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Director Stephen Gaghan Boards AMC's 'White City' Pilot

An Oscar winner for writing 'Traffic,' the multihyphenate also will serve as EP

STEPHEN GAGHAN Headshot - P 2014
AP Images/Invision
Stephen Gaghan

AMC has found a director for Afghanistan drama White City. The project, recently ordered to pilot, will be helmed by Stephen Gaghan.

The writer and director, perhaps best known for his Oscar-winning adapted screenplay for Steven Soderberg's Traffic, also will serve as an executive producer on the project, which comes from novelist Nick McDonell and politico John Dempsey. Chris Mundy and Tom Freston also serve as executive producers.
 
"Nick and John were actually staying at my house, fresh out of Kabul, when they were going around pitching the show," said Gaghan, who had exceptionally flattering words for the project and the network. "They then went on to write a truly astonishing script. Which got the attention of another old pal, Chris Mundy. It reminds me of Altman’s Mash or a great Hal Ashby script. But really, let’s face it, if Coppola was doing Apocalypse Now today, it would be an AMC series.”

White City is set in Afghanistan and follows a group of Western diplomats and journalists — focusing on "war junkie" Jon Liston, who oversteps his bounds after an exchange with insurgents.

“We’re unbelievably excited that Steve is doing this," said Mundy. "Before the pilot was even ordered, we talked about him as our dream director so to have it come to fruition is incredible. He not only knows and cares deeply about the terrain we’re covering, but he brings an energy and intelligence that you can’t match. It’s a show that everyone involved with feels very passionate about and protective of. So, to have Steve step in and match that same passion makes us realize how lucky we are.”

White City is one of several pilots currently in the works at AMC as the network looks to beef up its scripted offerings, with the era of Breaking Bad and Mad Men coming to a close. Freshman drama Halt and Catch Fire was renewed earlier this week.

Gaghan's other credits include writing and directing 2005 film Syriana. He is repped by CAA.