Kevin Costner Passes on David E. Kelley Amazon Drama

Sources say 'The Trial' is going back to the drawing board to find an A-list leading man, but will still go straight to series.
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Costner and Kelley

Kevin Costner won't be making his series regular debut anytime soon.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the two-time Oscar winner has opted to pass on starring in Amazon's David E. Kelley legal drama The Trial and that the project is going back to square one to find a "huge star" for its leading man. Sources indicate that the drama will still go straight to series, a point that Costner signing on would have guaranteed. 

As THR reported on June 25, Costner was in negotiations to star and executive produce the Kelley-created drama, but after being this close to a deal, slept on it and ultimately decided that he wasn't ready to commit to a TV series at this point in his career, despite what is rumored to have been a high per-episode fee. The search now shifts to other A-list actors as The Trial remains one of Amazon's highest priorities, sources say.

The Trial centers on Billy McBride, a once respectable lawyer who was ousted from the high-profile firm he co-founded. Billy now spends his days getting drunk, with the occasional case tossed his way by his ex-wife. However, Billy is reinvigorated professionally when a young lawyer who has just been fired from his old firm brings him a wrongful death case that pits him against the head of his former firm.



Written by Kelley, the project will be Amazon's first straight-to-series order. The company has traditionally made all pilots available to customers to watch and provide feedback on which ones they want to see turned into series. David Semel (Ally McBeal, Dawson's Creek, American Dreams, Madam Secretary) is rumored to direct the pilot.

The Trial would have marked Costner's first-ever series regular role. In addition to his Emmy-winning starring role in History's Hatfield & McCoys miniseries, Costner has just one other TV credit to his name.

The Trial would also be a homecoming of sorts for Kelley, who made a name from himself writing legal shows including L.A Law, Ally McBeal, The Practice and spinoff Boston Legal. Kelley, whose recent credits include CBS' The Crazy Ones and NBC's Harry's Law, is currently not affiliated with any studio. The prolific producer is also working on a new limited series for HBO — an adaptation of the hit novel Big Little Lies starring A-listers Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit

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