Just in case you haven’t watched enough television that explores humanity through the eyes of a robot, get ready for “Beautiful People.”
The NBC-commissioned pilot, set in the near future where humans and robots exist the same way races of people did in the 1960s, has cast its first two regulars. James Murray and Patrick Heusinger are on board, with Murray playing an attorney who believes in android civil rights while Heusinger plays a robot suddenly plagued with emotions.
The writer is coming from the most unlikely of sources. Michael McDonald wrote the script for this pilot a decade ago — during his long stint as a cast member of Fox’s “MadTV.” There he played popular characters like Stuart Larkin and Marvin Tikvah, and would stay on the show for more than 200 episodes. Yet, he also had some good practice as a writer, not only on “MadTV,” but also for two episodes of ABC’s “Cougar Town” in 2010 and 2011.
Murray is a familiar face to British television watchers, with roles in shows like “Coronation Street,” “Cutting It” and in America on the short-lived CBS series “Chaos.” He also appeared in 13 episodes of “Primeval” as Stephen Hart.
Heusinger is a character actor who has made appearances in shows like “Gossip Girl,” “30 Rock,” “The Good Wife” and “Rescue Me.” However, he is probably best known as Rich Gent in the 2010 film “Black Swan.”
The pilot for “Beautiful People” is expected to be shot later this winter, and NBC could decide by early spring whether it will give it a shot for series or not.
The network is looking for some shows that will help it break out of a years-long ratings slump that seems to be pulling even good shows down with it. NBC needs a unique show with a unique approach to start gaining some attention again, and it might take a comic actor from a one-time rival Saturday night show to make it happen.
Stephen Hopkins is directing the pilot. He also directed “Predator 2” in 1990, “Lost In Space” in 1998, and the pilot episodes of “Usual Suspects,” “Californication” and “House of Lies.”