HBO News Blog

Development Slate: INCURABLE; Alec Baldwin; THE DEVIL & More

By Jef Dinsmore on Mar 17, 2015 to HBO News

dev-logoThere seems to be quite a few items popping up lately on the development front. Some are about new movies that have been given the green light and some about yet more pilot orders being granted. Below we sort through some of the concepts being entertained. Let us know in the comments which ones you seem interested in. 

  • One Drama Called INCURABLE Gets a Pilot Order

Another one-hour drama gets attention from HBO and this one is from Alan Poul (pictured) who is already in the HBO stable as a producer/director of THE NEWSROOM, BIG LOVE, SIX FEET UNDER and ROME. He is joined by Will Strouse (who makes this show his first major credit). They team up for INCURABLE.

This wPeople_AlanPoulork centers on a support group for people with supernatural problems. Poul will executive produce and will direct the pilot if it moves forward. Strouse wrote the script and will also be an executive producer. Now the concept is vague here, but the title helps us. The “supernatural problems” don’t mean people are stressed by being haunted by ghosts, but rather are dealing with some kind of paranormal talent.  Now we have seen a number of shows out there where people discover special powers like, Heroes, Alphas, Marvel’s X-Men and the upcoming Powers by the PlayStation Network. This concept doesn’t seem to be about super agents or super heroes, but people suffering from their supernatural abilities. They are INCURABLE. We will see if they are also picked up for series if HBO likes what is going to be shot soon.

(Source: Deadline)


  • Famous Tennis “Battle of the Sexes” In The Works

The Battle of the Sexes” was a 1973 televised tennis match with tennis stars Bille Jean King and Bobby Riggs on opposite sides of the net. It was a huge event for ABC and a big boost to the feminist movement of the day. HBO Films teams up with go-to production house Playtone to relive the hype and hoopla that was this sporting event that saw a reported 50 million viewers.

The project is said to have Elizabeth Banks as the twenty-nine year old King and Paul Giamatti (HBO miniseries JOHN ADAMS) as 55-year old Riggs and is in the process of being written by the playwright of the work “Proof” David Auburn. Just for fun and to get those not older enough to remember the event here is a video piece from a documentary:

(Source: NYPost)


  • Alec Baldwin Plots TV Return As NYC Mayor In Potential HBO Series

Alec Baldwin (pictured) comes off his stint on 30 Rock and now hopes to create an iconic character for HBO. He will star and executive produce an untitled series as a guy thrust into the position of New York City mayor. A basic concept has been fleshed out and it appears Baldwin will play a character named Joe Byrne, a billionaire real estate developer, philanthropist, and celebrated socialite/tabloid fixture, who is unexpectedly rocketed into NYC politics wPeople_AlecBaldwinhen tragedy strikes the incumbent mayor and he is drafted to replace him. That sounds like the kind of typical egotistical ass that would be right up Baldwin’s alley. Mr. Baldwin had this to say about the project –  

“Cary [Brokaw] and I were going to do this together nine years ago, but I got detoured by Lorne Michaels and Tina Fey into 30 Rock. The character is a philanthropist, a big businessman and well-known tabloid fixture in New York.  He’s Trump without the baggage, Bloomberg but a Democrat, George Soros if he was in real estate, a left-leaning Democrat who is also a businessman who understands the reality of how the city has to be run to create the right climate for the business community. He’s drafted for this run because the alternative would be catastrophe. We’ve seen from shows like Kevin Spacey’s House Of Cards that you can go anywhere creatively. He throws Kate Mara’s character in front of a subway train and you think, what the hell is going on? You can create these Shakespearean character arcs, and pull the curtain back on how New York City is actually run and how political careers are made and lost in the city.”

The project, in joint with Universal Televison and HBO, is to be scripted by Wells Tower. He is a prolific magazine writer both in fiction and non-fiction and has written other pilots for HBO including PAPER and EVERYTHING RAVAGED, EVERYTHING BURNED. Cary Brokaw will produce.

(Source: Deadline)


  • Jenji Kohan’s THE DEVIL YOU KNOW Pilot Takes Shape

This work was originally titled NEW WORLD but as it has developed it has become THE DEVIL YOU KNOW. We first mentioned way back on 12.16.13 as a concept Jenji Kohan (Orange Is the New Black) wanted to pitch an hour drama about the Salem Witch Trials. In a series of posts by we learn that the ordered pilot now has its director and its cast.

Gus van SaPeople_GusVanSantnt (pictured) signed on to the direct the pilot which is said to begin filming this spring near Boston, Mass. The pilot will introduce the players in the much talked about historical account of the trials Puritan Americans held to rid their settlement of witches. The cast includes Eddie Izzard as plays farmer Thomas Putnam, the conservative, rigid and devoutly Puritan patriarch of the powerful Putnam family. He is a leader in agrarian Salem Village, but his top position is being threatened from many sides. Playing his wife, Anne Putnam, Sr., who is sickly but strong among her peers, is Ever Carradine. Their daughter, Anne Putnam Jr. is described as one unsure of her role as a woman in this world but determined to discover her place in it. She is played by Nadia Alexander and I‘d venture to say young Anne just might end up on of the accused.

Also in the pilot are Damien Molony as the son Robert Putnam and Julian Rhind Tutt as Minister Samuel Parris. You knew there had to be one in Puritan society, right? Other actors have been listed in other roles from prominent society members to newcomers to the New World. We will detail them all if THE DEVIL YOU KNOW gets picked up to series.

(Source: Deadline) 


Kerry Washington of Scandal Confirmed for HBO Film

HBO Films” CONFIRMATION is confirmed with Kerry Washington of ABC’s Scandal to star. The film will detail the big newsPeople_AnitaHill of 1991 when Anita Hill (pictured) testified against Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. Washington will produce the work for HBO Films alongside Susannah Grant. Grant, Oscar nominee for writing Erin Brockovich is also writing the screenplay. No director is signed at this time, but Rick Famuyiwa (Dope) is circling it, as they say.

Washington will have to film the movie around her Scandal role, but the Anita Hill role and the incident it is based on seem a hot topic that HBO would be proud to tell. It is cited that this production would be HBO’s first-time collaboration with ABC Studios.

 (Source: THR)


  • Marisa Tomei To Play Gloria Steinem

People_MarisaTomeiHBO must like Gloria Steinem. It has previously aired a documentary, entitled GLORIA – IN HER OWN WORDS and now embarks on HBO Miniseries: MS. Two big names are involved. First is Marisa Tomei (pictured) who will personify the journalist and feminist icon and second is George Clooney who will be executive producer of the planned miniseries.

There are no details on how many parts the film will take as it plays out the impact Ms. Steinem had on society, but we do know that it takes a look at the creation of Ms. Magazine in 1971 through the eyes of the woman who co-founded and ran it, Steinem (Tomei), and her best friend, member of the US House of Representatives Bella Abzug. The Abzug role will be played by Kathy Najimy (VEEP). Clooney teams with Grant Heslov and Bruce Cohen. Gloria Steinem herself serves as a consultant. Maybe, we can look for it in 2016.

(Source: Deadline)


  • Wall Street Film from Better Call Saul Team DevelopsOctopusBook

Peter Gould, co-creator and executive producer of Better Call Saul, returns to HBO with another HBO presentation. If you weren’t aware Gould wrote 2011’s HBO Film: TOO BIG TO FAIL about the financial crisis of 2009. At this time he is in the early stages of developing a movie based on the non-fiction book “Octopus: Sam Isreal, the Secret market and Wall Street’s Wildest Con” by Guy Lawson.

The HBO film, possibly called OCTOPUS(?), will revolve around a colorful cast of rogues and schemers who create an audacious hedge fund fraud and then go on a wild search for “the Octopus,” a secret and elite market that controls the world financial system. It sounds a bit confusing in that brief description, but HBOWatch will explain it all when this project makes it to the HBO screen. Gould is set to write and direct the telepic, as well as exec produce.

(Source: Variety)


  • Justice-of-the-Peace Turned Murderer Story to be Told

Another HBO movie to fly under the HBO Films banner is in the works. This one comes to us from Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer the developePeople_EricWiliamsrs behind HBO’s GETTING ON. The film is called PRESERVE, PROTECT AND DEFEND and is about a former Texas Justice of the Peace turned convicted murderer.

The move tells the true story of 47-year-old Eric Williams (pictured), a disgraced Texas Justice of the Peace who enlisted the help of his wife to plot and murder the two district attorneys who prosecuted him, in an escalating avalanche of firearms. Williams was convicted, and in December he was sentenced to death. Almost sounds right up there with THE JINX, doesn’t it? Director Craig Zobel, of Compliance and the upcoming Z for Zachariah will direct.

(Source: Deadline) 


  • HBO Films Looks at CIA Torture TacticsPeople_JensenandMitchell

Let’s squeeze in one more listing. The film in question will be called RORSCHACH AND AWE and it is based on the 2007 Vanity Fair article of the same name by investigative reporter Katherine Eban. The film will explore how the CIA hired two psychologists to build a torture program with the full knowledge and cooperation of the American Psychological Association. In her article, Eban shed light on the roles of psychologists James Elmer Mitchell (on right) and Bruce Jessen (on left) as architects of the coercive interrogation tactics. For their services, the duo was rewarded with $180 million in CIA contracts, $81 million of which had been paid before the agreement was terminated in 2009.

The work will be written and directed by Scott Z. Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum). He will also produce alongside Michael Sugar with a American Human Rights investigator Nathaniel Raymond as consultant. According to the “Vanity Fair” piece tortures such as waterboarding, forced nudity, extreme temperatures, sexual and religious ridicule, agonizing stress positions and starvation-level rations were employed as legitimate interrogative practices. That article and this movie will bring up those the people behind those measures and the questionable violations of human rights. Sounds like an intense movie perfect for HBO.

(Source: Vanity Fair and Deadline)


And it looks like a good place to end this report. We covered a lot of ground. Is there any one project that sounds interesting to you? Let us know in the comments below.

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