'Hunger Games' Writer Taking on F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'Last Tycoon' for HBO

Writer Billy Ray - P 2013
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Writer Billy Ray - P 2013

Captain Phillips screenwriter Billy Ray is heading back to the small screen.

The scribe is teaming with HBO to develop F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel The Last Tycoon, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The drama, from Sony Pictures Television, is described as a new take on the Roman a clef inspired by the real life of film producer Irving Thalberg. The story follows Monroe Stahr (based on Thalberg) and his rise to power in old Hollywood and his conflicts with Pat Brady (based on studio topper Louis B. Mayer). 

Ray will pen the script, executive produce and, should it move forward, direct the pilot. Chris Keyser (Party of Five) will exec produce and serve as showrunner. Perri Kipperman, Josh Maurer, David Stern and Alix Witlin are also on board to exec produce. 

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HBO's take centers on Monroe Stahr, Hollywood's first wunderkind studio executive in the 1930s as he climbs to the height of power, pitting him against his mentor and current head of the studio. With Stahr as a focal point, the series will unveil the true violence, sex and towering ambition of Hollywood in the 1930s. 

Fitzgerald was working on the novel at the time of his death at age 44. The notes were collected by critic/Fitzgerald's friend Edmund Wilson and collected and the unfinished work was published in 1941.

For  HBO, the project comes as it has found success with period drama Boardwalk Empire (which was recently renewed for a fifth season) and as the premium cable network has an untitled 1970s rock 'n' roll drama from Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger in the works. The deal with Sony Pictures Television also represents HBO's latest studio buy, joining Ryan Murphy pilot Open (20th Century Fox Television) and Damon Lindelof series The Leftovers (Warner Bros. Television), among others.

In addition to Captain Phillips -- which is generating Oscar buzz for star Tom Hanks -- Ray's recent feature credits include Shattered Glass, The Hunger Games, State of Play, Flightplan and more. On the small screen, his credits include creating NBC's short-lived drama Earth 2. He's repped by CAA, Management 360 and Lichter Grossman. 

For CAA-repped Keyser, the project comes as he's attached to another reboot -- CBS' take on The WB Network's Charmed.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
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