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LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Every pilot-casting season starts with a flurry of offers to a handful of actors who quickly become the season's most sought-after leads.
The hottest names at the top of pilot wish lists this year include Julianne Moore, Maria Bello, Christina Applegate, Matt Dillon and Jason Isaacs. All have received multiple offers.
Moore, a four-time Oscar nominee who recently tested the TV waters with a guest-starring turn on NBC's "30 Rock," has been pursued for at least two pilots so far: NBC's "Prime Suspect" remake and another redo, ABC's direct-to-series "Scoundrels," based on the New Zealand series "Outrageous Fortune."
Both projects, as well as NBC's "Chase," a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced fugitive-apprehension drama pilot, are showcases for a strong female lead character, which explains the producers' desire to go after accomplished actresses.
Bello also has been approached for the police detective role originated by Helen Mirren in "Suspect," while "Scoundrels" also went after Demi Moore.
The actresses approached for "Chase" include Bello, Tea Leoni and Applegate, who also had an offer for CBS' female-centered comedy pilot "Open Books."
Dillon, who largely has steered clear of TV even as his younger brother has found fame in "Entourage," had gotten feelers for NBC's new take on "The Rockford Files" from "House" creator David Shore, and he was talked about for "Ridealong," "The Shield" creator Shawn Ryan's cop drama at Fox.
Isaacs, a hot item since wrapping the Showtime series "Brotherhood" in 2008, had to skip last year's pilot season because of his commitment to the "Harry Potter" movies, in which he plays Lucius Malfoy. He also has been in talks for "Ridealong" and was approached for the lead on ABC's cop-drama pilot "187 Detroit."
While most actors on the hot lists flirt with the idea but ultimately end up passing, one or two a year take the plunge. Recent examples include Simon Baker, now star of CBS' hit sophomore dramedy "The Mentalist"; Peter Krause, who recently segued from ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money" to NBC's "Parenthood"; and Applegate, who, after years of turning down scripts, said yes to ABC's "Samantha Who?" which lasted two seasons.