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Showtime is adding to its growing development coffers with projects from The Descendants’ Alexander Payne, his producing partner Jim Taylor and Frost/Nixon’s Peter Morgan.
The untitled Payne-Taylor project, a mix of dark humor and emotional drama, will explore the impact of a new Indian casino on its tribe members and its greater Midwestern community. News of the hourlong project comes a month after Payne picked up an Academy Award for his Descendants‘ adapted screenplay.
The Maze, for its part, hails from Morgan, the Academy Award-nominated writer behind The Queen and Frost/Nixon. His drama project is described as an international political thriller in the mode of The Bourne Identity. This fall, the network had particularly good fortune with its politically themed CIA thriller, Homeland, a drama even President Obama acknowledges he watches.
Both are fitting projects for entertainment president David Nevins, who has actively looked to broaden the premium network’s offerings since he took Showtime’s reigns in summer 2010. “Showtime got taken seriously with Weeds, Dexter and Nurse Jackie; what I’ve done is challenge some of the formulas because we had gotten a little rigid in what we were doing,” he says of a slate that had relied heavily on dramedies centered on damaged 40-something women, noting his desire to bring more males, more hard comedy and more culturally relevant drama to the network.
The pair of dramas, both Showtime productions, join such development projects as John Wells’ Animal Kingdom, Salman Rushdie’s Next People and an untitled Lee Daniels’ drama in Showtime’s development coffers. Kingdom is based on the Australian film about a cold-blooded crime family, while People deals with the radical pace of transformation in contemporary American life — from politics and religion to technology, science and sexuality. The Daniels project, which is set in contemporary New York City, centers on the disenfranchised multicultural transgender youth.
(In another interesting development, Nevins dined recently with cable-news bad boy Keith Olbermann. Without elaborating, he said, “It didn’t really go anywhere.” Asked whether he had envisioned a sports or politics show for the disgruntled Current TV host, Nevins suggested he “didn’t get that far.”)
Payne, who served as an executive producer on HBO’s Hung, is repped by CAA and Bloom Hergott; producer Taylor is repped by WME; and Morgan is repped by the Independent Talent Group, UTA and Bloom Hergott.
Email: Lacey.Rose@THR.com; Twitter: @LaceyVRose
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