9:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'True Detective' Reunion: FX Orders Matthew McConaughey Drama From Nic Pizzolatto
Nic Pizzolatto has a new home.
The True Detective creator and showrunner is moving his overall deal from HBO to Disney's cable- and streaming-focused studio, Fox 21, and FX Productions. Under the new pact, Pizzolatto will create and develop new projects for the studio's various platforms as well as outside platforms. The creator already has his first project lined up as part of the deal — and he's reuniting with a familiar face for it: True Detective grad Matthew McConaughey will star in Redeemer, a drama inspired by Patrick Coleman's novel The Churchgoer. The project has landed at FX with a sizable script-to-series commitment from the John Landgraf-led basic cable network. As part of the pact, McConaughey has also signed a first-look TV deal with FX.
"We are thrilled to begin our creative partnership with Nic Pizzolatto and Matthew McConaughey on Redeemer, who are back together for the first time since the first season of HBO’s True Detective,” FX Entertainment president Eric Schrier said Tuesday in a statement. "We’re also incredibly excited about our overall deal with Nic and look forward to developing new projects with him and our partners Fox 21 Television Studios, and we’re equally excited to be developing projects with Matthew through his first-look deal with FXP."
Created by Pizzolatto, Redeemer stars McConaughey as a former minister turned dissolute security guard whose search for a missing woman in Texas leads him through a corruption and criminal conspiracy, as his past and present impact and entwine around a mystery of escalating violence and deceit. Pizzolatto and McConaughey will both executive produce the drama, which will be produced by Bert Salke's Fox 21 and Landgraf's FX Productions. As for the script-to-series order, put simply, it means that if Pizzolatto's script comes in well, FX will bypass the traditional pilot order and go straight to series on the project. Redeemer marks the first time Pizzolatto and McConaughey will work together since the first season of HBO anthology True Detective, which earned 12 Emmy nominations, including lead actor for McConaughey and writing for Pizzolatto, and notched five wins.
"From the moment we all saw True Detective, we’ve been dying to work with Nic,” said Fox 21 president Salke. "The fact that we get to do this together with our FXP cousins is a best-case scenario. I don’t think there are a lot of writers in town right now who are writing with Nic’s force and emotion. It’s why we’re beyond excited about Nic’s project with Matthew, which is a big priority for both companies."
As for Pizzolatto's decision to leave HBO, sources say the showrunner met with executives at the WarnerMedia-owned premium cable network to discuss a new deal and all parties involved agreed that it was time to part ways. He inked his first overall pact with HBO pegged to the debut of True Detective and renewed that deal twice. "I'm very excited at the opportunity to work with Matthew again, and really grateful and thrilled to have the chance to create new shows for Fox 21 and FX," said Pizzolatto.
Still, his departure does not mean the end of True Detective. HBO owns the rights to the series and, sources say, could renew the anthology for a fourth season with a new showrunner who could bring a different point of view to the Emmy-winning franchise. Sources say HBO execs felt Pizzolatto was able to redeem the critically maligned sophomore run with the third season, which earned star Mahershala Ali an Emmy nomination. Sources note that Pizzolatto's HBO deal was in the range of $3 million a year. Financial terms of his new pact with the two Disney-backed studios were not immediately available.
"We’re very proud of the work Nic did for HBO, and we wish him the best in his new endeavor,” HBO said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter.
With Pizzolatto's decision to test the open market, the writer-producer is said to have drawn interest from multiple streamers as well as traditional studios as the appetite for established showrunners continues to grow amid emergence of six new streaming platforms.
Pizzolatto broke out with the first season of True Detective, which came packaged with McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and director Cary Joji Fukunaga attached. Season two, which arrived in 2015 with Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and Taylor Kitsch, didn't fare nearly as well and earned a single Emmy nomination (for sound mixing). While season one has an impressive 87 rating on Metacritic, the second sits at 61. Season three rebounded with nine Emmy nominations and currently has a 71 rating on Metacritic.
Outside of True Detective, Pizzolatto's credits include the screenplay for Ghost Army, the feature The Magnificent Seven and two episodes of The Killing. He is repped by Goodman Schenkman, while McConaughey is with WME and Morris Yorn and Coleman is repped by WME and Levine Greenburg.