The latest project by ubiquitous producer J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot is one step closer to its pilot. Sarah Jones has been cast as the female lead on Fox's new pilot Alcatraz.
The young actress has not had a break-out role as of yet, but recent appearances on Sons of Anarchy and Justified may have put her on the radar. She's also had recurring roles on HBO's Big Love and FX's The Riches. Her only other significant TV role came with the critically acclaimed and short-lived Lone Star. Deadline Hollywood observes that Abrams seems to be in the habit of casting relatively unknown female leads who go on to successful careers, with Alias' Jennifer Garner and Lost's Evangeline Lilly serving as prime examples.
After monster success on Lost and a good run with Fringe, Abrams and fellow executive producer Elizabeth Sarnoff (who is also writing the new series' pilot) are going the sci-fi route yet again. Alcatraz follows an FBI team tracking several inmates and guards who disappeared prior to the iconic prison's close in the 1960s - only to resurface, presumably via time travel, in the present day.
It's an impressive and original premise, and should offer TV audiences something fresh when other networks are content to rely on steady stream of standard cop shows. Jones will play an FBI agentv while Garcia gets a spot as a "hippy geek" who happens to be the world's foremost expert on Alcatraz Island. Bryan Burke also gets executive producer credit, and Danny Cannon (co-creator, TNT's Dark Blue) will direct.
Science fiction junkies may have reason to celebrate. After Fringe's move to the infamous 'Friday night death slot' on Fox and a disappointing performance by NBC's would-be Lost successor The Event, network TV seems to be woefully low on quality sci-fi. ABC's No Ordinary Family would seem to be a more tongue-in-cheek version of Heroes than anything else - not to mention the network bumped V to January (and didn't order a full season).
As I see it, the new show could go one of two ways: the focus of the series could be on the mysterious time travel phenomenon, creating a multi-season mystery that keeps viewers guessing from episode to episode. Or it could focus on escapees one at a time, putting it more in line with "bad guy of the week" sci-fi shows and more conventional police procedurals.
Alcatraz begins shooting its pilot in January.
Source: Deadline Hollywood