HBO Gives Series Order to Family Drama 'Succession'

From scribe Jesse Armstrong, the show stars Brian Cox as the head of a rich and dysfunctional family-run media empire.
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Brian Cox (left), Kieran Culkin

HBO on Wednesday handed out a series order to Succession. The drama, among programming president Casey Bloys' first pilot orders, will get a 10-episode freshman season.

Starring Brian Cox as the patriarch of a family-owned media empire, the project is a rare serious effort from Adam McKay and Will Ferrell's comedy-centric Gary Sanchez Productions. The premise has echoes of the Murdoch clan, with the central Roy family being described as "rich and powerful, but also powerfully dysfunctional." The drama tackles family loyalty, international business and the perils of 21st century power.

Joining Cox in the cast are Jeremy Strong, Kieran Culkin, Sarah Snook and Alan Ruck as the children to his aging patriarch. Nicholas Braun, Matthew Macfadyen and Hiam Abbas fill out the family, while Rob Yang, Parker Sawyers and Peter Friedman play other characters in the Roys' business world.

Succession is among the first pilots to score a series order from Bloys. The executive, who assumed the top creative post at the pay cable giant last May, has been handing out straight-to-series commitments — previously ordering a Duplass Brothers comedy anthology and a new drama from True Blood and Six Feet Under creator Alan Ball, among others.

The Thick of It and Peep Show writer Jesse Armstrong, who also has episodes of Veep and Black Mirror among his credits, penned the new series and will serve as showrunner and executive producer. In addition to Armstrong, McKay and Ferrell, Kevin Messick, Frank Rich and Ilene S. Landress will also serve as executive producers.

Succession will join a roster on HBO that currently skews heavy toward comedy. On the drama front, the network still has flagship Game of Thrones, as well as the second season of Westworld, while The Leftovers wraps its three-season run this spring. Upcoming efforts include the Ball drama, David Simon's long-gestating The Deuce, Amy Adams and Marti Noxon's adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects and a still-untitled Israeli-set project from In Treatment co-creator Hagai Levi.