HBO News Blog

Development Slate: “Black Larry David”; THE BRINK, Oprah & More

By Jef Dinsmore on Dec 16, 2013 to HBO News

dev-logoBefore a brief Holiday break this writer has to fire off some news for the site. What you will find here is some casting news and some development deals in the works as everybody wants to work at HBO. 2014 is looking good!

  •  Salim Akil to Be the ‘Black Larry David’

 Salim Akil, if you People_SalimAkilare not aware, is going to make his presence known on HBO with a documentary style comedy in 2014. It is called MR. DIRECTOR and is said to take the same approach as HBO’s CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, thus labeling Mr. Akil as the “black Larry David.”  Writer/director Akil, known for BET’s Soul Food and The Game, is set to write, produce and direct this comedic look at Black Hollywood with Akil playing a version of himself and will explore the business from his perspective in all its craziness.

 Hey, if we cannot have our Larry David then maybe the black version will cut the craving. We’ll have to wait and see.


  • Oprah Winfrey Behind HBO ComedyPeople_OprahW

 Now you would think Ms. Winfrey would be focusing on her own OWN Network, but even she has an interest in being on HBO. We already reported on one potential project. Now her Harpo Productions has signed on spunky writer Diablo Cody (Juno and The United States of Tara) to script a comedy pilot.

 The comedy is based on Dr. Julie Holland’s “Moody Bitches.” The work is said to reveal “the truth about the drugs you’re taking, the sex you’re not having, the sleep you’re missing and what’s really making you crazy.” Both Winfrey and Cody will hold producer credits. With that clever yet vague blurb the comedy still could be about just about anyone’s daily life. We will see how this piece shapes up.


  • Laurence Fishburne to Star in HBO Drama Pilot  People_LaurenceFishburne

Another big name looking at making HBO home is Laurence Fishburne. Yes, that Laurence Fishburne. He has already appeared on HBO with THURGOOD in 2011, MISS EVER’S BOYS in 1997, THE TUSKEGEE AIRMEN of 1995 and ALWAYS OUTNUMBERED from 1998 as the character Socrates Fortlow.

Mr. Fishburne is now planning to return to HBO with that character in a series being titled THE RIGHT MISTAKE. It is based on a series of novels by Walter Mosley called “Always Outnumbered,” “Always Outgunned,” “Walkin’ the Dog” and “The Right Mistake”  all featuring the Fortlow character. He is an ex-convict who seeks redemption as he struggles to stay on the right path. Fishburne will star and executive produce. If this show is a go we will explore it further and the 1998 TV-movie as well.


  • Murray Miller Has HBO Development DealPeople_MurrayMiller

 Murray Miller, a newly appointed co-executive producer on GIRLS, has recently signed a two-year development deal with HBO. He has now teamed up with Mike White, creator, writer and actor of HBO’s ENLIGHTENED, to create a half-hour comedy.

The duo is developing MR. ROMANCE. It is based on an article entitled “The Only Muscle I Can’t Control: In Search Of the Next Romance Novel Cover Man” by Joshuah Bearman. Okay it sounds a bit vague right now, but according to a PDF file of the article, which was published by McSweeney,  it is about the Romance Novel publishing arm searching for the next great male model to adorn its book covers. We will see how this project fleshes out or see what else may be developed by Mr. Miller.


  • Jenji Kohan Sells “Salem Witch” Concept to HBO

Jenji Kohan returns to HBO after creating shows for rivals Showtime and Netflix. Her project is an untitled drama about the “Salem Witch Hunt” People_JenjiKohantrials of Massachusetts of 1692-93.  It will explore the circumstances surrounding one of the most compelling chapters in American history, when intolerance and repression set neighbor against neighbor and led a town to mass hysteria.  Kohan will script the show alongside Bruce & Tracy Miller.

Jenji Kohan might be best known for the current Orange Is the New Black on Netflix and Weeds for ShowTime but she was also a comedic writer for HBO. She was a producer and writer for TRACY TAKES ON… in the late ‘90’s. A great period piece set in 17th century America sounds intriguing to me.   


  • THE BRINK Cast Shaping UpPeople_EsaiMorales

 Over the past month a few actors have stepped onboard THE BRINK. The biggest name to the Jay Roach series pilot is Esai Morales. He will play President of the United States Julian Navarro. Since this potential series is about a geopolitical crisis it makes sense that the American President is part of the situation. And since this takes place sometime in our immediate future we just so happen to have an Hispanic POTUS.  

 Also recently cast are Aasif Mandvi, Pablo Schreiber, Maribeth Monroe and Geoff Pierson. They will play, respectively, a young Pakistani employed at the U.S. embassy; a U. S. Navy fighter pilot caught up in the brouhaha; Deputy Chief of Staff to Tim Robbin’s Secetary of State; and the hawkish Secretary of Defense. All assembled this cast, with Robbins and Jack Black, will try to prevent World War III in what is billed a dark comedy. So, think VEEP + THE NEWSROOM x the military = THE BRINK.


  • HBO’s Bernie Madoff Movie Gets New Writer People_BernieMadoff

HBOWatch reported way back on 05.16.11 that Robert DeNiro was heading towards a Bernie Madoff (pictured) biopic. HBO had at that time optioned Diana Henriques’ bestseller “The Wizard Of Lies: Bernie Madoff And The Death Of Trust.” Now the rights to a second book have been obtained and a new writer is at the helm.

Writer Sam Baum is now scripting with the aid of additional source material from Laurie Sandell’s “Truth And Consequences: Life Inside The Madoff Family.” With this information an HBO Films presentation of the financier and his $65 billon Ponzi scheme will come to life. It is not clear if the movie will still be titled THE WIZARD OF LIES or how soon it will get in front of cameras, but it is not a dead project yet.


  • Cinemax Planning BLANCO

acinemax-logoSister channel Cinemax has given the greenlight to a drama pilot about Ruben (Fernandez), an uptown gangster(nicknamed Blanco for being a light-skinned Dominican) who uses his status as a confidential informant to turn the tables on law enforcement and build his criminal empire. The lead will be played by Shiloh Fernandez of TV’s Jericho and the Evil Dead and Red Riding Hood movies.

 BLANCO joins QUARRY and THE KNICK as a new series for the channel.  

That is a wrap for the Development Slate for 2013. Thanks for reading it this year.



  • Lots of interesting stuff coming up for HBO this year! I like all of these smaller pieces they’re putting together lately but I do hope they find something to replace True Blood and Boardwalk eventually. Those sort of “flagship” shows are what bring people in. These smaller things are what keep them here.

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