Here is some development news from all over the place and, we admit, a few that have been collecting dust. Of course, with HBO only offering Sunday nights for original fictional series most of these might not ever get to air. If they do prove successful then we bump them to their own posts, but for now they are grouped here. So, here is what HBO has under consideration.
- Duplass Brothers Deal with HBO
Well evidently HBO likes the entertainment content coming from Duplass Brothers Television. The company has just made an exclusive content deal with the network. We have talked about them before; the company is the platform from which Jay and Mark Duplass (pictured) are creating TV. They started their work with short films than took off into full-length films and garnered praises for The Puffy Chair in 2005. The brothers now have diversified into television with TOGETHERNESS and the upcoming animated series ANIMALS.
TOGETHERNESS completed its first season on HBO earlier this year and it is not too late to get caught up in that story on the network’s streaming sites. They just recently announced that ANIMALS will be a series starting sometime in 2016. Again, HBO must like their product because now Duplass Brothers has entered an exclusive development deal that says that HBO will give their projects serious consideration for the next two years.
HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo said, “The proven talent and innate creativity of the Duplass brothers are, for us, pure gold. We are thrilled to have this exclusive opportunity to share their comic genius with the HBO audience.”
Added Jay and Mark Duplass, “We really share a vision for the new ways TV can be made and have found the perfect partner to do that with, in HBO, especially with the broadening scope of their new HBO NOW service.”
So what possibly do they have in mind? It is not known but, by the statement above it sounds like they could do an exclusive digital series on HBONow/Go. Maybe, they will up the ante and produce an hour-long series? Obviously we will have to wait and see.
- Eric Roth Hopes to Go UNARMED For HBO
Here is an interesting pitch for a country that is proud of its veterans. Oscar winner (for writing Forrest Gump) Eric Roth is producing a concept for a limited series for HBO called UNARMED. Its focus is on Amos Searl, a civilian psychiatrist new to his practice at an Armed Forces medical center that specializes in treating amputees and burn victims; critically wounded veterans just returned from America’s recent wars. A double amputee himself, Searl tries to make sense of and give meaning to our soldiers, the young men and women who are trying, like him, to find their way home. Think of it to be thematically like IN TREATMENT I guess.
Roth, who also was executive producer for HBO’s unlucky LUCK, has taken on writer Denis Johnson, a novelist & playwright, to pen the entire series whether it be six of eight episodes long. HBO has been entertaining the notion of limited series as of late because viewers with shorter attention spans are likely can to seat through a short amount of episodes and big name stars are more likely to take on the limited commitment. Exactly what happens here is anyone’s guess.
- Pulitzer Prize Winning DISGRACED Planned for HBO
Playwright Ayad Aktar is fortunate to have his award winning play go straight from a Broadway run to the offices of HBO. Soon it will be adapted to the screen for the network. The story of DISGRACED is about a successful Muslim-American lawyer and his wife — an artist influenced by Islamic tradition — enjoying their comfortable and successful life on New York’s Upper East Side. When a co-worker and her husband come to dinner, what begins as polite table conversation explodes, leaving everyone’s relationships and beliefs about race and identity in shards.
The onstage cast included Hari Dhillon, Gretchen Mol, Danny Ashok, Karen Pittman and Josh Radnor. Whether or not any of them reprise their roles onscreen is unknown at this time. Nor do we know whether it will be filmed onstage or film sets will be built and shot as a traditional movie. In the wake of tensions against people of Muslim heritage this appears quite a timely and heated presentation. HBO was evidently attuned to the issue as was the playwright.
- The Comedy WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT is Under Consideration
HBO likes the idea of a comedy based on the debut novel of writer David Shafer. It’s called WHISHEY TANGO FOXTROT and is being groomed for a potential half-hour series. It is called a dark comedy about three young adults grappling with the usual thirty-something problems of boredom, authenticity, and omnipotent online oligarchy. That’s their description not mine.
Plan B entertainment is producing and Mr. Shafer himself will serve as an executive producer alongside Zev Borow who has worked on series for Amazon Studios and USA Network. In the spirit of William Gibson and Chuck Palahniuk, this work is both a suspenseful global thriller and an emotionally truthful story about the struggle to change the world in and outside your head. Wrap yourself around that, if you can, and let’s see if HBO can get their mind around it too.
- BRIEF HISTORY yet another Optioned Project
The full title of the source material is A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS by Marlon James (pictured). HBO has optioned the acclaimed novel as yet another possible network entry. It is a sweeping epic that is said to be inspired by an attempt on reggae icon Bob Marley’s life. The busy Eric Roth is assisting James as he adapts the work for the screen. It may be a daunting task as the story spans decades.
Marlon James is quoted as saying, “I was really excited and shocked at how much HBO was interested in the whole story. I thought maybe they would be interested in the espionage angle or something about Americans abroad. But they realize the main character, Josey Wales, should be the center of it. A lot of this is still up in the air, but it’s still a big deal. I like the TV serial in terms of what you can do to explore characters,” he said. “There are some characters in the book who are minor who I’d love to dig into in a bigger way. And I know that Jamaica may be wary that the main character, Josey Wales, is a gangster, a bad man. But you can look to New Jersey to see how they deal with ‘The Sopranos.’ They don’t take pride in the criminality, but they look at the show and say, this [setting] is a place of deep, meaningful stories.” Time will tell whether it gets told on HBO.
- 1970’s NYPD Corruption Scandal Story a Possibility
Producer/Director Antoine Fuqua is a busy guy. His Fuqua Films has in the works Jake Gyllenhall Southpaw and a work called The Man Who Made It Snow, plus manning a remake of The Magnificent Seven. But he has time for a possible project with HBO entitled PATROLMAN P. It is hoped to be a drama series based on the 2013 documentary of the same name, which told the early 1970s New York-set crime story of corrupt cop, William Phillips. Phillips agreed to become an undercover agent to expose what was, at the time, rampant corruption within the New York Police Department, in exchange for immunity from a bribery charge. The evidence he eventually collected led directly to the indictment of 30 New York City cops. But the tables quickly turned when Phillips himself was convicted of a double-homicide. Decades later and still in prison, Phillips continued to insist that he was the victim of a massive police conspiracy.
It sounds like a great concept to me. Though I have to agree with the source material used here and share the notion that it seems more like a limited series or maybe an HBO film presentation instead. But, like we’ve stated before, on HBO a full series is only 10 episodes anymore anyway. I hope this one comes to fruition in any format.
- MAMMA DALLAS Not Going Forward On HBO
Just because he had one series on the channel, ENLIGHTENED, doesn’t automatically mean that he gets another. Mike White’s MAMMA DALLAS, the one about the conservative Texan family who unwittingly hire a hard-living drag queen as their live-in nanny, is not going forward on HBO.
The network’s programming chief Michael Lombardo said, “Mike White is one of the most talented filmmakers working today and we feel honored to have worked with him on Enlightened and the Mama Dallas pilot. The latter only reinforced our views of Mike’s prodigious talents. Unfortunately, after much discussion we have decided not to proceed to series on this work. We truly hope that we will find another opportunity to work together.” We will hang around to see if that is the case.
There you go. Again, I like PATROLMAN P, but does anyone else like any of these to go forward? Let us know below.