It had been a slow couple of weeks for HBO news what with Sandy and the Elections getting all the attention. But, the news has been picking up now and I have been able to find a few kernels of interest on the development front. It is impressive how many projects the network has in the works. Of course, not all of them will be seen to fruition but it is fun to explore them and see which ones stick. What about the following?
- Ryan Murphy presents THE NORMAL HEART
Ryan Murphy is one of the prolific creators/producers out there. You might not know him but you know his work. He is the man responsible for Popular on the WB and Nip/Tuck on FX. Currently he is behind Glee on Fox, American Horror Story on FX and The New Normal on NBC. He is sitting in a position of picking any project he wishes to do which now leads to his next project called THE NORMAL HEART and HBO is the network of choice.
THE NORMAL HEART was a Broadway play by playwright Larry Kramer and it chronicles the HIV/AIDS crisis in New York City during a few crucial years in the early 1980’s. The story is told through the eyes of the controversial writer/activist Ned Weeks, the gay founder of a prominent HIV advocacy group of the time. Though it will be unique in its own way it reminds me of Tony Kushner’s ANGELS IN AMERICA which was an awesome HBO FILM with a similar theme.
Murphy had previously announced way back in 01.2012 that he would be directing THE NORMAL HEART. His plan back then was for a big screen version with such talents as Mark Ruffalo, Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Matt Bomer and Jim Parsons. A change of plans as now led the work to HBO. There is no confirmation that the intended movie cast is still on board or if Murphy is starting from scratch. We’ll keep you informed.
- THE MISSONARY lead has been cast.
About five months ago in this post, HBO Development Slate: THE MISSONARY, I gave you the heads up that HBO had ordered a pilot episode of THE MISSONARY. At that time, as stated, Aaron Paul was in the top spot to play the title character. Well, he is not going forward in the project, but Benjamin Walker is. It took them months to figure that casting choice out? Well, I guess you can say that the production teams, both Leverage & Closer to the Hole, are perhaps meticulous in the hopes that HBO likes what it sees.
Is Benjamin Walker a good choice to play the spy game? We know him from the most recent movie Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, as the axe-wielding Abe; he was also in Kinsey will Liam Neeson and in Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers. He even appeared in an HBO FILM piece called THE NORTORIOUS BETTIE PAIGE in 2005 and has a role in the upcoming HBO FILM called MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT.
Though Mr. Paul couldn’t commit to the European gig, as the pilot takes place in ‘60’s Berlin Germany, B. Walker could make the foreign location shoot. Also, just added to the cast, and ironically a cast mate of Aaron Paul in Breaking Bad, is Jesse Plemons. The Missionary centers on Roy (Walker), a young American missionary who gets caught up in Cold War intrigue while helping a young woman escape East Berlin. Plemons will play Sherwood Elbridge, a young coca-cola executive who helps smuggle defectors out of the Eastern Bloc. This casting is taking THE MISSONARY one step closer to reality. More on this project as it develops.
- HBO is to expose us to MAISON CLOSE
If you are not familiar with the French language “maison close” is a house of prostitution and they have lived long and well in France. One such boon time for the risqué and risky business was the late 1800’s in Paris. A particular French TV program now going into its second season, has weaved a story on that theme and it is called MAISON CLOSE.
HBO has now signed on to do a remake of the show for U. S. audiences. The team behind the project is top notch. First, Mark Wahlberg’s Leverage Productions, is behind this brothel set costume drama. The screenwriter penning the work is Elizabeth Sarnoff. She has had her hand in writing for HBO’s DEADWOOD and ABC’s Lost. Also on board is Jacques Quaniche the producer of the French original who will serve as a co-executive producer and advisor for the HBO version.
Quaniche is quoted to saying to Variety that “I’m particularly enthusiastic that Elizabeth Sarnoff is writing the pilot because ‘DEADWOOD was my primary inspiration for ‘MAISON CLOSE.” The original is set in Paris in 1871. It follows three women working in a luxury brothel who get together to free themselves from prostitution. The Americanized version will stay true to that concept. We will keep a close watch on this potentially steamy and lurid offering from HBO as it develops.
- HBO Picks up HELLO LADIES
The network has placed an eight-episode order for the comedy series based on material from his Merchant’s stand-up material of the same name. HBO will produce in association with ABC, who holds an overall deal with Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky, the writing and producing duo best known for their work on the U. S. version of The Office. (Mr. Merchant, of course, is credited as a co-creator of the original Office series.) Eisenberg and Stupnitsky co-wrote the pilot episode for HELLO LADIES with Merchant and will serve as executive producers for the series.
There is no official word when the series will shoot let alone air but we will keep abreast of its progress.
- Ted Danson comments on BORED…
You do remember the comedy that ran on HBO called BORED TO DEATH, right? It just got cancelled last year after three seasons. But, it was reported via this post that the show was not quite dead. Ted Danson, who played the character of George Christopher, recently offered some more scant quotes regarding it.
He said “The deal is about to be signed. Jonathan Ames is writing it as we speak. I’m very excited. I think Jason becomes a policeman, which means, for him, a traffic cop,” He’ll have a traffic-cop go-kart kind of thing. And I think Ray and I move in together, both of us without relationships. And then: hi-jinks. All hell breaks loose. That’s about as much as I know.”
Whatever develops here you can be sure that the trio of Danson, Jason Schwartzman and Zach Galifiankis will indeed find themselves in inane situations and the 90-minute movie will be something to watch for.
That’s it for now. Does anyone like any of these ideas? Feel free to let us know in the Comments below and be ensured that HBOWatch will continue to keep a track of the various projects HBO has in the works.