HBO News Blog

HBO Development Slate: Concepts and Scripts

By Jef Dinsmore on Apr 25, 2012 to HBO News

While everyone is in  a lather over the story from Westeros, and perhaps the debut of the new comedy shows, I find the need to offer something a bit different. So with that I’ve searched some of my go-to sites that feature development slates and see that HBO has shown interest in a few titles/concepts that you might not be aware of yet. Of course, keep in mind that there is no assurance that many of these will come to fruition. But, if and when anything is officially announced HBO Watch will be on it.

HBO seems to have a number of series concepts they like. None of the projects however are at the stage of being approved for a series commitment. In fact, only one show, from my research, has been issued s go-ahead to create a pilot and that is THE CORRECTIONS by Jonathan Franzen. In a previous post I have predicted that this show will take LUCK’s time slot. We’ll see. Most of the series seem to be in the stage of building a creative structure which is evidenced by fleshed out scripts, which are not necessarily shooting scripts. This means HBO has asked a production company to get writers to write scripts for a  potential series to see if HBO likes it enough to continue development. That process takes time. Here is a sampling of some of the concepts now supposedly being written.

  • BEAT THE REAPER has Leonardo DiCaprio listed as an executive producer of this work about a ER doctor whose past crime-filled life comes back to haunt him when a patient recognizes him
  • BIG DEAD PLACE also has a noted artist in the executive producer position in James Gandolfini.It will be a great to see him return to HBO as he also will star in this piece which takes place, of all places, in Antarctica.
  • THE BIG GIRLS intrigues me. It is a drama about a young psychiatrist at a maximum security women’s prison who attempts to treat the criminally insane while dealing with her own damaged psyche. think OZ meets IN TREATMENT.
  • THE MEMBER GUEST is not a great title but I can live with it if it brings Kevin Bacon to HBO. Think of EASTBOUND AND DOWN set in a country club with Bacon as a golfer with dashed dreams.
  • Also I hope that THE DARK TOWER and SWAMPLANDIA are still viable works for the channel and that Don Johnson (Miami Vice, Nash Bridges) and Viola Davis (The Help, State of Play) lock in projects as speculated.

Again, don’t hold your breath for any or all of the above. The latest news I found regarding a potential series is the option HBO has taken out on the “Berlin Noir” books, a trilogy, by Phillip Kerr. the series focuses on Bernie Gunther, a police detective in 1930’s Germany, at the heart of the political climate leading up to  World War II. It will be another series by Playtone Productions, headed by Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman.

Now I turn my attention to some concepts that look like they may become HBO FILMS or mini-series. Here are five that caught my eye.

  • THE DAY THE LAUGTHER STOPS has Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family) targeted to play silent-film star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle whose career took a nosedive after a scandal.
  • ECHO CHAMBER has been bandied about as a miniseries by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes). It is a tale of a British soldier who is sent undercover in the Irish Republican Army by British intelligence in the 1980’s.
  • LIZZIE BORDEN is another popular scandal and Chloe Sevigny is said to be behind the work as producer and star. You know the story about the “forty wacks” hatchet job, right? Sevigny, Nikki Grant Hendrickson of BIG LOVE, should be all over that role.
  • A ROPE AND A PRAYER is being written. It is the story of New York Times  foreign correspondent David Rohde and his experience being kidnapped by the Taliban. Once written war correspondent turned filmmaker Greg Barker is said to direct.
  • THE WIZARD OF LIES has Robert DeNiro slated to play convicted swindler Bernie Madoff for HBO. The actor is no stranger to Ponzi schemes as he was bilked himself last year.

More than likely HBO audiences will be bilked as well as some of these works don’t make it to air. But news has surfaced about two different projects slated for HBO. The first tidbit is related to MUHAMMAD ALI’S GREATEST FIGHT. Actually, it is a Cassius Clay story. Anyway, Danny Glover, Barry Levinson, Ed Begley Jr., Bob Balaban and Kathleen Chalfant have rounded out the cast of Stephen Frear’s HBO movie. The work dramatizes the moment in the young athlete’s life when he became a Conscientious Objector and the fervor it raised. Also, just recently, HBO and BBC have given the green light to PARADE’S END. It will be a five-part mini-series set during World War I and stars Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC modern set Sherlock) and written by Oscar winner tom Stoppard (Shakespeare In Love). The centerpiece of the story is a tumultuous love triangle between an Englishman and his wife and a young suffragette during the heart of the war.

There are plenty of other titles I and others here could throw out at you but, we will leave it at that for now. HBO WATCH doesn’t want to get your hopes up or anything. Note that HBO is always looking for material and HBO Watch is always looking for the news. We will keep you apprised if and when any of these works come to air. Do any of them sound interesting to you?

I now return you to your regularly scheduled GAME OF THRONES posts.

  • Kevin Bacon is locked in for Fox. His new pilot is going to get picked up, it`s in first place to get picked up to series on Fox. Member Guest is going nowhere on HBO.

    HBO has also projects from Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars/Party Down) in development.

    • Jefd

      Kevin Bacon on Fox is alright by me. Out of the concepts I listed THE MEMBER GUEST was the onle I liked the least. I only mentioned it because it had Mr. Bacon attached.

      The show still may happen with someone else on board.

      • Yeah, but i dont see that. It`s been in development for the channel since like the start of 2010 now. I dont see it going somewhere. HBO usually drops smaller projects after a year if they dont end up with a pilot-production order or some sorts of bigger comitment.

        The Kevin Williamson-pilot for Fox with James Purefoy (from HBO`s Rome) together with Bacon has a real good script to for network-tv. I usually watch only cable-shows myself, but this has a bit 24-feeling with serialkillers instead of terrorists.

  • Jonny

    I really hope produces The World Inside about future super tall buildings everyone lives in. That sounds like a fascinating possible future.

  • Susan

    The new series”GIRLS” really sucks.This is not funny,interesting or HBO worthy.BOOOOO!

  • Carl

    Big Dead Place is also being written by Peter Gould, frequent writer of Breaking Bad. Him and Gandolfini make that project the one I want to go to series the most, even though the premise doesn’t immediately grab me. And you can probably forget about the Kevin Bacon one; he’s now attached to a Fox pilot that most think is a lock to be picked up.

    • Yea, can’t wait! Thanks for the comment. HBO sure knows how to land the big names. And they also have a respect for people with real talent.


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