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Damon Lindelof's 'The Leftovers' Ordered to Series at HBO

The 10-episode drama will join "Game of Thrones" and "True Blood" at the premium cable network, which is venturing to outside studios like Warner Bros. Television for programming.

Damon Lindelof
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Damon Lindelof

HBO has made room on its plate for The Leftovers.

The premium cable network has granted Damon Lindelof's adaptation of the Tom Perrotta best-seller a 10-episode series commitment, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. The Leftovers takes place as the Rapture happens -- but not quite like it’s supposed to. The former Lost showrunner's take tells the story of the people who didn’t make the cut and a world that will never be the same.

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Lindelof co-wrote and executive produced the Warner Bros. Television and Adventure Corps effort with Perrotta. Ron Yerxa, Albert Berger, Peter Berg and Sarah Aubrey also are on board as EPs, with Berg directing the pilot. Lindelof will serve as showrunner.

The cast is led by Justin Theroux, whose public profile has been raised with his engagement to film star --and tabloid staple-- Jennifer Aniston. He'll play the police chief who's trying to maintain some semblance of normalcy in a world that is beginning to reject that notion. The role marks Theroux's first regular series role since CBS' 2000 drama The District.

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Liv Tyler will make her small-screen debut as Meg, a young woman about to be married who needs an escape. She becomes a target for recruitment by members of an enigmatic cult. Private Practice's Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who), Chris Zylka, Margaret Qualley, Carrie Coon, Emily Meade, Amanda Warren, Ann Dowd, Michael Gaston, Max Carver, Charlie Carver, Annie Q, Paterson Joseph and Brad Leland round out the cast.

The Leftovers marks the first of what is likely to be a new stream of outside studio buys for HBO. The network is currently developing projects with 20th Century Fox Television's Ryan Murphy (Open) and Warner's J.J. Abrams (Westworld), among others. At a recent industry conference, HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo acknowledged that his network has loosened up with its long-held philosophy about the importance of owning its own programming. With so much top talent in deals at other studios, he noted that it would be foolish not to be open to buying projects from the outside. What's more, he added, it will allow the network famous for its hefty budgets to spread the risk. As he put it: "It's nice to have people betting with us." 

In the case of Leftovers, HBO picked up the rights to the project with Perrotta in 2011. Lindelof read the book and tracked the rights to HBO. Upon signing a rich overall deal with Warner Bros. TV, he met with the author and together the duo began discussions for what a series take on the property would look like.

The Leftovers joins dramas Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones as well as the final season of True Blood at HBO. The fate of The Newsroom remains in limbo pending Aaron Sorkin's availability, though HBO has said they'd like to see the cable news drama return for a third season.  

Lindelof next has Disney's George Clooney feature Tomorrowland set for Dec. 12, 2014.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit