Showtime greenlights 'Shameless' pilot

6:23 PM PST 10/14/2009 by Nellie Andreeva, AP

John Wells developing U.S. version of the U.K. drama

John Wells Prods.' five-year effort to bring "Shameless" to the U.S. has paid off -- Showtime on Wednesday greenlighted a pilot for an American version of the long-running British drama series. The American version will star William H. Macy.

Wells and the original series' creator, top U.K. TV writer Paul Abbot, penned the adaptation and are executive producing the pilot, which will be shot in December. Warner Bros. TV is producing with John Wells Prods.

Inspired by Abbott's childhood growing up in a working-class family with eight children, the BAFTA-winning original series chronicles a dysfunctional family led by alcoholic patriarch Frank Gallagher (David Threlfall).

For the U.S. version, the sprawling Gallagher family has been transplanted to working-class Chicago during today's recession. With a mother who is AWOL and an alcoholic patriarch (Macy) who usually ends up passed out on the living room floor, 18-year-old daughter Fiona is left with the task of keeping her five younger brothers and sisters on the straight and narrow.

The Company Pictures/Channel 4 original series, which has aired in the U.S. on BBC America and Sundance Channel, was brought to JWP by the company's TV president, Andrew Stearn.

At some point, it was set up at NBC with Woody Harrelson rumored for the lead, and it was in development at HBO earlier this year.

Wells and Abbott are Emmy winners, the former for "The West Wing" and "ER" and the latter for the BBC/HBO film "The Girl in the Cafe."

Macy and Wells worked together on the long-running NBC series "ER." Macy co-starred on the Wells-produced medical drama early in its run and reprised his role as Dr. David Morgenstern during the show's final season.

"Shameless" was packaged by CAA.
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