Development Slate: BRINK; BALLERS, BANSHEE and More

dev-logoIt is time to launch into another Slate post where we take a look at some of the projects and concepts HBO has in development. This entry features updates for some ideas that are already in progress and also offers a few first seen items to this site. So with that let’s jump into the Development Slate.


  • Jay Roach’s THE BRINK starts casting.

 HBOWatch first reported back on 10.05.13 that Jay Roach (GAME CHANGE) was going to tackle this comedy series. Now it is shaping up with a cast. HBO has just notified executive producers Jerry people_RobbinsBlack-300x172Weintraub, Jay Roach and Roberto Benabib that they are ready to see a pilot episode. If they like what they see you know what that means. That means THE BRINK which is about “a geopolitical crisis and its effect on three disparate and desperate men.”

 Just who are the men?  Two of them are cast and you might know the actors. How about Tim Robbins and Jack Black! Mr. Robbins plays Walter Hollander the U.S. Secretary of State who is said to be a man of big appetites but little patience for the Situation Room. Mr. Black is Alex Coppins, a lowly foreign service officer reluctantly caught up in the middle of this crisis. We will have to await to see who plays the role of Zeke Callahan, a Navy fighter pilot.

 At this point we also do not have a clue just how big and dangerous the crisis is. Is this show going to play somewhere between a show with top issues like THE NEWSROOM and the comedic wit of VEEP? We will have to wait and see as the Benabib brothers, Roberto & Kim, take on the writing chore on this piece. Jay Roach is slated to at least direct the pilot ordered. How about the lead players of THE BRINK? Don’t they make you interested in seeing this concept turn into a series?    


  • Dwayne Johnson project now called BALLERS

 Dwayne Johnson has had a project n development for a while now and we reported on it on 06.07.13. Well, that show has finally been given a title and it is called BALLERS. It sounds like a sequel to HUNG, doesn’t it? Three more players have joined the story of athletes living large in Miami.

The newcomers are Troy Garity, John David Washington (pictured) and Donovan Carter. Garity, who comes off of Kelsey Grammer’s BossPeople_JohnDavidWashington, plays Jason who is listed as a “top-tier sports agent and anti-establishment type who is comfortable in any situation” and Washington channels the persona of Ricky “a highly competitive and highly spiritual pro athlete.” He is the son of actor Denzel Washington and appeared in his Malcolm X . Carter, a former hockey pro for the Boston Bruins, is signed on as Vernon, “adeeply family oriented pro athlete.”

 Together they join Omar Miller and Mr. Johnson as they gear up to shoot a pilot episode that HBO is willing to consider. Something needs to replace HBO’s latest athlete Kenny Powers in EASTBOUND & DOWN, right? We will see how this develops.


  • More on Scorsese/Jagger’s Rock-n-Roll Drama

 This had been one slow moving project due to the busy schedules of all involved. We first heard of the Rock-n-Roll drama with Martin Scorsese, Mick Jagger and Terence Winter back in 2010. The current news on the project now is the dismissal of the two showrunners for the project.People_GeorgeMastras

 Brian Koppelman and David Levien, citing creative differences with the creative staff have dropped out of the project. Apparently they had ideas to change what Winter’s had already written and decided that their approach was to different from the original intent.

 George Mastras, (pictured) co-executive producer/writer for Breaking Bad over at AMC, is said to be in talks to be the new showrunner for the HBO series. He has just signed on for an overall development deal with HBO anyway and had yet to zero in on any one project and the Rock-n-Roll drama was in need of someone. I suspect official word that he is onboard will be the next thing we hear about this project.

Everyone else is still involved including Bobby Cannavale who is said to play Richie “a cocaine-fueled record exec in New York City circa 1977, when punk, disco and a new form of music called hip-hop collided.” As always we will keep an eye out for any further developments.


  •  Two New Documentary Projects Come to HBO

HBO has recently announced that it has picked up the rights to another critically acclaimed documentary. It is entitled HERBLOCK: THE BLACK & THE WHITE. It is a 95-minute film about Herb Block ( pictured). He was a four time Pulitzer Prize winner for his stint at the Washington Post as a political cartoonist. He People_herblockworked there from 1944 until his death in 2001 and covered major stories like Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon in his editorial cartoons for the newspaper.

 The newly obtained film by director/producer team Michael and George Stevens already has an air date on HBO of 01.27.14.  

HBO is also on the fast track with a new Documentary Series from its HBO Sports division. It is under the helm of Peter Berg, who also packaged and presented HBO’s ON FREDDIE ROACH. The new venture is called STATE OF PLAY.

The format is a unique approach. Each episode will spotlight a topic or person that has had a great impact on the sports world, opening with a brief overview followed by a 40-minute cinéma vérité documentary and concluding with an in-depth, 20-minute roundtable discussion of the issue with the filmmakers, subjects and guest experts to be moderated by Berg. Its first episode airs on 12.04.13 and is entitled STATE OF PLAY: TROPHY KIDS. It is an examination of the obsession a growing number of parents have in the scholastic athletic competition of their children.

 We will have more on this show in an upcoming What’s On: HBO Schedule for December 2013 post.


  • HBO to Remake Danish BORGEN Drama

 Yes, I know the likelihood of recognizing this work is remote here in America. However, HBO looks far and wide for content and since NBC passed on it HBO snagged it. The website Digital Spy now reports that Adam Price, the creator of BORGEN, has brought the work to HBO.

 BORGEN (a scene from the Danish series is pictured) is a political drama about a female political aspirant who happens to win a surprise election victory and embraces her new position. Mr. Price is said to be a consultant for the U.S version and states that it is important that the story fit the American culture. He said,  “definitely they should drag it into American politics and really make it their own, instead of trying to ‘keep a little Danish’… because that would seem phony.” We will monitor the process and see if the remake indeed gets made at HBO.  

  • Casting News in Upcoming HBO Series’

 People_AishatylerHere now some quick casting notes. Ryan Murphy’s OPEN must have a cast of thousands by now. It seems we are always adding new names to the call sheet. Added just recently are both Cheyenne Jackson and Aisha Tyler. Mr. Jackson, who appeared in the showrunner’s GLEE, was especially written a part in OPEN. He will play a “handsome meth addict.” Ms. Tyler will portray Monica, described as “a nurse who works with Grace (Michelle Monaghan) and has a modern outlook on marriage.”

If you don’t remember our following of OPEN it is , described as a “modern, provocative exploration of human sexuality and relationships,” which follows an ensemble of characters, played by Michelle Monaghan, Scott Speedman, Wes Bentley, Anna Torv, and Jennifer Jason Leigh and more.

Another show that has talked quite a bit about casting is THE MONEY. We reported on a big cast list back in October and now we add a few more to the list. In this tale of wealth and corruption we have Billy Magnussen  as the middle and favorite child of his mega-mogul father James (Brendan Gleeson). Mr. M. plays Greg Castman. Rosemary Harris is James’ mother-in-law Ellen Knox, a sharp fearless woman. Mammie Gummer plays Tricia Castman, the wife of the eldest son John (Patrick Kennedy.)  And Ray Liotta will recur as Wall Street tycoon George Archer.  

It is to be a big expansive drama with all these characters. We will have to watch out for THE MONEY.


  • BANSHEE Season Two Sets Date on Cinemax

 For those who might have a HBO/Cinemax bundle Season Two of BANSHEE is on the way at Cinemax. It will debut on 01.10.14 at 10:00pm ET.  Antony Starr returns as Lucas Hood, an ex-con and master thief who assumes the identity of the sheriff of Banshee, PA, where he continues his criminal activities, even as he’s being hunted by the shadowy gangsters he betrayed years earlier.

I’m just saying and I’m also saying keep a look out for the next Development Slate.


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