HBO News Blog

Development Slate: Ryan Murphy’s OPEN; David Fincher & More

By Jef Dinsmore on Sep 9, 2013 to HBO News

dev-logoI’m sitting on a bit of information here. I think it is well past time to share it with HBOWatch and its followers. I’ll break it down project by project. Now some of these items are small facts, but put together they prove that a number of production teams want to work with HBO and that can only spell good news for fans. What you will discover is a number of developments in various stages of preparation as either confirmed shows or films forthcoming on HBO or as early plans for potential entertainment for the network. 

  • Ryan Murphy’s OPEN

Ryan Murphy, of Glee and American Horror Story, has a couple of projects for HBO. One of them is a relationship drama entitled OPEN. HBOWatch first reported on this show back on 05.09.13. A Pilot episode was commissioned and news has now surfaced of the leads we expect to see if the series is picked up. Of course, due to Murphy’s track record it is quite likely OPEN will appear on the network.

OPEN_bentleyWes Bentley (pictured) will play the handsome but arrogant Evan Foster, a bit of a blowhard who loves espousing his theories on human sexuality. Scott Speedman is Jonathan, a handsome sports marketing executive. Anna Torv (Fringe) plays Windsor, a yoga instructor and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Revenge) is Holly who is a career-driven actress. These women are in a relationship with each other. Together these characters explore the intimate side of their lives and the meaningful relations they try to build and maintain.

  HBO, of course, is one of the few outlets that will allow a frank and up-front discussion of these issues as HBO did briefly once before with TELL ME YOU LOVE ME.  Of OPEN Ryan Murphy has stated that “I’m thrilled about it. [Over at HBO] they have great projects, and this is really an adult show that is very frank in its depiction of sex.” Production is said to be underway.


  • A SILICON VALLEY Setback?MikeJudge

SILICON VALLEY co-creators John Altschuler and David Krinsky are no longer involved with the HBO series! At first I thought that a bad situation that would derail the production. Au contraire, Mike Judge is still onboard and it is his comedic sense that we are familiar with anyway. Judge  (pictured right) will be the primary show-runner on the single-camera comedy, set in the high-tech gold rush of modern Silicon Valley. Altschuler & Krinsky are stepping back from day-to-day operations to run the overall production company.

 HBOWatch reported on the series concept back in 12.12 then announced the pilot shoot on 03.13 and on 05.17.13 announced a first season commitment from HBO. That was all pending on cast retooling which hasn’t happened it appears; it is just behind the scene shuffling going on. So, SILICON VALLEY should show up onscreen in 2014. We will watch for it.


  • Lorne Michaels Produces Salahuddin & Riddle Pilot

Okay, I’m sure you at least recognize the name Lorne Michaels. He is the producer behind every season of Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and he has some projects developing at HBO. One of them is PEOPLE IN NEW JERSEY which we actually have had little news about even though it got underway last year. The other project to be executive produced by Michaels is moving a lot faster.  

 Riddle_SalahuddinThe untitled project is a half-hour comedy being written and acted by Bashir Salahuddin (at left) and Diallo Riddle (far left). Now, they may not be anyone recognizable unless you stay up late to watch Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They are the writing team behind several of the skits performed on Fallon’s show. They will star as Bashir and Diallo, two 30-year old-reporters, as they try to make it big in the burgeoning black mecca of contemporary Atlanta.

 Signed up to join them in the pilot will be Dorian Messick (Criminal Minds) as Jay, an ex-Harvard classmate of Bashir and Diallo who has reached fame and success within the community in Atlanta; Tasie Lawrence as Chloe, a 20-something photographer who is assigned to Bashir and Diallo because her father runs the Atlanta Torch, the newspaper where they work; Barry Shabaka Henley as Buddy, Chloe’s father and Bashir & Diallo’s boss and Siena Goines as Simone, an accomplished author who has an on-again, off-again relationship with Riddle. All of these people are out to make their mark in the New South and on HBO. As par the course, we will see whether it makes it to series or gets passed over.


  • David Fincher’s UTOPIA

HBO continues to get more and more talents looking at making content for the premium channel. Now David Fincher, director and producer of a large number of cinematic favorites like Fight Club and, dare I say it, HBO rival (?) Netflix’s House of Cards plans a remake for HBO. HBO has gained the American television rights to the BBC’s UTOPIA series and Fincher is interested in the State-side version. Utopia

The work is described as a dark and enigmatic thriller where we find “The Utopian Experiment” which is a legendary graphic novel shrouded in mystery – its pages contain prophesies. But when a small group of previously unconnected people find themselves in possession of an original manuscript, their lives suddenly and brutally implode. Targeted swiftly and relentlessly by a murderous organization known as The Network, the terrified group are left with only one option if they want to survive: they have to run.

 Again, Mr. Fincher is just sniffing around the project; an odd project at that. Does it sound like it is up HBO’s alley? We know that the network and the BBC are in cahoots so it doesn’t seem surprising that they had their pick of what program they wanted to give the Yankee treatment too. Will UTOPIA come to HBO? We will keep an eye on it.


  • Jay Roach Comedy Project

Jay Roach is tjayRoachoying around with a comedy series for HBO. He has, of course, done well for the network having won awards for his HBO Films RECOUNT and GAME CHANGE. After those politically themed movies did well Mr. Roach was granted a further development deal and is now pursuing a concept called THE THIRD COAST.

 It is only in the planning stages but it is to be single-camera shot comedy about the life of a casting director from New Mexico. How about that title? New Mexico is “The Land of Enchantment” which sounds like a better title already.  So, if you saw the documentary CASTING BY just think of the stories told in it coupled with an ENTOURAGE or a VEEP feel then you might have this series, maybe? Anyway, it is way too early to say.

 What we can say that is that it is being written by Paul Rudnick and produced and directed by Roach. Also on board is their lead in actress Annette Bening who is to play the larger-than life casting director. She is no stranger to HBO either as she starred in 2005’s HBO Film: MRS. HARRIS.  We look forward to what Bening and roach offer.


  • HBO’s GETTING ON is getting on HarrydeanStanton

 HBOWatch has had a couple of posts about GETTING ON, but the most recent mention was on 03.21.13 when we announced it was going to shoot a season worth of episodes with Laurie Metcalf, Niecy Nash and Alex Borstein in the leads.

 Now we note here that appearances to the season will be made by actors Harry Dean Stanton (pictured) and Daniel Stern. In the U. S. version of the BBC medical comedy Mr. Stanton will play Leonard Butler, a horny octogenarian still looking for sex with his girlfriend from the assisted living facility. Of course Stanton worked for the show-runners Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer before as Roman Grant in their show BIG LOVE.  Mr. Stern will play Richard James who is the husband to the director of the facility Dr. James, who is the Laurie Metcalf role. There is no word yet as to when this show will air but there is no reason not to expect it on the lineup in 2014.     

That is the first six of twelve Slate items for you. I’ll offer the back six later this week. Mull this news over for now. You know, with all these shows shooting pilots and actual episodes it may be time to do the 2014 Schedule speculation piece. Hmmm?






  • Weez

    I’m hoping this means HBO plans to go to two nights of original programming a week in a big way. I think Boardwalk will get picked up for a fifth season (despite the season premiere numbers being down – it’s some rough competition, and the show does really well when total viewing numbers are considered), and I’m sure The Newsroom and Family Tree will be renewed (if HBO can work out a deal with the BBC in the latter case, anyway), so besides Treme and Enlightened, and Eastbound & Down every other show that aired this year will be getting another season (and they’ve still got to air Hello Ladies and the new Chris Lilley series for this year, as well as True Detective & Getting On in January).

    Since they’ve also got the Westworld adaptation with J.J. Abrams, The Spark (from the guy who created Last Resort, IIRC), The Leftovers with Damon Lindelof, American Gods from Neil Gaiman, Monster with Guillermo del Toro, The Missionary, the rock & roll series from Scorsese starring Bobby Cannavale, and that comedy series set in Miami with Dwayne Johnson and the drama series set in Miami from John Legend (in addition to anything I’m forgetting), my initial thought is that they’re planning to move to two nights a week. And now might be the perfect time to do it. With HBO Go becoming such a valuable asset for them, the more new original content they can provide for the platform, the better (as long as the quality stays high, of course). But what night would work best? Friday is best left to Real Time & (eventually) season two of Vice, and they already tried (and failed) to use Monday to launch a second night of programming. I’d say Tuesday would be their best bet, ultimately.

    In any case, it’s always exciting to be an HBO fan, though now possibly more than ever. Bring on the scheduling speculation post, I say!

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