Life on Mars Lands Actor Jason O'Mara as Lead

One of the questions I get asked fairly regularly via email is what ever happened to David E. Kelley's American adaptation of Life on Mars?

Being a huge fan of the original UK Life on Mars, I was fairly underwhelmed by Kelley's script, which did little more than transport the action from 1970s Manchester to 1970s Los Angeles and slightly Americanize the dialogue. As for the rest, it's all basically the same: Sam Tyler chases serial killer, arrests Colin Raimes, has car accident, and wakes up in 1970. Oh, except, this time around Annie is a full-on female detective, rather than a WPC in a skirt.

The project was meant originally for fall consideration but when the pilot for Life on Mars, which had only cast Rachelle Lefevre (Life on a Stick) as Annie, failed to cast the ever crucial role of series lead, it was placed on hold until an appropriate Sam Tyler could be cast.

Cut several months forward to today when ABC announced that it has finally managed to find its lead for Life on Mars: Jason O'Mara who Monarch of the Glen fans will remember as Fergal.

O'Mara, who has also appeared in Band of Brothers, Men in Trees, In Justice, and The Closer, had most recently appeared in the pilot for Marlowe and has a talent deal with ABC, the network behind Life on Mars.

Life on Mars' director Thomas Schlamme feels that O'Mara is the perfect choice to play the conflicted time traveler (or madman) Sam Tyler. "When I read the script, the bad news was that in order for the project to work, we needed an actor who could play confident yet lost, forceful yet frightened, withdrawn yet available, and uncompromising yet funny," said Schlamme. "The good news is we got Jason O'Mara."

The pilot for Life on Mars will begin production on August 14 and is said to be under consideration for mid-season. I'll be trying to get my greedy mitts on the completed pilot as soon as it goes through editing, so stay tuned.

* * *

Jace is an LA-based television development and acquisitions exec who watches way too much television for his own good and would love a TiVo for every room in the house. (He’s halfway there.) His blog, Televisionary, can be found at televisionaryblog.com.