HBO News Blog

Development Slate: HBO Orders Up Five Comedy Pilots!

By Jef Dinsmore on Feb 16, 2015 to HBO News

HBO is on the hunt for some comedy it seems. We have already mentioned these shows up for consideration by the network as they each take steps forward in their development. Here is a quick look at each.

  • Mike White’s MAMMA DALLAS Lead Chosen People_AugustusPrew

Mike White, of ENLIGHTENED, continues his development deal as he assembles a cast for his new comedy MAMMA DALLAS. The show is about “a conservative family in Texas who unwittingly hire a hard-living drag queen, Liberty, as their live-in nanny.” The show will focus on the upbeat drag queen as he tries to eke out a life without being pulled down by society.

British actor Augustus Prew (pictured) has been announced to take on the role of Liberty, a crucial casting choice for the pilot. Just how dolled up will he be in drag? Prew was in the Discovery Channel miniseries Klondike and the big-screen Kick-Ass 2. Joining Mr. Prew in the cast are Paul Fitzgerald, Mary Catherine Garrison and Nico Tortorella.

FitzPeople_MikeWhite02gerald (Paul Keyes in TREME and Charles Gabler in BOARDWALK EMPIRE) and Garrison (Sophie in VEEP) play the couple, Hugh and Carrie Cox, who hire the help. A description states that “With her decorating business taking off, perfectionist Carrie needs a nanny to help with the kids, and it doesn’t occur to Carrie that she’s having a long talk about childrearing with a drag queen. Hugh is an earnest, successful man with political aspirations who is deathly afraid of any hint of scandal.” Liberty must be quite good at his artifice to fool the Cox family, at least at first.

Tortorella plays “Liberty’s lowlife boyfriend Jesse, who runs a chop shop and steals high-priced sports cars with Liberty’s help. He’s horrified that his macho friends will find out he’s dating a guy. Mike White (picture left), as usual takes a role as well. “He plays Liberty’s roommate Tammy, a chain smoker who is always strung out and has no life ambitions.”

Only time will tell if Liberty, our MAMMA DALLAS gets to shine on HBO.

(Source: Deadline)


  • Issa Rae Comedy Pilot Moves Forward People_IssaRae02

We reported way back on 09.13.13 that comedian Issa Rae (pictured) was working on a project for HBO. It now takes some big steps forward. HBO gave a pilot order to her project now titled INSECURE. It focuses on the awkward experiences and racy tribulations of a modern day African-American woman and has some basis on Rae’s successful web series The Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl.

At this time there are no solid descriptions or characters to talk about, but HBO must like the concept. I am suspecting that HBO passed on the project in 2013 and asked for some revamping of the concept. Once that was done Issa Rae returned and HBO like the version 2.0 enough to grant the young lady and pilot. If all goes smooth we should see casting news about this potential series as well.

INSECURE was written by Rae and Comedy Central new late-night host Larry Wilmore. It is anyone’s guess how fast a show could develop at this pace, but at least the lady has been given the chance. Right now, though her position seems a bit insecure.

(Source: Variety


  • Riddle and Salahuddin Project Finally Goes to Pilot

People_MayaRudolphThis team has been tinkering with an idea for a long time. We first talked about it on 09.09.13. It was still hanging in there when we reported again on 02.20.14. Finally we locked in on a title on 11.24.14. Now finally we can report that a pilot is being shot with some actors you may recognize. It is called BROTHERS IN ATLANTA and Maya Rudolph (pictured) and Jaden Smith have joined the cast. Saturday Night Live’s Lorne Michaels is still producing. The story centers on best friends Langston (Riddle) and Moose (Salahuddin), two struggling entertainers living in Atlanta. Rudolph is set to play Moose’s boss Shirle, a past-her-prime musician. Smith plays Curtis, a rowdy, suspiciously solvent teenager and Langston’s neighbor.

Also signed on is SNL alum Finesse Mitchell. Mitchell will play Walter, one of the backup singers to Shirle (Rudolph) and a nemesis to Moose (Salahuddin). This one has been in development for so long you would think all the bugs are worked out of it by now and that HBO would make a fast ruling on this one.

(Source: The Wrap & Deadline)


  • David Fincher’s Pilot LIVING ON VIDEO Gets A Lead People_TylerRoss

One of the projects in the hands of David Fincher for HBO is the comedy LIVING ON VIDEO. It is all about the booming music video industry of the 1980’s. The potential series has snagged a lead whose character will be caught up in the Hollywood scene of the day.

Tyler Ross (pictured) will play the young man who drops out of college and heads to Tinsel Town with big dreams and hopes and settles for becoming a production assistant for a company cranking out music videos. That was back in the day when MTV and VH1 were showing them in heavy rotation. Mr. Ross is probably best known for his role in The Killing.  Also appearing is Sam Page (Mad Men) as an aspiring game show host.

As noted in that prior post this is all familiar territory for Mr. Fincher as he got his start in film making creating music videos himself. Our source indicates that instead of just a pilot to take to HBO brass two episodes are being shot. If this comedy doesn’t make the cut though, Fincher has two more projects with HBO in the offing.

(Source: Deadline)


  • DJ Jude Angelini Comedy Under Consideration

People_JudeAngeliniHBO just may go into the world of hip-hop radio with HYENA. Sirius hip-hop radio host Jude Angelini (pictured) wrote a book of the same name which is an autobiography about being in the middle of the mix. He is a noted on the satellite radio service and talks of his career and his beginnings in Detroit, Michigan.

To help us visualize his potential project note the producers signed on to bring his story to film. Ally Musika, Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg, the team behind ENTOURAGE, are developing this one and are now preparing a pilot. Of course, the team has a good track record with HBO as they also were involved in BOARDWALK EMPIRE and the upcoming BALLERS with Dwayne Johnson. HBO is loving the music theme as of late with other projects dealing with the subject being considered as well. We will have to see if this one materializes.   

(Source: Deadline)


Only time will tell which of these pilots, once reviewed by the top office, are going to more forward as a series. There are a few notable names attached to some of them both in front and behind the cameras. Surely a few will make it to series as HBO certainly seems to want more comedy in the lineup. We will do our best to track them all and see which ones are worthy.  What do you think? 

  • Jonas

    Nice summary,
    could somebody make an overview about the dramas in development? After some time many of them are cancelled, forgotten or what so ever.. would be a great feature in a 6-month rhythm or so!

    • Jef Dinsmore

      We will see what we can come up with.

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