HBO's latest move is a full Norman

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In his first major collaboration with HBO, TV icon Norman Lear has teamed with the premium cable network for a drama series project set in the world of 1970s pro wrestling.

Written by Aaron Blitzstein and produced by Lear's Act III Prods., the character-driven drama, tentatively titled "Everybody Hurts," revolves around a family running a pro wrestling business in New York and peeks into the lives of the wrestlers and their fans.

Lear and Act III's Lara Bergthold, who are executive producing the project, had been looking to do a show about pro wrestling.

"Pro wrestling is a pretty fair reflection of good and evil in our culture," Lear said.

Added Bergthold, "Wrestling is where people turn to when they feel the government is lying to them and there are no real heroes in their lives."

The two met with Blitzstein to discuss a different show idea when the conversation turned to Blitzstein's career, which includes a stint with World Championship Wrestling.

Blitzstein is a late bloomer as a writer. He started off as a music rep, working with such bands as Foo Fighters and Sonic Youth, and spent a couple of years as vp marketing for WCW before moving to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a career as a writer.

"On any given day I could have been threatened by a 300 lb. monster over a T-shirt design or could have received a call that a twentysomething-year-old wrestler was found dead," Blitzstein recalls about his time at WCW.

Lear, Bergthold and Blitzstein, a co-exec producer on "Hurts" started developing a pro wrestling show and decided to set it in the early days of the sports entertainment phenomenon, before it became a billion-dollar industry.

"The wrestling business was much different in the '70s," said Blitzstein, who is drawing on his memories as a wrestling fan growing up in Baltimore and New York. "The country was broken up into different territories, all run by various promoters. It was more of mom-and-pop type of feel back then."

The threes also found a lot of similarities between the political and economic climate in the '70s and today.

"Then it was post-Watergate, there was an energy crisis and there were Americans being held hostage in Iran," Blitzstein said. "Today, it's the Bush administration, our addiction to oil and our soldiers in Iraq. The show is as much about family and politics as it is about wrestling."

There will be comedic touches, especially in the portrayal of the wrestlers, that will employ Blitzstein's comedy writing background on such shows as "Late Show With David Letterman" and "Crank Yankers."

His career took a dramatic turn with FX's "The Riches," leading to his project for HBO.

"I feel as though I hit the trifecta — working with Norman Lear on a show about wrestling for HBO," said Blitzstein, repped by CAA and attorney Peter Grant. "It's incredible. I don't have to work for the rest of my life." (partialdiff)
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