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Rita Wilson, Archie Panjabi Cast in Fox Pilot About Sexual Assault on College Campuses

Variety logo Variety 2/28/2017 Elizabeth Wagmeister
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Rita Wilson and Archie Panjabi have been cast in Fox’s drama pilot about sexual scandals on college campuses, Variety has learned.

The untitled university project — formerly titled “Controversy” — centers around the Junior Counsel of a prestigious Illinois school that must deal with an out-of-control scandal when a young co-ed accuses several star football players of sexual assault. From the football coaches and boosters who wield outsize influence, to a university administration under siege, the series explores the type of high-profile controversy all-too familiar on today’s college campuses, as well as the corrosive, dangerous nature of institutional power.

Wilson will play Constance Hawthorne, the dignified but fierce head of UCI Board of Trustees. Panjabi will play Jourdan Price, the crisis management consultant brought in to help with the scandal.

Previously announced, Austin Stowell will also star in the Fox pilot as the central character, Matt Kincaid, the Junior Counsel of the university.

The pilot was penned by Sheldon Turner, and will be directed by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, who will all serve as executive producers, along with Jennifer Klein, Charlie Gogolak and real-life “Scandal” crisis management fixer Judy Smith. Vendetta Productions and Zaftig Films are on board with 20th Century Fox Television.

Best known for “The Good Wife,” Panjabi is currently recurring on NBC’s “Blindspot.” She was also recently in the hit film “San Andreas,” opposite Dwayne Johnson. In 2010, Panjabi won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actress in a drama for her role on “Good Wife,” and was nominated again in 2011 and 2012.

Funny enough, Wilson recurred on “The Good Wife,” appearing in a handful of episodes. More recently, she played Allison Williams’ on-screen mother on HBO’s “Girls.” Wilson has an impressive amount of guest-starring roles on a range of TV shows from “The Brady Bunch” in the early 1970’s to “Frasier” to Fox’s “Pitch” this past year, but she has never signed on as a series regular until now. Wilson is also known for a number of films including “Jingle All the Way,” “Runaway Bride,” “Now and Then” and “Sleepless in Seattle,” alongside her husband Tom Hanks.

Following her exit from “Good Wife” at the end of the CBS show’s sixth season, Panjabi has been in demand. She departed the show for a deal at 20th Century Fox TV, but the holding deal expired before a project was developed for the actress. This is the second consecutive year Panjabi has been cast in a regular role in a major network pilot. Last season, ABC cast her in a legal drama, “The Jury,” which ultimately did not go to series. 20th Century Fox TV is behind “Controversy,” marking a reunion of sorts, following her deal with the studio.

Wilson is repped by CAA. Panjabi is repped by Gersh.

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