FX greenlights two drama pilots

Boxing champ, U.S. marshal at center of projects

The green light is on for "Lights Out" at FX.

Tuesday was a busy day at cable network. After the pilot pickup of "Lights," FX ordered another pilot, a Graham Yost-penned drama, late in the day.

"Lights," from "The Bucket List" writer Justin Zackham and Phillip Noyce, and the Yost project, based on an Elmore Leonard short story, mark the first pilot orders for FX since "Sons of Anarchy" got the nod in October 2007.

"Lights," a drama from Fox TV Studios and FX Prods., centers on an aging former heavyweight boxing champion who struggles to find his identity and support his wife and three daughters after his fighting days, leading him to accept reluctantly a job as an enforcer collecting debts. He is diagnosed with pugilistic dementia, a neurological disorder that affects boxers who receive multiple blows to the head, which gradually will lead to him losing all of his memories.

"He is a man going through late adolescence, someone who attempts to leave his family and friends in a better place and to better himself," Zackham said.

Added FtvS executive vp programming David Madden, "He is a guy who is used to thinking only with his fists and has to learn to think and deal with his emotions."

The idea for "Lights" was pitched to Zackham by FtvS-based manager-producer Ross Fineman, who brought his client Noyce on board. The three are exec producing the project, which was developed at FtvS for a couple of years before the studio sent Zackham's finished script to FX in December.

"The character jumped off the page," FX executive vp original programming Nick Grad said.

While it has a grand, male figure at the center like FX's recently departed "The Shield," Grad noted that "Lights" is more of a family show in the vein of "The Sopranos," with the former boxer's wife, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, playing a major role.

As for the attention received by another project about the redemption of a fallen sports star, the Mickey Rourke-starring feature "The Wrestler," Zackham said, "I think it couldn't hurt."

The Yost project, from Sony TV and Timberman/Beverly Prods., is based on Leonard's short story "Fire in the Hole." It centers on Kentucky-based U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens -- a tough, soft-spoken lawman with a rough side -- and chronicles his cases and personal life, including unfinished business with an ex-wife and his aging father.

"It's a classic Elmore Leonard story with ironic twists of fate, dimensionalized criminals and a protagonist who is himself an enigma," Sarah Timberman said in December.

She and "Boomtown" creator Yost are exec producing the pilot with Carl Beverly.

Michael Dinner is on board to direct.