|James Woods plays a cutthroat lawyer in 'Shark."
Off the big screen
The network is evaluating several dramas that bring big screen actors to TV. In “Smith,” Ray Liotta stars as a thief who leads a crew of career criminals as they carry out big-stake heists; in “Shark,” Spike Lee directs James Woods as a cutthroat lawyer who leaves his practice as a defense attorney to work for the Los Angeles D.A.’s high-profile crime unit; and Stanley Tucci plays a gifted but troubled brain surgeon in a still unnamed drama.
CBS has several ensemble dramas in the works, as well. Julia Ormond, Peter Strauss, Andrew McCarthy and Jason Behr star in “The Way,” a show about a family that has achieved its wealth and prestige through witchcraft. “Waterfront,” starring Joe Pantoliano, Mary Stuart Masterson, William Baldwin and Larenz Tate, tells the story of a charismatic but ethically challenged mayor of Providence. David Crane, co-creator of NBC’s “Friends,” is behind the ensemble drama “The Class,” which follows the lives of several 20-somethings who attended grade school together but followed different paths until they were reunited many years later.
Other prospective shows explore dark themes. “Jericho” depicts a small town in Kansas that becomes isolated from the rest of America when a baffling mushroom cloud appears on the horizon. “Orpheus” is about a young man who falls in love with a woman, Mena Suvari, who is a member of a mysterious cult-like organization.
Set in the capital
Washington is the locale for several shows. “Company Town,” starring Sherry Stringfield, Blair Underwood and Micheal Michele, takes place in a D.C. neighborhood that seems serene but is home to government operatives who have dangerous jobs and secrets. For those who miss “Dawson’s Creek” there are two programs -- one comedy, one drama -- both set in Washington and both starring a “Dawson’s Creek” alum. Joshua Jackson stars with Kevin Pollak and Alan Tudyk in a law firm drama (still unnamed) created by two of the driving forces behind the program “CSI.” James Van Der Beek stars with Jane Krakowski and Jay Harrington in a comedy about backstabbing and infighting called “Sex, Power, Love & Politics.”
Other comedies include: “Play Nice,” the story of a dysfunctional family starring Fred Willard and Swoosie Kurtz; “The Angriest Man in Suburbia,” which is about a Manhattan transplant in Southern California; and an untitled project about a man and his mother in Queens, produced by Paul Reiser and stars Mercedes Ruehl and Bobby Cannavale.