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CW switches lead hunks on new Aquaman series, adds Ving Rhames and former Miss Universe to cast

Just days after taking over the reins of the soon-to-shutter WB network, development honchos at the new CW network are already tweaking shows in development for next year.

Making news this week, CW execs are taking a closer interest in the new Smallville spin-off, Mercy Reef. In a move that bodes will for the show’s chance for being picked up, network programmers replaced one blond hunky actor for another hunk.

This is the show that will feature a young Aquaman character, called A.C. (short for “Arthur Curry”). This version of A.C. debuted in a highly-rated episode of Smallville this past fall with former American Idol heartthrob Alan Ritchson playing the role. Ritchson-as-eye-candy made such a splash in the media and ratings, that the WB quickly ordered a pilot for a new south Florida-based Aquaman series.

They quickly dumped Ritchson, who although he looked the part, did not have the acting chops to carry a series. They opted instead to cast former Abercrombie & Fitch model, Will Toale. The WB has had repeated success with casting A&F models in its shows, most notable is former A&F model Tom Welling as Smallville’s Clark Kent.

But as CW execs started looking over WB shows in development, they took an interest in the Aquaman show and its cast. The first move was to recast supporting characters with well-known name-brands such as Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible, Dawn of the Dead) as MacCaffery, A.C.’s mentor and former Miss Universe from Puerto Rico, Denise Quinones, as Rachel, A.C.’s love interest, to draw a more upscale and ethnically diverse urban audience (the primary target for The CW Network).

The final step was to recast the lead character himself. CW execs ditched Toale for Justin Hartley (pictured), who has spent the past four years building a sizable fan base as Nicholas Crane on the supernatural NBC soap, Passions.

Although the CW has taken a high interest in the series, Mercy Reef has not officially been added to the 2006-2007 network lineup.

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.
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