stopgap solution at The Office has been cast in NBC's spy drama The Blacklist.
The pilot will be written by Jon Bokenkamp, who wrote the Bruce Willis/Halle Berry thriller Perfect Stranger. If the show gets picked up, Alias’s John Eisendrath is set to be showrunner. Spader would play a former Army intelligence officer turned master criminal who ends up turning himself in to the Feds and working with them to catch criminals.
HBO has given a pilot order to Da Brick, a drama about a young boxer growing up in Newark, New Jersey (a.k.a. “Brick City”). Loosely based on Mike Tyson’s life story, it’ll be co-produced by Tyson and Entourage’s Doug Ellin; John Ridley is writing the screenplay, and Spike Lee will direct the pilot. Doug Ellin describes the project as ‘‘Entourage meets The Wire," which might have just made some people very angry. Grade: B+ [Deadline]
James Franco has dropped out of his upcoming Broadway debut Sweet Bird of Youth, Tennessee Williams’s play about a gigolo who seduces an older actress to get his show biz break (Nicole Kidman remains in the cast). “From now on, it’s only projects with monkeys for me,” Franco did not add. Grade: D [EW]