Jenji Kohan's Salem Drama 'New World' Nabs HBO Pilot Order, Gus Van Sant to Direct

Jenji Kohan Gus Van Sant Split - H 2015
AP Images/Invision

Jenji Kohan Gus Van Sant Split - H 2015

Jenji Kohan is returning to premium cable.

More than a year after HBO picked up the script from the Orange Is the New Black and Weeds creator, her Salem drama — now titled New World — has been picked up to pilot, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. Oscar nominee Gus Van Sant (Milk, Good Will Hunting) has also boarded the drama as an exec producer and will direct the pilot.

The provocative period drama explores the circumstances surrounding one of the most compelling chapters in American history — when intolerance and repression set neighbor against neighbor and led a town to mass hysteria. Production on the pilot will begin in the spring in Massachusetts.

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Kohan will pen the script with Bruce Miller (Alphas, Eureka) and Tracy Miller. Kohan and Bruce Miller will also executive produce alongside Tara Herrmann, while Tracy Miller will receive a supervising producer credit and Mark Burley will co-exec produce. The drama is a co-production between HBO and Lionsgate TV, the latter of which also produces Netflix's Orange Is the New Black. For Van Sant, New World marks his latest project with Lionsgate TV, where he previously executive produced (and directed) Starz's critical darling Boss.

New World marks Kohan's return to premium cable and comes more than two years after her pot-dealing dramedy Weeds ended its eight-season run on Showtime after more than 100 episodes. Should New World move to series, Kohan would have two series in production, with the HBO drama joining the previously announced third season of Netflix's awards season darling Orange Is the New Black.

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At HBO, the Salem drama becomes HBO's latest studio buy. The premium outlet also has The Leftovers and Westworld (both from Warner Bros. Television). On the pilot side, New World joins dramas Laughs Unlimited and Alan Ball/Elton John's period musical drama Virtouso as well as comedies including Sarah Jessica Parker's Divorce, Lorne Michaels-produced Brothers in Atlanta and half-hours from Sarah Silverman and Issa Rae.

New World also arrives as witches remain a hot property on the small screen. WGN America has renewed its Salem drama — its first scripted offering — for a second season; the third season of FX anthology American Horror Story was set at a coven; and Lifetime found modest success with Witches of East End, the latter of which was canceled after two seasons. 

Kohan is repped by CAA and Jackoway Tyerman; Van Sant is with WME.

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