Drop Dead Diva star Kate Levering has been tapped to play the role Reese Witherspoon originated in the 1999 teen drama for NBC’s Cruel Intentions pilot, EW has learned.
Picking up 15 years after the events of the film, the new Cruel Intentions finds Kathryn Merteuil (returning star Sarah Michelle Gellar) vying for control of Valmont International, as well as the soul of Bash Casey (Taylor John Smith), the son of her late stepbrother Sebastian Valmont (portrayed in the film by Ryan Phillippe) and Annette Hargrove (portrayed in the film by Witherspoon). After discovering his late father’s legacy in the infamous journal, Bash is introduced to a world of sex, money, power, and corruption he never could have imagined.
Levering’s Annette Hargrove Casey is described as a genuine, good Christian woman for whom life has not been easy. Annette lives in a small town with her husband, Trevor Casey, and her son, Bash, with whom she has a close and playful relationship. Annette is rocked by Trevor’s sudden and scandalous death, and Bash’s discovery that his biological dad was the billionaire hotel magnate Sebastian Valmont, with whom Annette had a torrid relationship when she was in high school. Annette’s life starts to unravel when Bash heads to San Francisco to meet his birth family, putting Annette face-to-face with her nemesis, Kathryn Merteuil.
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The news comes on the heels of Gellar reprising her role as the master manipulator Kathryn for the pilot, and sticking around as a series regular should Cruel Intentions get picked up. This, of course, raises the question: Why no Witherspoon? Reports have it that the Cruel Intentions brain trust did not approach the Academy Award winner, who is an executive producer on the untitled ABC pilot that brings Grey’s Anatomy alum T.R. Knight back to the network.
The film’s director, Roger Kumble, will helm and co-write the Cruel Intentions pilot alongside co-writers Jordan Ross and Lindsey Rosin. The movie’s writer, Neil Moritz, will also serve as an executive producer, as will Pavun Shetty. Sony Pictures Television and Original Film will produce the pilot.