Despite illness, Patrick Swayze to star in “The Beast” TV series slated to shoot here this summer

A&E Network greenlighted “The Beast” TV series for production, after it appeared that the lengthy writers strike and star Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis might have permanently derailed it.

A&E ordered 13 hourlong episodes of “The Beast” from Sony Pictures to be produced in Chicago this summer, although a shooting schedule was not announced.

How much of the series will be shot in Chicago is problematical at this time. While the star says he is looking forward to working here, his health may not permit being away from his medical team and treatments. At the very least, second unit will shoot in Chicago.

“The Beast” centers on an unorthodox but effective FBI veteran (Swayze), who trains a new partner (Travis Fimmel) in his hard-edged and psychologically clever style of being an agent, while being pursued by a secret Internal Affairs team.

In a statement, Swayze said, “I have searched for quite a long time to find a character that is this multilayered, unpredictable and downright entertaining, as well as a project this current and cutting-edged.”

He did not address his health, but A&E executives confirmed that his doctors cleared him to resume work.

Swayze last worked Chicago in 1989, when he played a Chicago cop looking to find his brother’s killer in “Next of Kin.”

Although it looked like “The Beast” would shoot in Toronto, Chicago got the news the end of November, 2007 that the city would serve as the story’s locale.

“The Beast” will be the first new TV series to shoot here in its entirety (if that happens) since “Prison Break” esaped to Dallas in 2006. The Fox series shot its first season in Chicago and the following two seasons in Dallas and other Texas locations, after dropping $50 million in that state. The fourth season will film in Los Angeles.