In Depth

A&E Puts Swayze's 'Beast' Into Production

A&E Network has decided to go forward with production of a new series starring Patrick Swayze, who discovered he had a life-threatening pancreatic cancer a few months ago.

"The Beast" had been a leading contender to be A&E's first original scripted drama under the network's new management team, but Mr. Swayze's illness caused a delay.

In the series, Mr. Swayze will play an unorthodox FBI veteran training a new partner, played by Travis Fimmel, who starred in ABC's 2003 series "Tarzan." Mr. Swayze's character is under investigation by a secret Internal Affairs team that wants Mr. Fimmel's character to spy on his partner as part of the inquiry.

Production will begin this summer in Chicago on 13 one-hour episodes. The series is tentatively scheduled to air in early 2009.

“We’re very excited to begin series production on ‘The Beast’ and even more thrilled to have Patrick on board reprising the role he played so powerfully in the pilot opposite Travis, who is certainly an emerging talent in his own right,” Bob DiBitetto, executive VP and general manager of A&E Network, said in a statement.

The network said Mr. Swayze "has responded well to treatment and his doctors have given him
the go-ahead to resume working."

A&E, which had been building a larger, younger audience base with reality shows such as "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and acquisitions including "CSI: Miami" and "The Sopranos," will launch its first scripted drama in six years with “The Cleaner” starring Benjamin Bratt, which premieres July 15.

(Editor: Horowitz)